Background: Belgium became independent from the Netherlands in 1830; it was occupied by Germany during World Wars I and II. The country prospered in the past half century as a modern, technologically advanced European state and member of NATO and the EU. Tensions between the Dutch-speaking Flemings of the north and the French-speaking Walloons of the south have led in recent years to constitutional amendments granting these regions formal recognition and autonomy.
Location: Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between France and the Netherlands
Area land: 30,278 sq km
Area water: 250 sq km
Coastline: 66.5 km
Country name conventional long form: Kingdom of Belgium
Country name conventional short form: Belgium
Country name former: Kingdom of Belgium
Population: 10,431,477 (July 2011 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 15.9% (male 846,706/female 812,486); 15-64 years: 66.1% (male 3,475,404/female 3,416,060); 65 years and over: 18% (male 783,895/female 1,096,926) (2011 est.);
Population growth rate: 0.071% (2011 est.)
Birth rate: 10.06 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate: 10.57 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate: 1.22 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.045 male(s)/female; under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female; 15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female; 65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female; total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2011 est.);
Infant mortality rate: total: 4.33 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 4.86 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 3.78 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.);
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 79.51 years; male: 76.35 years; female: 82.81 years (2011 est.);
Total fertility rate: 1.65 children born/woman (2011 est.);
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.2% (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 14,000 (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - deaths: fewer than 100 (2009 est.);
Nationality: noun: Belgian(s); adjective: Belgian;
Ethnic groups: Fleming 58%, Walloon 31%, mixed or other 11%;
Religions: Roman Catholic 75%, other (includes Protestant) 25%;
Languages: Dutch (official) 60%, French (official) 40%, German (official) less than 1%, legally bilingual (Dutch and French);
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write; total population: 99%; male: 99%; female: 99% (2003 est.);
GDP (purchasing power parity): $396.9 billion (2010 est.); $388.7 billion (2009 est.); $399.5 billion (2008 est.);
GDP (official exchange rate): $461.3 billion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: 2.1% (2010 est.); -2.7% (2009 est.); 0.8% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $37,900 (2010 est.); $37,300 (2009 est.); $38,400 (2008 est.);
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 0.7%; industry: 22.1%; services: 77.2% (2010 est.);
Population below poverty line: 15.2% (2007 est.);
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 3.4%; highest 10%: 28.4% (2006);
Labor force: 5.02 million (2010 est.);
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 2%; industry: 25%; services: 73% (2007 est.);
Unemployment rate: 8.5% (2010 est.); 7.9% (2009 est.);
Budget: revenues: $220.6 billion; expenditures: $242.6 billion (2010 est.);
Industries: engineering and metal products, motor vehicle assembly, transportation equipment, scientific instruments, processed food and beverages, chemicals, basic metals, textiles, glass, petroleum;
Industrial production growth rate: 4% (2010 est.);
Electricity - production: 82.17 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 84.88 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - exports: 6.561 billion kWh (2008 est.);
Electricity - imports: 17.16 billion kWh (2008 est.);
Statistics: CIA World Factbook.
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(English-language Online Daily), Brussels
(Weekly EU-related news), Brussels
(Conservative, Catholic-oriented), Antwerp
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Demonstrators all over Europe have been voicing strong dissatisfaction with government austerity measures aimed at reducing state spending and bringing deficits under control.
Lorenz talks about nuclear energy production issues in Europe, outlining the current trends in technology, politics and environmental consequences.
Citizens from Macedonia and Serbia have been seeking asylum in E.U. countries in large numbers, especially in Belgium, under false hopes that they would be admitted.
Two relatively unknown politicians have been appointed to top spots in the E.U. The jury will be out for a while on the level of effect they will have.