Belgium is situated in Western Europe and the country is the founding member of European Union. Belgium is the headquarters of European Union. The capital of the country is Brussels. The country was earlier inhabited by Belgae who are the mixture of Germanic and Celtic people. Luxembourg, Netherlands and Belgium were historically called as Low Countries and the region was known as Belgica. The Low Countries were divided into southern Netherlands and northern United Provinces after Eighty Years’ War of 1568-1648. Southern Netherlands were ruled by Spanish and Austrian Habsburgs. The Low Countries were then annexed by French First Republic ending the rule of Austrians in this region.
Low Countries were reunified and known as United Kingdom of Netherlands in 1815. The country got independence from Netherlands in the year 1830. Belgium was again occupied by Germany in the year 1940 until it is liberated by the Allied forces in the year 1944. Belgium is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. The federal bicameral parliament comprises of Chamber of Representatives and Senate. Head of the state is the King with limited prerogatives. King appoints the Prime Minister and the ministers. Judicial system depends on the civil law originated from Napoleonic code. The highest court is the Court of Cassation. The economy of the country is a globalized economy and economy is highly service-oriented.
The total population of the country is more than 11.4 million and 92% of the people are Belgian citizens. Belgium has three official languages such as French, German and Dutch. Several minority languages are also spoken among the people. Belgium is a secular country that supports freedom of religion and Roman Catholicism is the major religion of the country. Other minority religions are Islam, Jewish, Hinduism and Buddhism. The second largest religion of the country is Islam.
Belgium is famous for its variety of tourist attractions. In Waterloo, you can find the Lion of Waterloo Victory monument which is a large man-made hill with 28 ton lion on its top. The monument was built in memory of battle of Waterloo in which Duke of Wellington defeated Napoleon I. Royal Museum of Fine Arts is located in Antwerp and the museum displays the paintings from 14th century. Groeninge Museum also displays the paintings of Belgians, Dutch and Flemish of six centuries. Ypres is an important town with memorials of First World War and in the town you can see lively reconstruction of war scenes in Hooge Crater Museum, trenches of Sanctuary Wood and bunker of John Mcrae from where the poem “In Flanders Fields” was written.
Tongeren is an oldest town destroyed twice by Norsemen of 4th century and in 881 by Salian Franks. In this town, you can visit Gallo Roman Museum, Roman tower of 4th century, Our Lady’s Basilica and Church of Notre Dame. Belgium has more than 3,000 castles of which 300 of them are open for public. The most popular among the castles is the Gravensteen castle constructed between 1180 and 1200. Diamond Museum located at Antwerp is a fascinating museum which displays production process of diamonds from mining to finished product.