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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.


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Economy

Economy - overview
This modern, open, and private-enterprise-based economy has capitalized on its central geographic location, highly developed transport network, and diversified industrial and commercial base. Industry is concentrated mainly in the more heavily-populated region of Flanders in the north. With few natural resources, Belgium imports substantial quantities of raw materials and exports a large volume of manufactures, making its economy vulnerable to volatility in world markets. Roughly three-quarters of Belgium's trade is with other EU countries, and Belgium has benefited most from its proximity to Germany. In 2011 Belgian GDP grew by 2.0%, the unemployment rate decreased slightly to 7.7% from 8.3% the previous year, and the government reduced the budget deficit from a peak of 6% of GDP in 2009 to 4.2% in 2011. Despite the relative improvement in Belgium's budget deficit, public debt hovers near 100% of GDP, a factor that has contributed to investor perceptions that the country is increasingly vulnerable to spillover from the euro-zone crisis. Belgian banks were severely affected by the international financial crisis in 2008 with three major banks receiving capital injections from the government, and the nationalization of the Belgian arm of a Franco-Belgian bank. An ageing population and rising social expenditures are mid- to long-term challenges to public finances.

Gdp (purchasing power parity) World Ranking: 32
$418.6 billion (2011 est.)
$410.8 billion (2010 est.)
$401.7 billion (2009 est.)
Note Data are in 2011 US dollars

Gdp (official exchange rate)
$513.4 billion (2011 est.)

Gdp - real growth rate World Ranking: 152
1.9% (2011 est.)
2.3% (2010 est.)
-2.8% (2009 est.)

Gdp - per capita (ppp) World Ranking: 28
$38,200 (2011 est.)
$37,900 (2010 est.)
$37,400 (2009 est.)
Note Data are in 2011 US dollars

Gdp - composition by sector
Agriculture 0.7%
Industry 21.7%
Services 77.6% (2011 est.)

Labor force World Ranking: 73
5.177 million (2011 est.)

Labor force - by occupation
Agriculture 2%
Industry 25%
Services 73% (2007 est.)

Unemployment rate World Ranking: 89
7.7% (2011 est.)
8.3% (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)

Distribution of family income - gini index World Ranking: 120
28 (2005)
28.7 (1996)

Investment (gross fixed) World Ranking: 87
20.8% of GDP (2011 est.)

Budget
Revenues $249.6 billion
Expenditures $271.2 billion (2011 est.)

Taxes and other revenues World Ranking: 23
48.6% of GDP (2011 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) World Ranking: 136
-4.2% of GDP (2011 est.)

Public debt World Ranking: 13
99.7% of GDP (2011 est.)
96.2% of GDP (2010 est.)
Note
Data cover general government debt, and includes debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities, as well as intra-governmental debt; intra-governmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement, medical care, and unemployment. Debt instruments for the social funds are not sold at public auctions.

Inflation rate (consumer prices) World Ranking: 81
3.5% (2011 est.)
2.3% (2010 est.)

Central bank discount rate World Ranking: 126
1.75% (31 December 2011)
1.75% (31 December 2010)
Note
This is the European Central Bank's rate on the marginal lending facility, which offers overnight credit to banks in the euro area

Commercial bank prime lending rate World Ranking: 166
4.4% (31 December 2011 est.)
4.21% (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of narrow money World Ranking: 20
$170.4 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$175.3 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
Note
See entry for the European Union for money supply in the euro area; the European Central Bank (ECB) controls monetary policy for the 17 members of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU); individual members of the EMU do not control the quantity of money circulating within their own borders

Stock of broad money World Ranking: 21
$562.7 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$548.2 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of domestic credit World Ranking: 24
$576.6 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$555.7 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares World Ranking: 30
$229.9 billion (31 December 2011)
$269.3 billion (31 December 2010)
$261.4 billion (31 December 2009)

Agriculture - products
Sugar beets, fresh vegetables, fruits, grain, tobacco; beef, veal, pork, milk

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 World Ranking: 59
5.6% (2011 est.)

Electricity - production World Ranking: 35
84.2 billion kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - consumption World Ranking: 35
84.78 billion kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - exports
11.32 billion kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - imports
1.837 billion kWh (2009 est.)

Oil - production World Ranking: 84
11,220 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - consumption World Ranking: 28
622,600 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - exports World Ranking: 38
353,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - imports World Ranking: 15
1.007 million bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - proved reserves World Ranking: 106
0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural gas - production World Ranking: 151
0 cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - consumption World Ranking: 36
19.53 billion cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - exports World Ranking: 60
0 cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - imports World Ranking: 16
19.32 billion cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves World Ranking: 150
0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

Current account balance World Ranking: 164
-$4.2 billion (2011 est.)
$6.351 billion (2010 est.)

Exports World Ranking: 17
$344.9 billion (2011 est.)
$279.7 billion (2010 est.)

Exports - commodities
Machinery and equipment, chemicals, finished diamonds, metals and metal products, foodstuffs

Exports - partners
Germany 18.7%, France 16.9%, Netherlands 12.5%, UK 7.2%, Italy 4.6%, US 4.5% (2011)

Imports World Ranking: 16
$355.1 billion (2011 est.)
$284.4 billion (2010 est.)

Imports - commodities
Raw materials, machinery and equipment, chemicals, raw diamonds, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, transportation equipment, oil products

Imports - partners
Netherlands 19.9%, Germany 14.8%, France 10.7%, UK 6%, US 5.3%, Ireland 4.5%, China 4.2% (2011)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold World Ranking: 49
$29.43 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$26.81 billion

Debt - external World Ranking: 12
$1.399 trillion (30 June 2011)
$1.241 trillion (30 June 2010)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home World Ranking: 5
$1.068 trillion (31 December 2011 est.)
$988.3 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad World Ranking: 8
$943.5 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$868.6 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Exchange rates
Euros (EUR) per US dollar -
0.7194 (2011 est.)
0.755 (2010 est.)
0.7198 (2009 est.)
0.6827 (2008 est.)
0.7345 (2007 est.)

Fiscal year
Calendar year


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  Belgium (Brussels):


  GPS points from Belgium (Brussels)


Weppeler Walloon Region

Chateau De Roye Limburg

Tremeloo (be02)


Holzwarche Walloon Region

Molenbaix Hainaut

Manebroekhof Flanders




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