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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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Geography

Location
Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between France and the Netherlands

Geographic coordinates
50 50 N, 4 00 E

Map references
Europe

Area World Ranking: 141
Total 30,528 sq km
Land 30,278 sq km
Water 250 sq km

Area - comparative
About the size of Maryland

Land boundaries
Total 1,385 km
Border countries
France 620 km, Germany 167 km, Luxembourg 148 km, Netherlands 450 km

Coastline
66.5 km

Maritime claims
Territorial sea 12 nm
Contiguous zone 24 nm
Exclusive economic zone
Geographic coordinates define outer limit
Continental shelf Median line with neighbors

Climate
Temperate; mild winters, cool summers; rainy, humid, cloudy

Terrain
Flat coastal plains in northwest, central rolling hills, rugged mountains of Ardennes Forest in southeast

Elevation extremes
Lowest point North Sea 0 m
Highest point Botrange 694 m

Natural resources
Construction materials, silica sand, carbonates

Land use
Arable land 27.42%
Permanent crops 0.69%
Other 71.89%
Note Includes Luxembourg (2005)

Irrigated land
230 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources
20.8 cu km (2005)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Total 7.44 cu km/yr (13%/85%/1%)
Per capita 714 cu m/yr (1998)

Natural hazards
Flooding is a threat along rivers and in areas of reclaimed coastal land, protected from the sea by concrete dikes

Environment - current issues
The environment is exposed to intense pressures from human activities: urbanization, dense transportation network, industry, extensive animal breeding and crop cultivation; air and water pollution also have repercussions for neighboring countries; uncertainties regarding federal and regional responsibilities (now resolved) had slowed progress in tackling environmental challenges

Environment - international agreements
Party to
Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
Signed, but not ratified
None of the selected agreements

Geography - note
Crossroads of Western Europe; most West European capitals within 1,000 km of Brussels, the seat of both the European Union and NATO


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  Belgium (Brussels):


  GPS points from Belgium (Brussels)

Doelse Polder Antwerpen

Bois De Froidfontaine Walloon Region

Wanne Walloon Region

Eigen Limburg

Merrbeek (be02)

Potje Belgium (general)

Malines Flanders

Sijslo West-vlaanderen




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