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Belgium, Venice of the North

Medieval towns, Renaissance architecture and the headquarters of the European Union and NATO. This tiny, urbanized county is just about the size of Maryland, yet packed with 11 million people.  Interestingly there is not an official ‘Belgium’ language, but the country has distinctive regions including Dutch-speaking Flanders to the north, French-speaking Wallonia to the south and a German-speaking community to the east. The bilingual capital, Brussels, has ornate guildhalls at Grand-Place and elegant art-nouveau buildings.

But, to me, it’s all about the CHOCOLATE! With production dating back to,1635, the country has more than 2,000 chocolate shops and produces over 173,000 tons of chocolate every year. Yum!

Belgium produces more than 220,000 tons of chocolate per annum

And oddly enough, the Zaventem airport is the place where chocolate is being sold the most in the world!  Brussels’ airport has the highest number of chocolate sales in the world? On average, 1.6 kg of chocolate is being sold per minute! Impressive, isn’t it? Or weird – can’t decide!

In the 1970s, light beer was served during school lunch

Belgians love their beers, and in traditional Belgian culture, it was acceptable for everyone, including children, to drink a kind of light, ‘table beer’ as they drank their water and coffee. In fact, it was the norm until the 1970s, but it was eventually replaced by water and soft drinks. In the 21st century, many organizations tried to reinstate this custom citing that it is healthier than many types of soft drinks including juices which cause diabetes, cancer and all sorts of illness.  In 2001, a Flemish beer lovers’ club asked around 30 Belgian schools to change their fizzy drinks to this tafelbier or bière de table, beer with low-alcohol content (lower than 1.5%). Alrighty then…

After the Dutchmen, men from Belgium are the second tallest in the world. 

The average Dutchman is now 183cm tall and Belgians have an average height of 182cm.

Same-sex marriages are legal in the country.

In fact, it became the second country in the world to legalize same-sex marriages in 2003, after the Netherlands.

The practice of intentionally ending a life (Euthanasia) to relieve pain and suffering is also legal in the country.

It was made legal in 2002 and the next year in 2003, the country also legalized gay marriage.

Belgium has the highest number of castles per square kilometer than any other country in the world.

It is estimated that they have 3,000 castles.

Diamond trade

Antwerp, since 1447, has been the city known as the world’s diamond capital.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Defeated in Belgium, he handed over defeat in Waterloo, a city south of Brussels. The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday, 18 June 1815.

Good to know



Visa requirements

Visa in not needed for US citizens.

Languages spoken

Dutch, French & German

Curency used


Area (km2)


A Word About Belgium Waffles! The two main types of Belgian waffles are:

Brussels waffles: Crispy on the outside, amazingly soft on the inside, the Brussels waffle is what most Americans picture when they think of Belgian waffles. Their fluffier texture comes from using leavened batter and larger, deeper squares. These rectangular treats are most commonly dotted with either 15 or 24 square pockets.Belgian waffle bakery in Bruges, Belgium

Liège waffles: These delicious and extremely popular waffles hail from eastern Belgium. Made with a thicker brioche batter that includes pearl sugar, Liège waffles have a rich and crispy caramelized sugar coating. Their distinctly rounded corners typically surround a 3-by-4 square pattern. Once the lingering scent of real Belgian waffles pulls you in, be prepared to sit back and indulge in tasty ride. Waffles can be found on nearly every street corner in Bruges and, paired with the exquisite scenery, can make your visit to Belgium a feast for the senses.

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