17 July 2018
Belgium's top 10 unmissable features
“Proud of being Belgian? Yes, of course!” Belgians don’t need to be convinced how wonderful their country is. Here are ten facts - from the thousands we could have used - to demonstrate why the Belgians are “the most valiant of the Gauls”.
1. Belgians are the epicureans of the world
Chocolate, waffles and chips. The sacrosanct trio of Belgian food. They’ve been around for centuries and we still want more. Every year, we eat hundreds of thousands of tonnes of these foods. Did you know that Zaventem airport sells two tonnes of chocolate every day?
2. “Spa” comes from Belgium
It does you good on the inside and this shows on the outside. Yes, we’re talking about the Spa. Water with beneficial, even healing, properties was already well known in Roman times!
3. Belgians are tireless cartoonists
Alongside the big names such as Hergé, Peyo, Franquin and Vandersteen, there are no fewer than 800 cartoonists in Belgium. No other country in the world has such a concentration of cartoonists per square kilometre.
4. Belgium is full of cafés
One café for every 300 Belgians, to be precise. Plus, Belgium is one of the rare countries where there is no “curfew”. It’s up to each café owner what time they close for business.
5. Belgium, the mother of beer
According to different sources, there are between 800 and 1,200 local beers. And each Belgian drinks 150 litres per person per year. Cheers!
6. Belgians have the best festivals
Just think of the fabulous Tomorrowland (one of the largest electro festivals in the world) and Rock Werchter (voted best festival in the world several times). Belgians are great music fans. Did you know that the cassette was invented in Belgium? Yes, by Philips in 1963.
7. Belgians are open-minded
Belgium was the second country in the world to say “Yes” to gay marriage. On more controversial topics, such as abortion and euthanasia, Belgium has also taken a trailblazing attitude. Did you know that Elio Di Rupo was the first European Prime Minister to openly declare himself as part of the LGBT+ community?
8. Belgians adore games
Darts, pool, snooker and bowling... Put a game in a Belgian's hands and he’ll be content. Did you know that 80% of the pool balls in the whole world are made in Belgium? Just Google the name Aramith!
9. Belgium is a country of great cycle races
The Tour of Flanders! Liège-Bastogne-Liège! Ghent-Wevelgem! And many more. But it doesn't stop with the Classics. Did you know that after France, Belgium has won the Tour de France the most - 18 times! Plus, it has by far the most men’s World titles (26 in total).
10. Belgium is a footballing country
As well as cycling, football is a top Belgian sport - the URBSFA (Belgian Football Association) has 400,000 active members. Did you know that Belgium is the smallest country to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup? Although Uruguay and Croatia have respective populations of 3 and 4 million compared to 11 million in Belgium, at 170,000 km² and 56,000 km², their countries are much larger than the 30,000 km² that makes up Belgium!