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. Political divisions between the Dutch-speaking Flemish 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. Its capital, Brussels, is home to numerous international organizations including the EU and NATO.



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

Geographic coordinates

50 50 N, 4 00 E

Map references



total: 30,528 sq km
land: 30,278 sq km
water: 250 sq km

Area - comparative

about the size of Maryland

Land boundaries

total: 1,297 km
border countries (4): France 556 km, Germany 133 km, Luxembourg 130 km, Netherlands 478 km


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


temperate; mild winters, cool summers; rainy, humid, cloudy


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


mean elevation: 181 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: North Sea 0 m
highest point: Botrange 694 m

Natural resources

construction materials, silica sand, carbonates, arable land

Land use

agricultural land: 44.1%
arable land 27.2%; permanent crops 0.8%; permanent pasture 16.1%
forest: 22.4%
other: 33.5% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

230 sq km (2012)

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

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

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 are within 1,000 km of Brussels, the seat of both the European Union and NATO

People and Society


11,409,077 (July 2016 est.)


noun: Belgian(s)
adjective: Belgian

Ethnic groups

Flemish 58%, Walloon 31%, mixed or other 11%


Dutch (official) 60%, French (official) 40%, German (official) less than 1%


Roman Catholic 75%, other (includes Protestant) 25%

Age structure

0-14 years: 17.12% (male 1,000,155/female 952,529)
15-24 years: 11.47% (male 667,760/female 640,364)
25-54 years: 40.25% (male 2,315,256/female 2,277,308)
55-64 years: 12.76% (male 720,823/female 735,225)
65 years and over: 18.4% (male 911,199/female 1,188,458) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 54.2%
youth dependency ratio: 26.1%
elderly dependency ratio: 28.1%
potential support ratio: 3.6% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 41.4 years
male: 40.2 years
female: 42.7 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

0.73% (2016 est.)

Birth rate

11.4 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

9.7 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

5.6 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Population distribution

most of the population concentrated in the northern two-thirds of the country; the southeast is more thinly populated; considered to have one of the highest population densities in the world; approximately 97% live in urban areas


urban population: 97.9% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 0.48% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

BRUSSELS (capital) 2.045 million; Antwerp 994,000 (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

7 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 3.4 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 3.8 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 81 years
male: 78.4 years
female: 83.7 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.78 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

note: percent of women aged 18-49 (2008/10)

Health expenditures

10.6% of GDP (2014)

Physicians density

3.78 physicians/1,000 population (2010)

Hospital bed density

6.5 beds/1,000 population (2012)

Drinking water source

urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 99.5% of population
rural: 99.4% of population
total: 99.5% of population
urban: 0.5% of population
rural: 0.6% of population
total: 0.5% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Obesity - adult prevalence rate

22.1% (2014)

Education expenditures

6.4% of GDP (2011)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 20 years
male: 19 years
female: 21 years (2014)

Mother's mean age at first birth

28.2 (2010 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 23.2%
male: 24%
female: 22.3% (2014 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Kingdom of Belgium
conventional short form: Belgium
local long form: Royaume de Belgique (French)/Koninkrijk Belgie (Dutch)/Koenigreich Belgien (German)
local short form: Belgique/Belgie/Belgien
etymology: the name derives from the Belgae, an ancient Celtic tribal confederation that inhabited an area between the English Channel and the west bank of the Rhine in the first centuries B.C.

Government type

federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy


name: Brussels
geographic coordinates: 50 50 N, 4 20 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Administrative divisions

3 regions (French: regions, singular - region; Dutch: gewesten, singular - gewest); Brussels-Capital Region, also known as Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest (Dutch), Region de Bruxelles-Capitale (French long form), Bruxelles-Capitale (French short form); Flemish Region (Flanders), also known as Vlaams Gewest (Dutch long form), Vlaanderen (Dutch short form), Region Flamande (French long form), Flandre (French short form); Walloon Region (Wallonia), also known as Region Wallone (French long form), Wallonie (French short form), Waals Gewest (Dutch long form), Wallonie (Dutch short form)
note: as a result of the 1993 constitutional revision that furthered devolution into a federal state, there are now three levels of government (federal, regional, and linguistic community) with a complex division of responsibilities; the 2012 sixth state reform transferred additional competencies from the federal state to the regions and linguistic communities


4 October 1830 (a provisional government declared independence from the Netherlands); 21 July 1831 (King LEOPOLD I ascended to the throne)

National holiday

21 July (1831) Ascension Day (ascension to the throne of King LEOPOLD I)


history: drafted 25 November 1830, approved 7 February 1831, entered into force 26 July 1831, revised 14 July 1993 (creating a federal state)
amendments: "revisions" proposed as declarations by the federal government in accord with the king or by Parliament followed by dissolution of Parliament and new elections; adoption requires two-thirds majority vote of a two-thirds quorum in both houses of the next elected Parliament; amended many times, last in 2014 (2016)

Legal system

civil law system based on the French Civil Code; note - Belgian law continues to be modified in conformance with the legislative norms mandated by the European Union; judicial review of legislative acts

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Belgium
dual citizenship recognized: yes
residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch

chief of state: King PHILIPPE (since 21 July 2013); Heir Apparent Princess ELISABETH, daughter of the monarch
head of government: Prime Minister Charles MICHEL (since 11 October 2014); Deputy Prime Ministers Alexander DE CROO (since 22 October 2012), Jan JAMBON (since 11 October 2014), Kris PEETERS, Didier REYNDERS (since 30 December 2008)
cabinet: Council of Ministers formally appointed by the monarch
elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary and constitutional; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the monarch and approved by Parliament

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate or Senaat in Dutch, Senat in French (60 seats; 50 members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote and 10 indirectly elected by Community Parliaments; members serve 5-year terms) and the Chamber of Representatives or Kamer van Volksvertegenwoordigers in Dutch, Chambre des Representants in French (150 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote; members serve 5-year terms)
note: the 1993 constitutional revision that further devolved Belgium into a federal state created three levels of government (federal, regional, and linguistic community) with a complex division of responsibilities; this reality leaves six governments, each with its own legislative assembly; changes above occurred since the sixth state reform
elections: Chamber of Deputies - last held on 23 May 2014 (next to be held in May 2019); note - elections will coincide with the EU's elections
election results: Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - N-VA 20.3%, PS 11.7%, CD&V 11.6%, Open VLD 9.8%, MR 9.6%, SP.A 8.8%, Groen! 5.3%, CDH 5.0% Workers' Party 3.7%, VB 3.7%, Ecolo 3.3%, Defi 1.8%, PP 1.5%, other 3.9%; seats by party - N-VA 33, PS 23, CD&V 18, Open VLD 14, MR 20, SP.A 13, Groen! 6, CDH 9, Workers' Party 2, VB 3, Ecolo 6, Defi 2, PP 1

Judicial branch

highest court(s): highest court(s): Constitutional Court or Grondwettelijk Hof in Dutch and Cour constitutionelle in French (consists of 12 judges - 6 Dutch-speaking and 6 French-speaking); Supreme Court of Justice or Hof van Cassatie in Dutch and Cour de Cassation in French (court organized into 3 chambers: civil and commercial; criminal; social, fiscal, and armed forces; each chamber includes a Dutch division and a French division, each with a chairperson and 5-6 judges)
judge selection and term of office: Constitutional Court judges appointed by the monarch from candidates submitted by Parliament; judges appointed for life with mandatory retirement at age 70; Supreme Court judges appointed by the monarch from candidates submitted by the High Council of Justice, a 44-member independent body of judicial and non-judicial members; judges appointed for life
subordinate courts: Courts of Appeal; regional courts; specialized courts for administrative, commercial, labor, and audit issues; magistrate's courts; justices of the peace

Political parties and leaders

Flemish parties:
Christian Democratic and Flemish or CD&V [Wouter BEKE]
Flemish Liberals and Democrats or Open VLD [Gwendolyn RUTTEN]
Groen! [Meyrem ALMACI] (formerly AGALEV, Flemish Greens)
New Flemish Alliance or N-VA [Bart DE WEVER]
Social Progressive Alternative or SP.A [John CROMBEZ]
Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) or VB [Tom VAN GRIEKEN]
Francophone parties:
Ecolo (Francophone Greens) [Patrick DUPRIEZ and Zakia KHATTABI]
Francophone Federalist Democrats or Defi [Olivier MAINGAIN]
Humanist and Democratic Center or CDH [Benoit LUTGEN]
People's Party or PP [Mischael MODRIKAMEN]
Reform Movement or MR [Olivier CHASTEL]
Socialist Party or PS [Elio DI RUPO]
Workers' Party [Peter MERTENS]
other minor parties

Political pressure groups and leaders

Belgian General Federation of Labor [Rudy DE LEEUW, Marc GOBLET]
Confederation of Christan Trade Unions [Marc LEEMANS, Marie-Helene SKA]
Federation of Enterprises in Belgium [Pieter TIMMERMANS, Michele SIOEN]
other: numerous other associations representing bankers, manufacturers, middle-class artisans, and the legal and medical professions; trade unions; various organizations representing the cultural interests of Flanders and Wallonia; various peace groups such as Pax Christi and groups representing immigrants

International organization participation

ADB (nonregional members), AfDB (nonregional members), Australia Group, Benelux, BIS, CD, CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECB, EIB, EITI (implementing country), EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, FATF, G-9, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IGAD (partners), IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, MONUSCO, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OIF, OPCW, OSCE, Pacific Alliance (observer), Paris Club, PCA, Schengen Convention, SELEC (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNRWA, UNTSO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Dirk Jozef M. WOUTERS (since 16 September 2016)
chancery: 3330 Garfield Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 333-6900
FAX: [1] (202) 333-3079
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Denise Campbell BAUER (since 26 September 2013)
embassy: 27 Boulevard du Regent [Regentlaan], B-1000 Brussels
mailing address: PSC 82, Box 002, APO AE 09710
telephone: [32] (2) 811-4000
FAX: [32] (2) 811-4500

National symbol(s)

lion; national colors: red, black, yellow

Flag description

three equal vertical bands of black (hoist side), yellow, and red; the vertical design was based on the flag of France; the colors are those of the arms of the duchy of Brabant (yellow lion with red claws and tongue on a black field)

National anthem

name: "La Brabanconne" (The Song of Brabant)
lyrics/music: Louis-Alexandre DECHET[French] Victor CEULEMANS [Dutch]/Francois VAN CAMPENHOUT
note: adopted 1830; according to legend, Louis-Alexandre DECHET, an actor at the theater in which the revolution against the Netherlands began, wrote the lyrics with a group of young people in a Brussels cafe


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 r

In 2015-16, Belgian GDP grew by 1.4% per year, the unemployment rate stabilized at 8.4-8.5%, and the budget deficit was 2.7% of GDP. Prime Minister Charles MICHEL's center-right government has pledged to further reduce the deficit in response to EU pressu

The government has pledged to pursue a reform program to improve Belgium’s competitiveness, including changes to tax policy, labor market rules, and welfare benefits. These changes risk worsening tensions with trade unions and triggering extended strikes.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$508.6 billion (2016 est.)
$501.4 billion (2015 est.)
$494.6 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$470.2 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

1.4% (2016 est.)
1.4% (2015 est.)
1.3% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$44,900 (2016 est.)
$44,700 (2015 est.)
$44,100 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Gross national saving

23.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
22.6% of GDP (2015 est.)
22.8% of GDP (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 51.8%
government consumption: 24%
investment in fixed capital: 23.3%
investment in inventories: -0.1%
exports of goods and services: 83.1%
imports of goods and services: -82.1% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 0.6%
industry: 21.8%
services: 77.6% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

sugar beets, fresh vegetables, fruits, grain, tobacco; beef, veal, pork, milk


engineering and metal products, motor vehicle assembly, transportation equipment, scientific instruments, processed food and beverages, chemicals, base metals, textiles, glass, petroleum

Industrial production growth rate

1.5% (2016 est.)

Labor force

5.272 million (2016 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 1.3%
industry: 18.6%
services: 80.1% (2013 est.)

Unemployment rate

8.4% (2016 est.)
8.5% (2015 est.)

Population below poverty line

15.1% (2013 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 3.4%
highest 10%: 28.4% (2006)

Distribution of family income - Gini index

25.9 (2013 est.)
28.7 (1996)


revenues: $232.3 billion
expenditures: $245 billion (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

49.4% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-2.7% of GDP (2016 est.)

Public debt

106.7% of GDP (2016 est.)
106.1% of GDP (2015 est.)
note: data cover general government debt and include 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 int

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

1.6% (2016 est.)
0.6% (2015 est.)

Central bank discount rate

0.05% (31 December 2013)
0.3% (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

2.5% (31 December 2016 est.)
2.46% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$193 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$181.5 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
note: see entry for the European Union for money supply for the entire euro area; the European Central Bank (ECB) controls monetary policy for the 18 members of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU); individual members of the EMU do not control the quantity of

Stock of broad money

$606.9 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$630.9 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$646.6 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$660.8 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

$414.6 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$378.5 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$374.3 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Current account balance

$585 million (2016 est.)
-$155 million (2015 est.)


$250.8 billion (2016 est.)
$259.9 billion (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

chemicals, machinery and equipment, finished diamonds, metals and metal products, foodstuffs

Exports - partners

Germany 16.9%, France 15.5%, Netherlands 11.4%, UK 8.8%, US 6%, Italy 5% (2015)


$251.7 billion (2016 est.)
$259.6 billion (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

raw materials, machinery and equipment, chemicals, raw diamonds, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, transportation equipment, oil products

Imports - partners

Netherlands 16.7%, Germany 12.7%, France 9.6%, US 8.7%, UK 5.1%, Ireland 4.7%, China 4.3% (2015)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$24.1 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$25.4 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Debt - external

$1.281 trillion (31 March 2016 est.)
$1.214 trillion (31 March 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home

$1.045 trillion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.034 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad

$1.01 trillion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.01 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)

Exchange rates

euros (EUR) per US dollar -
0.9214 (2016 est.)
0.885 (2015 est.)
0.885 (2014 est.)
0.7634 (2013 est.)
0.78 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

electrification - total population: 100% (2016)

Electricity - production

68 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

81 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

4.2 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - imports

22 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

21 million kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

39.3% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

28.2% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

0.6% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

25.7% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

73,090 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - imports

715,000 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

730,200 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

647,800 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

535,700 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

547,700 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

15.78 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - exports

848 million cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - imports

16.82 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

141 million Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 4,488,711
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 40 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 12.938 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 114 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: highly developed, technologically advanced, and completely automated domestic and international telephone and telegraph facilities
domestic: nationwide mobile-cellular telephone system; extensive cable network; limited microwave radio relay network
international: country code - 32; landing point for a number of submarine cables that provide links to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia; satellite earth stations - 7 (Intelsat - 3) (2015)

Broadcast media

a segmented market with the three major communities (Flemish, French, and German-speaking) each having responsibility for their own broadcast media; multiple TV channels exist for each community; additionally, in excess of 90% of households are connected (2007)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 9.631 million
percent of population: 85% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 7
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 117
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 11,193,023
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 1,464,316,900 mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

OO (2016)


41 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 26
over 3,047 m: 6
2,438 to 3,047 m: 9
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 8 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 15
under 914 m: 15 (2013)


1 (2013)


gas 3,139 km; oil 154 km; refined products 535 km (2013)


total: 3,592 km
standard gauge: 3,592 km 1.435-m gauge (2,960 km electrified) (2014)


total: 154,012 km
paved: 120,514 km (includes 1,756 km of expressways)
unpaved: 33,498 km (2010)


2,043 km (1,528 km in regular commercial use) (2012)

Merchant marine

total: 87
by type: bulk carrier 23, cargo 15, chemical tanker 5, container 4, liquefied gas 23, passenger 2, petroleum tanker 8, roll on/roll off 7
foreign-owned: 15 (Denmark 4, France 7, Russia 1, UK 2, US 1)
registered in other countries: 107 (Bahamas 6, Cambodia 1, Cyprus 3, France 7, Gibraltar 1, Greece 17, Hong Kong 26, Liberia 1, Luxembourg 11, Malta 7, Marshall Islands 1, Mozambique 2, North Korea 1, Panama 1, Portugal 8, Russia 4, Saint Kitts and Nevis 1, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Oostende, Zeebrugge
river port(s): Antwerp, Gent (Schelde River); Brussels (Senne River); Liege (Meuse River)
container port(s) (TEUs): Antwerp (8,664,243), Zeebrugge (2,207,257) (2011)
LNG terminal(s) (import): Zeebrugge


Military branches

Belgian Armed Forces: Land Operations Command, Naval Operations Command, Air Operations Command (2012)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for male and female voluntary military service; conscription abolished in 1994 (2012)

Military expenditures

0.85% of GDP (2016)
0.91% of GDP (2015)
0.97% of GDP (2014)
1.01% of GDP (2013)
1.05% of GDP (2012)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international


Refugees and internally displaced persons

stateless persons: 5,776 (2015)

Illicit drugs

growing producer of synthetic drugs and cannabis; transit point for US-bound ecstasy; source of precursor chemicals for South American cocaine processors; transshipment point for cocaine, heroin, hashish, and marijuana entering Western Europe; despite a strengthening of legislation, the country remains vulnerable to money laundering related to narcotics, automobiles, alcohol, and tobacco; significant domestic consumption of ecstasy