Flag of Belgium

Belgium

The Kingdom of Belgium is a country in northwestern Europe, bounded to the north by the Netherlands: to the east by Germany and Luxembourg; to the south by France; and to the west by the North Sea. A line drawn east to west just to the south of Brussels divides the population by race and language into two approximately equal parts; north of the line the inhabitants are Flemings of Teutonic stock who speak Dutch (referred to in Belgium as Flemish), while south of the line they are French-speaking Latins known as Walloons. Less than 1% of the Belgians (around 70,000) live in the German-speaking Community in the east of Wallonia.

The name 'Belgium' is derived from Gallia Belgica, a Roman province that was inhabited by the Belgae, a group of Celtic tribes, in the northernmost part of Gaul.

Belgium is a country perfectly suited to a short break - it's just a short flight away, or in the case of Brussels, can be reached by Eurostar in just under three hours. Or travel by ferry with your car to experience the countryside and towns outside of the capital cities, such as Antwerp and Ghent.

Once there you can take your choice between the capital, Brussels, and Bruges, one of Europe's most finely preserved medieval cities. In Brussels, striking architecture and a fine array of museums dominate proceedings. Brussels is in French-speaking Belgium, so expect to hear French spoken in most of the shops, and your meals to have a distinctly Gallic flavour.

Like Brussels, Bruges is also big on museums but it's better known for its canals and more than lives up to the moniker of 'Venice of the North'. Bruges is Belgium's showpiece city, and rightly so. It's an impossibly pristine city of gentle waterways, cobblestone bridges, medieval churches and pretty squares. Largely pedestrianised, it's a leisurely and compact city, full of quaint cafes serving calorific sweet treats and cosy pubs boasting a mind-blowing list of locally brewed beers, from thirst quenching wheat beers to Trappist brews which pack quite a punch! And it would be hard to miss the opportunity to chomp on a Belgian truffle or two - chocolate shops tempt you at every corner in Bruges.

Map of Belgium