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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. 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

Natural Resources

construction materials, silica sand, carbonates, arable land

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

Dutch (official) 60%, French (official) 40%, German (official) less than 1%
BRUSSELS (capital) 2.045 million; Antwerp 994,000 (2015)
Conventional long form
Kingdom of Belgium
Conventional short form
Local long form
Royaume de Belgique (French)/Koninkrijk Belgie (Dutch)/Koenigreich Belgien (German)
Local short form
federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy
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
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
Belgium’s central geographic location and highly developed transport network have helped develop a well-diversified economy, with a broad mix of transport, services, manufacturing, and high tech. Industry is concentrated mainly in the more heavily-populated region of Flanders in the north. Belgium is 100% reliant on foreign sources of fossil fuels, and the planned closure of its seven nuclear plants by 2025 should increase its dependence on foreign energy. Its role as a regional logistical hub makes its economy vulnerable to shifts in foreign demand, particularly with EU trading partners. Roughly three-quarters of Belgium's trade is with other EU countries.
Total tax rate (% of commercial profits)
Real Interest Rate
Manufacturing, value added (% of GDP)
Current Account Balance
US$ -1,912,504,055
Labor Force, Total
Employment in Agriculture
Employment in Industry
Employment in Services
Unemployment Rate
Imports of goods and services
US$ 382,711,898,358
Exports of goods and services
US$ 393,891,773,661
Total Merchandise Trade
FDI, net inflows
US$ 19,440,995,047
Commercial Service Exports
US$ 108,952,081,763
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, pharmaceuticals, base metals, textiles, glass, petroleum
chemicals, machinery and equipment, finished diamonds, metals and metal products, foodstuffs
Germany 16.9%, France 15.5%, Netherlands 11.4%, UK 8.8%, US 6%, Italy 5% (2015)
raw materials, machinery and equipment, chemicals, raw diamonds, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, transportation equipment, oil products
Netherlands 16.7%, Germany 12.7%, France 9.6%, US 8.7%, UK 5.1%, Ireland 4.7%, China 4.3% (2015)
Country Risk Rating
The political and economic situation is good. A basically stable and efficient business environment nonetheless leaves room for improvement. Corporate default probability is low on average.
Business Climate Rating
The business environment is very good. Corporate financial information is available and reliable. Debt collection is efficient. Institutional quality is very good. Intercompany transactions run smoothly in environments rated A1.
  • Ideally located between the United Kingdom, Germany, and France
  • Presence of European institutions, international organizations, and global groups
  • Ports of Antwerp (second busiest in Europe) and Zeebrugge, canals, and motorways
  • Well-qualified, multilingual workforce thanks to vocational training
  • Net external creditor position
  • Excellent business environment
  • Political and financial tensions between Flanders and Wallonia
  • Highly dependent on the western European economic cycle (exports of goods and services = 82% of GDP)
  • Exports concentrated on intermediate products and the European Union
  • High structural unemployment
  • Heavy public debt burden
  • Tight housing market (over-valuation estimated at 6.8% by BNB in Q2

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