Belgium

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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 Flemings 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.

Geography

Location

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

Geographic coordinates

50.50° N, 4.00° E

Area 141/257

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

Coastline

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

Climate

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

Terrain

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

Elevation

mean elevation:

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)

Total renewable water resources

18.3 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)

total: 6.22 cu km/yr (12%/88%/1%)

per capita: 589.8 cu m/yr (2007)

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

the environment is exposed to 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; uncertainties regarding federal and regional responsibilities (now resolved) had slowed progress in tackling environmental challenges

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

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Belgian(s)

adjective: Belgian

Ethnic groups

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

Languages

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

Religions

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

Population 78/238

11,323,973 (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 17.08% (male 990,272/female 943,363)

15-24 years: 11.59% (male 669,540/female 642,486)

25-54 years: 40.45% (male 2,308,285/female 2,272,085)

55-64 years: 12.65% (male 709,347/female 723,696)

65 years and over: 18.23% (male 893,096/female 1,171,803) (2015 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: 42.6 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 143/233

0.76% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 171/224

11.41 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 52/225

9.63 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 21/222

5.87 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Urbanization

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 (2015 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

28.2 (2010 est.)

Maternal mortality rate 156/184

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

Infant mortality rate 209/224

total: 3.41 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 3.81 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 3 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 29/224

total population: 80.88 years

male: 78.3 years

female: 83.58 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 157/224

1.78 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

70.4%

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

Health expenditures 16/191

11.2% of GDP (2013)

Physicians density

3.78 physicians/1,000 population (2010)

Hospital bed density

6.5 beds/1,000 population (2012)

Drinking water source

improved:

urban: 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved:

urban: 0% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved:

urban: 99.5% of population

rural: 99.4% of population

total: 99.5% of population

unimproved:

urban: 0.5% of population

rural: 0.6% of population

total: 0.5% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

NA

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

NA

HIV/AIDS - deaths

NA

Obesity - adult prevalence rate 83/191

22.1% (2014)

Education expenditures 30/173

6.5% of GDP (2011)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 16 years

male: 16 years

female: 17 years (2012)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 55/134

total: 23.2%

male: 24%

female: 22.3% (2013 est.)

Government

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

Capital

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

Independence

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 to the Throne of King LEOPOLD I

Constitution

drafted 25 November 1830, approved 7 February 1831, entered into force 26 July 1831, revised 14 July 1993 (creating a federal state); amended many times, last in 2014 (2015)

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

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Belguim

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years

Suffrage

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 (71 seats; 40 members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote and 31 indirectly elected by Community Parliaments; members serve 4-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 4-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%, FDF 1.8%, PP 1.5%, other 7.2%; 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, FDF 2, PP 1

Judicial branch

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)

Libertarian, Direct, Democratic or LDD (formerly Dedecker's List) [Jean-Marie DEDECKER]

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 FDF [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 [Paul MAGNETTE]

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

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 symbol(s)

lion; national colors: red, black, yellow

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

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 region of Flanders in the north. With few natural resources, Belgium imports substantial quantities of raw materials and exports a large volume of manufactures, making its economy vulnerable to shifts in foreign demand, particularly in Belgium’s EU trade partners. Roughly three-quarters of Belgium's trade is with other EU countries. In 2015 Belgian GDP grew by 1.3%, the unemployment rate stabilized at 8.6%, 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 pressure to reduce Belgium's high public debt, which remains above 100% of GDP, but such efforts could also dampen economic growth. In addition to restrained public spending, low wage growth and high unemployment promise to curtail a more robust recovery in private consumption. 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) 38/230

$494.6 billion (2015 est.)

$488.1 billion (2014 est.)

$482.9 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$458.7 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 166/225

1.3% (2015 est.)

1.1% (2014 est.)

0.3% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 34/230

$44,100 (2015 est.)

$43,600 (2014 est.)

$43,100 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Gross national saving 54/179

24.1% of GDP (2015 est.)

23.6% of GDP (2014 est.)

22.4% of GDP (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 51.8%

government consumption: 24.1%

investment in fixed capital: 23%

investment in inventories: -0.9%

exports of goods and services: 82%

imports of goods and services: -80%

(2015 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 0.7%

industry: 22.3%

services: 77% (2015 est.)

Agriculture - products

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

Industries

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 167/202

-0.6% (2015 est.)

Labor force 74/233

5.279 million (2015 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 1.3%

industry: 18.6%

services: 80.1% (2013 est.)

Unemployment rate 97/207

8.6% (2015 est.)

8.5% (2014 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 137/144

25.9 (2013 est.)

28.7 (1996)

Budget

revenues: $226.8 billion

expenditures: $239.4 billion (2015 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 17/219

49.5% of GDP (2015 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 98/220

-2.7% of GDP (2015 est.)

Public debt 12/176

107% of GDP (2015 est.)

106.3% of GDP (2014 est.)

note: data cover general government debt, and includes 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 intra-governmental debt; intra-governmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement, medical care, and unemployment; debt instruments for the social funds are not sold at public auctions; general government debt is defined by the Maastricht definition and calculated by the National Bank of Belgium as consolidated gross debt; the debt is defined in European Regulation EC479/2009 concerning the implementation of the protocol on the excessive deficit procedure annexed to the Treaty on European Union (Treaty of Maastricht) of 7 February 1992; the sub-sectors of consolidated gross debt are: federal government, communities and regions, local government, and social security funds

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 53/226

0.5% (2015 est.)

0.5% (2014 est.)

Central bank discount rate 149/156

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 175/184

2.5% (31 December 2015 est.)

3.23% (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of narrow money 21/192

$188 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$182.5 billion (31 December 2014 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 money circulating within their own borders

Stock of broad money 21/193

$606.9 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$630.9 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 24/191

$526.1 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$564.1 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares 31/121

$300.1 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

$229.9 billion (31 December 2011)

$269.3 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Current account balance 23/197

$9.506 billion (2015 est.)

$8.628 billion (2014 est.)

Exports 18/224

$281.7 billion (2015 est.)

$326 billion (2014 est.)

Exports - commodities

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

Exports - partners

Germany 17.3%, France 16.2%, Netherlands 12.2%, UK 8.6%, US 4.9%, Italy 4.5% (2014)

Imports 17/223

$280.3 billion (2015 est.)

$330.8 billion (2014 est.)

Imports - commodities

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

Imports - partners

Netherlands 20.2%, Germany 13.3%, France 10.3%, US 7.1%, UK 5% (2014)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 54/170

$25.4 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$26.92 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Debt - external 16/206

$1.312 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)

$1.285 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home 7/120

$1.24 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)

$1.206 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad 10/105

$1.144 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)

$1.118 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)

Exchange rates

euros (EUR) per US dollar -

0.89 (2015 est.)

0.75 (2014 est.)

0.76 (2013 est.)

0.78 (2012 est.)

0.72 (2011 est.)

Energy

Electricity - production 38/220

76.09 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption 36/219

81.89 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 25/218

7.603 billion kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports 11/219

17.24 billion kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 38/214

20.98 million kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 166/214

39.3% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 4/214

28.2% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 146/214

0.6% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 7/212

25.7% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 109/214

0 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 44/214

54,900 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports 17/214

618,400 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 108/215

0 bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 27/214

666,900 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 31/212

618,700 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 14/214

497,500 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 14/213

548,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production 158/216

0 cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 41/215

15.8 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - exports 38/215

845 million cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - imports 22/214

16.85 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 113/212

0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 35/212

139.1 million Mt (2012 est.)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines 32/219

total subscriptions: 4.7 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 42 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 73/217

total: 12.7 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 113 (2014 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) (2007)

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 to cable and can access broadcasts of TV stations from neighboring countries; each community has a public radio network co-existing with private broadcasters (2007)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 7, FM 79, shortwave 1 (1998)

Television broadcast stations

25 (plus 10 repeaters) (1997)

Internet country code

.be

Internet hosts 21/232

5.192 million (2012)

Internet users 46/217

total: 9.5 million

percent of population: 84.7% (2014 est.)

Transportation

Airports 102/236

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)

Heliports

1 (2013)

Pipelines

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

Railways 55/136

total: 3,592 km

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

Roadways 31/223

total: 154,012 km

paved: 120,514 km (includes 1,756 km of expressways)

unpaved: 33,498 km (2010)

Waterways 41/107

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

Merchant marine 56/156

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 7, Singapore 1, Vanuatu 1) (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 and Security

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 97/132

1% of GDP (2013)

1.05% of GDP (2012)

1.08% of GDP (2011)

1.05% of GDP (2010)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

none

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 5,038 (Afghanistan) (2014)

stateless persons: 2,554 (2014)

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