Belgium is a beautiful country in Western Europe that’s sandwiched between the Netherlands, France, and Germany. Unfortunately, due to its incredibly famous neighbours, it’s often overlooked by many Europe visitors. However, you’ll find a whole treasure trove of interesting attractions should you opt to visit the tiny country. Here’s your guide to the best fun, weird, and interesting facts about Belgium.
- #1 Belgium has three official languages
- #2 Belgium is technically a Kingdom
- #3 Belgium can function without a government
- #4 There are seven parliaments in Belgium
- #5 The national symbol of Belgium is the Manneken pis
- #6 Belgian chocolate is incredibly famous
- #7 French fries actually come from Belgium!
- #8 There are over 1000 beers brewed in Belgium
- #9 There are lots of types of Belgian Waffles
- #10 The Belgian flag is in different proportions to many other European flags
- #11 The capital of Belgium is Brussels
- #12 Brussels is home to one of the biggest Christmas Markets in Europe
#1 Belgium has three official languages
Depending on which region of the country you’re in, you’ll find that people in Belgium will speak French, German, or Dutch (which is known as Flemish in Belgium). There is no language called ‘Belgian’. Many people in the Flemish speaking part of Belgium also have a great level of English.
#2 Belgium is technically a Kingdom
Much like the United Kingdom, which lies just across the water, Belgium is technically a Kingdom on account of the fact that it has a royal family. The head of the monarchy is either a King or a Queen and there have been seven Kings since Belgium became its own independent country in 1830. The current King of Belgium has been Philippe since 2013 when he took over from his father who abdicated.
#3 Belgium can function without a government
One of the most interesting facts about Belgium is that it can function without a government. The country is a federal state, meaning that, while there is still a central government, there are also three regions, each with their own government.
The three regions are Wallonia, Flanders, and Brussels-Capital. Due to the complexities of forming a government between the three regions, it can take a long time to form a central (federal government). From 2019-2020, it took a staggering 652 days for a federal government to be formed.
#4 There are seven parliaments in Belgium
As previously mentioned, there are a lot of complexities when it comes to the running of Belgium! One of the most interesting facts about the political situation in Belgium is that it is the only country in the world to have 7 parliaments (yes, you read that correctly!)
There is a parliament to represent each of the three regions, each of the three communities (French speaking, German Speaking, and Flemish speaking), as well as the entirety of the country as a whole (federal government).
#5 The national symbol of Belgium is the Manneken pis
One of the most fun facts about Belgium is that the national symbol of the country is a statue of a small urinating boy. Standing at just 70 cm tall, many visitors are drawn to Brussels for one of the most unusual (and free to see) attractions that the Belgian capital city has to offer: the chance to see a small statue of a weeing boy!
Often dressed up in various outfits and drawing crowds from near and far for several centuries, the Manneken Pis dates back to the 17th-century. Thanks to the popularity of Manneken Pis, there is now an entire subculture of urinating statues that has emerged as a result of the original tiny statue!
As well as a 1980s creation of Jeanneke Pis, a urinating sister for Manneken Pis, there is also a urinating dog statue, Het Zinneke, which was erected in 1998. For even more offbeat attractions to see in the Belgium capital, check out our guide to the best hidden gems of Brussels.
#6 Belgian chocolate is incredibly famous
Belgium is known around the world for the excellent quality of its chocolate. In fact, it’s estimated that the 725,000 tons of chocolate produced each year in Belgium means that Belgium is responsible for around 11% of the world’s chocolate production!
#7 French fries actually come from Belgium!
If there’s one thing you should know about Belgium, it’s that French fries were invented in the country (though definitely don’t refer to them as such when you’re visiting Belgium!) Known as ‘frites’ in French and ‘frieten’ in Flemish (Dutch), fries in Belgium are typically served with a kind of mayonnaise and not ketchup.
#8 There are over 1000 beers brewed in Belgium
Of course, when it comes to Belgium facts, it probably hasn’t escaped your notice that there’s plenty to learn about when it comes to food and drink in Belgium. While there are no exact statistics as to how many beers are brewed in Belgium, most estimates suggest that the number is between 1000 and 2000.
Another specialty of Belgium is Trappist beer, which can only be called such if it is beer brewed in a monastery. Of the 11 Trappist beers in the world, 6 can be found in Belgium. For an even more in-depth look into beers in Belgium, make sure to visit Delirium Café, which boasts over 2000 types of beers!
Much like wine, there is actually a specially shaped glass for each beer. There are some pretty unusual beer glass shapes out there, one of my favourites being in a bar in Ghent where you have to swap your shoe for the ‘loan’ of the glass during the duration of your drink. For even more information, check out our beginner’s guide to Belgian beer.
#9 There are lots of types of Belgian Waffles
What may well surprise you on a trip to Belgium is that there are actually lots of different types of Belgian waffles. The most famous types of waffles are the Brussels Waffle (light and in the shape of a rectangular window) and the Liège Waffle (which is sweet and contains large sugar chunks).
#10 The Belgian flag is in different proportions to many other European flags
Whereas the French flag is in 2:3 proportions, the Belgian flag is in 13:15, making it appear more square-like in appearance than many of its nearby country counterparts. The Belgian flag is striped with equal parts black, yellow, and red, which are the national colours of Belgium.
#11 The capital of Belgium is Brussels
The capital city of Belgium is Brussels, a unique city which is easily reached from many other European capital cities such as Paris and Amsterdam. Thanks to the country’s fairly small size, it’s fairly easy to take day trips from Brussels to the rest of the country.
#12 Brussels is home to one of the biggest Christmas Markets in Europe
It’s estimated that around 2.5 million visitors head to the Brussels Christmas Markets on an annual basis! Indeed, such is the size of the annual festive event, that the Christmas Market is one interesting Belgium fact is that the Christmas Market is one of the biggest in Europe.
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