Monday, January 12, 2015

A Few Basic Facts On Belgium

The purpose of this blog is for me to:

  1. Learn more about Belgium - having gone to a European school for my elementary and secondary education, then to an American school for my university studies, I'm afraid I really don't know much about it and how it's run.
  2. Learn more about Europe - Belgium being one of its original founders, I think it would be hard to address one without addressing the other.
  3. Try to make sense of the politics, laws, and other intricacies that inevitably come with a country, and Belgium is quite the Gordian Knot in that sector (it is well known, for example, for its strikes and misfiling papers, tactics which worked quite well during the German occupation in WWII).
So before I delve into anything more complicated, I figured I'd give a few quick facts about Belgium...

Belgium and its regions:

I think that's about it for now. We'll dive into more details in another post!

List of countries and dependencies by area
The World Factbook - CIA


  1. I will be an avid reader. Thank you for the new blog!

    1. Thank you! I don't know how regular the posts will be, but I appreciate your interest and look forward to our future discussions on the topic :)

    2. I am very interested in Belgium as indeed Brussels is the capital of Europe, and I still (in addition to counting myself as human, which may be debatable, by some definitions of being human) I feel mostly European, then USian, then Polish. I was in Belgium only once, when with my wife we were driving the little Fiat 600 to the Northern Scotland. I forgot if we took the ferry to the UK in Belgium or in France. It is so funny because it was almost 34 years ago, I remember I broke a thermal flask when we parked in a street in Ghent. I kind of believe we ferried from Ostend, but it is so much father to UK from there than from Calais, and we were very, very poor - we slept in the little car every night and ate just bread and cheapest fruit, so I am probably wrong. Hey, I found it in Wikipedia, the ferry called "The Pride of the Free Enterprise" (what an utterly stupid name) went from Zeebrugge to Dover. Yes, now I remember driving through Bruges. That's the end of my Belgian adventure. I spent more time in the Netherlands, but that was 9 years earlier. I will write about it another time.

    3. That sounds like quite a trip--it's no surprise you have such vivid recollections of it :) I must say I already know so little of Brussels (as you can imagine, I grew up with my nose stuck in books and living in imaginary worlds instead), and nothing at all about Bruges (apart from it being beautiful and called the Venice of the North) or Ghent (hopefully that'll change!). I do remember Ostend, somewhat, as I went there a couple of times as a child on summer camps. But really I only remember playing a lot of games and the sea...

  2. I am not sure what your feelings about the Netherlands are, so maybe my message will not be welcome. I think I was in Holland three times, twice I was just passing through and I did not break a thermal flask or boarded a ferry named "The Pride of the Free Enterprise", so I have no particular recollection. But I will never forget my two-day stay in Amsterdam in late May or early June 1973. I was a member of a university tour to the Aircraft Exposition in Paris (June 1973). I was then at the aircraft engineering department in Warsaw and the only person who spoke any foreign language other than Russian. I spoke English (actually better than now) so they took me as a translator to Paris :) The two days in Amsterdam were some of the highlights of my life. Beautiful city, the canals, the night life, fantastically nice people in the street, most of whom spoke fluent English, the wonderful trams, etc. Since then, Holland has been sort of my favorite country, even though I knew it just for two days. I love their social progressiveness, the euthanasia laws, etc. On the other hand, Bozena's friend has been living there since 1983 and she swears it is the most dreary and boring country in the world. We have this conflict with Bozena: she totally loves French and hates English and German. German is perhaps too sharp for me, but I love Dutch because it sounds to me like a cultured, sophisticated version of German. Of course, I do not understand a word, but it sounds great. I do not particularly like French. So here I confessed to all my sins. If you want to stop being my friend, I will understand, but I will cry a lot.

    1. I had never heard anyone say Dutch was a cultured, sophisticated version of German before! It's no wonder everyone loved you in Holland :)

      I've only ever been to Amsterdam a few times, mostly for school, and once for an Art school recruiting weekend (my dream career growing up was working for an animation studio like Disney, Pixar or Dreamworks). So I'm afraid my memories of the city were tainted by the fact that everything seemed overwhelming to me there (barely interacted with anyone from the city either!). I do remember that I'd wanted to rent a paddle boat with a friend of mine on the canals but gave up on it because it was rather expensive (at least for a teenage student).
      I have hear that the Netherlands has the tallest average height in the world, so that's really cool! Plus they have amazing flower fields... It's definitely on my list of countries to visit though!

      So you see, no need to cry, I'll still be your friend :)