Belgium is officially known as the Kingdom of Belgium and
has a population of about 11 million. It shares borders with the
Netherlands, France, Germany and Luxembourg. It has three official
languages: Dutch, French and German. The country was founded by
Celts and Germanic tribes. It gained independence from the
Netherlands in 1830 via the Belgian Revolution. The capital city is
Brussels. Belgium is best known for its chocolates. Flanders
was the inpiration to the World War I poem "In Flanders Fields"
by John McCrae. The poem also initiatied the practice of wearing red
poppies on Rembrance Day.
Belgium is a member of the
European Union and its currency is the Euro.
Dutch, German and French are all official languages of Belgium.
Belgium participates in the Schengen
Zone and Schengen Visa requirements. That means there
are no border controls between members and no border inspections by
rail or vehicle when traveling from Belgium to the Netherlands, France, Germany or
Luxembourg. Some countries that are not
members of the Schengen Zone require a Schengen Visa to enter Europe. More
than 40 countries outside the Schengen Zone do not require a visa.
Exemptions include citizens of Australia,
Canada, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United
States. Refer to a visa service
to determine whether it may be a requirement for specific countries.
Belgium's location, where the English channel opens to the North Sea,
provides a maritime climate that is cool in winter and in summer. Rainfall
is slightly higher than the UK. Expect overcast skies and consistent
levels of rainfall throughout the year. April and May provide the
best opportunities for good weather with lower tourist volumes. The
summer months are also excellent times to visit. Expect average
summer highs of 70 F (20 C) and average lows of 60 F (15 C). Spring
will be a few degrees cooler. Winter averages highs of about 45 F (6
C) while lows linger just above freezing. The weather pattern is
very similar to Amsterdam. Have your umbrella on stand by regardless
of the time of year you visit.