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Burg Square, Bruges, Brugge, Belgium
Burg Square, Bruges, © Can Stock Photo Inc. / alkir

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.

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