The Kingdom of Belgium is world-renowned for its beers, chocolates, waffles and gothic cathedrals. Read on to find out more about the country which is home to the European Union and NATO and is sometimes referred to as the cockpit of Europe.
A closer look 說古論今
The region which currently forms Belgium has been home to many famous artists from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. There is a gothic cathedral or church in every one of its major cities and towns. It is also famed for its examples of Romanesque, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. The inventor of the saxophone, Adolphe Sax also hails from Belgium. Another famous export is "The Adventures of TinTin," a cartoon which was first published in the French Language newspaper Le Vingtieme Siecle in 1929.
However what draws most tourists to Belgium is its beer. A quirk in its licensing laws forbade the selling of spirits in pubs until as recently as the 1980's. The result was lovingly crafted beers which have become world famous for their taste, fermentation methods and strength. Belgium boasts the largest locally-produced variety of beers in the world with over 500 regulars and another 500 one-offs. Each of these has its own special glass, selected carefully so that the shape brings out the best in taste and aromas. Especially famous are the Trappist beers which are brewed from scratch in one of only seven authorized monastaries.
No trip to Belgium would be complete without visiting a local cafe on a winding street, sitting at table on the pavement sipping on a local beer and perhaps indulging in the national dish of mussels or steak with French fries (which the Belgians lay claim to the invention of) and lettuce.
Size: 30,528 km2 or 6/7 the size of Taiwan
Location: Western Europe
Border countries: France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands
Population: About 10.5 million
Languages: Dutch, French and German
Government: Federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy, compulsory voting system.
Currency: Euro; 1 euro = NT$ 42