BELGIAN Facts & Figures

Size: 11,787 square miles

Population: 11,007,020

Capital: Brussels

Currency: Euro

Weather / Climate:

The Belgian climate, like most of northwest Europe, is maritime temperate, with significant precipitation in all seasons (Köppen climate classification: Cfb; the average temperature is 3 °C (37.4 °F) in January, and 18 °C (64.4 °F) in July; the average precipitation is 65 mm (2.6 in) in January, and 78 mm (3.1 in) in July). Belgium has mild winters and cool summers and is rainy, humid and cloudy.

Taken from: www.wikipedia.com

BELGIAN languages

Belgium has three official languages, which are in order of native speaker population in Belgium: Dutch, French and German. A number of non-official minority languages are spoken as well.[105] As no census exists, there are no official statistical data regarding the distribution or usage of Belgium's three official languages or their dialects.[106] However, various criteria, including the language(s) of parents, of education, or the second-language status of foreign born, may provide suggested figures. An estimated 59% of the Belgian population speaks Dutch (often colloquially referred to as "Flemish"), and French is spoken by 40% of the population.[nb 4]

Total Dutch speakers are 6.23 million, concentrated in the northern Flanders region, while French speakers comprise 3.32 million in Wallonia and an estimated 0.87 million or 85% of the officially bilingual Brussels-Capital Region.[nb 5][107] The German-speaking Community is made up of 73,000 people in the east of the Walloon Region; around 10,000 German and 60,000 Belgian nationals are speakers of German. Roughly 23,000 more German speakers live in municipalities near the official Community.[4][1]

Both Belgian Dutch and Belgian French have minor differences in vocabulary and semantic nuances from the varieties spoken respectively in the Netherlands and France. Many Flemish people still speak dialects of Dutch in their local environment. Walloon, once the main regional language of Wallonia, is now only understood and spoken occasionally, mostly by elderly people. Wallonia's dialects, along with those of Picard,[108] are not used in public life.

Taken from: 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgium#Languages

BELGIAN culture

 

BELGIAN people

In the beginning of 2007, nearly 92% of the population had Belgian citizenship, and other European Union member citizens account for around 6%. The prevalent foreign nationals were Italian (171,918), French (125,061), Dutch (116,970), Moroccan (80,579), Spanish (42,765), Turkish (39,419) and German (37,621).[98][99] Immigrants since 1945 and their descendents are estimated by 2008 to have formed 22% of the total population.[100] Of these 'New Belgians', 1,313,000 (56%) are of European ancestry and the 950,000 others originated from the rest of the world.[100]Almost all of the Belgian population is urban—97% in 2004.[101] The population density of Belgium is 342 per square kilometre (886 per square mile). The most densely inhabited area is Flanders,[102] and in particular the Flemish Diamond, outlined by the AntwerpLeuvenBrusselsGhent agglomerations.[103]The Ardennes have the lowest density. As of 2006, the Flemish Region had a population of about 6,078,600, with Antwerp (457,749), Ghent (230,951) and Bruges (117,251) its most populous cities; Wallonia had 3,413,978, with Charleroi (201,373), Liège (185,574) and Namur (107,178) its most populous. Brussels houses 1,018,804 in the Capital Region's 19 municipalities, two of which have over 100,000 residents.[104

Taken from:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgium#Demographics

BELGIAN food

Belgium has been called a nation of gourmands rather than gourmets: a country, in other words, where "big cuisine" comes before "fine cuisine". It has been said that Belgium serves food of French quality in German quantities.

Frieten or frites

Deep-fried chipped potatoes ("fries" in American English; "chips" in British English) are a very popular food item – and one which the Belgians often claim to have invented.

The Belgian journalist Jo Gérard recounts that potatoes were fried in 1680 in the Spanish Netherlands, in the area of "the Meuse valley between Dinant and Liège, Belgium. The poor inhabitants of this region allegedly had the custom of accompanying their meals with small fried fish, but when the river was frozen and they were unable to fish, they cut potatoes lengthwise and fried them in oil to accompany their meals."

They are called frieten in Dutch and frites in French. However, unlike the 6–10 mm thick "French fries" (known as pommes allumettes (French: matchstick potatoes) in Belgium) which are normally served in American fast-food restaurants, Belgian fries are more substantial (12–15 mm thick, akin to those served with Fish and Chips in the UK) and are typically fried in animal fat. One of the best places to enjoy them is at one of the often temporary or mobile establishments known in French as a friterie, in Dutch as a frituur or, more informally, a frietkot. These are typically to be found strategically placed in town squares or alongside busy highways, and also offer a variety of typically Belgian prepared meats, including frikandel.

Sauces

Friteries and other fast-food establishments tend to offer a number of different sauces for the fries and meats. In addition to ketchup and mayonnaise, it is common to offer many others, with popular options including aioli, américaine, andalouse, Brazil, cocktail sauce, curry ketchup, piccalilli, samouraï sauce or tartar sauce. These sauces are generally also available in supermarkets.

Occasionally more exotic (or traditional) sauces are offered by friteries for use on fries, including hollandaise sauce, sauce provençale, Béarnaise sauce or even a heavy carbonade flamande stew.

Beer

A selection of Oude Kriek, a style of artisanal and unsweetened beer flavoured with cherries.

Another Belgian speciality is beer. For a comparatively small country, Belgium produces a very large number of beers in a range of different styles – in fact, it has more distinct types of beer per head than anywhere else in the world. Almost every style of beer has its own particular, uniquely shaped glass or other drinking-vessel.

A number of traditional Belgian dishes use beer as an ingredient. One is Carbonade (French: the Flemish term is stoofvlees or stoverij), a stew of beef cooked in beer, similar to Boeuf bourguignon. The beer used is typically the regional speciality — lambic in Brussels, De Koninck in Antwerp, and so on — so that the taste of the dish varies. Another is rabbit in gueuze. In't Spinnekopke, Brussels, and Den Dyver, Bruges are famed for their beer cookery.

The varied nature of Belgian beers makes it possible to match them against each course of a meal, for instance:

  • Wheat beer with seafood or fish.
  • Blonde beers or tripel with chicken or white meat
  • Dubbel or other dark beers with dark meat
  • Fruit lambics with dessert

Chocolate

Belgiumis commonly known for its chocolate. Belgian chocolate is considered to be the gourmet standard by which all other chocolate confections are measured. Even the Swiss, known for their own high quality chocolate, imported the basic recipe from French and Belgian chocolatiers. What makes Belgian chocolate unique is the quality of ingredients (many aspects of its composition are regulated by law) and an almost adherence to Old World manufacturing techniques. Even in today's world of automation and mass production, most Belgian chocolate is still made by hand in small shops using original equipment. In fact, these small chocolate outlets are a popular draw for tourists visiting Belgium today.

Seafood pralines are popular with tourists and are sold all over Belgium. Chocolaterie Guylian for instance, makes the pralines according to the recipe from the company’s founding father Guy Foubert who created it in the Sixties. Today the praliné is still made to this same secret recipe, in the age-old traditional manner. This is a clear example that is typical for Belgian Chocolates.

Typical dishes:

        

  • Konijn in geuze/lapin à la gueuze: rabbit in geuze, which is a spontaneously fermented, sour beer from the area around Brussels.
  • Stoemp: potato mashed with other vegetables, often served with sausages.
  • Salade Liégeoise / Luikse salade: a salad with green beans, pieces of bacon, onions and vinegar, associated with Liège.
  • Vlaamse stoofkarbonaden: a Flemish beef stew, similar to the French Beef Bourguignon, but made with beer instead of red wine.
  • Waterzooi: a rich stew/soup of chicken (or sometimes fish), vegetables, cream and eggs, associated with Ghent.
  • Paling in 't groen/anguilles au vert: Eel in a green sauce of mixed herbs.
  • Gegratineerd witloof/chicons au gratin: a gratin of chicory in béchamel sauce with cheese.
  • Boterhammen/Tartines: Slices of rustic bread and an uncovered spread, often pâté or soft cheese, served on a board and eaten with knife and fork. A typical variety is a slice of bread with quark and sliced radishes, typically accompanied by a glass of gueuze.
  • Tomate-crevette / tomaat-garnaal: a snack or starter of grey shrimp in mayonnaise stuffed into a hollowed-out raw tomato
  • Pêches au thon / perziken met tonijn: halved canned or fresh peaches stuffed with a mix of tuna and mayonnaise, i.e. tuna salad
  • Pensen or Boudins: a type of sausage in which the meat (or blood) content is mixed with fine breadcrumbs. Often eaten with potatoes and apple sauce, sometimes eaten raw or barbequeued.
  • The Ardennes is notable for Charcuterie, or cold meat products, particularly smoked ham (Jambon d'Ardenne) and paté, which may be made of game such as wild boar.
  • Waffles, sometimes eaten as a street snack. There are two main styles, Brussels and Liège

       

  • Chocolate, particularly pralines (filled chocolates): see also among others Leonidas, Neuhaus, Godiva.
  • Kip met frieten en appelmoes (chicken, french fries and apple sauce)

Taken from Wikipedia

BELGIUM: useful links

http://www.visitbelgium.com/

http://www.diplomatie.be/london/

http://belgium.embassyhomepage.com/

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/country_profiles/999709.stm

http://www.brusselsairlines.com/com/

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