Cruising to Belgium


Belgium became independent from the Netherlands in 1830; it was occupied by Germany during World Wars I and II. It has prospered in the past half century as a modern, technologically advanced European state and member of NATO and the EU. Tensions between the Dutch-speaking Flemings of the north and the French-speaking Walloons of the south have led in recent years to constitutional amendments granting these regions formal recognition and autonomy.


Location: Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between France and the Netherlands
Geographic coordinates: 50 50 N, 4 00 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 30,528 sq km
Land: 30,278 sq km
Water: 250 sq km


66.5 km

Maritime claims

Territorial sea: 12 nm
Exclusive economic zone: geographic coordinates define outer limit
Continental shelf: median line with neighbors


Temperate; mild winters, cool summers; rainy, humid, cloudy


Flat coastal plains in northwest, central rolling hills, rugged mountains of Ardennes Forest in southeast

Elevation extremes

Lowest point: North Sea 0 m
Highest point: Signal de Botrange 694 m


This modern, private-enterprise economy has capitalized on its central geographic location, highly developed transport network, and diversified industrial and commercial base. Industry is concentrated mainly in the populous Flemish area in the north. With few natural resources, Belgium must import substantial quantities of raw materials and export a large volume of manufactures, making its economy unusually dependent on the state of world markets.

Roughly three-quarters of its trade is with other EU countries. Public debt is nearly 100% of GDP. On the positive side, the government has succeeded in balancing its budget, and income distribution is relatively equal. Belgium began circulating the euro currency in January 2002. Economic growth in 2001-03 dropped sharply because of the global economic slowdown, with moderate recovery in 2004-05.


Airports: 43 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 25
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 18
Heliports: 1 (2005)
Pipelines: gas 1,485 km; oil 158 km; refined products 535 km (2004)
Railways: total: 3,521 km
Roadways: total: 149,757 km


2,043 km (1,528 km in regular commercial use) (2003)

Merchant marine

Total: 68 ships (1000 GRT or over) 4,116,336 GRT/6,962,448 DWT
By type: bulk carrier 20, cargo 3, chemical tanker 2, container 12, liquefied gas 19, petroleum tanker 12
Foreign-owned: 14 (Denmark 4, France 2, Germany 1, Greece 4, Hong Kong 1, Italy 1, UK 1)
Registered in other countries: 105 (Antigua and Barbuda 3, The Bahamas 11, Belize 1, Cyprus 1, French Southern and Antarctic Lands 5, Georgia 1, Gibraltar 1, Greece 11, Hong Kong 3, Luxembourg 15, Malta 11, Mozambique 2, Netherlands 2, Netherlands Antilles 4, Panama 13, Portugal 7, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 2, Singapore 9, Sweden 3) (2005)

Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals

Antwerp, Brussels, Gent, Liege, Oostende, Zeebrugge

Other Sailing Destinations in the Region

Belgium - Denmark - Estonia - Finland - Germany - Latvia - Lithuania - Netherlands - Norway - Poland - Russia - Sweden

Further Reading

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