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
Territorial sea: 12 nm
Temperate; mild winters, cool summers; rainy, humid, cloudy
Flat coastal plains in northwest, central rolling hills, rugged mountains of Ardennes Forest in southeast
Lowest point: North Sea 0 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)
2,043 km (1,528 km in regular commercial use) (2003)
Total: 68 ships (1000 GRT or over) 4,116,336 GRT/6,962,448 DWT
Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals
Antwerp, Brussels, Gent, Liege, Oostende, Zeebrugge
Other Sailing Destinations in the Region