Belgium Country File

Understand the basics of Belgium's geography, history, economy, politics and people at a glance...

Belgium is a small country situated in Western Europe with a population of just under 11 million. It borders the Netherlands and the North Sea to the north, Germany and Luxembourg to the east and France to the south and west. It is a low lying country and its highest point is Botrange at 694m above sea level.

The area inland from the coast, known as the Polders is a flat and very fertile plain. Sluices have been put in place to protect the area from tidal erosion, so it is now dry. It is an area of arable farming and intense cultivation. The sandy Flemish lowlands lie between the western polders of the Leie and the Scheldt Rivers.

The centre of the country has rolling hills and fertile clay plateaus. The most sparsely populated part of the country is upper Belgium and here the valleys of the Meuse and the Ourthe are popular with tourists. The Ardennes in the south-east is an area of rugged beaches, fir woodlands and deep valleys. The most southerly part of the Ardennes, the Belgian Lorraine, has a milder climate than the rest of the country.

Flooding is a constant threat along the country's many rivers and areas of reclaimed coastal land. Belgium has a large network of canals which links the country's inland cities to the ports of Antwerp, Zeebrugge and Ostend. The canals have been fully modernised and large volumes of freight are carried on them by barge.