Belgium played a critical role during both World Wars as it was invaded by Germany as part of the Schlieffen plan aimed at taking Paris. Britain was required to enter the war as it was bound by its contract to protect Belgium. After the war Belgium was left in a deteriorating state by the Germans, “brutally and efficiently stripped the country bare” Since Belgium relied heavily on its factories 80 percent of its workforce ended up becoming unemployed. It later faced a food crisis that was relieved by an international response.
During the Second World War Belgium aimed at being neutral but Germany invaded the country once again. Between the years of 1940 and 1944 Belgium was occupied by a Germany military government. Concentration camps such as Breendonk concentration Camp were located in Belgium.
Climate in Belgium
As a small country there is little variation from region to region. It has a temperate maritime climate influenced by the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean. In the summers it can be rainy, humid, and cloudy. The average annual temperature is 10 degrees Celsius or 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Belgium is unique in the European Union as a country that has three official languages. The region north of Brussels is dominated by Dutch while the region south is dominated by French. To the east on the border of Germany you can find many individuals speaking German. English is also widely spoken in Belgium. If you stay at Brussels you will see a mix of all these languages.
Prior to 2002 the currency was the Belgian franc but now it is the Euro
Belgium Major Cities
- Brussels- 1,019,022
- Antwerp- 459,805
- Ghent- 231,493
- Charleroi- 200,132
Things to do in Belgium (Belgium Cities and main point of interest)
The atomium is a must see in Brussels, it is an architectural masterpiece and also houses fun science exhibits for the whole family. The structure standing at 102 meters tall was constructed for Expo 58.
The Grand Place is the most iconic square in history. It is surrounded by many historic buildings dating back to the 14th century. Here you can take many breathtaking photos and also check out the flowertime festival where the town hall is transformed into a walking paradise.
A quick trip to Ghent will not be forgotten, it is easily the highlight of Belgium. It is recommended to take the boat trip across the Leie River for a unique view of the city. Much of the city’s medieval architecture remains intact. Get ready to walk and eat through town as the City Centre is the largest carfree area.
Burges is similar to Ghent but much quieter, a lot of what you will be doing in Bruges is walking and taking in the unique architecture. It is easy to navigate by following iconic buildings, typically, the tallest ones. They also have a unique boat trip through the village which I highly recommend, it is easily the highlight.
Restaurants in Belgium
Brussels is the best place to find food in Belgium, here you can find a wide diversity for dining. It is fitting that Belgian cuisine is diverse as it fits the country as a place that has been influenced by the Romans, Vikings, Spanish, French, and English. Uniquely, Belgium is best known for its chocolate, waffles, fries, and beer. After a visit to Belgium you will question why it’s called French Fries, here at Belgium you will find much more stands for Fries. Belgian waffles are also said to be the very best in the world. It is typical to walk through the streets of Brussels after ordering a waffle to take with you. These Waffles can be added onto extensively. My favorite was the Chocolate and Strawberry combo waffle.
Shopping in Belgium
Some of the best shopping in Belgium can be done right outside the major train station “Gare du Midi”. Here you will find colorful stalls with international flavor. Bruges is another good place to shop because you can take in the wonderful scenery. Here you will find many different chocolate stores to fill your appetite for sweets. The Old Chocolate House, The Chocolate Line Bruges and Dumon Chocolatier are recommended.