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Backgrounder: The Kingdom of Belgium

10-04-2010 12:00 BJT Special Report:Wen visits 4 European nations, attends 8th ASEM |

BRUSSELS, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- The Kingdom of Belgium, with Brussels as its capital, is a Western European country bordering the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast and France to the south and southwest.

Belgium covers an land area of 30,528 square km, plus 3,462 square km of sea territories and exclusive economic zones. It has a population of approximately 10.677 million, with Dutch, French and German as official languages.

Inhabited in ancient times by the Belgae, a Celtic people, the area of Belgium had been divided and ruled by Romans, Gauls and Teutons for a long time since 57 BC. From the 9th century to 14th century Belgium was broken up into semi-independent territories.

The area was ruled by the Burgundian dynasty during the 14th and 15th centuries, but was later occupied by Spain, Austria and France. It was incorporated into the Netherlands in 1815 and declared independence on Oct. 4, 1830. It became a permanently neutral nation in 1867.

Overrun by the Germans in two world wars, Belgium joined NATO after World War II, and became a member of the European Community in 1958. In 1993 Belgium became a federation after a national system reform.

Belgium is a developed industrial nation that depends heavily on foreign trade. It imports 80 percent of its raw materials and exports more than 50 percent of its industrial products. Last year, the country's Gross Domestic Products, or the GDP, was 334.758 billion U.S dollars, or 43,000 dollars per capita.

Editor:Zhang Jingya |Source: Xinhua

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