A top ranking economy
With a geographic area about equal to that of Maryland, Belgium is:
A nation without borders
A pioneer in Europe's integration
In 1947 Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg joined to create a customs union, called Benelux.
Benelux was a role model and testing ground for the EEC/EU; many of its treaties are extensions of Benelux policy. It promoted the free movement of workers, capital, services, and goods in the region.
In 1951, Belgium founded with France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC).
It signed the Treaties of Rome in 1957 creating the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) and the European Economic Community (EEC), which later became the European Union..
In 1958, the Benelux Economic Union Treaty was signed, which was to facilitate the free flow of goods and capital.
Brueghel, Jordaens, Van Dijck, Rubens, James Ensor, René Magritte, Paul Delvaux, Panamarenko, are just some of the famous Belgian artists.
Belgium has a rich literary tradition. Maurice Maeterlinck was awarded the Nobel Prize early this century, and who has not heard of Georges Simenon's immortal brainchild, Inspector Maigret. Other famous names include Emile Verhaeren, Charles De Coster, Henri Michaux, Hendrik Conscience, Guido Gezelle, Hugo Claus, etc.
The names of Belgium's comic strip heroes speak for themselves: Tintin, Willy and Wanda, Spirou and Fantasio, Blake and Mortimer, Nero, Lucky Luke and the Smurfs. These are the creations of artists Hergé, Willy Vandersteen, André Franquin, Edgar P. Jacobs, Marc Sleen, Morris and Peyo.
Belgians are world champions in motocross and judo. Tennis has become
popular with the success of Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters.
Belgium is the country with consistently the highest number of Michelin
stars per head of the population. It offers more than 1000 beer
varieties from 150 breweries.