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Belgium:
Geography

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Background
Definition
Belgium became independent from the Netherlands in 1830; it was occupied by Germany during World Wars I and II. The country 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
Definition
Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between France and the Netherlands
Geographic coordinates
Definition
50 50 N, 4 00 E
Map references
Definition
Europe
Area
Definition - World rank and map
total: 30,528 sq km
land: 30,278 sq km
water: 250 sq km
Area - comparative
Definition
about the size of Maryland
Land boundaries
Definition
total: 1,385 km
border countries: France 620 km, Germany 167 km, Luxembourg 148 km, Netherlands 450 km
Coastline
Definition
66.5 km
Maritime claims
Definition
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: geographic coordinates define outer limit
continental shelf: median line with neighbors
Climate
Definition
temperate; mild winters, cool summers; rainy, humid, cloudy
Terrain
Definition
flat coastal plains in northwest, central rolling hills, rugged mountains of Ardennes Forest in southeast
Elevation extremes
Definition
lowest point: North Sea 0 m
highest point: Signal de Botrange 694 m
Natural resources
Definition
construction materials, silica sand, carbonates
Land use
Definition - World rank and map
arable land: 27.42%
permanent crops: 0.69%
other: 71.89%
note: includes Luxembourg (2005)
Irrigated land
Definition
400 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
Definition
20.8 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Definition
total: 7.44 cu km/yr (13%/85%/1%)
per capita: 714 cu m/yr (1998)
Natural hazards
Definition
flooding is a threat along rivers and in areas of reclaimed coastal land, protected from the sea by concrete dikes
Environment - current issues
Definition
the environment is exposed to intense pressures from human activities: urbanization, dense transportation network, industry, extensive animal breeding and crop cultivation; air and water pollution also have repercussions for neighboring countries; uncertainties regarding federal and regional responsibilities (now resolved) had slowed progress in tackling environmental challenges
Environment - international agreements
Definition
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note
Definition
crossroads of Western Europe; most West European capitals within 1,000 km of Brussels, the seat of both the European Union and NATO


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