Things you might not know about Belgium

belgium-flag-560-pBelgium is somewhat of an unknown entity. Since there is so much more to Belgium than beer and chocolate, here are some facts about Belgium that you might not know:

  • In 1066, Huy, Belgium became the first European city to receive a charter of rights, making it the oldest free city on the continent.
  • Brussels sprouts really do come from Belgium and have grown in the Brussels area for over 400 years.
  • Although the exact number is disputed, Belgium makes over 800 different beers. Belgians drink an average of 150 liters of beer per year per person.
  • Belgium produces 220,000 tons of chocolate per year. That’s about 22 kilograms of chocolate per person in Belgium.
  • Brussels International Airport is the World’s biggest chocolate selling point.
  • The Belgian Waffle was introduced into North America during the 1964 New York World’s Fair by its Belgian inventor, Maurice Vermersch.
  • Belgians tend to be liberal thinkers. They legalized euthanasia in 2002, and gay marriage in 2003.
  • Belgium was one of the first to have a female parliamentarian, in 1921.
  • The longest tramway line in the world is the Belgian coast tram (68 km), which operates between De Panne and Knokke-Heist, from the French border to the Dutch border.
  • Spa, Belgium is home to Europe’s first modern health resort, opened in the 18th century and Europe’s first casino, “la Redoute”, opened in 1763.
  • Belgium is also home to Europe’s oldest shopping arcades, the Galeries St Hubert in Brussels, opened in 1847.
  • Most people have heard of the comic strip Tintin, but did you know that in 70 years of existence, 200 million books of “The Adventures of Tintin” have been sold worldwide. Belgium also has more comic makers per square km than any other country in the world, even Japan.
  • The saxophone was invented in Belgium, in the early 1840′s by Adolphe Sax (1814-1894), in the city of Dinant.
  • The Body Mass Index (BMI) was developed by the Belgian Adolphe Quetelet, and is still used today to determine a person’s ideal weight.
  • In the 15th century, Belgians were credited with inventing oil painting.
  • 80% of billiard players use Belgian-made balls.