Spa - Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps

26.07.2024 - 28.07.2024


26.07.2024 - 28.07.2024 | Spa - Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps

Key Facts

Location: 4.641956


30,528 sq km (11,787 sq miles).

11,267,910 (2016).

363 per sq km.




Constitutional monarchy. Federal state comprising three autonomous regions.


Belgium is situated in northwestern Europe, bordered by France to the south, Germany to the east,Luxembourg to the southeast and the Netherlands to the north. There is 60km (37 miles) of North Sea coastline to the northwest. The country is divided into three regions: southern French-speaking Wallonia, northern Dutch-speaking Flanders and Brussels nestled between the two. Both Flanders and Wallonia are then subdivided into ten provinces: within Flanders they are West Flanders, East Flanders, Flemish Brabant, Antwerp and Limburg; within Wallonia they are Hainaut, Walloon Brabant, Namur, Liège and Luxembourg (not to be confused with the neighbouring country of Luxembourg).

Flanders’ landscape is characterised by low-lying polders near the coast, changing to rolling hills and fertile farming grounds in the Flemish Brabant and finishing with the wooded Hoge Kempen − Flanders’ only national park − in the east. Flowing across this landscape is the country’s largest river the Scheldt, which enters Belgium near Tournai and flows out to sea at Antwerp.

In contrast, landlocked Wallonia is dominated by intensive farming in its northern provinces, watered by the Sambre and Meuse rivers, with the terrain rising to form the hills and gorges of the Ardennes in the south. Belgium’s highest point is Signal de Botrange, at 694m (2280ft), located in the far east.


Language: Religion:

Mainly Christian (65%) with a large portion being Roman Catholic (58%, although few attend regular mass), with small Protestant and Jewish communities.

Time: Social Conventions:

Knowing which language to speak where can be tricky. Avoid speaking Dutch in Wallonia and French in Flanders. Most locals are laidback, but it can cause offence if you get it wrong in some circles. If in doubt, speak English.

Outside of business transactions, it’s customary to kiss three times on alternate cheeks. Guests should bring flowers, or a small present, for the hostess if they’re invited for a meal and it is customary to wish everyone bon appetit/eet smakelijk at the start of a meal. Dress is similar to other Western nations: jeans and a smart top suffices for most occasions, including nights out. Smoking is banned in venues where food is served.


220 volts AC, 50Hz. European plugs with two round pins are standard.

Head of Government:

Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès since 2019.

Head of State:

King Philippe since 2013.

Recent History:

Belgium's famous Dutch-versus-French language divide was established in the Middle Ages when Roman Emperor Charlemagne was forced to divide his kingdom between his three grandsons. Known as the Treaty of Verdun and signed in AD 843, it effectively split his territories up into the early divisions of France, Germany and the Low Countries. Flanders remained part of the Germanic Frankish lands, while Wallonia belonged to the Roman Empire and its Latin language.  

Ownership of the area passed between Spanish, Austrian and French kings, with great wealth and high art flourishing during the peaceful years of 1419-1467 and 1579-1620. Cloth-trading towns such as Bruges, Ypres and Ghent became particularly rich. 

Independence only came in 1830 when the citizens staged an uprising against Dutch ruler William of Orange and had their freedom formally recognised by Great Britain and France at the London Conference in 1831. Leopold I was inaugurated as the country's first king and was succeeded by his son Leopold II, who has achieved notoriety in the modern era for pouring the riches he gained from exploitation of the Congo into magnificent buildings like the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken in Brussels. During this time, French was the official language of government and the upper classes, while Dutch remained the dialect of the working classes. The divide created fluctuating friction between Dutch-speaking Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia and it continues to this day.

The country suffered four years of German occupation during World War 1, seeing some of the most intense conflicts of the entire campaign and emerging in a ruinous condition, an experience repeated during World War 2. However, it experienced rapid economic growth in the post-War era thanks largely to regeneration money granted by the US Marshall Plan. By developing its 'light' industries, Flanders subsequently overtook Wallonia's once-profitable coal industry and continues to support its southern counterpart to the tune of €10 billon a year − a cause of much grumbling among the Flemish. A constitutional monarchy, King Philippe succeeded his father Albert II who abdicated due to ill health in July 2013 and the royal family is credited as a unifying force between the two language communities.

Did you know?

 Belgium loves a procession and the Carnival of Binches with its famous Gilles and the Processional Giants and Dragons of Ath, Brussels, Dendermonde, Mechelen and Mons are recognised by UNESCO as Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Mankind.

 Outside of France, Belgians hold the most Tour-de France victories.

 French fries actually originate in Belgium. (French readers may dispute this!)