Top 10 facts about Belgium

Top 10 facts about Belgium

CONTENTS

1. Geography and population in Belgium

2. Official language in Belgium

3. Currency in Belgium

4. Internet in Belgium

5. Economic development in Belgium

6. Job in Belgium

7. Working days and holidays in Belgium

8. The mentality of residents in Belgium

9. Advertising in Belgium

10. Cryptocurrency in Belgium

1. Geography and population in Belgium

Belgium is a state in Western Europe. It has an area of30,528 km², washed in the northwest by the North Sea. Most of the country is occupied by plains with predominant cultural landscapes. The population of Belgium according to the Belgian statistical office "Statbel" as of January 1st, 2020 is 11 492 641 people. Of these, 50.8% are women and 49.2% are men. The population of Belgium has grown by 55,336, or 0.49% year on year, in line with the growth rates of the past few years.

Belgium’s time zone: UTC + 01:00

CET - Central European Time

Belgium's time zone (summer time): UTC + 02:00

Daylight saving time - the last Sunday in March at 01:00 am, back - the last Sunday in October at 01:00 am.

General information about Belgium:
    • Area: 30,528 km²
    • Population: 11 492 641 people
    • Capital: Brussels
    • Calling code: +32
    • National domain: .be
    • Language: Dutch, French, German

2. Official language in Belgium

Are there many countries in the world where there are several official languages? Belgium is a perfect example. The official languages of Belgium are French, Flemish (a dialect of Dutch) and German.

Flemings are almost 60% of the population of the Kingdom of Belgium and their official language is Dutch.

Almost 40% of the inhabitants of Belgium are Walloons. They use French in everyday communication and as an official language.

A small percentage of the population in the eastern part of the state is German-speaking. Their newspapers, radio and TV shows are in German.

3. Currency in Belgium

The Belgian franc was the currency of Belgium from 1830 to 2002 (officially until 1999) when it was replaced by the euro. Divided into 100 centimes. The name of the currency comes from the French franc, with which at the time of introduction the Belgian franc coincided in gold content.

€1= $1.22 (as of May 2021)

4. Internet in Belgium

The Belgian providers are united by the availability of a new generation network - 4G.

On average, 55.4% of Internet users make online purchases from mobile devices in the world. The largest percentage is in Indonesia (79.1%), Thailand (74.2%). Least of all - in Japan (32.1%), Belgium (31.2%).

Belgium is a small country and most of the top e-commerce players come from overseas. The country wants to change this and is actively promoting local online stores, hoping that shoppers will buy from Belgian online stores instead of spending money on foreign players.

For many years, bol.com has been the largest internet retailer in the Netherlands as well as the largest e-commerce company in Belgium in 2020. The Dutch company was founded in 1999 and began selling online to Belgian customers in 2002. Since then, online sales in this country have grown significantly. In 2015, the company announced that 17% of its 6 million customers were from Belgium, and a year later, the company's revenue in Belgium increased from 50 to 60%.

 

The essential headline data on mobile devices, Internet and social media use in Belgium

5. Economic development in Belgium

Belgium is a highly developed post-industrial state with intensive agriculture. One of the world's leading exporters of ferrous and non-ferrous metals (about 40% of industrial products are exported). Of the branches of mechanical engineering, the most developed are car assembly, electrical and radio-electronic. Known for the production of woolen carpets and synthetic carpets.

The economy of Belgium varies greatly from region to region and cannot be described without specifying regional differences. Flemish and Walloon economies differ in many aspects. Cities such as Brussels, Antwerp, Liege, Bruges, Charleroi or Ghent have their own distinct economic characteristics.

The economy of Belgium very effectively uses a convenient geostrategic position (access to the sea, a developed water transport network), its own, albeit few, natural resources to accelerate industrial development. Its dominant industries are focused on high quality and technically advanced products.

One of the few industries in Belgium that has its own raw material base is the glass industry. Its products (sheet and mirror glass, special glass and crystal) are well known in the world 

The country has developed arms and diamond cutting business. And the brand of the large chemical and pharmaceutical company Solvay is well known to residents of many countries.

 

Overview: population and economy in Belgium

 

E-commerce activities in Belgium

 

Financial inclusion factors in Belgium

6. Job in Belgium

The minimum wage in Belgium is officially fixed by law at €1,593.81, but it is not something immutable: in certain industrial enterprises, the salary level can change the collective agreement, taking into account such indicators as:

- work experience of the employee

- his qualifications

- how many hours does an employee work per week

- the location of the company

In 2020, an employee who turns 18 could expect to receive a salary of €1,593.81, the country's minimum wage. In a year, this person, who has worked for at least six months, will be able to receive €40 more, and in another year his salary will reach €1,690, if by that time he has a work experience of at least 1 year.

The average salary in Belgium is not subject to any government regulation. But this does not prevent the average earnings from gradually increasing. This is evidenced by the following fact: over the past 5 years, the average salary of Belgians has increased by 3.4%. Today, qualified employees receive about €3,000 a month, and those who are not qualified - €1,800.

Average salary in Belgium by region:
  • Flemish region - €3,589 (work experience up to 2 years - €2,935, work experience over 20 years - €4,366)
  • Wallonia - €3,383 (work experience up to 2 years - €2,854, work experience over 20 years - €4,108)
  • Brussels/ Capital Region - €4,156 (work experience up to 2 years - €3,343, work experience over 20 years - €5,016)
  • Average salary in Belgium compared to other countries in 2020-2021
Average salary by profession/ €:
  • IT specialist - €3400
  • Builder/ Constructor - €3000
  • Doctor - €1800
  • Driver - €2500
  • Cook/ Chef - €2000

7. Working days and holidays in Belgium

Official holidays and weekends in Belgium:
    • January 1st-2nd - New Year
    • March 31st-April 1st - Easter
    • May 1st-2 - Spring and Labor Day
    • May 9 - Ascension of the Lord
    • May 19 - Holy Trinity Day
    • May 20 - Spirits Day
    • July 21st - King's Oath Day/ National Memorial Day
    • August 15 - Exaltation
    • September 27 - National Day
    • November 1st - All Saints Day
    • November 15 - Royal Dynasty Day/ National holiday
    • December 25 - Christmas

 

Manufactured goods stores are open on weekdays from 9.00 to 18.00, and on Saturdays - until 17.00. Grocery stores are open daily on a similar schedule, with a day off usually scheduled for a specific day of the week, and small, private stores usually open late.

8. The mentality of residents in Belgium

The Belgians love comfort, safety and absolutely do not tolerate to poor quality of service and goods. Therefore, it is difficult to find a restaurant, shop or hotel throughout the country that does not offer high quality service. Food and drink for a Belgian should always be the best. The people of Belgium love schedules, they often adjust their lives to predetermined dates. The Belgians really don't like when things don't go as planned, and deviations from the plan can upset them, so they cannot be called unpredictable. The Belgian will come to the appointment a little earlier or, less often, by the specified time. Even small delays in Belgium are a sign of disrespect.

Family for the Belgians is always in the first place. Residents of Belgium do not like to move, they often live in one place all their lives. This leads to the fact that often all family members, including distant relatives, live nearby. A Belgian would rather spend several hours on the way to and from work every day than move closer to their place of work. Typically, residents of Belgium get married at the age of 18-20. Most of the men and women over 30 who are not married are divorced.

Belgians don’t like changes, and they do not like to change their social circle. They feel most comfortable at home with relatives or friends. Therefore, it is not so easy for Belgians to make new friends. The inhabitants of Belgium are usually tolerant towards representatives of other nationalities, races, religions, and sexual minorities.

The people of Belgium are very neat and tidy. Their houses, cars, cities, clothes, public places always shine with cleanliness. Belgians generally attach great importance to appearance, which should be borne in mind by guests of the country who want to impress new Belgian friends or business partners. The citizens of Belgium pay a lot of attention to their appearance and expect the same from fellow citizens and tourists. The Belgian will not allow himself to leave the house without making sure that the clothes are perfectly clean and fit well. They really do not like sloppiness, lack of punctuality, carelessness and irresponsibility in themselves and others, and they consider good manners and good breeding to be important.

Residents of Belgium enjoy chatting with close friends at the dinner table at home or in a restaurant. New acquaintances are not invited into the house right away; some time must pass for such an important step. Belgians do not discuss their or someone else's personal life with anyone other than close relatives and friends. At the same time, Belgians can start a romantic relationship abruptly, for example, after the very first date. When meeting with strangers or unfamiliar people, a handshake is usually expected, closer people replace it with three kisses on the cheeks (only a woman with a woman or a man with a woman), while kissing not the cheek, but the air around.

 

Social media audience profile in Belgium

9. Advertising in Belgium

Belgium has the strictest system of restrictions: advertising on radio and television is prohibited in principle. Belgium has completely restricted advertising aimed at the younger generation.

The Belgian government will ban advertising of cell phones directed at children. In addition, the ministers of health and consumption of the country have developed new requirements for the sale and advertising of cellular.

The new law will ban advertising of cell phones aimed at minors, in particular, the ban on the manufacture of phones in the form of toys is specially stipulated.

In addition, the authorities will force mobile phone manufacturers to indicate on the packaging and in advertising materials the radiation power of the device in the talk mode. Belgium will be the first EU country to establish such a requirement.

Contextual advertising in Belgium:

What is the use of advertising and is it needed at all? Advertising on the Internet is becoming more and more popular, and according to SEO experts, at present it is one of the most effective ways to promote your services or products. Researchers of the advertising market compared various types of advertising, including advertising on the Internet, and came to the conclusion that its effectiveness is several tens of times higher compared to print and other methods of promotion, while this method is quite affordable for every website owner. So, Google Ads in Belgium is effective and affordable.

First of all, this is due to the fact that the Internet audience is currently unlimited. In just one day, more than 60 million people visit major search engines and portals. This means that with the help of online advertising about you, or your firm, company, project, a large number of potential customers can find out. And thanks to the fact that people now have the ability to go online from mobile devices, the number of visitors is growing exponentially every day.

As of 1st June 2018, online game operators are no longer allowed to advertise their offerings on Belgian television. This applies to the owners of licenses for games A + and B +, as well as owners of casinos and gambling halls.

10. Cryptocurrency in Belgium

Belgium is not a leader among countries in the world in the implementation of legislation regulating the activities of crypto companies. However, the Belgian government does not restrict the operation of cryptocurrency exchanges, exchangers and other participants in the crypto market, which gives them a certain freedom of action. However, in order to register a crypto company in Belgium and avoid fines and sanctions, you should still take into account some aspects of the regulation of the local crypto market.

Experts point to two of the most successful blockchain startups in Belgium:

SettleMint is an opensource company that enables developers to quickly build and deploy blockchain - based applications.

NGRAVE - the company has developed a super-secure wallet that can store up to 20 different types of cryptocurrencies.

For tax purposes, the Special Tax Inspectorate of Belgium (STI) treats income from the sale of cryptocurrency as other income that is taxable.

Any Belgian citizen who makes a profit from professional activities with cryptocurrency, acting as a trader, miner, providing exchange services, is obliged to pay tax from 25 to 50% depending on the amount of the profit received and indicate information about income in the tax return.

However, if an individual is engaged in crypto business as a hobby and does not make a living from it, then transactions are considered as ordinary management of private assets and profits from such activities are exempt from income tax.

If it is an individual speculative transaction with cryptocurrency, then his income is taxed at a rate of 33% (capital gains).

Belgian law does not distinguish between income derived from commercial activities or from cryptocurrency trading. In any case, the legal entity is obliged to pay corporate income tax of 25%.

Any Belgian company or foreign entity incorporated in Belgium that derives income (or loss) from bitcoin trading and/ or from exchanging (virtual) currencies is required to pay tax in accordance with standard corporate income tax rules. Corporate tax is also levied on bitcoin-related transaction income.

From May 2019 to September 2020, Belgian citizens lost at least € 10 million due to fraudulent online platforms. Among them were cryptocurrency projects, according to the country's Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA).

The department said that such sites offer investments in binary options, forex products or cryptocurrencies. In the first half of 2020 alone, the FSMA counted 27.78% of complaints related to this category of fraud.

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