For many Israelis, Belgium owes its fame to the dynamic Jewish community of Antwerp - one of the world's most important diamond exchange centers - to its capital Brussels and to some of its national products such as chocolate and beer. But Belgium is much more than that.
Belgium hosts the major institutions of the European Union (the Commission, the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions) as well as the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Supreme headquarters of the Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE). Many other international governmental or non-governmental organizations as well as multinational corporations have chosen to establish their headquarters in Belgium.
Belgium’s foreign policy since the end of the Second World War can be summed up in a few words: an unswerving commitment to European integration, to NATO and to the United Nations and a special attention devoted to Central Africa. In regard to the Middle East, Belgian policy is that of the European Union. Like all other EU countries, Belgium is committed to a negotiated two-States solution agreed between the parties which would result in a viable, contiguous, sovereign and independent Palestinian State existing side by side with Israel living within recognized and secure borders.
Belgium is part of a major urban and commercial zone extending from England to the north of Italy. Located in the northwest of Europe, at the edge of the North Sea, Belgium, with its ten million people, is one of the most densely populated and prosperous countries in the world. Thanks to its excellent geographical location - at the intersection of Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and France - and thanks to its well-developed communications networks, Belgium occupies a key position in the nerve center of European economic and city life.
Belgium is one of the most dynamic and open economies both in Europe and worldwide. Foreign trade is the lifeblood of the Belgian economy. Exports and imports account for more than 70% of GDP. It is the 8th largest exporter of goods worldwide and the 13th largest exporter of services in the world. Belgium is also among the top 10 destinations for foreign direct investment worldwide.
While amply fulfilling its vocation as “Capital of Europe”, Belgium remains committed to enlarging and strengthening its ties with all other countries. Its diplomatic network comprises 130-odd embassies, consulates and representations all over the world. Belgium is also involved financially and technically in many assistance programs to developing countries. It is the 11th donor in the world in absolute volume terms, and occupies the 7th. rank in donations per capita.
Belgium is also and above all a country deeply attached to democratic values. By constitutionally recognizing three communities (the Flemish, the French and the German-speaking communities) and three regions (Flanders, Brussels-Capital and Wallonia), it has become a modern and dynamic Federal State. It is a country full of contrasts, rich in well-known but also hidden architectural treasures, the birthplace of comic strips and famous surrealist painters, a land of good food and good life.
For a detailed history of Belgium, click here.