Belgium

4 Things You Didn’t Know About Belgium

Lindsay Graham is a student at Buena Vista University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Brussels, Belgium.

We have all heard of Belgium, even if it’s just because your favorite breakfast food is a Belgian waffle. Famous for its beer, chocolate, and comics, Belgium also has some interesting history that you might not have known:

  1. Belgium is the Capital of Europe

Until I officially decided to study in Brussels, I never knew much about Belgium. It’s not one of the more popular European countries to discuss or travel to. But then I learned that Brussels, the capital of Belgium, also serves as the capital of Europe! How is this? The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU) are headquartered in Brussels, making Brussels a very important international hub and advantageous city to study in.

Brussels's Grand Place is a great example of the international presence of Belgium.

Brussels’s Grand Place is a great example of the international presence of Belgium.

  1. The Treaty of Ghent was signed in Belgium

In history class we learned about the War of 1812 and memorized that the Treaty of Ghent ended the war between the United States and Great Britain. Turns out, Ghent is a major city in Belgium. By being the location for the signing of this treaty, it started the great relationship between Belgium, Great Britain, and the United States. Plus, it’s a beautiful city.

We toured the city of Ghent for an ISA excursion to learn all about its history.

We toured the city of Ghent for an ISA excursion to learn all about its history.

  1. Fries were created in Belgium

This is a widely debated topic in Belgium. Are they French fries, or Belgian fries? Ask any Belgian and they will tell you they were invented here in Belgium. And quite frankly, they are delicious. There are fry stands lining the streets throughout Brussels where you can stop and buy a cone of fries. Just make sure you try one of the many amazing sauces with your fries (not ketchup). The most typical sauce is mayonnaise, but branch out and try riche or samurai sauce for a more flavorful experience!

The Belgian Fries are a very popular snack in Brussels.

The Belgian Fries are a very popular snack in Brussels.

  1. Belgium has three different cultural regions

Belgium has an interesting history of its foundation. Since the country was founded with pieces of France, the Netherlands, and Germany, these three cultures are still distinct throughout the country in a very complex way. There are three regions in Belgium: Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels. The Flanders region is in the north near the Netherlands where mostly Dutch is spoken, while the southern Wallonia region near France and Germany is where French and a little bit of German are spoken. Brussels is it’s own region as the bilingual capital. By having these different regions and languages, it creates an interesting dynamic for the country.

The different regions and languages create an interesting political structure for the Royal Family and government.

The different regions and languages create an interesting political structure for the Royal Family and government.

While this is just a sample of interesting aspects about Belgium, I hope these facts inspire you to travel to Belgium and discover this beautiful, unique place for yourself!

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