Belgium is a federal state divided into three regions: Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north, francophone Wallonia in the south and Brussels, the bilingual capital, where French and Dutch share official status.
There is also a small German-speaking minority of some 70 000 in the eastern part of the country.
Brussels hosts several international organisations: most of the European institutions are located here as well as the NATO headquarters.
Belgium’s landscape varies widely: 67 kilometres of seacoast and flat coastal plains along the North Sea, a central plateau and the rolling hills and forests of the Ardennes region in the southeast.
Among the best known Belgians are Georges Rémi (Hergé), creator of the Tintin comic-strip, writers Georges Simenon and Hugo Claus, composer and singer Jacques Brel and cyclist Eddy Merckx. Painters like James Ensor, Paul Delvaux and René Magritte are the modern-day successors of Rubens and the other Flemish masters of yesteryear.
Independent since 1830, Belgium is a constitutional monarchy. The two houses of Parliament are the Chamber of Representatives, whose members are elected for a maximum period of four years, and the Senate or upper house, whose members are elected or co-opted. Given its political make-up, Belgium is generally run by coalition governments.
Belgium is famous for its chocolates, which are appreciated the world over. A favourite dish is mussels and chips (French fries) which, according to legend, are a Belgian invention. The country also produces over 1 000 brands of beer.
This weather map is meant to give you an understanding of the difficult conditions under which many abandoned, homeless and neglected animals are forced to live in - many die of heat stroke, dehydration or freezing temperatures in Europe.