The World Factbook (1982)/Belgium

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The World Factbook (1982)
by the Central Intelligence Agency


World Factbook (1982) Belgium.jpg
(See reference map V)


30,562 km2 ; 28% cultivated, 24% meadow and pasture, 28% waste, urban, or other; 20% forested

Land boundaries: 1,377 km


Limits of territorial waters (claimed): 3 nm (fishing 12 nm)

Coastline: 64 km


Population: 9,881,000 (July 1982), average annual growth rate 0.1%

Nationality: noun—Belgian(s); adjective—Belgian

Ethnic divisions: 55% Flemings, 33% Walloons, 12% mixed or other

Religion: 97% Roman Catholic, 3% none or other

Language: French, Flemish (Dutch), German, in small area of eastern Belgium; divided along ethnic lines

Literacy: 97%

Labor force: 4.09 million (July 1978); in June 1976, 46.7% in services, 28.0% in mining and manufacturing, 7,4% in construction, 6.6% in transportation, 3.2% in agriculture, 1.0% commuting foreign workers, 0.4% in public works; 10.2% unemployed (January 1982)

Organized labor: 70% of labor force


Official name: Kingdom of Belgium

Type: constitutional monarchy

Capital: Brussels

Political subdivisions: nine provinces; as of 1 October 1980, Wallonia and Flanders have regional "subgovernments" with elected regional councils and executive officials; those regional authorities will have limited powers over revenues and certain areas of economic, urban, environmental, and housing policy; the authority of the regional sub-governments will increase over a five-year period; Wallonia also has a separate Walloon Cultural Council

Legal system: civil law system influenced by English constitutional theory; constitution adopted 1831, since amended; judicial review of legislative acts; legal education at four law schools; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations

National holiday: National Day, 21 July

Branches: executive branch consists of King and Cabinet; Cabinet responsible to bicameral parliament; independent judiciary; coalition governments are usual

Government leaders: Head of State, King BAUDOUIN I; Prime Minister Wilfried MARTENS

Suffrage: universal over age 18 (as of 1981)

Elections: held 8 November 1981 (held at least once every 4 years)

Political parties and leaders: Flemish Social Christian, Frank Swaelen, president; Francophone Social Christian, Gerard Desprez, president; Flemish Socialist, Karel Van Miert, president; Francophone Socialist, Guy Spitaels, president; Flemish Liberal, Guy Verhofstadt, president; Francophone Liberals, Louis Michel, president; Francophone Democratic Front, Antoinette Spaak, president; Volksunie (Flemish Nationalist), Vic Anciaux, president; Communist, Louis Van Geyt, president; Walloon Rally, Henri Mordant

Voting strength (1981 election): 61 seats Social Christian, 61 seats Socialist, 52 seats Liberal, 20 seats Volksunie, 8 seats Francophone Democratic Front and Walloon Rally, 4 seats Ecologist, 3 seats Anti-Tax Party (UDRT), 2 seats Communist, 1 seat Flemist Extremist Communists: 10,000 members (est., October 1981)

Other political or pressure groups: Christian and Socialist Trade Unions; the Federation of Belgium Industries; numerous other associations representing bankers, manufacturers, middle-class artisans, and the legal and medical professions; various organizations represent the cultural interests of Flanders and Wallonia, various peace groups such as Flemish Action Committee Against Nuclear Weapons

Member of: ADB, Benelux, BLEU, Council of Europe, DAC, EC, ECE, ECOSOC, ECSC, EEC, EIB, ELDO, EMA, ESRO, EURATOM, FAO, GATT, IAEA, IBRD, ICAQ ICAO, ICO, ICES, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, ILO, International Lead and Zinc Study Group, IMCO, IMF, IOOC, IPU, ITC, ITU, NATO, OAS (observer), OECD, UN, UNESCO, UPU, WEU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WSG


GNP: $118.5 billion (1980), $12,017 per capita; 64.3% consumption, 21.1% investment, 18.7% government consumption, 0.08% stock building,-0.91% net foreign balance (1978); 2% real growth rate in 1980

Fishing: catch 33,178 metric tons (1978); exports $60 million (1978), imports $327 million (1978)

Major industries: engineering and metal products, processed food and beverages, chemicals, basic metals, textiles, and petroleum

Crude steel: 18.0 million metric tons capacity (December 1981); 13.4 million metric tons produced, 1,360 kg per capita (1978)

Electric power: 12,500,000 kW capacity (1980); 53,643 million kWh produced (1980), 5,440 kWh per capita

Exports: (Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union) $88.9 billion (f.o.b., 1980); iron and steel products, finished or semifinished precious stones, textile products

Imports: (Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union) $93.5 billion (c.i.f., 1980); nonelectrical machinery, motor vehicles, textiles, chemicals, fuels

Major trade partners: (Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union, 1979) 70% EC (22% West Germany, 17% France, 169$ Netherlands, 8% UK, 5% Italy), 5% US

Aid: (1970-79) bilateral economic aid authorized (ODA and OOF), $3,018 million

Budget: (1982 proj.) revenues, Belgian francs (BF) 1,153.5 billion; expenditures, BF 1,507.7 billion; deficit, BF $354.2 billion

Monetary conversion rate: (1980 average) 29.243 Belgian Francs=US$1

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 4,171 km total; 3,971 km standard gauge (1.435 m) and government-owned, 2,536 km double track, 1,413 km electrified; 200 km government-owned, electrified meter gauge (1.000 m)

Highways: 104,663 km total; 1,102 km paved, limited access, divided autoroute; 51,780 km other paved; 51,781 km unpaved

Inland waterways: 2,043 km, of which 1,528 km are in regular use by commercial transport

Ports: 5 major, 1 minor

Pipelines: refined products, 1,115 km; crude, 161 km; natural gas, 3,218 km

Civil air: 49 major transport aircraft, including 4 leased in and 5 leased out

Airfields: 47 total, 46 usable; 25 with permanent-surface runways; 14 with runways 2,440-3,659 m, 4 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: excellent domestic and international telephone and telegraph facilities; 3.45 million telephones (35.0 per 100 popl.); 6 AM, 31 FM, and 31 TV stations; 5 coaxial submarine cables; 1 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT station


Military manpower: males 15-49, 2,478,000; 2,096,000 fit for military service; 79,000 reach military age (19) annually