Exploring the Rich Culture, History & Cuisine of Belgium
Known for its chocolates, beer and culture, Belgium is a small country that has much to offer. However, many people are surprised to learn that Belgium has a complicated history and three main languages, so it’s important to know some facts before you go!
The northern region of Belgium is occupied by Dutch-speaking Flemings, while the southern half is mostly inhabited by French-speaking Walloons. These differences have caused a lot of tension and controversy throughout the years.
Belgium has a vibrant culture, influenced by its long history. Popular elements include gastronomy (Belgian beers, fries, chocolate), the comic strip tradition (Tintin, Smurfs), painting and architecture.
One of the country’s most notable traditions is family. Most Belgians live within their hometowns, and this creates close extended families. They also take pride in their appearance, which is reflected by their homes being tidy and well-maintained.
They are also known for their love of sports. This is reflected in their national soccer team, which has won more championships than any other team in the world.
The country is divided into three regions: Flanders, Wallonia and a small German-speaking minority. Each region has its own distinct cultural traits and practices.
Belgium is renowned for its delicious food and special-tasting beer. Belgian cuisine is a blend of French and German flavors that has earned it a place on the global culinary map.
Fruit and vegetables make up a significant portion of the Belgian diet, including bananas (7.5 kilos per person), apples (7.33 kilos), oranges (6.01 kilos), and mandarins and tangerines (3.58 kilos). Fresh, local produce like Brussels sprouts, endive, and mussels are prized in traditional dishes.
Mussels are a popular summer delicacy, especially when eaten with frites and white wine or shallot sauce. Other staples include potatoes, charcuterie and a basket of bread. For the main course, Belgians often choose a hearty stew.
Despite its small size, Belgium is home to a huge variety of languages. These diverse tongues form part of a unique linguistic interplay that shapes this quaint country’s history and future.
Dutch is the main language spoken by Belgians, with a large French-speaking community living around Brussels and Flanders in the south of the country. Despite the different pronunciation and vocabulary, you should be able to understand these native French speakers even if you don’t speak French yourself!
In addition to the official, three major languages (Dutch, French and German), Belgium is home to six regional and minority languages. These include Walloon, Champenois, Lorrain (Gaumais), Picard and Yiddish.
As a result of Belgium’s long and complex history, its language is constantly evolving and changing. This has shaped the diversity of the languages spoken in the Low Countries today. The complexities of this unique linguistic mix make it an incredibly rewarding language learning destination. So, be sure to immerse yourself in Belgium’s fascinating language and history!
Often overlooked by travelers who visit popular European destinations, Belgium offers a whole lot of things to see and do. With historic medieval towns, sumptuous castles and incredible food, it’s well worth adding this country to your itinerary.
Getting around in Belgium is simple and inexpensive, thanks to Europe’s excellent train network that connects all major cities and regions with ease. There are also plenty of bike rental options across the country so you can get out and explore on two wheels for a more eco-friendly way to travel!
The best time to travel to Belgium is in the spring and fall, when the weather is nice and the crowds are fewer. However, be prepared for rainy and foggy days, as Belgium experiences a large number of storms each year.