Belgium National Parks
Belgium is bordered by France to the southwest, Luxembourg to the southeast, Germany to the east and the Netherlands and the North Sea to the north. It occupies an area of nearly 12,000 square miles, most of which has a relatively flat topography. Belgium has three main geographical regions: 1.) the coastal plain, consists mainly of sand dunes and polder in the northwest; 2.) a central plateau of gently rolling hills irrigated by numerous waterways; and 3.) the thickly forested Ardennes uplands in the southeast, which feature steep-sided valleys carved by swift-flowing rivers, but barely exceed an elevation of 2,000 feet.
Belgium has mild winters, with temperatures averaging around 45˚F, and cool summers, with temperatures averaging around 77˚F, and is considered to have a maritime temperate climate.
With a population of nearly 11 million people, the Belgium’s population is mostly urban. However, culturally, Belgium can be divided into two main regions: 1.) the mainly Dutch-speaking region of Flanders in the north and 2.) the mainly French-speaking region of Wallonia in the south. Although a small German-speaking community also exists in eastern Wallonia. Belgium’s linguistic and cultural diversity are reflected in its complex system of government and its tempestuous political history. Brussels, with a population of over one million people, is the Belgium’s capital and largest city and the de facto capital of the European Union.
Belgium has a strongly globalized economy that is characterized by a high GNP and high exports per capita. As one of the founding members of the European Union, Belgium strongly supports an open economy and the integration of member economies. Belgium’s economy and transportation infrastructure are highly integrated with the rest of Europe. Its location at the heart of this highly industrialized region has helped to make this small country one of the twenty largest trading nations of the entire world. Most of Belgium’s industry is concentrated in the more heavily populated region of Flanders in the north. As a result, the economy of Flanders is more dynamic than that of Walloon in the south. With few natural resources, Belgium imports large quantities of raw materials and exports large volumes of manufactured goods. The Belgian economy is heavily service-oriented. Its highly productive work force is one of the country’s greatest assets.
Belgium has only one official national park, the Hoge Kempen National Park. Covering over 22 square miles of forests and heathland, the Hoge Kempen National Park opened in 2006.