officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a sovereign state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts several of the EU's official seats and as well as the headquarters of many major international organizations such as NATO. Straddling the cultural boundary between Germanic and Latin Europe, Belgium is home to two main linguistic groups: the Dutch-speaking, mostly Flemish community, which constitutes about 59% of the population, and the French-speaking, mostly Walloon population, which comprises 41% of all Belgians. Additionally, there is a small group of German-speakers who are officially recognized. Belgium covers an area of 30,528 square kilometers (11,787 sq mi) and has a population of about 11 million people. Belgium shares borders with France (620 km), Germany (167 km), Luxembourg (148 km) and the Netherlands (450 km). Its total area, including surface water area, is 30,528 square kilometres; land area alone is 30,278 km2. The coastal plain consists mainly of sand dunes and polders. Further inland lays a smooth, slowly rising landscape irrigated by numerous waterways, with fertile valleys and the northeastern sandy plain of the Campine (Kempen). The thickly forested hills and plateaus of the Ardennes are more rugged and rocky with caves and small gorges. Extending westward into France, this area is eastwardly connected to the Eifel in Germany by the High Fens plateau, on which the Signal de Botrange forms the country's highest point at 694 meters (2,277 ft). The climate is maritime temperate with significant precipitation in all seasons, like most of northwest Europe
Standard of living
The high standards of living in Belgium coupled with excellent health care, education and public facilities have made Belgium a popular destination for expats. Although the standard of living in Belgium is very high, this is accompanied with a relatively high cost of living. Belgium does experience difficulties with illegal immigrants and for this reason immigration laws have been tightened in recent years. EU citizens are able to enter and reside in the country without any difficulties but non-EU citizens may face significant challenges basing themselves here as an expatriate.
Belgium's strongly globalized economy and its transport infrastructure are integrated with the rest of Europe. Its location at the heart of a highly industrialized region helped make it the world's 15th largest trading nation in 2007. The economy is characterized by a highly productive work force, high GNP and high exports per capita. Belgium's main imports are raw materials, machinery and equipment, chemicals, raw diamonds, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, transportation equipment, and oil products. Its main exports are machinery and equipment, chemicals, finished diamonds, metals and metal products, and foodstuffs. The Belgian economy is heavily service-oriented and shows a dual nature: a dynamic Flemish economy and a Walloon economy that lags behind. One of the founding members of the European Union, Belgium strongly supports an open economy and the extension of the powers of EU institutions to integrate member economies. Since 1922, through the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union, Belgium and Luxembourg have been a single trade market with customs and currency union. Belgium experiences some of the most congested traffic in Europe. In 2010, commuters to the cities of Brussels and Antwerp spent respectively 65 and 64 hours a year in traffic jams. Like in most small European countries, more than 80% of the airways traffic is handled by a single airport, the Brussels Airport. The ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge share more than 80% of Belgian maritime traffic, Antwerp being the second European harbour with a gross weight of goods handled of 115 988 000 t in 2000 after a growth of 10.9% over the preceding five years.
Education is compulsory from 6 to 18 years of age for Belgians. Among OECD countries in 2002, Belgium had the third highest proportion of 18- to 21-year-olds enrolled in postsecondary education, at 42%. Although an estimated 99% of the adult population is literate, concern is rising over functional illiteracy. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), coordinated by the OECD, currently ranks Belgium's education as the 19th best in the world, being significantly higher than the OECD average. Education being organized separately by each language, the Flemish Community scores noticeably above the French and German-speaking Communities. Mirroring the dual structure of the 19th-century Belgian political landscape, characterized by the Liberal and the Catholic parties, the educational system is segregated within a secular and a religious segment. The secular branch of schooling is controlled by the communities, the provinces, or the municipalities, while religious, mainly Catholic branch education, is organized by religious authorities, although subsidized and supervised by the communities.
Process of buying Property
There are no foreign ownership restrictions in acquiring Belgian property. Future property owners in Belgium have to pay between 11 and 15 % for costs and duties. Registration tax of 12.5 %, notary’s fees 0.2-4%, buying -selling expenses are between 800 and 1000 Euro. In case of the purchase of a new property 21% VAT has to be paid, however no registration fees are required. The yearly property tax is between 1.25 and 2.5%. As deposit 10% is taken. It takes an average of 60 days to complete the procedures needed to register a property in Belgium.