According to Payhelpcenter, Belgium’s population density (342 residents per square kilometer) is one of the highest in Europe, after that of the Netherlands and some micro-states such as Monaco. The areas with the highest population density are those around the agglomerations of Brussels-Antwerp-Ghent-Louvain – a region known as the Flemish Diamond as well as in other important urban centers (mainly Liege, Charleroi, Bruges, Namur, Mons, Courtrai and Hasselt). The Ardennes region is the one with the lowest population density in the country. In 2005, the Flemish Region had a population of approximately 6 043 161 residents. It was followed by Wallonia with 3 395 942 and Brussels with 1 006 749. Almost the entire population is urban (97.3% in 1999). The main cities (with their population in parentheses) are Brussels (1 006 749 in the ss city and about 2 million in its agglomeration), Antwerp (457 749 in the commune and 900,000 with its metropolitan area), Ghent (230 951), Charleroi (201,373), Liège (185,574 in the municipality and 600,000 in its agglomeration) and Bruges (117,253). About 59 per cent of the population of Belgium speak Dutch as their mother tongue (they know it until 70 % of the population, including 20% Walloons), 40% is French-speaking (70% of the total population knows the French language, including 60% Flemish), and less than 1% is German-speaking . Brussels, With 9% of the country’s population, it is officially bilingual (French and Dutch). The Basilica of the Sacred Heart, in Brussels, is the National Basilica of Belgium. It symbolizes the historical link between the Belgian monarchy and the Roman Catholic Church.
An estimated 98 percent of the adult population is literate. Education is compulsory between the ages of six and eighteen, but many Belgians continue to study until about 23 years of age. In 1999, Belgium had the third highest proportion of young people aged 18-21 enrolled in higher education of all OECD countries, at 42 percent. However, in recent years, the main issue of concern is functional illiteracy. In the period 1994 – 1998, 18.4 percent of the Belgian population lacked reading habits. Reflecting the historical political conflicts between free thought and Catholic sectors of the population, the educational system in each community is divided into a secular branch controlled by communities, provinces, or municipalities, and a religious branch in its own right. Catholic majority subsidized and controlled by both the communities and the religious authorities (mostly dioceses). However, it should be noted that at least in the case of Catholic schools, religious authorities have very limited power.
The most widely practiced religion is Catholicism (75%), followed by Protestant Christianity (120,000), Islam (36,000) and Judaism (38,000). Religion was precisely one of the causes that led to its independence from the Netherlands (a predominantly Protestant country).
The country is known internationally for its beer, its chocolates and its comics. There are hundreds of different types of beer, its production being considered by many as an art. The best known are the Trappists (there are six officers: Achel, Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle and Westvleteren), lambic beers (Kriek) and renowned craft beers for their high quality such as “La Chouffe”, “La Binchoise” or “Doele Browers “. The same happens with chocolates, the best known are: Godiva, Côte d’Or, Leonidas… Comanche, Lucky Luke, The Smurfs, Tintin (Kuifje in Dutch) or Spirou and Fantasio are some of the best known series in the comic Belgian.
Leuven (Leuven in Dutch and Louvain in French) is home to one of the oldest and most important universities in Europe.
The most prominent sports in Belgium are mainly cycling, football and tennis. In cycling, Eddy Merckx stands out, winner of traditional competitions, such as the Cycling World Championship, the Giro d’Italia, the Tour of Spain, the Tour de France, and countless cycling tournaments. RSC Anderlecht and Club Brujas are considered the two most popular clubs in the country. Anderlecht, together with RKV Mechelen, are the only national clubs with international titles (two Recopas, two European Super Cups and a UEFA Cup by Anderlecht; and a European Cup Winners’ Cup and Super Cup by Mechelen); while Bruges is the only club that managed to reach a final of the European Cup, although he did not win it. The national team is one of the most important at the continental level, achieving a third place in the European Championship in 1972, and a runner-up in 1980.
It also has a historical record of participations in a Soccer World Cup: from 1982 to 2002 they have classified the maximum tournament of teams uninterruptedly by way of qualifying. At the Olympic Games, she won bronze in Paris (1896) and gold in her own country, in 1920. On the tennis side, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin are the two tennis players who have reached number 1 in the women’s ranking. Henin won 7 Grand Slam tournaments and the gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, with a total of 43 titles between singles and doubles. Kim Clijsters also became champion of the US Open Tournament in 2005 and 2009.