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The Kingdom of Belgium in northwestern Europe wields a surprising amount of influence for its relatively small size. A fitting situation for a country named for the Belgae, a tribe Julius Caesar once considered the bravest in Gaul in 57 BC.
Belgium’s charming capital, Brussels, now serves as the seat of the European Union and the National Atlantic Trade Organization (NATO). It is also one of its major tourist attractions, a city full of fine museums and classic architecture, as well as a compact and carefully preserved 17th-century city center. Meanwhile, Antwerp, Belgium's major port, has been commercially important in European trade since the eleventh century. Like Amsterdam, it is one of the world centers for diamond trading. In spite of damage suffered during both World Wars, Antwerp remains a city of beautiful historic architecture dating to the 16th century. And Ghent, Belgium, the jewel of Flanders, has served as a textile capital for the world since the eleventh century onward—for several centuries, it was both more populous and wealthier than London.
Due to Belgium’s position between the Netherlands and France, the country is home to populations of both Dutch and French speakers, and the evidence of both cultures is evident in the country’s politics, traditions, and cuisine. The popularity of the latter has also been enjoying more influence around the world in recent years, as any convert to Belgium’s delicious beer, waffles, French fries, and chocolate can attest.