Belgia (nederlandsk: België, fransk: la Belgique, tysk: Belgien), offisielt Kongeriket Belgia (nederlandsk: Koninkrijk België, fransk: Royaume de Belgique, tysk: Königreich Belgien) er et land i Vest-Europa. Det grenser til Nederland, Tyskland,Luxembourg og Frankrike, og det har dessuten en liten kystlinje mot Nordsjøen (65 km).
Belgia ligger i Vest-Europa mellom Nordsjøen, Frankrike og Nederland. Belgia har et areal på 33 990 kvadratkilometer og er delt inn i tre geografiske regioner: Kystsletten i nordvest, det sentrale platået og Ardennene i sørøst. Kystsletten består hovedsakelig av sanddyner og dikelandskap. Dikelandskapet er landområder nær eller under havnivå, der havet holdes ute ved hjelp av diker, eller sletter som er drenert ved hjelp av kanaler. Det sentrale platået er et jevnt område som sakte stiger innover i landet, og har mange fruktbare daler og er irrigert av mange vannveier. Her finnes også mer kuperte områder, inkludert grotter og små gjel.
I sørøst ligger Ardennene, som er mer kupert enn resten av landet. Det er et tett og kupert skogsområde, som ikke egner seg så godt til jordbruk. Området strekker seg inn i de nordlige delene av Frankrike og inn i Tyskland, der området heter Eifel. Det er her man finner det meste av dyrelivet i Belgia. Det høyeste punktet i Belgia, Signal de Botrange med 694 meter, ligger også i dette området. Belgia har relativt få naturlige innsjøer, og ingen av dem er store.
Belgia deler grenser med Frankrike (620 km), Tyskland (167 km), Luxembourg (148 km) og Nederland (450 km). Den totale landegrensen er 1 482 km, i tillegg til 73,1 km med kystlinje. Belgia er tilnærmet det geografiske midtpunktet i Vest-Europa, og alle de store hovedstedene i Vest-Europa ligger innenfor 1 000 km fra Brussel, som er hovedsetet for både EU og NATO. Fra sørøst til nordvest er landet 280 km langt, og fra nordøst til sørvest 222 km.
Education in Belgium is regulated and for the larger part financed by one of the three communities: Flemish, French and German-speaking. All three communities have a unified school system with small differences from one community to another. The federal government plays a very small role: it decides directly the age for mandatory schooling and indirectly the financing of the communities.
The schools can be divided in three groups (Dutch: netten; French: réseaux):
1. Schools owned by the communities (GO! Onderwijs van de Vlaamse gemeenschap; réseau de la Communauté française)
2. Subsidized public schools (officieel gesubsidieerd onderwijs; réseau officiel subventionné), organized by provinces and municipalities
3. Subsidized free schools (vrij gesubsidieerd onderwijs; réseau libre subventionné), mainly organized by an organization affiliated to the Catholic churchThe latter is the largest group, both in number of schools and in number of pupils.
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%. Though 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, 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.
Belgian cuisine is widely varied with significant regional variations while also reflecting the cuisines of neighbouring France, Germany and the Netherlands. It is sometimes said that Belgian food is served in the quantity of German cuisine but with the quality of French food. Outside the country, Belgium is best known for its chocolate, waffles, fries and beer.
Though Belgium has many distinctive national dishes, many internationally-popular foods like hamburgers and spaghetti bolognese are also popular in Belgium, and most of what Belgians eat is also eaten in neighbouring countries. 'Belgian cuisine' therefore usually refers to dishes of Belgian origin, or those considered typically Belgian.
Belgian cuisine traditionally prizes regional and seasonal ingredients. Ingredients typical in Belgian dishes include potatoes, leeks, grey shrimp, white asparagus, Belgian endives and local beer, in addition to common European staples including meat, cheese and butter. Belgians typically eat three meals a day, with a light breakfast, light or medium-sized lunch and large dinner.Belgium has a plethora of dishes and products that are local to a specific area. Examples include waterzooi from Ghent, the couque biscuit from the town of Dinant, and tarte au riz from Verviers. While their local origins are acknowledged, most such dishes are enjoyed throughout Belgium.
Many highly ranked Belgian restaurants can be found in the most influential restaurant guides, such as the Michelin Guide. Belgium is famous for beer, chocolate, waffles and french fries with mayonnaise. Contrary to their name, french fries are claimed to have originated in Belgium, although their exact place of origin is uncertain. The national dishes are "steak and fries with salad", and "mussels with fries".
Brands of Belgian chocolate and pralines, like Côte d'Or, Neuhaus, Leonidas and Godiva are famous, as well as independent producers such as Burie and Del Rey in Antwerp and Mary's in Brussels. Belgium produces over 1100 varieties of beer. The Trappist beer of the Abbey of Westvleteren has repeatedly been rated the world's best beer. The biggest brewer in the world by volume is Anheuser-Busch InBev, based in Leuven.
Belgium has three official languages, which are (in order of size of the native speaking population of Belgium) Dutch, French and German. A number of non-official minority languages are spoken as well. As no census exists, there are no official statistical data regarding the distribution or usage of Belgium's three official languages or their dialects. However, various criteria, including the language(s) of parents, of education, or the second-language status of foreign born, may provide suggested figures. An estimated 60% of the Belgian population speaks Dutch (often referred to as Flemish), and 40% of the population speaks French. French-speaking Belgians are often referred to as Walloons, although the French speakers in Brussels are not Walloons.
Total Dutch speakers are 6.23 million, concentrated in the northern Flanders region, while French speakers number 3.32 million in Wallonia and an estimated 870,000 (or 85%) in the officially bilingual Brussels-Capital Region The German-speaking Community is made up of 73,000 people in the east of the Walloon Region; around 10,000 German and 60,000 Belgian nationals are speakers of German. Roughly 23,000 more German speakers live in municipalities near the official Community.
Both Belgian Dutch and Belgian French have minor differences in vocabulary and semantic nuances from the varieties spoken respectively in the Netherlands and France. Many Flemish people still speak dialects of Dutch in their local environment. Walloon, considered either as a dialect of French or a distinct Romance language, is now only understood and spoken occasionally, mostly by elderly people. Walloon is the name collectively given to four French dialects spoken in Belgium. Wallonia's dialects, along with those of Picard, are not used in public life and have been replaced by French.