Belgium a tiny spot on the map -1-

It is time for me, ” The Cycling Herring”, to tell you more about the country I live in.

Belgium. You know Belgium? That tiny, little spot on the world map?

Let me show you here on the map. Look very closely en take your magnifying glasses.





You see it now???




Great! Thank you for looking that closely. You can put back your magnifying glasses now. You won’t need them any more.

Belgium might not be huge  still it is big.

I hear you thinking what the f*** is he saying??

And yes, Belgium is indeed a tiny little country but at the same time it is big because it counts:

  • 6 governments
  • more than 50 ministers
  • 3 different official languages
  • 2 kings
  • 2 queens

You still think Belgium is an insignificant spot on the map???? 



The Belgian Art of Communication -3-

Communication is an art, we all know that but in Belgium it is a very special art.

In Belgium, communication is not only about words and emotions, it is essentially about emotions and politics.

For a population of 11.239 million on an area of 30,528 square kilometers we not only count 2 Kings, 2 Queens and 6 governments but also  3 different official languages.

Yes,  Belgium has 3 official languages:

So when we meet we say:

French: Bonjour!
Dutch: Goeie dag!
German: guter Tag!

Now you think  everybody in Belgium is at least trilingual and we all speak the 3 languages everywhere in the country?

No, that would be much too simple!!

No, each of these languages is spoken in delineated areas.
The language spoken in a specific area is also the language of administration for that area.

So now I hear you thinking:

“Belgium must be divided in 3 areas: the Dutch area, the French area and the German area”.

Wrong again!!!!
That again would have been far too easy!
No!!! Belgium counts 4 language areas:

  1. the Dutch language area
  2. the French language area
  3. the German language area
  4. the bilingual Brussels-Capital area: French and Dutch.

Are you still with me?????????????????
I hope so because this is not yet the end.

Take a deep breath and stay focused.

In the Dutch and French areas there are  a few cities, 27 to be exact with “facilities”.
That means that people there can choose an other official language than the one officially spoken.

Héy!!!!!!! Where are you????? Lost????
No panic, we manage so you should too!!!

And to make it just a little bit more complicated beside the 3 official languages a lot of people still speak dialects.

I think this is enough for one day, but before leaving you, I want to share with you a new tremendous idea our Flemish minister of education had a time ago.
He seems to think we still need to make it all a little more complicated and made the following suggestion:

“If Brussels aspires to be an international city, it should make English an official language”

Now I am speechless.

What about you????

Belgium’s VIPs -2-

Now that you know where to find Belgium on the map let me introduce you to the VIP’s  in charge of this little country.

First of all meet our King Philip.



Philip is his name in English.

But in French it is Philippe.

In Dutch you should write Filip.

And in German it becomes Philipp. 

If you think this is of no importance. Think something else. This is a serious matter here in Belgium.

I will tell you more about that later.

So as I said Philip is  the King of the Belgians and that since 21 July 2013.

He is married to Mathilde our actual Queen:



In addition to our actual official King and Queen we have an other King and Queen: Albert and Paola.

Albert abdicated a few years ago but kept his title of King and his wife is still a Queen.

So today, Belgium has two Kings and two Queens.

Keep reading to understand why I am telling you all this.

Next to our 2 Kings and 2 Queens we have lots of Ministers, Secretaries of State and Governments.

As I already told you Belgium counts 6 governments:

  1. The Federal Government with 15 ministers
  2. The Flemish Government with 9 ministers
  3. The French Community with 7 ministers
  4. The German speaking Community with 4 ministers
  5. The Walloon Region with 8 ministers
  6. The Government of Brussels Capital with 5 ministers

I didn’t mention the Secretaries of State. I am just trying to keep it very simple for you to understand.

I don’t want to confuse you.

All those Kings, Queens, Ministers, Secretary of State represent the citizens of Belgium.
They provide protection to the citizens or should I say  “the taxpayers”.

In order to get protection from those VIP’s, people pay taxes.

And as you can see, we have a lot of “body guards” who take care of us, so of course we have  a lot of taxes to pay.
That is the reason why the main task of all our Ministers and Secretary of State is to collect taxes:

  • income taxes,
  • social security taxes,
  • corporate taxes,
  • value added taxes,
  • property taxes,
  • regional taxes,
  • local taxes
  • and other various fees are being introduced every day: the sky is the limit when it comes to taxes.

Now I guess you understand why Belgium has the highest income taxes in the developed world.

The average Belgian worker gives 42% of his salary back to the government.

And here in this little country nobody works for free. Not even our ex King.

Our ex king, Albert is very angry and  is complaining  about his salary.
He says he isn’t able to live on the $1.1million a year het gets from the citizens. It isn’t enough to pay the fuel of his yacht.

I think it is time for us Belgian people to feel sorry for him and to help him.

I think I am going to raise some money to help the poor guy. I am thinking about collecting stuff we do not need any more:  old furniture, clothes, vegetables out of our garden… just to help him through the month.images-4Wouldn’t that be nice?????? 

Fact is, Belgium is a funny country where you never get bored.