A small central European country, the middle bit of the Benelux states, with the Netherlands
bordering to the north and Luxembourg to the south-east (plus France
to the south and Germany
to the east).
It's a notoriously and unjustly underrated tourist destination … especially for the British
Belgium somehow acquired the reputation of the least worthy tourist place in Europe – which is strange, as it offers two of Britain's best-loved commodities in unparalleled quality: beer and chips (as in 'pommes frites', "Frieten" in Flemish – it was here that they were invented, and they're thus grossly misnamed "French" fries in the USA
Belgium is also a bit of a whipping boy for its grand southern neighbour France
(often the prototypical butt of jokes in ways similar to the Irish for Brits), and, if to a somewhat lesser degree, for the Netherlands too. Personally, I feel sorry for Belgium. It doesn't really deserve such a rough deal on the reputation front – although it doesn't help that if the country gets in the international (negative) headlines these regularly involve child-abuse, right-wingers, a language war and/or general political gridlock … oh, and Brussels, of course, the place all Euro-sceptics point an accusing finger at.
But I quite like Belgium – not just in culinary respects (in which it is world-class). And apart from some cool cities (Antwerp, Bruges, Gent are northern gems) and splendid scenery (especially in the Ardennes in the south) it also offers a few places of interest to the dark tourist:
has become almost synonymous with the senseless tragedy that was World War One
, and today's memorial sites and museums bear testimony to the slaughter back then.
Like its neighbours, Belgium was then overrun by Germany
, and the Nazi
occupiers left their mark too – in the form of Breendonk
, which played a part as transit camps in the Holocaust
and are now memorial sites.