• Vatican City!

    Vatican City: Vatican Museums. Go Now!

    Vatican City
    The smallest country in the world offers the heart of Catholicism and among the world's finest art collections, including the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Rooms (ceiling pictured). Go to Vatican City!

  • Albania!

    Albania: Village of Theth! Go Now!

    Albania is unique in Europe, starting with its Muslim heritage, but expanding to include food, culture, and even its natural beauty. Explore Albania!

  • Netherlands!

    Netherlands: Wooden shoes. Go Now!

    This low country might be small, but it maintains a unique place in history and culture. Explore the Netherlands!

  • Ukraine!

    Ukraine: Traditional Village. Go Now!

    Ukrainian culture is based on village life, particularly that found in the Carpathian Mountains (pictured). Begin Your Journey!

  • Latvia!

    Latvia: Art Nouveau in Riga. Go Now!

    Latvia is small, but has a diverse history, foods, and architecture (shown), which includes aspects from both Eastern and Western Europe. Begin Your Journey!

  • Germany!

    Germany: Town Hall. Go Now!

    Food, beer, natural beauty, and more create a country that's known for its distinct culture and history. Go Now!

History of Belgium

The region of Belgium has had a number of different groups call the region home, although today's Belgium is not closely related to many of them. In the 1300s and 1400s much of modern day Belgium joined the Netherlands and in the mid-1500s this union became a fairly solid and strong association as it fell under the rule of the Holy Roman Emperor.

Prior to this time, the region consisted of Germans, French, English and the Dutch among others. The villages and cities began growing in the 900s and 1000s, but there was little organized rule on a larger scale. Later the region fell under the rule of the Hapsburgs and from this point until the 1500s the region's direction was primarily determined by this ruling family. Based in Austria the Hapsburgs' relationship with various other countries, most notably France and Germany, determined the direction of Belgium.

In the mid-1500s, war broke out between the territories in what is today Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, & Luxembourg) and Spain, which was home to the Holy Roman Emperor at the time. As a result of these battles, the territories of Benelux signed the Union of Utrecht in 1579, which merged them together to defend each other against the Spanish. Despite this document, war continued with Spain until 1648, at which time some provinces were officially granted freedom from the Spanish.

In the mid-1600s the territories that now make up Benelux were divided into two regions, the north and south, Belgium falling primarily into the southern district. This territory again fell under the rule of the Hapsburgs (among others) and became home to multiple battles in the 1600s and 1700s as France fought both the Austrians and Spanish. This ended in the late-1700s when France annexed the entire region.

After the fall of Napoleon's France in the early 1800s, the Belgian territory was united with the northern section of the region once again to create the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. However, Belgium protested this union and about 15 years later gained their full independence as a monarchy.

When World War I broke out in the early 1900s Belgium was immediately invaded by the Germans and the country became home to multiple battles. This seemed to be repeated during World War II (WWII) when Belgium was again invaded by Germany and occupied rather quickly.

After WWII, Belgium ended its monarchy and, as a republic was founded, Belgium lost most of their colonies, including Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. Belgium has since joined NATO and was a founding member of the European Union (EU), as many EU departments are located in Brussels, Belgium.

This page was last updated: March, 2013