Belgium is an independent nation situated in West Europe. The country occupies an area of approximately 11,787 square miles and borders five European countries. The country is one of the most peaceful, and it is listed among other high-income nations in Europe. Belgium is partitioned into three major regions. The northwestern region consists of coastal plains, the central region has the plateaus, and the Southeast region mainly consists of hills and uplands. The country has plenty of natural resources such as fertile land, coal, carbonates, limestone, black marble, fir trees, diamonds, zinc, lead, iron, and silica.
Belgium has abundant fertile land, particularly in the Central region. Approximately 26% of land in Belgium is used for farming activities. The country also has a favorable temperate climate which is good for farming, and the majority of farmers in Belgium are large-scale farmers. The European country is a major producer of agricultural items such as dairy products, poultry, fruits, vegetables, barley, potatoes, tobacco, and grains. To produce large quantities of farm produce, Belgium applies highly advanced farming techniques. Some of the new methods applied are scientific research and modern farm equipment. In the past three decades, Belgium’s agricultural output has immensely increased with the adoption of modern farming methods. The agricultural sector in Belgium is important to the economy as products grown in Belgium are locally consumed and also exported to neighboring European nations. Additionally, the industry employs approximately 2% of the nation’s population.
Belgium has rich coal deposits. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Belgium had a thriving coal mining industry. The main mining sites in Belgium are situated in the South Eastern part of the country. Coal mining began in the early 19th century and was carried for many decades. In the 19th century, coal was an important commodity that powered major industries in the country. However, due to the bad weather effects associated with coal production, Belgium abandoned coal mining in 2016. Belgium joined six other European nations that stopped coal production in an attempt to reduce global warming.
Belgium has a wealth of carbonate deposits. The deposits are found on the northern part of the country. Carbonates exist in many varying forms such as dolomite, limestone, and siderite. The Carbonates extracted from the mining sites in Belgium have many uses. Some of the industries that rely on carbonates include the fizzy drinks industry, construction sector, iron extraction, cement production, and in making glass. Most of the carbonates are used locally. Belgium exports some of the carbonates to foreign countries such as Tanzania.
Silica is a form of sand that is found in plenty in Belgium. Extraction of Silica in Belgium began from as early as the 19th century. In 2000, Belgium produced approximately four metric tons of Silica. The world’s leading manufacturer of silica products – Evonik – has its main operations in Belgium. The company plans to build a major production facility in 2019 in the Belgian city of Antwerp. Silica is used in diverse sectors such as in adhesives, in the construction industry, dental products, and insulation material. The Silica produced in Belgium is exported throughout the world.
Belgium is home to large fir tree forests. The trees mainly grow on the hilly region of Ardennes. One of Belgium’s famous forests is the Blue Forest situated near the nation’s capital city of Brussels. Most forests in Belgium are in protected areas. The beautiful forests are a tourist attraction hence they contribute to the country’s tourism sector. The forests also provide a safe habitat for animals and plant to thrive. The forests are a source of food and medicine for Belgians. Lastly, the trees provide timber for the major wood industry in the country. Some of the timber from Belgian forests is exported to other European nations.
Zinc And Lead
Belgium has Zinc and Lead as some of its natural resources. Extraction of zinc began from as early as the 14th century. The country is home to the world’s biggest producer of Zinc–Nyrstar. In the third quarter of 2018, the company produced 270,000 metric tons of Zinc and 55,000 metric tons of Lead. In 1946, the lead and Zinc mines were temporarily closed in due to several challenges in the mining process such as dewatering, and refractory ores.
Iron And Steel
Belgium has several iron ores within its borders. In the pre-war period, Belgium was one of the big exporters of iron in Europe. The production of Iron and steel in the country has experienced a steady increase in the past decade. This increase is attributed to the rise in demand for steel and the growing automobile sector in Belgium and other countries. As of 2017, Belgium was ranked eighth of the world’s largest steel exporters. In that year, the country exported 5 million metric tons of steel. Most of the iron and steel produced in Belgium is exported to more than 160 nations worldwide. Some of the top markets for Belgian iron and steel products include France, Turkey, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. Some of the major uses of steel include the construction sector, motor vehicle industry, and manufacture of machinery. The steel industry employs a large number of people in the country.
The Significance Of Belgium’s Economy
The central geographical location of the country in the continent together with well-developed transport network has assisted the country to develop a highly diversified economy having a broad mixture of manufacturing, transport, high tech, and services. Industries in the country are concentrated in the highly populous parts of the country such as the Flanders in the northern part of the country.The country relies entirely on fossil fuel from other countries, and it has planned to shut down all the seven nuclear power plants by 2025. Belgium is a regional logistics hub, and its economy is vulnerable to changes in foreign demand, especially with fellow European Union trading partners. Approximately ¾ of the country’s trade is with fellow EU members.