Euro 2016: 10 things you might not have known about Belgium

Ireland face group favourites in our second Euro 2016 game in Bordeaux on Saturday

Belgium fans before the Italy game on Monday. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Belgium fans before the Italy game on Monday. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

 

Ireland take on Belgium in our second Euro 2016 game on Saturday in Bordeaux, France.

Belgium are the favourites in Group E and are currently ranked second in the world by Fifa - but what do we not know about them?

Here are ten weird and wonderful facts about the country which brought us Romelu Lukaku and lovely waffles:

1. The highest point in Belgium is lower than the world’s tallest building. The Signal de Botrange on the High Fens plateau in the far east of Belgium is the highest point at just 694 metres high, shorter than the tallest building in the world, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa at 828m. Belgium along with the Netherlands and Luxembourg are historically known as the Low Countries.

2. Belgium has more castles per kilometre than any other country in the world.

3. Belgium has been producing chocolate for almost 400 years. The first evidence of chocolate production in Belgium dates back to 1635. Today Belgium produces over 173,000 tons of chocolate a year, and has 2,000 chocolate shops.

4. Antwerp, a port city on Belgium’s River Scheldt, is the world’s diamond capital. It has an estimated annual turnover of €29 billion, accounting for around 8 percent of all Belgian exports. Diamonds have been traded here since 1447. Today the city handles 80 per cent of the world’s rough diamonds, 50 per cent of all cut diamonds and around 45 per cent of all industrial diamonds.

5. There are three official languages in Belgium: Dutch, French and German. Dutch is spoken by just under 60 per cent of the population, mainly by the Flemish in the North. French is spoken by around 40 per cent of the population and mainly to the south in the Wallonia region. There is a small group of German-speakers in eastern Wallonia.

6. The town of Spa in Belgium is where the word ‘spa’ comes from. People as far back as ancient Roman times used to come to the town to bathe in the famed cold springs for health and healing purposes.

7. There are over 1,100 varieties of beers made in Belgium and the country often produces international award winning varieties.

8. French fries are believed to have been invented in Belgium not France, though it has not been proven.

9. Belgian graphic designer Alain Billiet designed the euro sign.

10. Belgium has more comic makers per square km than any other country in the world. Famous comic book series to come out of Belgium include, The Adventures of Tintin and The Smurfs.