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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 June, 2003, 14:16 GMT 15:16 UK
Ten fascinating Belgium facts
By Dan Warren

Kim Clijsters (left) and Justine Henin-Hardenne
Henin-Hardenne (right) easily beat Clijsters
The all-Belgian French Open women's final may not have been a classic, but there is no doubt the country is making a name for itself with its tennis talent.

The tennis skills of Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters meant the two women joined an illustrious roll-call of Belgian stars which includes Tintin and Eddy Merckx.

Yet the country continues to be perceived as boring, which - if the facts that follow are anything to go by - is deeply unfair.


  • The CIA estimates that there are eight million radios in Belgium. That may sound like a lot - but with a population of 10.2 million it means that around one in five Belgians is radioless.

  • Belgium is one of three countries classified by the European Community as a "manure surplus" region, because it produces more than its land can absorb. Despite this, a recent UN poll voted Belgium the fifth best country to live in on the entire planet.

  • Hercule Poirot
    Poirot is Belgium's best policeman
    Hercule Poirot, the famous moustache-sporting detective, is Belgian. But despite his formidable crime-solving reputation, he was recently voted least popular man to share a hotel with in a magazine poll, because of the unnervingly high murder rate whenever he is about.

  • Belgian pop music reached its apex in 1978 with the release of Plastic Bertrand's 'Ca Plane Pour Moi', which made number eight in the UK charts. Belgium's other band, Front 242, make music which sounds like someone dropping a piano down a laundry chute.

  • Although Belgian pop music is generally dreadful, the country did win the Eurovision Song Contest in 1986 with Sandra Kim's 'J'aime la vie'. And before anyone in the United Kingdom gets too smug, Belgium were runners-up in this year's contest, while the UK entry sounded like a bag of cats being hit with a hammer.

  • Belgium's most successful exports include sugar beets, tobacco, beef and Jean-Claude Van Damme.

  • Sprouts
    Sprouts are healthy and taste awful
    Although named after the Belgian capital, Brussels sprouts do not necessarily come from Brussels. They are grown all over the world and although universally loathed by children, are a valuable source of vitamins C and K, and are high in health-boosting potassium.

  • Belgium have only ever played England three times at football in all of history, most famously when David Platt's volleyed winner in the last minute of extra time in the 1990 World Cup caused Gary Lineker's eyes to bulge in delight.

  • Belgium makes chocolate. A lot of chocolate. In fact, in one year, it will produce 172,000 tons - enough to keep more than 1.5 million recently-dumped women happy while watching Sex and the City.

  • Despite its 'boring' reputation, Belgium produces a lot of interesting beers. Hundreds of varieties are brewed in the country, and thousands of gallons exported - enough to keep more than two million recently-dumped men very happy indeed.




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