Germany borders Belgium in the northwest and the border between the two countries is 204 kilometres long. The Vennbahn (running on disused railway lines), is now a cross-border cycle path that stimulates tourism. The route crosses the borders between Belgium, France and German and is almost 130 kilometres long in total.
Belgium has three official languages and there are cultural similarities, as well as clear differences between Belgium and Germany.
Belgium's linguistic diversity
French, Dutch (Flemish) and German are all spoken in Belgium and are considered to be official languages of the country. With Belgium's independence in 1830, French was the sole official language for a long time, but the Flemish wanted to put Dutch on an equal footing with French. Unlike in monolingual Germany, Belgians are very aware of their existing language culture and consciously adapt it to this day. German lessons are a fixed part of the school curriculum in Belgium, especially in Wallonia, but in Germany Dutch and French are usually only optional subjects in the school curriculum.
Germans are thrifty whilst Belgians love a little luxury
While Germans are proud of their thriftiness, Belgians enjoy the little luxuries of life. They like to take the whole family out to eat in good restaurants, and love visiting museums and other places of culture. The German tabloid press often reports on the luxury lifestyles led by the country's rich and famous. In Belgium, even well-known personalities live comparatively modestly and keep their private lives under wraps.
Another remarkable difference can be observed in the building industry. In Germany, if people want to build a house they have to quickly become familiar with and comply with the relevant rules and regulations, otherwise they face fines. In Belgium, people take a more relaxed approach and have learnt from an early age that some rules can be interpreted flexibly and that they do not need to obtain every permit going.
The East Belgians combine German thoroughness with Belgian flexibility
About 80,000 Belgians live in the Wallonia region and German is their mother tongue. The small community has cultivated its own education and culture and there is an exciting mixture of German thoroughness and Belgian flexibility here. Walloon Belgians aspire to typical German customs such as punctuality and thriftiness, but they combine the strictness of the German culture with Belgian flexibility and a more relaxed sense of humour.
It's always light on Belgium's motorways
In addition to Belgium's linguistic diversity, there are other diverse elements that run through their culture from their architecture to other areas of life. There is one peculiarity that amazes everyone on their first visit to Belgium, and that is the country's motorways. Whilst in Germany you drive along dark motorways and country roads at night, in Belgium all of these connecting routes are illuminated – although this is something that has led to many discussions from an environmental point of view. More than 300,000 lights ensure that the roads are never completely dark and thanks to modern LED technology, the costs for this have been significantly reduced.
Belgian and German Business
Belgians are more relaxed in business than Germans, and enjoy small talk before meetings. At the beginning of a business meeting, people chat about other things before getting down to business. There are definite differences in the approach to business meetings between Germans and Belgians therefore. Belgians prefer to take time to get to know their counterparts first and give them their full attention, while Germans prefer to get down to business straightaway so as not to waste time.
Belgian chocolate is well known for its quality, but the food sector accounts for only 8 per cent of exports to Germany. At around 35 per cent, chemical products form the largest share of exported goods from Belgium to Germany. The Germans export chemical products and machinery to Belgium as well as cars.
Like the Germans, the Belgians celebrate the religious Christmas festival around 25th December, but unlike in Germany where presents are given at that time, in Belgium presents are given on St. Nicholas Day, which is 6th December.
In Germany, there are purity laws which need to be followed and there are precise regulations surrounding which ingredients may be used in the brewing process. In Belgium, this law does not exist and different spices, fruits or sugars are used in the brewing process.
Add new comment