Belgium: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture (Culture Smart!)

October 31, 2020
Belgium: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture (Culture Smart!)

Small but perfectly placed, Belgium is the historical meetingpoint of northern Europe’s chief trading routes. It sits on thecontinent’s northwestern seaboard, with several important ports,and borders on the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, and France.Belgium has somehow acquired the reputation of being Europe’s mostboring country, a reputation however, that is entirelyundeserved.Perhaps this bland image is a smokescreen, the conventionalexterior hiding a subversive sense of humor, a surreal imagination,and a deep-rooted disdain for authority. Or perhaps it is acamouflage, a way in which Belgium, still overrun—howeverpeacefully—by foreigners, can keep a few of its secrets to itself.Two main factors seem to determine the values Belgians hold and theways they approach life: the effects of the linguistic divide, andthe country’s long history of exposure to other cultures throughtrade, war, and occupation—its experience of being simultaneouslyvery small and very strategically placed.Culture Smart! Belgium aims to help you navigate these swirlingwaters. It is for anyone—businessperson, student, or tourist—whowants to understand Belgian society and encounter it withsensitivity and poise. We trace the land’s turbulent history andtry to see how the past has shaped the collective and personalvalues of today’s Belgians. We look at the Belgian people at work,at play, and at home, and offer some tips to help you get alongwith Belgian colleagues and acquaintances without tears—on eitherside!