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 Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between France and the Netherlands

Geographic Coordinates:

 50 50 N, 4 00 E


 Total: 30,528 sq km
Land: 30,278 sq km
Water: 250 sq km

Area - Comparative:

 About the size of Maryland

Land Boundaries:

 Total: 1,385 km
Border countries: France 620 km, Germany 167 km, Luxembourg 148 km, Netherlands 450 km


 66.5 km (Rank: 175)

Maritime Claims:

 Territorial sea: 12 nm
Contiguous zone: 24 nm
Exclusive economic zone: geographic coordinates define outer limit
Continental shelf: median line with neighbors


 Temperate; mild winters, cool summers; rainy, humid, cloudy


 Flat coastal plains in northwest, central rolling hills, rugged mountains of Ardennes Forest in southeast

Elevation Extremes:

 Lowest point: North Sea 0 m
Highest point: Botrange 694 m

Natural Resources:

 Construction materials, silica sand, carbonates

Land Use:

 Arable land: 27.42%
Permanent crops: 0.69%
Other: 71.89%

Note: includes Luxembourg (2005)

Irrigated Land:

 230 sq km (2008)

Total Renewable Water Resources:

 20.8 cu km (2005)

Freshwater Withdrawal:

 Total: 7.44 cu km/yr (13%/85%/1%)
Per capita: 714 cu m/yr (1998)

Natural Hazards:

 Flooding is a threat along rivers and in areas of reclaimed coastal land, protected from the sea by concrete dikes

Environment - Current Issues:

 The environment is exposed to intense pressures from human activities: urbanization, dense transportation network, industry, extensive animal breeding and crop cultivation; air and water pollution also have repercussions for neighboring countries; uncertainties regarding federal and regional responsibilities (now resolved) had slowed progress in tackling environmental challenges

Environment - International Agreements:

 Party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling

Signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - Note:

 Crossroads of Western Europe; most West European capitals within 1,000 km of Brussels, the seat of both the European Union and NATO

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 Noun: Belgian(s)
Adjective: Belgian

Ethnic Groups:

 Fleming 58%, Walloon 31%, mixed or other 11%


 Dutch (official) 60%, French (official) 40%, German (official) less than 1%, legally bilingual (Dutch and French)


 Roman Catholic 75%, other (includes Protestant) 25%


 10,431,477 (July 2011 est.)

Age Structure:

 0-14 years: 15.9% (male 846,706/female 812,486)
15-64 years: 66.1% (male 3,475,404/female 3,416,060)
65 years and over: 18% (male 783,895/female 1,096,926) (2011 est.)

Median Age:

 Total: 42.3 years
Male: 41 years
Female: 43.6 years (2011 est.)

Population Growth Rate:

 0.071% (2011 est.)

Birth Rate:

 10.06 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Death Rate:

 10.57 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)

Net Migration Rate:

 1.22 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)


 Urban population: 97% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization: 0.4% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major Cities - Population:

 BRUSSELS (capital) 1.892 million; Antwerp 961,000 (2009)

Sex Ratio:

 At birth: 1.045 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female
Total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

Maternal Mortality Rate:

 5 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)

Infant Mortality Rate:

 Total: 4.33 deaths/1,000 live births
Male: 4.86 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 3.78 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)

Life Expectancy At Birth:

 Total population: 79.51 years
Male: 76.35 years
Female: 82.81 years (2011 est.)

Total Fertility Rate:

 1.65 children born/woman (2011 est.)

Health Expenditures:

 11.8% of GDP (2009)

Physicians Density:

 2.987 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Hospital Bed Density:

 6.6 beds/1,000 population (2009)

Drinking Water Source:

 Urban: 100% of population
Rural: 100% of population
Total: 100% of population (2008)

Sanitation Facility Access:

 Urban: 100% of population
Rural: 100% of population
Total: 100% of population (2008)

HIV/AIDS - Adult Prevalence Rate:

 0.2% (2009 est.)

HIV/AIDS - People Living With HIV/AIDS:

 14,000 (2009 est.)

HIV/AIDS - Deaths:

 Fewer than 100 (2009 est.)

Obesity - Adult Prevalence Rate:

 10.8% (2001)

Education Expenditures:

 6.01% of GDP (2007)


 Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 99%
Male: 99%
Female: 99% (2003 est.)

Average Years of Schooling:

 Total: 16 years
Male: 16 years
Female: 16 years (2008)

Unemployment, Youth Ages 15-24:

 Total: 21.9%
Male: 21.5%
Female: 22.5% (2009)

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Country Name:

 Conventional long form: Kingdom of Belgium
Conventional short form: Belgium
Local long form: Royaume de Belgique/Koninkrijk Belgie
Local short form: Belgique/Belgie

Government Type:

 Federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy


 Name: Brussels
Geographic coordinates: 50 50 N, 4 20 E
Time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Administrative Divisions:

 3 regions (French: regions, singular - region; Dutch: gewesten, singular - gewest); Brussels-Capital Region, also known as Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest (Dutch), Region de Bruxelles-Capitale (French long form), Bruxelles-Capitale (French short form); Flemish Region (Flanders), also known as Vlaams Gewest (Dutch long form), Vlaanderen (Dutch short form), Region Flamande (French long form), Flandre (French short form); Walloon Region (Wallonia), also known as Region Wallone (French long form), Wallonie (French short form), Waals Gewest (Dutch long form), Wallonie (Dutch short form)

Note: as a result of the 1993 constitutional revision that furthered devolution into a federal state, there are now three levels of government (federal, regional, and linguistic community) with a complex division of responsibilities


 4 October 1830 (a provisional government declared independence from the Netherlands); 21 July 1831 (King LEOPOLD I ascended to the throne)

National Holiday:

 21 July (1831) ascension to the Throne of King LEOPOLD I


 Drafted 25 November 1830; approved by Congress 7 February 1831; entered into force 26 July 1831; amended many times; revised 14 July 1993 to create a federal state; in 1967 an official Dutch version of the constitution was adopted; in 1991 an official German version of the constitution was adopted; in 1993 an official consolidated version of the constitution was adopted

Legal System:

 Civil law system based on the French Civil Code; note - Belgian law continues to be modified in conformance with the legislative norms mandated by the European Union; judicial review of legislative acts

International Law Organization Participation:

 Accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


 18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive Branch:

 Chief of state: King ALBERT II (since 9 August 1993); Heir Apparent Prince PHILIPPE, son of the monarch

Head of government: Prime Minister Elio DI RUPO (since 5 December 2011);

Cabinet: Council of Ministers are formally appointed by the monarch

Elections: the monarchy is hereditary and constitutional; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the monarch and then approved by parliament

Legislative Branch:

 Bicameral Parliament consists of a Senate or Senaat in Dutch, Senat in French (71 seats; 40 members directly elected by popular vote, 31 indirectly elected; members serve four-year terms) and a Chamber of Deputies or Kamer van Volksvertegenwoordigers in Dutch, Chambre des Representants in French (150 seats; members directly elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve four-year terms)

Elections: Senate and Chamber of Deputies - last held on 13 June 2010 (next to be held no later than June 2014)

Election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - N-VA 19.6%, PS 13.6%, CD&V 10%, sp.a 9.5%, MR 9.3%, Open VLD 8.2%, VB 7.6%, Ecolo 5.5%, CDH 5.1% Groen! 3.9%, other 7.7%; seats by party - N-VA 9, PS 7, CD&V 4, sp.a 4, MR 4, Open VLD 4, VB 3, Ecolo 2, CDH 2, Groen! 1; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - N-VA 17.4%, PS 13.7%, CD&V 10.9%, MR 9.3%, sp.a 9.2%, Open VLD 8.6%, VB 7.8%, CDH 5.5%, Ecolo 4.8%, Groen! 4.4%, List Dedecker 2.3%, the Popular Party 1.3%, other 4.8%; seats by party - N-VA 27, PS 26, CD&V 17, MR 18, sp.a 13, Open VLD 13, VB 12, CDH 9, Ecolo 8, Groen! 5, List Dedecker 1, the Popular Party 1

Note: as a result of the 1993 constitutional revision that furthered devolution into a federal state, there are now three levels of government (federal, regional, and linguistic community) with a complex division of responsibilities; this reality leaves six governments, each with its own legislative assembly

Judicial Branch:

 Constitutional Court (previously Court of Arbitration) (12 judges, 6 Dutch-speaking and 6 French-speaking, appointed by the King); Supreme Court of Justice or Hof van Cassatie (in Dutch) or Cour de Cassation (in French) (judges are appointed for life by the government; candidacies have to be submitted by the High Justice Council)

Political Parties and Leaders:

 Flemish parties: Christian Democratic and Flemish or CDV [Wouter BEKE]; Dedecker List or LDD [Lode VEREECK]; Flemish Liberals and Democrats or Open VLD [Alexander DE CROO]; Groen! [Wouter VAN BESIEN] (formerly AGALEV, Flemish Greens); New Flemish Alliance or N-VA [Bart DE WEVER]; Social Progressive Alternative or SP.A [Caroline GENNEZ]; Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) or VB [Bruno VALKENIERS]
Francophone parties: Ecolo (Francophone Greens) [Jean-Michel JAVAUX, Sarah TURINE]; Humanist and Democratic Center or CDH [Joelle MILQUET]; Popular Party or PP [ Mischael MODRIKAMEN]; Reform Movement or MR [Didier REYNDERS]; Socialist Party or PS [Elio DI RUPO]; other minor parties

Political Pressure Groups and Leaders:

 Christian, Socialist, and Liberal Trade Unions; Federation of Belgian Industries
Other: numerous other associations representing bankers, manufacturers, middle-class artisans, and the legal and medical professions; various organizations represent the cultural interests of Flanders and Wallonia; various peace groups such as Pax Christi and groups representing immigrants

International Organization Participation:

 ADB (nonregional members), AfDB (nonregional members), Australia Group, Benelux, BIS, CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECB, EIB, EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, FATF, G-9, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IGAD (partners), IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MONUSCO, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OIF, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, Schengen Convention, SECI (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNRWA, UNTSO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC

Diplomatic Representation in the US:

 Chief of mission: Ambassador Jan MATTHYSEN
Chancery: 3330 Garfield Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
Telephone: [1] (202) 333-6900
FAX: [1] (202) 333-3079
Consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York

Diplomatic Representation From the US:

 Chief of mission: Ambassador Howard W. GUTMAN
Embassy: 27 Boulevard du Regent [Regentlaan], B-1000 Brussels
Mailing address: PSC 82, Box 002, APO AE 09710
Telephone: [32] (2) 508-2111
FAX: [32] (2) 511-2725

Flag Description:

 Three equal vertical bands of black (hoist side), yellow, and red; the vertical design was based on the flag of France; the colors are those of the arms of the duchy of Brabant (yellow lion with red claws and tongue on a black field)

National Symbols:


National Anthem:

 Name: "La Brabanconne" (The Song of Brabant)
Lyrics/music: Louis-Alexandre DECHET[French] Victor CEULEMANS [Dutch]/Francois VAN CAMPENHOUT

Note: adopted 1830; Louis-Alexandre DECHET was an actor at the theater in which the revolution against the Netherlands began; according to legend, he wrote the lyrics with a group of young people in a Brussels cafe

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Economy - Overview:

 This modern, open, and private-enterprise-based economy has capitalized on its central geographic location, highly developed transport network, and diversified industrial and commercial base. Industry is concentrated mainly in the more heavily-populated region of Flanders in the north. With few natural resources, Belgium imports substantial quantities of raw materials and exports a large volume of manufactures, making its economy vulnerable to volatility in world markets, yet also able to benefit from them. Roughly three-quarters of Belgium's trade is with other EU countries, and Belgium has benefited most from its proximity to Germany. In 2010 Belgian GDP grew by 2.1%, the unemployment rate rose slightly, and the government reduced the budget deficit, which had worsened in 2008 and 2009 because of large-scale bail-outs in the financial sector. Belgium's budget deficit decreased from 6% of GDP to 4.1% in 2010, while public debt was just under 100% of GDP. Belgian banks were severely affected by the international financial crisis with three major banks receiving capital injections from the government. An ageing population and rising social expenditures are mid- to long-term challenges to public finances.

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):

 $394.3 billion (2010 est.)
$386.7 billion (2009 est.)
$397.3 billion (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (Official Exchange Rate):

 $465.7 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - Real Growth Rate:

 2% (2010 est.)
-2.7% (2009 est.)
0.8% (2008 est.)

GDP - Per Capita (PPP):

 $37,800 (2010 est.)
$37,100 (2009 est.)
$38,200 (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - Composition By Sector:

 Agriculture: 0.7%
Industry: 21.9%
Services: 77.4% (2010 est.)

Labor Force:

 5.114 million (2010 est.)

Labor Force - By Occupation:

 Agriculture: 2%
Industry: 25%
Services: 73% (2007 est.)

Unemployment Rate:

 8.3% (2010 est.)
7.9% (2009 est.)

Population Below Poverty Line:

 15.2% (2007 est.)

Household Income / Consumption By Share:

 Lowest 10%: 3.4%
Highest 10%: 28.4% (2006)

Distribution of Family Income - Gini Index:

 28 (2005)
28.7 (1996)

Investment (Gross Fixed):

 20.3% of GDP (2010 est.)


 Revenues: $228.4 billion
Expenditures: $248 billion (2010 est.)

Taxes and Other Revenues:

 49% of GDP (2010 est.)

Budget Surplus / Deficit:

 -4.2% of GDP (2010 est.)

Public Debt:

 100.7% of GDP (2010 est.)
100.5% of GDP (2009 est.)

Inflation Rate (Consumer Prices):

 2.3% (2010 est.)
0% (2009 est.)

Central Bank Discount Rate:

 1.75% (31 December 2010)
1.75% (31 December 2009)

Note: this is the European Central Bank's rate on the marginal lending facility, which offers overnight credit to banks in the euro area

Commercial Bank Prime Lending Rate:

 4.21% (31 December 2010 est.)
4.576% (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Money:


Note: see entry for the European Union for money supply in the euro area; the European Central Bank (ECB) controls monetary policy for the 16 members of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU); individual members of the EMU do not control the quantity of money and quasi money circulating within their own borders

Stock of Narrow Money:

 $175.3 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$183.9 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Note: see entry for the European Union for money supply in the euro area; the European Central Bank (ECB) controls monetary policy for the 17 members of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU); individual members of the EMU do not control the quantity of money circulating within their own borders

Stock of Broad Money:

 $548.3 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$552.2 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Domestic Credit:

 $801.1 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
$767.1 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Market Value of Publicly Traded Shares:

 $269.3 billion (31 December 2010)
$261.4 billion (31 December 2009)
$167.4 billion (31 December 2008)

Agriculture - Products:

 Sugar beets, fresh vegetables, fruits, grain, tobacco; beef, veal, pork, milk


 Engineering and metal products, motor vehicle assembly, transportation equipment, scientific instruments, processed food and beverages, chemicals, basic metals, textiles, glass, petroleum

Industrial Production Growth Rate:

 7.1% (2010 est.)

Electricity - Production:

 84.2 billion kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - Production By Source:

 Fossil fuel: 38.4%
Hydro: 0.6%
Nuclear: 59.3%
Other: 1.8% (2001)

Electricity - Consumption:

 84.78 billion kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Exports:

 11.32 billion kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - Imports:

 1.837 billion kWh (2009 est.)

Oil - Production:

 11,220 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Consumption:

 622,600 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Exports:

 353,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Imports:

 1.007 million bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Proven Reserves:

 0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural Gas - Production:

 0 cu m (2010 est.)

Natural Gas - Consumption:

 19.53 billion cu m (2010 est.)

Natural Gas - Exports:

 0 cu m (2010 est.)

Natural Gas - Imports:

 19.32 billion cu m (2010 est.)

Natural Gas - Proven Reserves:

 0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

Current Account Balance:

 $6 billion (2010 est.)
$1.719 billion (2009 est.)


 $282.3 billion (2010 est.)
$249.8 billion (2009 est.)

Exports - Commodities:

 Machinery and equipment, chemicals, finished diamonds, metals and metal products, foodstuffs

Exports - Partners:

 Germany 19.1%, France 17%, Netherlands 12.2%, UK 7.2%, US 5.3%, Italy 4.7% (2010)


 $284.6 billion (2010 est.)
$256.4 billion (2009 est.)

Imports - Commodities:

 Raw materials, machinery and equipment, chemicals, raw diamonds, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, transportation equipment, oil products

Imports - Partners:

 Netherlands 19.1%, Germany 16.4%, France 11.3%, UK 5.4%, US 5.3%, Ireland 5.3%, China 4.1% (2010)

Reserves of Foreign Exchange and Gold:

 $26.81 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$23.98 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - External:

 $1.399 trillion (30 June 2011)
$1.241 trillion (30 June 2010)

Stock of Direct Foreign Investment - Abroad:

 $765.4 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$728.3 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Direct Foreign Investment - At Home:

 $910.8 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$848 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Exchange Rates:

 Convert Euro to Any Currency

Euros (EUR) per US dollar -
0.755 (2010)
0.72 (2009)
0.6827 (2008)
0.7345 (2007)
0.7964 (2006)

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Telephones - Main Lines In Use:

 4.64 million (2010)

Telephones - Cellular:

 12.154 million (2010)

Telephone System:

 General assessment: highly developed, technologically advanced, and completely automated domestic and international telephone and telegraph facilities

Domestic: nationwide mobile-cellular telephone system; extensive cable network; limited microwave radio relay network

International: country code - 32; landing point for a number of submarine cables that provide links to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia; satellite earth stations - 7 (Intelsat - 3) (2007)

Broadcast Media:

 A segmented market with the three major communities (Flemish, French, and German-speaking) each having responsibility for their own broadcast media; multiple TV channels exist for each community; additionally, in excess of 90% of households are connected to cable and can access broadcasts of TV stations from neighboring countries; each community has a public radio network co-existing with private broadcasters (2007)

Radio Broadcast Stations:

 AM 7, FM 79, shortwave 1 (1998)

Television Broadcast Stations:

 25 (plus 10 repeaters) (1997)

Internet Country Code:


Internet Hosts:

 4.465 million (2010)

Internet Users:

 8.113 million (2009)

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 43 (2010)

Airports - With Paved Runways:

 Total: 27
Over 3,047 m: 6
2,438 to 3,047 m: 9
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 1
Under 914 m: 9 (2010)

Airports - With Unpaved Runways:

 Total: 16
914 to 1,523 m: 1
Under 914 m: 15 (2010)


 1 (2010)


 Gas 2,826 km; oil 154 km; refined products 535 km (2010)


 Total: 3,233 km
Standard gauge: 3,233 km 1.435-m gauge (2,950 km electrified) (2010)


 Total: 153,595 km
Paved: 120,111 km (includes 1,763 km of expressways)
Unpaved: 33,484 km (2008)


 2,043 km (1,528 km in regular commercial use) (2010)

Merchant Marine:

 Total: 81
By type: bulk carrier 21, cargo 8, chemical tanker 5, container 4, liquefied gas 23, passenger 2, petroleum tanker 11, roll on/roll off 7
Foreign-owned: 13 (Denmark 4, France 5, UK 2, US 2)
Registered in other countries: 104 (Bahamas 9, Cambodia 1, Cyprus 2, France 7, Gibraltar 2, Greece 16, Hong Kong 16, Liberia 1, Luxembourg 9, Malta 14, Moldova 2, Mozambique 2, North Korea 1, Panama 2, Portugal 8, Russia 4, Saint Kitts and Nevis 1, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 6, Vanuatu 1) (2010)

Ports and Terminals:

 Cargo ports (tonnage): Antwerp, Gent, Liege, Zeebrugge
Container ports (TEUs): Antwerp (8,662,891), Zeebrugge (2,209,715)

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Military Branches:

 Belgian Armed Forces: Land Operations Command, Naval Operations Command, Air Operations Commands (2010)

Military Service Age and Obligation:

 18 years of age for voluntary military service; conscription suspended (2010)

Manpower Available For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 2,359,232
Females age 16-49: 2,291,689 (2010 est.)

Manpower Fit For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 1,934,957
Females age 16-49: 1,877,268 (2010 est.)

Manpower Reaching Militarily Significant Age Annually:

 Male: 59,665
Female: 57,142 (2010 est.)

Military Expenditures:

 1.3% of GDP (2005 est.)

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Illicit Drugs:

 Growing producer of synthetic drugs and cannabis; transit point for US-bound ecstasy; source of precursor chemicals for South American cocaine processors; transshipment point for cocaine, heroin, hashish, and marijuana entering Western Europe; despite a strengthening of legislation, the country remains vulnerable to money laundering related to narcotics, automobiles, alcohol, and tobacco; significant domestic consumption of ecstasy

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Last Updated: December 2011

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