Belgium Demographics 1974
According to a 1974 assessment, the population of Belgium is 9,756,590 residents on an area of 30,514 km 2, with an average density of 320 residents per km 2 ; compared to 1959, that is, in fifteen years, there was an increase of almost 680,000 residents, corresponding to an average annual increase of 0.5%. Since in the same period the birth rate fell from 17 to 13 ‰, while the death rate remained stationary around 12 ‰, more than half of the increase in the population is due to the immigration of foreigners, whose number has risen from 454,000 (equal to 5% of the total population) in 1961 to 775,000 (8% of the total population) in 1974.
The active individuals are 3.8 million (39% of the total population) and are divided as follows: agriculture – forestry – fishing 4.2%, industries 43.4%, tertiary activities 52.4%.
The use of the territorial surface, compared to fifteen years ago, is increasing for meadows and pastures (24.4%) and for woods (19.7%) and decreasing for crops (27.6%); the remaining territory (28.3%) is made up of uncultivated or unproductive soil, which has slightly increased due to the expansion of inhabited centers and public works or due to the abandonment of poorer and more rugged land.
In the cereal sector, the production of wheat (9.3 million q) and barley (6.4 million q) has increased, while that of rye (760,000 q) and that of oats (2.5 million q).
Almost all the cultivation of legumes and vegetables (peas, 1.6 million q; beans, 560,000 q; tomatoes, 1 million q; cauliflower, 1 million q; onions, 260,000 q) and fruit has had a strong increase. (apples 2.4 million q; pears, 580,000 q; cherries, 230,000 q; plums, 100,000 q; grapes, 120,000 q). Among industrial crops, while that of sugar beet has strongly increased (43 million q), that of tobacco (22,000 q) and, above all, the traditional one of flax (100,000 q), has decreased due to strong competition from artificial fibers.
The expansion of the meadows and the greater use of imported feed led to the strengthening of cattle (2.9 million) and pigs (4.2 million), while they were reduced to a third, compared to 1959, equines (58,000) and sheep-goats (84,000); fishing remained almost stationary, the product of which was 592,000 q in 1972.
The industries of Belgium have been further increased in the last fifteen years, despite the worsening of the coal crisis and the loss of colonial territories, which, however, have maintained conspicuous trade exchanges with the former motherland.
Increasing mining difficulties and wage increases have pushed the price of Belgian coal to such an extent that it has exceeded not only that of German fuel, but even that of US coal, including sea freight. As a result – despite the contribution of state and Community subsidies – many mines in the Hainaut basin were closed and the coal production of Belgium fell from 27 million tons in 1958 to only 8 million tons in 1974, supplied for more than half of the more easily exploitable basin of the Campine.
As a result, the structure of Belgium’s energy supply has been profoundly changed, based up to 1960 for more than three quarters on coal and currently structured as follows: coal 25%, oil 60%, natural gas 15%.
Electricity production exceeded 40 billion kWh, almost all supplied by the thermoelectric power plants and the two nuclear power plants of Doel and Tihange, recently completed.
The second is the state of the world, after Luxembourg, for produzone pro – capita steel, with 1637 kg / resident. in 1974; while it ranks ninth for absolute production, with 16.2 million tons of steel and 13.1 million tons of cast iron. The increase in steel production (more than doubled compared to 1960) took place despite the coal crisis and the almost total depletion of iron reserves, so that the Belgian steel industry was forced to import almost all of the mineral and more than half of the fuel.
To obviate these serious disadvantages, the plants were modernized, several companies merged into large companies and a new steel center on the coast in GandZelzate was built, accessible to ocean navigation. Over three quarters of the steel produced is destined for export, both in the raw and semi-finished state, and transformed into finished products by the mechanical industries (shipbuilding, railway material, motor vehicles, electrical appliances, weapons, etc.). For Belgium 2001, please check naturegnosis.com.
There is a notable increase in the processing of imported non-ferrous minerals (copper 372,000 t, zinc 282,000 t, lead 113,000 t, tin 5,000 t); Hoboken-Overpelt, a traditional copper refining center, has recently specialized in the production of particular metals (cadmium, tungsten, molybdenum, germanium and selenium). The textile industry sector produced the following productions in 1972: cotton yarn 91,000 t, wool 89,000 t, linen 10,000 t, jute 64,000 t; fabrics of cotton 74,000 tons, wool 44,000 tons, rayon 33,000 tons. In the field of chemical industries, in addition to traditional products (sulfuric acid 2.6 million t, synthetic ammonia 545,000 t, nitrogen fertilizers 646,000 t), those of petrochemicals have assumed great importance, recently developed in parallel with
Finally, other industrial activities, whose production has increased considerably in the last fifteen years, are those of cement (7 million t), glass (1.3 million t), paper and cardboard (787,000 t), sugar (6.9 million tons), beer (13.5 million hl) and tobacco (22 billion cigars and cigarettes).
The roads and means of communication, already proverbial for their efficiency, have been further strengthened and have registered considerable increases in traffic in all sectors. The railway network, the densest in the world, extends for 4,081 km and is crossed by the main railway lines of Western Europe; as well as for the transport of goods (for which it absorbs 13% of internal traffic, 14% of that of imports and 19% of that of exports), it is widely used for the transport of passengers, not only for movements within the country, but also on international connections.
The network of rivers and navigable canals (1572 km) has been improved with the deepening of many seabeds and with the expansion of several locks, the number of which has been reduced to increase the average speed of the boats. To this end, seven locks in Ronquières have been eliminated on the Brussels-Charleroi canal, replacing them with a gigantic mechanical lift, which allows vessels up to 1350 t to quickly overcome a difference in height of 68 meters. The river network disengages 18% of internal freight traffic and, through its connections with French, Dutch and German waterways, transports 14% of imported goods and 24% of exported ones.
The need to import ever greater quantities of raw materials and fuels has led to the strengthening of port equipment to cope with the increased volume of traffic.
The port of Antwerp, which is also extensively extending on the left bank of the Scheldt for the settlement of the new petrochemical industries, is also equipped for the sorting of containers and has an annual traffic of over 80 million tons of goods, of which almost three quarters upon landing. The other major seaports are those of Ghent and Zeebrugge, in each of which the traffic of unloaded and embarked goods exceeds 10 million tonnes per year. The merchant fleet, which has doubled since 1959, has 263 ships with a total tonnage of 1.2 million tons.
Air traffic – which is largely international, given the small size of the Belgian territory – is concentrated for the most part in the Brussels airport (also well equipped for the traffic of perishable, frozen or radioactive goods) and has exceeded 3 billion of passengers-km.
In 1971, the Belgian-Luxembourg Economic Union (UEBL) was renewed for a decade, which would expire in 1972.
The BLEU’s trade balance is usually active, albeit slightly: in 1972 imports reached 682 billion francs and exports 711 billion francs, with an import coverage ratio of 104.
Compared to 1958, the value of imports has more than quadrupled and that of exports almost fivefold; the share of trade with EEC countries rose from 47.1% to 64.9% for imports (Federal Republic of Germany 24.3%, France 19.4%, Netherlands 17%, Italy 4.2 %) and from 45.5% to 68.1% for exports (Federal Republic of Germany 24.8%, France 20.2%, Netherlands 18.6%, Italy 4.5%).
Due to the centrality of its geographical position, Brussels has become the seat of the governing bodies of the EEC and NATO.