Is the Netherlands close to Belgium?

Belgium on the World Map, South of  the Netherlands
Belgium on the World Map, South of the Netherlands

Many people traveling to the Netherlands wonder how close the country is to Belgium.  Sometimes it is in the context of proximity and other times it has to do with the history between the two countries.  Well, regardless of which one it is, we will answer both of them in this article.

The first one we will get out of the way quickly before we proceed to the second.  The Netherlands is directly north of Belgium and transportation between the two countries is quick and easy.

Now as for matters between the two countries.  Although there has been a history between the two countries going back hundreds of years, the most notable tie has to do with the period when Belgium was part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The kingdom was formed following Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo in 1815.  Its main purpose was supposedly to hold the balance of power in Europe in check, while at the same time providing a buffer against any additional intentions on the part of the French.  More than likely the latter was the main reason.  King William I was put in charge of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Right from the outset William made enemies of the Belgians.  First by refusing to allow them political representation – even though the Belgian population was larger – and further by trying to install Dutch as their official language.  This and other issues served to ignite the fuse to the Belgian Revolution of 1830.

The revolution lasted for nine years, the end result being full and official Belgian independence.  This was confirmed by the Treaty of London, signed by the Netherlands along with the European powers.

Since then both countries have been through some rough times during both World Wars.  There have also been minor disagreements between the two, some of which have had to be settled in the international court.

However, for the most part these days the two countries do indeed enjoy a close relationship.  They are similar in many ways culturally.  They are also fellow members of NATO and the European Union.