Belgium is a small country but it holds a special place.
Belgium is situated at the heart of Europe. This is a basic observation but the importance of its central geographical location between the most important countries in Western Europe needs to be highlighted. At the risk of seeming paradoxical, Belgium was in a way already playing a "European" role even before it became "Belgian". Just look at the past roles of Bruges and Antwerp in international trade, Leuven's role as a university town and the part Liège played during the industrial revolution.
This tradition of openness continues today. Belgium is still a hub for international contacts. More than 1,000 public and private international organisations (international institutions, diplomatic missions, lobby groups, think tanks, multinationals,...) have set up headquarters or have a permanent secretariat in Belgium. Of particular note is the presence in Belgium, in addition to the institutions of the European Union, of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), and the General Secretariat of the Benelux.
However, in addition to the foreign presence within Belgium, Belgium is also represented abroad. Belgium is an exporting country today, but it has always had an active foreign policy. Our country has 132 diplomatic and consular posts abroad, as well as a number of offices representing Communities and Regions.