The geography of Belgium shows it to have three major areas: lower Belgium (up to 100m above sea level), central Belgium (between 100 and 200m above sea level) and upper Belgium (from 200 to over 500m above sea level).
Lower Belgium begins in the west at the coast, with beaches and dunes which extends in a straight line for 65 km. Inland from the coast lie the 'polders'. This flat and fertile land used to suffer from flooding by the sea in the past but is now totally dry, thanks to the sluices which protect it from tidal erosion. Between the western polders, the Leie and the Scheldt, are the Flemish lowlands, a sandy region which is hilly in places such as the Kemmelberg and the Kluisberg. The Kempen lie in the east of the country. The soil in the Kempen is poor and the landscape comprises conifer woods, heathlands, ponds, marshes, pastures and corn fields.
Behind the Flemish lowlands and the Kempen, gradually rising to the Sambre and Meuse valleys, lies central Belgium, with its low and very fertile clay plateaus. The heavily urbanised Brabant has its own lush green carpet, the forest of Soignes, a forest area and a remnant of the earlier Forest of Cologne, which covered a large part of the country in Roman times. Furthermore, central Belgium boasts Hainaut in the west and Hesbaye in the east, both fertile areas with large farms and extensive fields and pastures.
The Halle Wood
Upper Belgium, the most sparsely populated and densely wooded part of the country, begins south of the Sambre and the Meuse at the Condroz plateau, a fertile area which is regarded primarily as a tourist attraction on account of the beautiful valleys of the Meuse and the Ourthe and its numerous historical monuments. Between the Vesder and the Meuse lies the Country of Herve which due to its rich clay soil is suitable for grazing and cattle rearing. To the south of the Condroz lies the area of Fagnes and Famenne, which, although a poor agricultural region, is well known for its many mysterious caves, the most interesting examples being those at Han-sur-Lesse and Remouchamps.
Further to the south are the Ardennes, a region alternating between a magnificent, wooded area with natural beech forests and specially grown fir trees, and plateaus and deep valleys. The Ardennes are a natural tourist attraction, and its southernmost part, Belgian Lorraine, has a milder climate than the rest of the country.