Has Belgium now got larger in 2018 … or slightly smaller?


160km² or 16,000 hectares. This is how much Belgium's total area has officially grown by at the end of 2018. This was not due to adding any further territory. However, Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Union, has requested that the stretches of beach leading up to the low-water line in coastal municipalities be included in the calculations. This is what gains Belgium those extra 160km², approximately the area of the Brussels-Capital Region. A side effect is that Belgium's population density has slightly dropped.

And just to make it all more complicated: Belgium actually got … a bit smaller in 2018. This is because a treaty between the Netherlands and Belgium came into effect on 1 January 2018, which enacted an official exchange of land. This involved three kinds of enclaves in the Meuse to the south of Maastricht, more particularly in Eijsden (The Netherlands) and Visé (Belgium), which arose following various river engineering works between 1960 and 1980. Belgium gained 3.09 hectares of Dutch territory, while 16.37 hectares of Belgian territory went to the Netherlands in return.