Geographically, Belgium borders the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and France. To the north, Belgium also borders the Northern Sea as its only corridor towards ocean trade routes. Belgium's total geographic border spans approximately 1,385 kilometers, with 620 kilometers making up the border with France. Its second largest border is the one with the Netherlands, which measures 450 kilometers in length.
The geography of Belgium can be divided into three distinct regions: the central plateau, the coastal plains near the Northern Sea and the Ardennes uplands. The coastal plains feature a combination of natural beaches and reclaimed land, while the Ardennes is made up of rocky and heavily forested areas.
Belgium became independent in 1830 from the Netherlands after a revolution. After its independence, the country became a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy. The first king of Belgium was Leopold I, who was installed as monarch on July 21, 1831. The date is also recognized and celebrated as Belgium's National Day.
Since 1922, Belgium has an open trade economy with Luxembourg to its south and shares a single currency as well as customs agreements with much of the European Union. Belgium was also one of the founding members of the European Union.