Pre-history

  • The earliest known human settlement in what is now Belgium dates back to the Neolithic period, around 5000 BCE.
  • The Gauls subsequently inhabit the region, which is conquered by Julius Caesar in the first century BCE.

Middle Ages

  • During the Middle Ages, the area is ruled by various feudal lords and is eventually united under the Dukes of Burgundy in the 15th century.
  • In the late 16th century, the Spanish Habsburgs gain control of the region, and it becomes a centre of the Counter-Reformation.

19th century

  • 1815: Following the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte, the Congress of Vienna divides the region into the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
  • 1830: A revolt leads to the separation of Belgium from the Netherlands and the establishment of an independent, neutral state.

20th century

  • 1908: Belgium becomes a major colonial power and the Congo Free State becomes the Belgian Congo and the colony comes under direct control of the Belgian government. 
  • 1914: Belgium is captured by Germany early in World War I.
  • 1918: The war ends, and Belgium is once again independent. The country suffers a death toll of more than 120,000, including 23,700 civilians killed in war crimes.
  • 1919: Belgium begins to rebuild after immense wartime damage to industrial infrastructure, farmland and civilian homes.
  • 1939: World War II begins. Although Belgium declares neutrality, Germany invades in 1940. After 18 days, Belgium surrenders.
  • 1944: Belgium is liberated by Allied forces in September 1944, regaining its independence.
  • 1949: Belgium becomes a founding member of NATO.
  • 1950–1951: The Royal Question, a political crisis in Belgium, concerns whether King Leopold III should return to the throne after his controversial actions during World War II. Eventually, Leopold III abdicates in favour of his son, Baudouin, who becomes King Baudouin I.
  • 1957: Belgium co-founds the European Economic Community, the predecessor to the European Union.
  • 1960: Belgium grants independence to the Congo, which becomes the Democratic Republic of Congo. 
  • 1970: The first state reform takes place in Belgium, officially recognising the country's linguistic communities and leading to increased autonomy for Flanders, Wallonia and the Brussels-Capital Region.
  • 1993: The Belgian constitution is adapted to recognise three administrative regions: Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels.
  • 1995: Belgium hosts the European Union headquarters in Brussels, further solidifying the country's position as a key player in the European political landscape.

21st century

  • 2002: Belgium adopts the Euro.
  • 2007–2011: Belgium faces a prolonged political crisis, with multiple failed attempts to form a government and deepening divisions between the Flemish- and French-speaking communities.
  • 2010: In April, a major Flemish party quits Belgium's five-party coalition to protest Francophone voting rights in Flemish areas. Early parliamentary elections occur as a result, as the government tries to establish another coalition. In the meantime, Belgium has no official government, destabilising the country.
  • 2011: Following more than 500 days without a government, a new Prime Minister, Elio di Rupo, is announced in December. He heads up a new six-party coalition.
  • 2016: The Brussels bombings, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks carried out by ISIS, occur at Brussels Airport and Maalbeek Metro Station, resulting in the deaths of 32 victims and three perpetrators and leaving more than 300 people injured.
  • 2020: Belgium faces the Covid-19 pandemic, implementing widespread lockdowns and causing significant economic impact. The virus affects many citizens, resulting in more than 33,000 deaths.

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