What do you call an area the size of 25,000 golf courses?

How big was the largest iceberg ever recorded?

How much of our planet would be destroyed if we were hit by a 1-kilometre asteroid?

The answer to all of these is: “A Belgium”.

Have you ever noticed how often Belgium is chosen as a unit of measurement? Especially when the reference is to an area of rain forest that has been destroyed.

For example take this item from ABC News.

“The deforestation hit record numbers in 1995, when the Amazon shrank a record 11,200 square miles, an area roughly the size of Belgium

This might be understandable if the article was aimed at a Belgian readership and written in French or Flemish, but why is the English-speaking world expected to recognize Belgium as a unit of measurement? It is stranger still when, according to one survey, two-thirds of Americans cannotĀ find Belgium on a map.

Perhaps it is just a subliminal manifestation of the European Union’s policy of standardizing units of measurement wherever possible. The EU is after all, based in … Belgium.

Since 2005 the phenomenon has been investigated here, a web site that truly is “The Size Of Belgium“.


If you have any comments or questions about this site, you can send an email to sizeofbelgium @ gmail.com.

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