National Geographic : 1948 May
Drawn by II. E. Eastwood and Ir in E. Alleian Belgium Looks Like a Table of Battles. No Wonder It Is the "Cockpit of Europe" Armies for centuries have found the Belgian lowlands a convenient path of invasion. Here Napoleon met his Waterloo. Liege and Ypres (leper), Bastogne and St. Vith stir memories of two world wars. Twice in recent years the German Army burst through the forested Ardennes. Industrialized Belgium crams its 8.4 millions-710 to the square mile-into a Maryland-sized area. Brussels, where large quantities of grapes are produced for export (Plate V). Foreign trade is a necessity to Belgium. Although the country is self-sufficient in gar den truck, thanks to the system of intense cultivation employed, the production of grains is not sufficient to feed more than one-third of the people. Two-thirds of Belgium's cereal requirements, therefore, normally must be met abroad. "We have no alternative," said a Belgian economist. "With us it is a question of im porting or starving. And, in order to pay for our imports, we must export." Outside of coal, Belgium has few resources. This has forced the little land to become a processor of raw materials brought in from the colonies and from other countries. Bel gian specialties have hitherto enjoyed a favor able market in the United States and no doubt will again, once normal conditions have been restored. Market for U. S. Goods On the other side of the transaction, Bel gium provides a sizable market (averaging nearly $50,000,000 a month the last half of 1947) for American commodities (Plate V). The country is also a distributing point for other markets in Europe. The Belgian Government, for the first two years of reconstruction, emphasized imports over exports in order to bring prices down and stimulate production. It was a smart move.