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Nobody who lives in one of these countries -- with the exception of politicos and bureaucrats -- speaks routinely of the "Benelux." Whenever you read that word here, be advised that it's merely a convenient shorthand that does away with the need to write "Belgium, the Netherlands (Holland), and Luxembourg." No one from the Benelux -- not even politicos and bureaucrats -- thinks of themselves as a Beneluxian.

Belgium is a small country. Not quite so small that if you blink you'll miss it, but small enough that a couple of hours of focused driving will get you from the capital, Brussels, to any corner of the realm. Yet the variety of culture, language, history, and cuisine crammed into this little space would do credit to a land many times its size. Belgium's diversity is a product of its location at the cultural crossroads of western Europe. The boundary between the Continent's Germanic north and Latin south cuts clear across the country's middle.

Invented Here

Betcha didn't know that a Belgian invented the Internet . . . kind of. In 1934, Paul Otlet wrote a paper titled Traité de Documentation in which he foresaw a Universal Network for Information and Documentation. Access would be through multimedia workstations. These didn't exist yet -- an inconvenient fact that, since he was a lawyer, Otlet was perfectly able to disregard.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.