Belgium is a country of northwestern Europe and one of the smallest and most populated countries in the continent. Since its independence in 1830, it has been a representative democracy headed by a hereditary constitutional monarch. In the beginning, Belgium had a unitary form of government, but during the 1980s and ’90s, measures were taken to convert Belgium into a federal state with powers shared among the regions of Flanders, Wallonia, and the Brussels-Capital Region.
The currency history of Belgium is fairly extensive. The Nervii tribe is credited for producing the first Belgian coins between 150 and 50 BC, and other Celtic tribes of the area later began to follow. Through the Belgium–Luxembourg Economic Union, Belgium and Luxembourg linked their currencies in 1921. The Belgian franc has declined in relation to the U.S. dollar; however, it has maintained its value against major European currencies. In 1999, Belgium joined thesingle currency, the euro, for all of the EU nations. The euro is fixed at a rate of 40.3399 francs per euro. The Belgian National Bank acts as the state bank, which also prints and issues the nation's currency. Furthermore, it acts as the lender of last resort in certain credit operations and manages monetary policy by controlling interest rates. The Banking Commission oversees the operations of the nation's banks while the Finance Ministry regulates credit institutions.
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