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Benelux is an economic union in Western Europe comprising three neighbouring monarchies,
Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
The name is formed from the
beginning of each country's name,
 and was created for the Benelux Customs Union,
 but is now used in a more generic way.

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 Benelux* *Benelux refers to Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg. 




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Definitions and boundaries

Benelux is an economic union in Western Europe comprising three neighbouring monarchies, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The name is formed from the beginning of each country's name, and was created for the Benelux Customs Union, but is now used in a more generic way.

The treaty establishing the Benelux Customs Union was signed in 1944 by the governments in exile of the three countries in London, and entered into force in 1947. It ceased to exist in 1960, when it was replaced by the Benelux Economic Union. It was preceded by a - still existing - Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union in 1925.

Its founding contributed to the founding of the European Union (EU), though the immediate precursors to the EU were founded later (the ECSC in 1951 and the EEC in 1957). The three countries were also founding members of these organizations, together with West Germany, France, and Italy. Art. 306 EC Treaty stipulates that The provisions of this Treaty shall not preclude the existence or completion of regional unions between Belgium and Luxembourg, or between Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, to the extent that the objectives of these regional unions are not attained by application of this Treaty. This article remained unaltered as art. IV-441 of the European Constitution.

A Benelux Parliament (originally referred to as Interparliamentary Consultative Council) was created in 1955. This parliamentary assembly is composed of 21 members of the Dutch parliament, 21 members of the Belgian national and regional parliaments, and 7 members of the Luxembourgian parliament.

The treaty establishing the Benelux Economic Union (Benelux Economische Unie/Union Économique Benelux) was signed in 1958 and came into force in 1960 to promote the free movement of workers, capital, services, and goods in the region. Its secretariat-general is located in Brussels. The unification of the law of the three Benelux countries is mainly achieved by regulations of its Council of Ministers, that only bind the three States, but are not directly applicable in their internal legal orders. There is also a large number of Benelux conventions in a wide range of subject matters.

In 1965, the treaty establishing a Benelux Court of Justice was signed. It entered into force in 1975. The Court, composed of judges from the highest courts of the three States, has to guarantee the uniform interpretation of common legal rules. This international judicial institution is located in Brussels.

The Benelux is particularly active in the field of intellectual property. The three countries established a Benelux Trademarks Office and a Benelux Designs Office, both situated in The Hague. In 2005 they concluded a treaty establishing a Benelux Organisation for Intellectual Property which will replace both offices upon its entry into force.

The treaty establishing the Benelux Economic Union will expire in 2010. It will probably be replaced by a new legal framework, taking into account the evolutions since the 1950's both within the three member states and concerning European integration.


Belgium became independent from the Netherlands in 1830 and was occupied by Germany during World Wars I and II. It has prospered in the past half century as a modern, technologically advanced European state and member of NATO and the EU. Tensions between the Dutch-speaking Flemings of the north and the French-speaking Walloons of the south have led in recent years to constitutional amendments granting these regions formal recognition and autonomy.

noun: Belgian(s)
adjective: Belgian
Ethnic groups:

Fleming 58%, Walloon 31%, mixed or other 11%

Roman Catholic 75%, Protestant or other 25%



Founded in 963, Luxembourg became a grand duchy in 1815 and an independent state under the Netherlands. It lost more than half of its territory to Belgium in 1839, but gained a larger measure of autonomy. Full independence was attained in 1867. Overrun by Germany in both World Wars, it ended its neutrality in 1948 when it entered into the Benelux Customs Union and when it joined NATO the following year. In 1957, Luxembourg became one of the six founding countries of the European Economic Community (later the European Union) and in 1999 it joined the euro currency area.

noun: Luxembourger(s)
adjective: Luxembourg
Ethnic groups:

Celtic base (with French and German blend), Portuguese, Italian, Slavs (from Montenegro, Albania, and Kososvo) and European (guest and resident workers)

the greatest preponderance of the population is Roman Catholic with a very few Protestants, Jews, and Muslims
note: 1979 legislation forbids the collection of religious statistics



The Kingdom of the Netherlands was formed in 1815. In 1830 Belgium seceded and formed a separate kingdom. The Netherlands remained neutral in World War I but suffered a brutal invasion and occupation by Germany in World War II. A modern, industrialized nation, the Netherlands is also a large exporter of agricultural products. The country was a founding member of NATO and the EC, and participated in the introduction of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in 1999.
noun: Dutchman(men), Dutchwoman(women)
adjective: Dutch
Ethnic groups:

Dutch 83%, other 17% (of which 9% are non-western origin mainly Turks, Moroccans, Antilleans, Surinamese and Indonesians) (1999 est.)

Roman Catholic 31%, Protestant 21%, Muslim 4.4%, other 3.6%, unaffiliated 40% (1998)


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