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Brussels

Capital of Belgium

Brussels is the capital city of Belgium and of Brussels Capital Region. It is entirely surrounded by Dutch-speaking Flanders and its constituent Flemish Brabant province. As headquarters of many European institutions, Brussels might also be considered as the capital for the European Union. Being at the crossroads of cultures (the Germanic in the North and the Romance in the South) and playing an important role in Europe, Brussels fits the definition of the archetypal “melting pot”, but still retains its own unique character.

The population of the city of Brussels is 1 million and the population of Brussels metropolitan area is just over 2 million. It is an multicultural city with large Turkish, Moroccan, Eastern European, and Central African communities.

Bilingual

Brussels operates as a bilingual city where both French (80%) and Dutch (Flemish) (20%) are official languages. Thus all the streets have two names, which can sound totally different. For example, the Main Square is called both la Grand Place and de Grote Markt. Although officially bilingual, French is undoubtedly Brussels’ lingua franca. English is also widely understood, but not always widely spoken. It has become a common spoken language because of the international institutions based in Brussels, such as the European Commission, the European Parliament and NATO.

Location

Brussels lies on the Senne River, a tributary of the Schelde. The city began as a village on an island in the Senne and ultimately became a holding of the dukes of Brabant. In 1530 it became the capital of Netherlands, which was then under Habsburg (Austria- Hungary) control. Part of the kingdom of the Netherlands from 1815, it became a centre of Belgian rebellion 1830 and then the capital of Belgium.

Since the end of the Second World War, Brussels has been a main centre for international politics. Hosting principal EU institutions as well as the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the city has become the polyglothome of numerous international organisations, politicians, diplomats and civil servants.

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Brussels in figures

  • The conurbation covers a total surface area of 16,179 ha.
  • The population has around 1.1 million inhabitants. Roughly 30% of the city’s total population is foreign.
  • The city’s green spaces (parks – woods – forest) account for 11.4% of the region’s territory.
  • The time is GMT +1 in winter GMT + 2 in summer
  • Brussels has a temperate, maritime climate.
  • The average temperature in summer is
  • ± 16°Celsius (± 60° Fahrenheit).
  • The average winter temperature is ± 3°Celsius (± 37° Fahrenheit).
  • Brussels’s central boulevards are 15 m above sea level, Place Madou is 52 m above sea level, and the area between Forest and Duden parks is 100 m above sea level.
  • A motorway ring road (RING) has been built roughly 6 km from the centre of Brussels to make both transit and entry into the city easier.