Brussels is the capital city of Belgium and the largest urban settlement in the country, with around 1.1 million inhabitants. It is also the appointed capital of the European Union, housing the headquarters of NATO, UITP and other EU insitutions.
Brussels grew from a chapel on the River Senne which was built around 580 AD; the city was officially found in 979. The name derives from the Old Dutch ‘Broeksel’, meaning ‘home in the marsh’. As part of the Habsburg Empire, Brussels was the capital of the Low Countries until the area was annexed by France in 1795. In 1815 it became part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but in 1830 the Belgian revolution took place and Belgium became a separate country with Brussels its capital.
Throughout most of its history Brussels was a Dutch-speaking city with French an administrative language; the city was officially declared bilingual in 1921. During World War Two it was spared major damage despite German occupation, and since the end of the war has been a major convention centre for European politics.