Brussels grew from a small rural settlement on the river Senne to become an important city-region in Europe. Since the end of the Second World War, it has been a major centre for international politics and the home of numerous international organisations, politicians, diplomats and civil servants. Brussels is the de facto capital of the European Union, as it hosts a number of principal EU institutions (the other administrative centres are Luxembourg and Strasbourg) and the name Brussels is sometimes used metonymically to describe the EU and its institutions.
The secretariat of the Benelux and headquarters of NATO are also located in Brussels.
Historically Dutch-speaking, Brussels saw a language shift to French from the late 19th century. Although officially bilingual in Dutch and French, French is now the de facto main language with over 90% of the population speaking it. Brussels is also increasingly becoming multilingual. English is spoken as a second language by nearly a third of the population and a large number of migrants and expatriates speak other languages.*
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*OVERVIEW COURTESY OF WIKIPEDIA