Facts About Brussels Brussels (French: Bruxelles, [b?ys?l] ( listen); Dutch: Brussel, [?br?s?l] ( listen)), officially the Brussels-Capital Region (French: Région de Bruxelles-Capitale, Dutch: Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest), is a region of Belgium comprising 19 municipalities, including the City of Brussels, which is the de jure capital of Belgium. The Brussels-Capital Region is located in the central portion of the country and is a part of both the French Community of Belgium and the Flemish Community, but is separate from Flanders (in which it forms an enclave) and Wallonia. It covers 161 km2 (62 sq mi), a relatively small area compared to the two other regions, and has a population of 1.2 million, with a metropolitan area of over 2.1 million people, the largest in Belgium. It is also part of a large conurbation extending towards Ghent, Antwerp, Leuven and Walloon Brabant, home to over 5 million people.
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. It is classified as an Alpha global city.
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, namely Arabic, Spanish, German and Italian.