First stop: Brussels

This first post comes after just over one month of living in Brussels. The following posts will be mostly about Brussels and the neighbourhoods and cities I visit over the next few months.

Quick facts:

> Pop.: 1,1 million in the Brussels region (160 sq km);

> Brussels is the unofficial capital of Europe, home to the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission, among other committees and agencies;

> This means there a lot of ex-pats in Brussels. In fact, 30% of Brussels residents are non-Belgian. Further, Brussels has large communities with non-Belgian origins, including Moroccan, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, French, Italian and Turkish;

> Brussels is technically bilingual: French and Dutch. All the street signs are in both languages and to work in Brussels (technically) you need to speak both languages (and sometimes English too). However, the Lingua Franca is French (almost 80% of people use French at home, sometimes along with Dutch or another language);

> Belgian politics are complex, with many layers of government: 3 regions (Wallonia, Flanders and Brussels-Capital), 3 communities (French, Flemish and German), a federal government… and many of these layers have overlapping territories. This results in a complex distribution of responsibilities across levels of government.

La Grand-Place

La Grand-Place


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