Brussels is the capital of Belgium, and the administrative heart of the European Union. Growing from a 10th century fortress town founded by Charlemagne's grandson into a city of over one million inhabitants. Brussels is also capital of the Brussels-Capital Region, of Flanders and of the French Community of Belgium.
Brussels contains over 40 museums, including the Museum of Modern Art.
The city has hosted various fairs and conferences, including the fifth Solvay Conference in 1927 and two world fairs - the 1935 world fair and the Expo '58. The Atomium, a 103-metre (338 ft) representation of an iron crystal was built for the Expo '58, and is still open to the public.
There are several universities in Brussels. The two main universities are the Université Libre de Bruxelles, a French-speaking university with about 20,000 students in three campuses in the city (and two others outside), and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, a Dutch-speaking university with about 10,000 students. Both universities originate from a single ancestor university founded in 1834, namely the Free University of Brussels, which was split in 1970 at about the same time the Flemish and French Communities gained legislative power over the organisation of higher education.
Other universities include the Facultés Universitaires Saint Louis with 2,000 students, the Royal Military Academy, a military college established in 1834 by a French colonel and two drama schools founded in 1982: the Dutch-speaking Koninklijk Conservatorium and the French-speaking Conservatoire Royal.
Still other universities have campuses in Brussels, such as the Université Catholique de Louvain that has had its medical faculty in the city since 1973. In addition the Boston University Brussels campus was established in 1972 and offers masters degrees in business administration and international relations. Due to the post-war international presence in the city, there are also a number of international schools, including the International School of Brussels with 1,450 pupils between 2½ to 18, the British School of Brussels, and the three European Schools serving those working in the EU institutions.
Transportation: Brussels is served by Brussels Airport, located in the nearby Flemish municipality of Zaventem, and by the much smaller so-called Brussels South Charleroi Airport, located near Charleroi (Wallonia), some 50 km (31 mi) from Brussels. Brussels is also served by direct high-speed rail links: to the United Kingdom by the Eurostar train via the Channel Tunnel; to Amsterdam, Paris and Cologne by the Thalys; and to Cologne and Frankfurt by the German ICE.
The Brussels metro dates back to 1976, but underground lines known as premetro have been serviced by tramways since 1968. A comprehensive bus and tram network also covers the city. Brussels also has its own port on the Willebrœk canal located in the northwest of the city.
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