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Introduction

  Welcome to the European Union Portal!

The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 27 member states that are located primarily in Europe. The union has a total area of 4,233,255.3 km2 (1,634,469.0 sq mi) and an estimated total population of about 447 million. An internal single market has been established through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters, and only those matters, where the states have agreed to act as one. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market; enact legislation in justice and home affairs; and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development. Passport controls have been abolished for travel within the Schengen Area. A monetary union was established in 1999, coming into full force in 2002, and is composed of 19 member states which use the euro currency. The EU has often been described as a sui generis political entity (without precedent or comparison) with the characteristics of either a federation or confederation.

The union and EU citizenship were established when the Maastricht Treaty came into force in 1993. The EU traces its origins to the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC), established, respectively, by the 1951 Treaty of Paris and 1957 Treaty of Rome. The original member states of what came to be known as the European Communities were the Inner Six: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany. The communities and their successors have grown in size by the accession of 21 new member states and in power by the addition of policy areas to their remit. The latest major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon, came into force in 2009. In 2020, the United Kingdom became the only member state to leave the EU. Before this, four territories of member states had left the EU or its forerunners. (Full article...)

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Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is bordered on the north by the North Sea, Denmark, and the Baltic Sea, on the east by Poland and the Czech Republic, on the south by Austria and Switzerland, and on the west by France, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands. Germany is a democratic parliamentary federal republic of 16 states. The country previously consisted of several sovereign states with their own history, culture, and religious affiliation. Germany was first unified as a nation-state amidst the Franco-Prussian War in 1871.

The Federal Republic of Germany is a member state of the United Nations, NATO, the G8 and the G4 nations, and is a founding member of the European Union. It has the largest population and largest economy of all European Union member states. Germany is both the world's third largest economy and its largest exporter of goods. Germany is facing major demographic change. Its fertility rate of 1.39 children per mother is one of the lowest in the world, and the federal statistics office estimates the population will shrink to approximately 75 million by 2050. Chemnitz is thought to be the city with the lowest birth rate in the world.

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Did you know?

...that "Nocturne" is the Eurovision Song Contest winner with the fewest words, the Norwegian language original having only 25?

...that the Eastgate Clock (pictured) in Chester is the second most photographed timepiece in the United Kingdom, after Big Ben?

...that "Kinek mondjam el vétkeimet?" received three perfect scores at the start of voting in the Eurovision Song Contest 1994 before ultimately coming in fourth, making Hungary the only debuting nation to lead the voting?

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Valletta

Valletta, population 6,444 (2014), is the capital city of Malta. The whole city was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. The official name the Order of Saint John gave to the city was Humilissima Civitas Valletta — a city bound to humility. However, with the building of bastions, curtains and ravelins, along with the beauty of the baroque buildings along its streets, it became known as Superbissima — 'Most Proud', amongst the ruling houses of Europe. In Maltese it is known as Il-Belt, simply meaning "The City".

The foundation stone of Valletta was laid by the Grandmaster of the Order of Saint John, Jean Parisot de Valette, on 28 March 1566; The Order decided to found a new city on the Xiberras peninsula just after the end of the Great Siege of Malta in 1565, so as to fortify the Order's position in Malta, effectively binding the Knights to the island. The city was designed by Francesco Laparelli, while many of the most important buildings were built by Girolamo Cassar. Valletta, hence, is an urban area which boasts many buildings from the 16th century and onwards, but most of them were built during the time of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem (the Knights Hospitaller, or Knights of Malta).

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