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""Flag of Europe.svg   Welcome to the European Union Portal!

The "European Union (EU) is an "economic and "political union of 28 "member states that are "primarily located in "Europe. The EU operates through a system of "supranational independent institutions and "intergovernmental negotiated decisions by the member states. "Institutions of the EU include the "European Commission, the "Council of the European Union, the "European Council, the "Court of Justice of the European Union, the "European Central Bank, the "Court of Auditors, and the "European Parliament. The European Parliament is elected every five years by "EU citizens.

The EU traces its origins from the "European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the "European Economic Community (EEC), formed by the "Inner Six countries in 1951 and 1958, respectively. In the intervening years, the community and its successors have grown in size by "the accession of new member states and in power by the addition of policy areas to its remit. The "Maastricht Treaty established the European Union under its current name in 1993. The latest major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the "Treaty of Lisbon, came into force in 2009.

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The "economy of the European Union combines the economies of 28 member states and is generating an estimated nominal "GDP of "12.8 trillion in 2012 according to the "Eurostat. It accounts for about 31% of the world's total economic output. 18 member states adopted a single currency, the "euro, managed by the "European Central Bank. The EU economy consists of a single market and is represented as a unified entity in the "WTO.

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"Sofia is the "capital and largest city of the "Republic of Bulgaria, with a population of 1,246,791, and some 1,377,761 in the "metropolitan area, the Capital Municipality. It is located in western Bulgaria, at the foot of the mountain massif Vitosha, and is the administrative, cultural, and economic centre of the country.

The history of Sofia dates back to the 8th century B.C, when "Thracians established a settlement there. Sofia has had several names in the different periods of its existence, and remnants of the city's millenary history can still be seen today alongside modern landmarks. Sofia is one of the oldest capital cities in Europe, blending its past and present in a remarkable architectural style. Historic landmarks include the 10th-century "Boyana Church, the Alexander Nevski Cathedral, and the early Byzantine Church of St Sophia. More modern architecture is represented by the "Bulgarian National Opera and Ballet, the "Ivan Vazov National Theatre, the Rakovski Str theatre district, "Slaveykov Square's outdoor book market, and the "NDK. Sofia is the see of an "Eastern Orthodox and of a "Roman Catholic "diocese.

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Photo credit: commons:User:Dschwen
"Castle Sparrenburg in "Bielefeld, Germany.
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