Along with Flanders and Wallonia, the City of Brussels is one of the three administrative regions within the country. The city is home to several international institutions, including some core institutions of the European Union, earning the informal nickname of the capital of the EU.
Brussels is legally bilingual, with both Dutch and French recognized as official languages although 90% of the population speaks French. English is increasingly being spoken in Brussels, making it multilingual.
City Area Size and Population Density
Brussels has a total area of 161.4 km2 (62.3 mi2) with a population density of 7,558 people per square kilometer (19,582 people per square mile).
The estimated total population of Brussels is 1,219,970, with a growth rate of approximately 0.67%.
Belgium does not collect statistics based on ethnicity.
Brussels is home to many immigrants, with approximately 70% of people of foreign origin making up the region’s population. Approximately 32% of residents are of non-Belgian European origin, and 36% are of other backgrounds, mostly Moroccan, Turkish, and Sub-Saharan African. The two largest foreign groups in Brussels are from France and Morocco. This is unlike the rest of Belgium, which is primarily comprised of the Flemish, Walloon and Italian groups.
Brussels is a bilingual region with French and Dutch being the official languages.
Brussels is predominantly Roman Catholic, with about 40% of inhabitants identifying as Roman Catholic. Because of the large number of immigrants and Brussels’s multicultural makeup, there are a variety of religious communities including Muslims and atheists. Approximately 23% of Brussels inhabitants are of Islamic faith, and 30% identify as atheist.
The average age in Brussels is younger than the rest of the country with an average age of 37.5.
Brussels was officially founded in 979 when a castle was built near the Senne River.
In the middle of the 11th century, city walls were built and Brussels grew throughout the Middle Ages due to its strategic location on the Bruges-Ghent-Cologne trade route.
After Brussels was attacked by French king Louis XIV in 1695, various foreign powers took control throughout the years. On July 21, 1831, Leopold I ascended to the throne, becoming Belgium’s first king and Brussels was named the capital of the new kingdom.
The new kingdom went through a phase of rebuilding, including the establishment of international congresses and scientific organizations. Foreign artists, philosophers, and scientist found their way to Brussels, including Karl Marx and Victor Hugo.
Brussels experienced significant damage during World War II but was able to recover and continue to develop in the following years. Belgium is currently split into three semi-independent regions: Flanders, Wallonia, and the Brussels-Capital Region. Brussels has become the “capital” of the European Union and NATO.
Brussels Population Growth
Brussels is currently growing at a rate of 0.67%. The population grew from 1,180,000 in 2015 to 1,219,970 in 2020, an increase of 39,970 people.
By 2035, the population is projected to grow to 2,214,691 at a decreased growth rate of 0.30%.