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Portal:European Union

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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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Buckingham Palace from gardens, London, UK - Diliff.jpg

Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of the British monarch. The Palace is a setting for state occasions and royal entertaining, a base for many officially visiting Heads of State, and a major tourist attraction. It has been a rallying point for the British people at times of national rejoicing, crisis or grief. "Buckingham Palace" or simply "The Palace" commonly refers to the source of press statements issued by the offices of the Royal Household.

In the Middle Ages, Buckingham Palace's site formed part of the Manor of Ebury. It had several royal owners from Edward the Confessor onwards and was also the object of much property speculation. Precursors of Buckingham Palace were Blake House, Goring House, and Arlington House. The State Rooms form the nucleus of the working Palace and are used regularly by The Queen and members of the royal family for official and state entertaining. Buckingham Palace is one of the world's most familiar buildings and more than 50,000 people visit the palace each year as guests to banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and the royal garden parties.

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Amsterdam

Amsterdam, capital city of the Netherlands, lies on the banks of two bodies of water, the IJ bay and the Amstel river. Founded in the late 12th century as a small fishing village on the banks of the Amstel, it is now the largest city in the country and is a financial and cultural centre. In 2006, the population of the municipality proper was 741,329; the population of the official Greater Amsterdam area is approximately 1.5 million, but the real agglomeration is estimated at 2 to 2.5 million. Amsterdam is also one of the core urban centres of the greater metropolitan area called Randstad (English: "Ring City") which encompasses other Dutch cities and has a population of over 7.5 million.

Amsterdam has one of the largest historic city centres in Europe, dating largely from the 17th century. At this time, a series of concentric, semi-circular canals (grachten) were dug around the old city centre. Along the canals houses and warehouses were built. The canals still define Amsterdam's layout and appearance today. Amsterdam is famous for its free-spirited liberalism, diversity and tolerance.

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