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The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union of 27 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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COA of Gediminaičiai dynasty Lithuania.svg

The history of Lithuania between 1219 and 1295 deals with the establishment and early history of the first Lithuanian state, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The beginning of the 13th century marks the end of the prehistory of Lithuania. From this point on the history of Lithuania is recorded in chronicles, treaties, and other written documents. In 1219, twenty-one Lithuanian dukes signed a peace treaty with Halych-Volhynia. This event is widely accepted as the first proof that the Baltic tribes were uniting and consolidating. Despite continuous warfare with two Christian orders, the Livonian Order and the Teutonic Knights, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was established and gained some control over the lands of Black Ruthenia, Polatsk, Minsk, and other territories east of modern-day Lithuania that had become weak and vulnerable after the collapse of Kievan Rus'.

The first ruler to hold the title of Grand Duke was Mindaugas. Traditionally he is considered the founder of the state, the one who united the Baltic tribes and established the Duchy. Some scholars, however, challenge this perception, arguing that an organized state existed before Mindaugas, possibly as early as 1183. After quelling an internal war with his nephews, Mindaugas was baptized in 1251, and was crowned as King of Lithuania in 1253.

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Bratislava

Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and the country's largest city, with a population of some 450,000. Bratislava is the political, cultural and economic centre of Slovakia. It is the seat of the Slovak presidency, parliament and government as well as home to several universities, museums, theatres, galleries and other national economic, cultural and educational institutions. Most of Slovakia's large businesses and financial institutions have their headquarters in Bratislava. The city's past has been characterized by the strong influence of various peoples, including Slovaks, Germans, Hungarians, Czechs, Austrians and Jews. Bratislava still retains its cosmopolitan spirit. It hosts many festivals and trade shows and it is famous for its night life and leisure facilities.

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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?

Eastgate Clock

...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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