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Document encodings

A quick question:

How do parsers work out what encoding an XML document is in 
(i.e. how is it able to read the 'encoding' attribute of the 

I'm guessing that all the encodings XML supports have a common 
'root' so the XML declaration can always be read using the 'base' 
character set. Is this correct or am I way off the mark?

Many thanks,

Phil Ruelle