Luxembourg is a small landlocked country in Western Europe wedged in between France, Germany and Belgium. It is also known as the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg and is the last sovereign Grand Duchy remaining in the world. The National Day celebrates the Birthday of Grand Duchess Charlotte on 23 June each year.
The country is 999 square miles (2,586 sq kilometres) in area and is 51 miles (82km) long and 35 miles (57km) wide. The largest towns are the capital city, which is also called Luxembourg, Esch-sur-Alzzette, Dudelange and Differdange. Luxembourg City is one of the worlds wealthiest cities.
Population of Luxembourg
The population of Luxembourg is steadily increasing. Immigrants account for around 37% of the population with over a third of these from Portugal. Immigrants also come from France, Italy, Germany, Belgium and other European Union areas. There have also been immigrants from Bosnia and Serbia since the beginning of the Yugoslav wars.
The population was around 491,800 as at July 2010 and around one fifth of the population live in the capital city of Luxembourg, also known as Luxembourg City. A total of 82% of the population live in urban areas and average life expectancy is 76.1 years for men and 82.8 years for women. 67% of the population are aged between 15 and 64 years of age. Residents of Luxembourg are known as Luxembourgers.
Luxembourg has three official languages of Luxembourgish, French and German. Luxembourgish is commonly used in conversation, French is used for administration and most written official business while German is the first language taught at school and is used by the media and the church. In the capital city many people can also speak English.
Economy of Luxembourg
Luxembourg is rich in iron ore, and the mining and smelting of steel, plus agriculture, were the chief industries until the 1960's. Industry now accounts for only about 15% of GDP and has diversified to include chemicals, rubber, glass and other products. Services are now the most important sector of the economy with banking and the financial sector accounting for about 28% 0f GDP.
The economy is very stable and after strong growth between 2004 and 2007 it was affected by the global economic crisis from late 2008. The economy contracted by 0.9% in 2008 and by 3.9% in 2009. Despite this the economy rated number one in the world for GDP per capita by the World Bank in 2009. Around 60% of the labour force are foreign cross-border workers who commute from France, Belgium and Germany.
Luxembourg is one of the three Benelux nations and has close trade and financial ties with Belgium and the Netherlands. Agricultural produce includes grapes, barley, oats, wheat, potatoes fruit dairy and meat. Export commodities are mainly machinery and equipment, steel products, chemicals, rubber products, glass and wine while imports are mainly minerals, metals foodstuff and quality consumer goods.
Luxembourg consists of a plateau furrowed by valleys, rolling hills and forests. The northern third of the country, known as the Oesling, has hills and low mountains including the highest point of Buurgplaatz (559m). Most people live in the southern two-thirds of the country, known as the Gutland, which is more diverse. The Moselle River valley is the lowest-lying region at 133m.
Luxembourg has a modified continental climate with mild winters and cool summers. Rainfall is high, particularly in late summer and from August to April many areas experience dense fog, especially around the country's main river valleys. Major rivers include the Moselle, Sauer, Our, Alzette, Attert, Clerve and the Wiltz.
History of Luxembourg
Luxembourg has been under the control of many ruling houses, states and countries in its long history, but it has been a separate political entity since the 10th century. It was founded in 963 and had strategic importance as a fortress site in the Early Middle Ages. It's history saw many changes and in 1815 it became a grand duchy and an independent state under the Netherlands. In 1867 full independence was gained.
Germany invaded and occupied Luxembourg during both World Wars. Luxembourg became a founding member of the United Nations in 1946 and joined NATO in 1949. It became one of the six founding countries of the European Economic Community (now the European Union) in 1957, and in 1999 it joined the euro currency area. Today, it is a hereditary Grand Duchy with a unicameral parliamentary system.
Luxembourg Flag and Coat of Arms
The flag of Luxembourg has three horizontal stripes of red, white and blue. It is very like the flag of the Netherlands except the blue is a lighter shade. The coloring comes from the Grand Duke's coat of arms and dates back to the 13th century. The coat of arms features lions and the royal crown.
Local Food and Drink
Luxembourg's specialty dishes include jugged hare and Ardennes ham and are typical dishes visitors could expect from this forested country. The many major rivers provide fresh fish such as trout and pike which feature regularly on menus. There are many well-known and poular white wines as Luxembourg shares the Moselle valley with Germany. They also produce several varieties of beer.
Main Attractions in Luxembourg
Luxembourg City was named the European Capital of Culture in 1995 and again in 2007 along with the surrounding region. The city has many historic buildings with its fortress and cobblestoned streets. Most visitors watch the changing of the guard at the Grand Ducal Place, visit the Notre Dame Cathedral of Luxembourg, churches, bridges and the many museums and galleries.
The county as a whole is very scenic and a great place for walking, hiking, rock-climbing, water sports and fishing. It is a great place for people of all ages. There are plenty of castles to visit as well as wine tasting and brewery visits. Luxembourg travel is family friendly and Luxembourg hotels are available for all budgets.