Luxembourg (/ˈlʌksəmbɜːrɡ/ LUK-səm-burg; Luxembourgish: Lëtzebuerg (ˈlətsəbuə̯ɕ); French: Luxembourg; German: Luxemburg), situated within the heart of Europe, one of the world’s smallest countries, it is bordered by Belgium on the west and north, France on the south, and Germany on the northeast and east. Officially called as the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a landlocked country in Western Europe. It’s bordered by Belgium to the west and north, Germany to the east, and France to the south. Its capital, Luxembourg City, is one among the four official capitals of the European Union (together with Brussels, Frankfurt, and Strasbourg) and therefore the seat of the Court of Justice of the European Union, the highest judicial authority within the EU.
Luxembourg has come under the control of many states and ruling houses in its long history, but it has been a separate, if not always autonomous, political unit since the 10th century. The ancient Saxon name of its capital city, Lucilinburhuc (“Little Fortress”), symbolized its strategic position as “the Gibraltar of the north,” astride a major military route linking Germanic and Frankish territories.
There are several fairy-tale castles on its tiny territory, and it has more than 112 km of hiking trails and it produces some of the best white wines worldwide. The old city of Luxembourg capital with its fortifications has been declared UNESCO World Heritage.
The east of the country, also known as Little Switzerland of Luxembourg, with its surprising rock formations is a paradise for hikers. Echternach, located in the heart of Little Switzerland is the oldest town of the country and has a lovely abbey.
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg could be a constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary democracy, and a prominent financial center. The country may be a member of the Benelux Economic Union and was one of the founding members of the European Union. Monarchical chief of state is the Grand Duke of Luxembourg. Head of government is the prime minister, appointed by the Grand Duke (normally the foremost popular voted candidate). Within the legislative system of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, either Parliament or Government may propose a bill.
Founded in 963, Luxembourg became a grand duchy in 1815 and an independent state under the Netherlands. It lost more than half of its territory to Belgium in 1839 but gained a larger measure of autonomy. Full independence was attained in 1867. Overrun by Germany in both World Wars, it ended its neutrality in 1948 when it entered into the Benelux Customs Union and when it joined NATO the following year.
In 1957, Luxembourg became one of the six founding countries of the European Economic Community (later the European Union) and in 1999 it joined the euro currency area. Since the beginning of the 21st century, its governments have focused on developing the country into a knowledge economy, with the founding of the University of Luxembourg and a national space program, projecting the primary involvement in a very robotic lunar expedition by 2020.
Luxembourg is a point of contact between the Germanic and Romance-language communities of Europe, and three languages are regularly employed in the grand duchy itself: Luxembourgish, German, and French. The peoples of Luxembourg and their languages reflect the grand duchy’s common interests and close historical relations with its neighbors
Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in Europe, and ranked 167th in size of all the 194 independent countries of the world; the country is about 2,586 square kilometers (998 sq mi) in size, and measures 82 km (51 mi) long and 57 km (35 mi) wide. It lies between latitudes 49° and 51° N, and longitudes 5° and 7° E. This forested highland region is incised by the deep valleys of a river network organized around the Sûre (or Sauer) River, which runs eastward through north-central Luxembourg before joining the Moselle (or Mosel) River on the border with Germany. The Oesling’s forested hills and valleys support the ruins of numerous castles, which are a major attraction for the region’s many tourists. The fertility of the relatively thin mountain soils of the region was greatly improved with the introduction in the 1890s of a basic-slag fertilizer, which is obtained as a by-product of the grand duchy’s steel industry.
The southern two-thirds of Luxembourg is known as the Bon Pays or Gutland (French and German: “Good Land”). In the center of the Bon Pays, the valley of the northward-flowing Alzette River forms an axis around which the country’s economic life is organized. Luxembourg City lies along the Alzette, which joins the Sûre farther north. Within the east-central part of the Bon Pays to lie an excellent beech forest, the Müllerthal, as well as a sandstone area featuring attractive ruiniform topography.
Luxembourg has an oceanic climate (Köppen: Cfb), marked by high precipitation, particularly in late summer. The summers are warm and winters cool. The mean temperatures in Luxembourg City range from the mid-30s F (about 0.7 °C) in January to the low 60s F (about 17 °C) in July, but in the Oesling both extremes are slightly lower. The Oesling receives more precipitation than the Bon Pays, but the greatest amount, about 40 inches (1,000 mm), and the least, about 27 inches (about 685 mm), fall in the southwest and southeast, respectively. The sheltered valley of the Moselle River benefits from a gentler and sunnier climate than does the rest of the duchy.
The Grand Duchy has a population of 576.000 people (in 2016), capital and largest city is Luxembourg-City (Lëtzebuerg), with about 100.000 citizens. Luxembourg’s stable and high-income market economy features moderate growth, low inflation, and a high level of innovation. In 2011, according to the IMF, Luxembourg was the second richest country in the world, with a per capita GDP on a purchasing-power-parity (PPP) basis of $80,119. Luxembourg has especially close trade and financial ties to Belgium and the Netherlands, and as a member of the EU, it enjoys the advantages of the open European market. Luxembourg has road, rail, and air transport facilities and services.
The agricultural resources of Luxembourg are quite modest. With the exception of livestock products, surpluses are scarce, and marginal soils in many parts of the country hinder abundant harvests. Most farming is mixed and includes both animal raising and gardening. About one-half of the country’s farms are smaller than 200 acres (50 hectares). The vineyards along the Moselle River produce some excellent wines. Indeed, Luxembourg has almost nothing that predisposes it to agricultural or industrial development. The roots of its economic growth lie in its use of capital and in the adaptability and ingenuity of its workforce rather than in natural resources.
Luxembourg’s culture, people, and languages are highly intertwined with its neighbors, making it essentially a mixture of French and German cultures, as evident by the nation’s three official languages: French, German, and the national language of Luxembourgish. The repeated invasions by Germany, especially in World War II, resulted in the country’s strong will for mediation between France and Germany and, among other things, led to the foundation of the European Union. Luxembourg was the first city to be named European Capital of Culture twice.
Also culturally speaking, Luxembourg is well worth a visit. Packed in between Belgium, Germany, and France, Luxembourg knew how to absorb the best of the surrounding cultures. Food is as delicate as French cuisine but served as abundantly as in Germany. Nowadays the population of one of the smallest sovereign countries is fairly multicultural with one of the highest ex-pat rates in Europe.