Luxembourg is a landlocked nation in western Europe, formally known as the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. It is bounded on the west and north by Belgium, on the east by Germany, and on the south by France. Luxembourg City, along with Brussels and Strasbourg, is one of the three official capitals of the European Union and home to the European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest court. Its culture, people, and languages are inextricably linked to those of its neighbors, resulting in a synthesis of French and Germanic civilizations. The country’s recurrent invasions by neighboring nations, particularly during World War II, resulted in a strong need for mediation between France and Germany, which ultimately culminated in the establishment of the European Union.
It is divided into two distinct regions: the Oesling (part of the Ardennes massif) in the north and the Gutland (“Good Land”) in the south. It is one of Europe’s smallest sovereign nations, with a territory of 2,586 square kilometers (998 square miles) (about the same size as the state of Rhode Island or the English county of Northamptonshire). Luxembourg has a population of 524,853 people in October 2012, placing it as Europe’s eighth least populated nation. As a representative democracy with a constitutional monarch, Luxembourg is led by a grand duke, Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and is the world’s last surviving grand duchy. Luxembourg is a developed nation with an advanced economy and the highest GDP (PPP) per capita in the world, the United Nations said in 2014. Its strategic significance to many nations dates all the way back to its foundation as a Roman stronghold, its hosting of an important Frankishcastle throughout the Early Middle Ages, and its function as a bulwark for the Spanish Road during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Luxembourg is a founding member of the European Union, the OECD, the United Nations, NATO, and Benelux, demonstrating its political alignment with economic, political, and military integration. Luxembourg City, the country’s capital and biggest city, is home to numerous EU organizations and agencies. Luxembourg sat on the United Nations Security Council for the first time in the country’s history in 2013 and 2014. Luxembourgish residents were granted visa-free or visa-on-arrival entry to 172 countries and territories in 2016, placing the Luxembourgian passport sixth in the world, with Canada and Switzerland.
Luxembourg is one of Europe’s smallest nations, with a total area of 2,586 square kilometers (998 square miles) and a length of 82 kilometers (51 miles) and a width of 57 kilometers (35 miles) among the 194 sovereign countries of the globe. It is located between 49° and 51° north latitude and 5° and 7° east longitude.
Luxembourg has boundaries with the German Bundesland of Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland to the east, and the French region of Lorraine to the south. To the west and north, the Grand Duchy shares boundaries with the Belgian Walloon Region, particularly the provinces of Luxembourg and Liège, which are members of the German-speaking Community of Belgium.
The ‘Oesling’ is the northern third of the nation, and it is part of the Ardennes. Hills and modest mountains dominate the landscape, with the Kneiff in Wilwerdange serving as the highest point at 560 meters (1,837 ft). The ‘Buurgplaaz’, at 559 meters near Huldange, and the ‘Napoléonsgaard,’ at 554 meters near Rambrouch, are two more mountains. Only one town (Wiltz) has a population of more than 4,000 people, making the area sparsely inhabited.
The “Gutland,” which covers the southern two-thirds of the nation, is more thickly inhabited than the Oesling. It’s also more varied, with five distinct geographic sub-regions. The Luxembourg plateau is a vast, flat sandstone formation in south-central Luxembourg that is home to the city of Luxembourg. Little Switzerland, located to the east of Luxembourg, is known for its rocky terrain and dense woods. The Moselle valley, which runs along the southeastern border, is the lowest-lying area. The Red Lands, located in the far south and southwest of Luxembourg, are the country’s industrial core and home to many of the country’s major cities.
Three rivers define the boundary between Luxembourg and Germany: the Moselle, the Sauer, and the Our. The Alzette, Attert, Clerve, and Wiltz are some of the other important rivers. The Gutland and the Oesling are separated by the basins of the mid-Sauer and Attert.
Luxembourg ranks 4th out of 132 nations evaluated in the 2012 Environmental Performance Index, making it one of the top performers in the world when it comes to environmental preservation. Luxembourg is also ranked sixth among the world’s top ten most livable cities by Mercer’s.
Luxembourg has a moderate oceanic climate, with the Ardennes hills giving some additional shelter from Atlantic influences. May through August is the finest, or at least the sunniest, season to visit, but pleasant weather may be found in April and September as well. The country’s peak season is July-August, with outdoor events all throughout, although Spring brings numerous flowers and Autumn brings wine-making possibilities in the Moselle river region.
Despite the country’s tiny size, there are noticeable variations in overall temperature, with the north being a few degrees cooler and experiencing heavy snowfall in the winter. Winters are chilly for travelers, while being moderate for this area of Europe, with average temperatures around +2°C in January and occasional lows of -15°C at night. The hottest months are July and August, with average temperatures of 15°C to 25°C with a few days exceeding 30°C. The average annual precipitation is approximately 780mm, with August and December being the wettest months.
Luxembourgers are the people who live in Luxembourg. Immigrants from Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, and Portugal, with the latter accounting for the bulk of the population, boosted the immigrant population in the twentieth century, with approximately 88,000 people of Portuguese nationality living in the city in 2013.
In addition, there is a tiny Romani (Gypsy) and Jewish community. Both of the two groups that live in Luxembourg have been impacted by the Holocaust and have been removed from the country.
Since the Yugoslav conflicts began, Luxembourg has welcomed a large number of immigrants from Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia. Over 10,000 new immigrants come in Luxembourg each year, mainly from EU countries and Eastern Europe. In the year 2000, Luxembourg had 162,000 immigrants, accounting for 37% of the total population. In 1999, Luxembourg had an estimated 5,000 illegal immigrants.
Luxembourg is a secular state, although some faiths are recognized as legally required. In return for paying some operating expenses and salaries, the state is given a role in religious administration and clergy selection. Roman Catholicism, Judaism, Greek Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, Russian Orthodoxy, Lutheranism, Mennonitism, and Islam are now covered by such agreements.
The government has been prohibited from collecting data on religious beliefs or activities since 1980. According to the CIA Factbook, 87 percent of Luxembourgers, including the royal family, are Catholic, with the other 13 percent consisting of Muslims, Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Jews, and people of other or no faith. According to a Pew Research Center survey from 2010, 70.4 percent of Americans identify as Christian, 2.3 percent as Muslim, 26.8% as unaffiliated, and 0.5 percent as belonging to other faiths.
According to a 2005 Eurobarometer survey, 44 percent of Luxembourg residents believe in God, while 28 percent believe in some kind of spirit or life force, and 22 percent think there is no such thing as a spirit, god, or life force.
Luxembourg’s market economy is stable and high-income, with modest growth, low inflation, and a high degree of innovation. Unemployment has historically been low, but by May 2012, it had increased to 6.1 percent, owing mainly to the effects of the global financial crisis of 2008. As a result, Luxembourg’s economy was expected to expand at a negligible rate in 2012. Luxembourg was the second wealthiest nation in the world in 2011, according to the IMF, with a per capita GDP of $80,119 on a purchasing-power parity (PPP) basis. Luxembourg is rated 13th in the Heritage Foundation’s Ranking of Economic Freedom, 26th in the UN Human Development Index, and fourth in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s quality of life index.
Luxembourg’s foreign debt is very high whether measured by external debt per capita or debt-to-GDP ratio. External debt per capita in 2014 was $3,696,467, while external debt as a percentage of GDP was 3443 percent, the most in the world by both measures.
Steel dominated the industrial sector until the 1960s, but it has subsequently expanded to include chemicals, rubber, and other goods. Growth in the financial industry has more than compensated for the decrease in steel output in recent decades. The bulk of economic production is accounted for by services, particularly banking and finance. Luxembourg is the second biggest investment fund center in the world (behind the United States), the eurozone’s most significant private banking center, and Europe’s top reinsurance center. Furthermore, the Luxembourg government has made a concerted effort to recruit internet start-ups, with Skype and Amazon among the numerous businesses that have relocated their regional headquarters to Luxembourg.
The G20 placed Luxembourg to a “grey list” of countries with dubious financial arrangements in April 2009, citing concerns about its banking secrecy rules and reputation as a tax haven. As a result, the country quickly embraced OECD norms for information sharing and was later included to the list of “jurisdictions that have largely implemented the globally agreed tax standard.” The Sunday Telegraph claimed in March 2010 that the majority of Kim Jong-$4 Il’s billion in secret accounts is held in Luxembourg banks. According to The Guardian in April 2012, Amazon.co.uk also profits from Luxembourg tax loopholes by routing significant UK earnings via Luxembourg. The Tax Justice Network’s 2011 Financial Secrecy Index of the world’s biggest tax havens placed Luxembourg third, just behind the Cayman Islands. Luxembourg was rated as the world’s second safest tax haven in 2013, after Switzerland.
Small, family-owned farms are the foundation of agriculture.
Luxembourg has particularly strong commercial and financial connections with Belgium and the Netherlands (see Benelux), and it benefits from the open European market as a member of the EU.
In May 2015, the nation ranked tenth in the world in terms of holdings of US Treasury securities, with $171 billion. However, the rating is flawed since some international investors entrust the safety of their assets to organizations based neither in the United States nor in the owner’s home country.