Grand-Duché de Luxembourg
Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
|Motto: "Mir wëlle bleiwe wat mir sinn" (Luxembourgish)
"We want to remain what we are"
|Anthem: Ons Heemecht
Royal anthem: De Wilhelmus 1
(and largest city)
|Government||Unitary parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy|
|-||Prime Minister||Xavier Bettel|
|-||From French empire (Treaty of Paris)||9 June 1815|
|-||1st Treaty of London||19 April 1839|
|-||2nd Treaty of London||11 May 1867|
|-||End of personal union||23 November 1890|
|EU accession||25 March 1957|
|-||Total||2,586.4 km² (175th)
998.6 sq mi
|-||2011 estimate||511,840 (170th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2010 estimate|
|GDP (nominal)||2011 estimate|
|Currency||Euro (€)2 (
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|-||Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|1||Not the same as the Het Wilhelmus of the Netherlands.|
|2||Before 1999: Luxembourgish franc.|
|3||The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states.|
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (Luxembourgish: Groussherzogtum Lëtzebuerg, French: Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, German: Großherzogtum Luxemburg), archaically spelled Luxemburg, is a small landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany.
The world's only sovereign Grand Duchy, Luxembourg is a parliamentary representative democracy with a constitutional monarchy, ruled by a Grand Duke.
Luxembourg lies on the cultural divide between Romance Europe and Germanic Europe, borrowing customs from each of the distinct traditions. Although a secular state, Luxembourg is predominantly Roman Catholic.
The country has a highly developed economy, with the highest Gross Domestic Product per capita in the world. For many people in other parts of Europe, Luxembourg is best known for its radio and television stations, Radio Luxembourg and RTL.
Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in Europe, and ranked 175th in size of all the 194 independent countries of the world; the country is about 999 square miles (2586 square kilometers) in size, and measures 51 miles long (82km) and 35 miles (57km) wide. It is slightly smaller than Rhode Island in the United States.
To the east, Luxembourg borders the German states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, and, to the south, it borders the French région of Lorraine. The Grand Duchy borders the Belgian Walloon Region, in particular the latter's provinces of Luxembourg and Liège to the west and to the north respectively.
The northern third of the country is known as the Oesling, and forms part of the Ardennes. It is dominated by hills and low mountains, including the Kneiff, which is the highest point, at 1837 feet (560 meters).
The southern two-thirds of the country is called the Gutland, and is more densely populated than the Oesling. It is also more diverse, and can be divided into five geographic sub-regions. The Luxembourg plateau, in south-central Luxembourg, is a large, flat, sandstone formation, and the site of the city of Luxembourg. Little Switzerland, in the east of Luxembourg, has craggy terrain and thick forests. The Moselle valley is the lowest-lying region, running along the south-eastern border. The Red Lands, in the far south and southwest, are Luxembourg's industrial heartland and home to many of Luxembourg's largest towns.
The border between Luxembourg and Germany is formed by three rivers: the Moselle, the Sauer, and the Our. Other major rivers are the Alzette, the Attert, the Clerve, and the Wiltz. The valleys of the mid-Sauer and Attert form the border between the Gutland and the Oesling.
The Upper Sûre lake is the largest stretch of water in the Grand Duchy. Surrounded by luxuriant vegetation and peaceful creeks, the lake is a center for water sports, such as sailing, canoeing, and kayaking. Such outdoor activities, which has made it an attractive spot for tourists, have led to the growth of a local jewelry and crafts industry.
The town of Esch-sur-Sûre nestles at one end of the lake. Immediately above it, the river has been dammed to form a hydroelectric reservoir extending some six miles (10km) up the valley. The Upper Sûre dam was built in the 1960s to meet the country's drinking water requirements.
Luxembourg is part of the West European Continental climatic region, and enjoys a temperate climate without extremes. Winters are mild, summers fairly cool, and rainfall is high. Rainfall reaches 49 inches (1.2 meters) a year in some areas. In the summer, excessive heat is rare and temperatures drop noticeably at night. Low temperatures and humidity make for what those living in this part of the country call, optimistically, an "invigorating climate."
Luxembourg's flora is characterized by the country's location at the border between the Atlantic-European and Central-European climate zones. In the north, beech and oak trees are plentiful. The oak trees can grow up to 100-150 feet, (30-45 meters) with a diameter of 4-8 feet (1.2-2.4 meters). They supply large quantities of excellent hardwood timber. Along the riverbanks, species like the Black Alder and willows can be found. Alder wood is pale yellow to reddish brown, fine-textured, durable even under water, and is disease-resistant.
The narrow, deeply incised valleys of the north also provide a habitat for rare plants and animals, especially the European Otter, a protected species. In the industrial south, among the abandoned quarries and deserted open pit mines, nature has reclaimed her own, and there are flowers everywhere.
Environmental issues involve air and water pollution in urban areas, and soil pollution of farmland.
The city of Luxembourg, the capital and largest city, is the seat of several agencies of the European Union. It is located at the confluence of the Alzette and Pétrusse rivers in southern Luxembourg and was built around the historic Luxembourg Castle, established by the Franks in the Early Middle Ages. As of 2005, the commune of Luxembourg City had a population of 76,420, which is almost three times the population of the second most populous community.
Until 1598, the history of the grand duchy of Luxembourg, Belgium (except the Bishopric of Liège), and the Netherlands is identical to the history of the Low Countries. Human remains that date from about 5140 B.C.E. were found in present-day Luxembourg. Belgic tribes, the Treveri and Mediomatrici, lived in the region from about 450 B.C.E. until the Roman conquest of 53 B.C.E. The first known reference to the territory in modern Luxembourg was by Julius Caesar in his Commentaries on the Gallic War.
The Franks occupied the country in the fifth century C.E. Northumbrian missionary St Willibrord (658-759) worked on behalf of Pepin, the Christian king of the Franks, in Christianizing the area. In 698 he established an abbey at a Roman villa of Echternach, in Luxemburg near Trier, which was presented to him by Irmina, daughter of Dagobert II, king of the Franks.
Luxembourg became an independent entity in 963, when Siegfried I, Count of Ardennes traded some of his ancestral lands with the monks of the Abbey of Saint Maximin in Trier for an ancient, supposedly Roman, fort by the name of Lucilinburhuc. Modern historians explain the etymology of the word with Letze, meaning fortification which might have referred to either the remains of a Roman watchtower or to a primitive refuge of the early Middle Ages.
Around this fort a town gradually developed, which became the center of a small but important state of great strategic value to France, Germany and the Netherlands. Luxembourg's fortress, located on a rocky outcrop known as the Bock, was steadily enlarged and strengthened over the years by successive owners, among others the Bourbons, Habsburgs and Hohenzollerns, which made it one of the strongest fortresses on the European continent. Its formidable defenses and strategic location caused it to become known as the "Gibraltar of the North."
About 1060, Conrad, one of Siegfried's descendants, took the title of count of Luxembourg. Holy Roman emperor Henry VII (c. 1275–1313) was from the House of Luxembourg dynasty, as was Charles IV (1316–1378), and Sigismund (1368–1437). Luxembourg remained an independent fief of the Holy Roman Empire until 1354, when the emperor Charles IV elevated it to the status of a duchy. At that time the Luxembourg family held the Crown of Bohemia. In 1437, the House of Luxembourg suffered a succession crisis, precipitated by the lack of a male heir to assume the throne. In 1443 Elizabeth of Görlitz, duchess of Luxembourg and niece of the Holy Roman emperor Sigismund, was forced to cede the duchy to Philip III (the Good) (1419–1467), duke of Burgundy.
The heirs of the main Luxembourg dynasty were not happy with Burgundian control, and managed at times to wrest the possession from Burgundy: the Habsburg prince Ladislas the Posthumous, king of Bohemia and Hungary (d. 1457) held the title Duke of Luxembourg in the 1450s, and after his death, his brother-in-law William of Thuringia (1425-1482) claimed it from 1457 to 1469. In 1467, Elisabeth, Queen of Poland, the last surviving sister of Ladislas, renounced her right in favor of Burgundy, since the possession was difficult to hold against Burgundy.
With the marriage of Mary of Burgundy to Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I (1459–1519) in 1477, the duchy of Luxembourg passed to the Habsburgs, along with the rest of the Burgundian inheritance, as one of the Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands. After Emperor Charles V (1500-1558) abdicated in 1556, the division of the Habsburg territories put the duchy in the possession of the Spanish Habsburgs. Luxembourg took no part in the revolt of the Low Countries against Philip II of Spain, and remained with what became Belgium as part of the Spanish Netherlands.
The duchy was able, for a while, to stay out of the Thirty Years' War, fought between 1618 and 1648 principally on the territory of today's Germany. This was ostensibly a religious conflict between Protestants and Catholics, although the rivalry between the Habsburg dynasty and other powers was a more central motive. But when France became involved in the war in 1635, Luxembourg sustained war, famine, and epidemics. The war did not end for Luxembourg until the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659.
Luxembourg was invaded by Louis XIV of France (husband of Maria Theresa, daughter of Philip IV) in 1679, and the conquest was completed in 1684 with the capture of Luxembourg city. The invasion caused alarm among France's neighbors and resulted in the formation of the League of Augsburg in 1686. In the ensuing war France was forced to give up the duchy, which was returned to the Spanish Habsburgs by the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697. During this period of French rule, the famous siege engineer Vauban strengthened the defenses of the fortress. At the end of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714), according to the treaties of Utrecht and Rastatt (1713–1714), Luxembourg and Belgium passed from the Spanish to the Austrian Habsburgs. In 1795, six years after the beginning of the French Revolution, Revolutionary France conquered and annexed Luxembourg, making it part of the département of the Forêts in 1795. The annexation was formalized at Campo Formio in 1797. The constitution of revolutionary France was imposed, and a modern state bureaucracy introduced. Luxembourg peasants rejected the French government's anticlerical measures. The introduction of compulsory military service in France in 1798 provoked a rebellion (the Klëppelkrieg) in Luxembourg that was brutally suppressed.
French domination ended in 1814, with the fall of Napoleon. The Congress of Vienna in 1815, which was a conference between ambassadors, from the major powers in Europe, to settle issues and redraw the continent's political map after the defeat of Napoleonic France, raised Luxembourg to the status of a grand duchy and gave it to William I (1772–1843), the king of the Netherlands. Luxembourg had a complicated status—with the legal position of an independent state, that was united with The Netherlands as a personal possession of William I, but also included within the German Confederation, with a Prussian military garrison housed in the capital city.
William treated Luxembourg as a conquered country and taxed it heavily. Much of the Luxembourgish population joined the Belgian revolution in 1830 against Dutch rule. Except for the fortress and its immediate vicinity, Belgium considered Luxembourg as a province of the new Belgian state from 1830 to 1839, while William still claimed the duchy as his own. In 1831, the Great Powers (France, Britain, Prussia, Russia, and Austria) stepped in and decided that Luxembourg belonged to William I and formed part of the German Confederation. The predominantly French speaking part of the duchy was ceded to Belgium as the province de Luxembourg, while William I was allowed to retain the Luxembourgian-speaking part.
Belgium accepted this arrangement, but William I rejected it, only to accept it when it was confirmed by the Treaty of London in 1839. From that year until 1867, the duchy was administered autonomously from The Netherlands.
The loss of Belgian markets also caused painful economic problems for the state. Recognizing this, the grand duke integrated it into the German Zollverein in 1842. Nevertheless, Luxembourg remained an underdeveloped agrarian country for most of the century. As a result of this about one in five of the inhabitants emigrated to the United States between 1841 and 1891.
The Revolution of 1848 in Paris prompted William II (1792–1849) that year enacted a more liberal constitution, which replaced in 1856. In 1866 the German Confederation was dissolved, and Luxembourg became a sovereign nation, though the Prussian garrison remained. Napoleon III (1808-1873) of France offered to buy the grand duchy from William III for five million florins. William III backed out after civil unrest and because the Prussian chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, disapproved. The second Treaty of London in 1867 guaranteed the perpetual independence and neutrality of the state. The fortress walls were pulled down and the Prussian garrison was withdrawn. Luxembourg remained a possession of the kings of the Netherlands until the death of William III in 1890, when the grand duchy passed to the House of Nassau-Weilburg due to a Nassau inheritance pact of 1783.
World War I was a global military conflict which took place primarily in Europe from 1914 to 1918. Over 40 million casualties resulted, including approximately 20 million military and civilian deaths. The Entente Powers, led by France, Russia, the British Empire, and later Italy (from 1915) and the United States (from 1917), defeated the Central Powers, led by the Austro-Hungarian, German, and Ottoman Empires.
During the First World War, Luxembourg was occupied by Germany, but the government and Grandduchess Marie-Adélaïde were allowed to remain in office throughout the occupation (until 1918), bringing accusations of collaboration from France. It was liberated by U.S. and French troops. Two American divisions were based in the state in the years following the War. At Versailles the Belgian claim to Luxembourg was rejected and its independence reaffirmed.
In the 1930s the internal situation deteriorated, as Luxembourgish politics were influenced by European left- and right-wing politics. The government tried to counter Communist-led unrest in the industrial areas and continued friendly policies towards Nazi Germany, which led to much criticism. The attempts to quell unrest peaked with the Maulkuerfgesetz, the "muzzle" Law, which was an attempt to outlaw the Communist Party of Luxembourg. The law was dropped after a 1937 referendum.
World War II was a worldwide military conflict, which split the majority of the world's nations into two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis Powers. Spanning much of the globe, World War II resulted in the death of over 70 million people, making it the deadliest conflict in human history.
During World War II, the Luxembourgish government and monarchy was swept away into exile by the German invasion of May 10, 1940. Throughout the war, Grand Duchess Charlotte broadcast via on BBC to Luxembourg to give hope to the people. The state was placed under military occupation until August 1942, when it was formally annexed by the Third Reich as part of the Gau Moselland. Luxembourgers were declared to be German citizens and 13,000 were called up for military service. A total 2848 Luxembourgers died fighting in the German army. Measures to quell Luxembourgish opposition to this annexation were met with passive resistance at first, such as the Spéngelskrich (lit. "War of the Pins"), and refusing to speak German. As French was forbidden, many Luxembourgers resorted to resuscitating old Luxembourgish words, which led to a renaissance of the language. Other measures included deportation, forced labor, forced conscription and, more drastically, internment, deportation to concentration camps and execution. The latter measure was applied after a general strike from September 1-3, 1942, which paralyzed the administration, agriculture, industry and education as response to the declaration of forced conscription by the German administration on August 30, 1942. It was violently suppressed: 21 strikers were executed and hundreds more deported to concentration camps. The then civilian administrator of Luxembourg, Gauleiter Gustav Simon had declared conscription necessary to support the German war effort.
U.S. forces again liberated most of the country in September 1944, although they were briefly forced to withdraw during the Battle of the Bulge, otherwise known as the Ardennes Offensive or the Rundstedt Offensive, which had German troops take back most of northern Luxembourg for a few weeks. The Germans were finally expelled in January 1945. Altogether, 5,259 of a pre-war population of 293,000 Luxembourgers lost their lives during the hostilities.
After World War II Luxembourg abandoned its politics of neutrality, when it became a founding member of NATO (1949) and the United Nations. It is a signatory of the Treaty of Rome, and constituted a monetary union with Belgium (Benelux Customs Union in 1948), and an economic union with Belgium and The Netherlands, the so-called BeNeLux. Luxembourg has been one of the strongest advocates of the European Union. In 1957, Luxembourg became one of the six founding countries of the European Economic Community (later the European Union).
Grand Duke Jean succeeded his mother, Grand Duchess Charlotte, on November 12, 1964. In 1985, the country became the target of a mysterious bombing spree, which was targeted mostly at electrical masts and other installations. In 1995, Luxembourg provided the President of the European Commission, former Prime Minister Jacques Santer who later had to resign over corruption accusations against other commission members. In 1999, Luxembourg joined the euro currency area. Grand Duke Jean abdicated the throne on October 7, 2000, in favor of Prince Henri, who assumed the title and constitutional duties of Grand Duke. Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, on September 10, 2004, became the semi-permanent president of the group of finance ministers from the 12 countries that share the euro, a role dubbed "Mr Euro." On July 10, 2005, after threats of resignation by Prime Minister Juncker, the proposed European Constitution was approved by 56.52 percent of voters.
Luxembourg is a constitutional monarchy. Under the constitution of 1868, executive power is exercised by the Grand Duke or Grand Duchess and the cabinet, which consists of a Prime Minister and several other ministers. Usually the prime minister is the leader of the political party or coalition of parties having the most seats in parliament. The Grand Duke has the power to dissolve the legislature and reinstate a new one. However, since 1919, sovereignty has resided with the country.
Legislative power is vested in the Chamber of Deputies, a unicameral legislature of 60 members, who are directly elected to five-year terms from four constituencies. A second body, the Council of State (Conseil d'État), composed of 21 ordinary citizens appointed by the Grand Duke, advises the Chamber of Deputies in the drafting of legislation. Suffrage is universal and compulsory to those aged 18 years and over.
In the 2004 parliamentary elections, the Christian Social People's Party, a Roman Catholic-oriented party resembling Christian Democratic parties in other West-European countries, won 24 seats. The Luxembourg Socialist Workers' Party took 14 seats. The Democratic Party, a center party, drawing support from the professions, merchants, and urban middle class, and which advocates both social legislation and minimum government involvement in the economy, took ten seats. The Green Party took seven seats, and the ADR five. The Left and the Communist Party lost their single seat in part due to their separate campaigns.
The Grand Duchy has three lower tribunals (justices de paix; in Esch-sur-Alzette, the city of Luxembourg, and Diekirch), two district tribunals (Luxembourg and Diekirch) and a Superior Court of Justice (Luxembourg), which includes the Court of Appeal and the Court of Cassation. There is also an Administrative Tribunal and an Administrative Court, as well as a Constitutional Court, all of which are located in the capital. The legal system is based on the civil law system. Luxembourg accepts compulsory International Court of Justice jurisdiction.
Luxembourg is divided into three districts, which are further divided into 12 cantons and then 116 communes. Twelve of the communes have city status, of which the city of Luxembourg is the largest.
Luxembourg's contribution to its defense and to NATO consists of a small army. As a landlocked country, it has no navy, and it has no air force, except for the fact that the 18 NATO AWACS airplanes were registered as aircraft of Luxembourg for convenience. In a joint agreement with Belgium, both countries have put forth funding for one A400M military cargo plane, now currently on order. Luxembourg still maintains three Boeing 707 model TCAs for cargo and training purposes based in NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen.
Luxembourg is a founding member of the European Union, NATO, the United Nations, Benelux, and the Western European Union, reflecting the political consensus in favor of economic, political, and military integration.
Luxembourg operates a stable, high-income economy that features moderate growth, low inflation, and low unemployment. The industrial sector, initially dominated by steel, has become increasingly diversified to include chemicals, rubber, and other products. Growth in the financial sector, which in 2007 accounted for about 28 percent of GDP, has more than compensated for the decline in steel.
The people of Luxembourg enjoy a high standard of living. Luxembourg ranks fourth in the 2006 HDI, fourth on The Economist's 2005 world-wide quality-of-life index, and it has an average per capita income that has been estimated at $71,400 for the year 2006, the top earner in the world. Unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in 2006.
Banking is the largest sector in the Luxembourg economy. The country is a tax haven and attracts capital from other countries as the costs of investing through Luxembourg are low. At the end of March 2006, there were 155 banks in Luxembourg, with 23,000 employees. Political stability, good communications, easy access to other European centers, skilled multilingual staff, and a tradition of banking secrecy have all contributed to the growth of the financial sector.
Agriculture is based on small, family-owned farms. Luxembourg's small but productive agricultural sector employs about one percent to three percent of the work force. Most farmers are engaged in dairy and meat production. Vineyards in the Moselle Valley annually produce about 15 million liters of dry white wine, most of which is consumed locally.
Government policies promote the development of Luxembourg as an audiovisual and communications center. Radio-Television-Luxembourg is Europe's premier private radio and television broadcaster. The government-backed Luxembourg satellite company "Société européenne des satellites" (SES) was created in 1986 to install and operate a satellite telecommunications system for transmission of television programs throughout Europe.
For the fiscal year of 2005 and 2006, Luxembourg has run a budget deficit for the first time in many years, mostly because of slower international economic growth.
Exports totaled $16.57-billion in 2006. Export commodities included machinery and equipment, steel products, chemicals, rubber products, and glass. Export partners included Germany 19.3 percent, France 15.5 percent, Italy 9.5 percent, UK 9.5 percent, Belgium 8.8 percent, Spain 5.3 percent, Netherlands 4.5 percent. Imports totaled $20.86-billion in 2006. Import commodities included minerals, metals, foodstuffs, quality consumer goods. Import partners included Belgium 26.3 percent, Germany 20.1 percent, China 16.7 percent, France 8.5 percent, UK 5.5 percent, and Netherlands 4.2 percent.
Luxembourg's population in 2007 was 480,222, in an area of approximately 998 square miles (2585 square kilometers). Annually, over 10,000 new immigrants arrive in Luxembourg, mostly from EU states, as well as Eastern Europe. As of 2000, there were 162,000 immigrants in Luxembourg, accounting for 37 percent of the total population. There were an estimated 5000 illegal immigrants in Luxembourg. The median age for the total population was 38.9 years in 2007. Almost two-thirds of the Greek people live in urban areas. Luxembourgers had an average life expectancy at birth of 79.03 years (75.76 years for males and 82.52 years for females) in 2007.
The people of Luxembourg are called Luxembourgers. The native population is ethnically a Celtic base with a French and Germanic blend. The indigenous population was augmented by immigrants from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, and Portugal throughout the twentieth century, as well as Slavs (from Montenegro, Albania, and Kosovo) and European guest and resident workers.
Since 1979, it has been illegal for the government to collect statistics on religious beliefs or practices. It is estimated that 87 percent of Luxembourgers are Roman Catholics, and the other 13 percent are mostly Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Luxembourg was a major centre for Christianity during the Middle Ages, Roman Catholicism was sustained through the Reformation by the hierarchy, buildings, and traditions established in the preceding centuries. The Roman Catholic Church has received state support since 1801. Luxembourg is a secular state, but the state recognizes certain religions. This gives the state a hand in religious administration and appointment of clergy, in exchange for which the state pays certain running costs and wages. Religions covered by such arrangements are Roman Catholicism, Judaism, Greek and Russian Orthodoxy, and Protestantism.
In the Eurostat - Eurobarometer poll of 2005, 44 percent of Luxembourg's citizens responded that they believe there is a God, whereas 28 percent answered that they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force, and 22 percent that they do not believe there is a God, spirit, nor life force.
Three languages are recognized as official in Luxembourg: French, German, and Luxembourgish, a Franconian language of the Moselle region similar to the local German dialect spoken in the neighboring part of Germany, with more borrowings from French. Each of the three languages is used as the primary language in certain spheres. Luxembourgish is the language that Luxembourgers generally speak to each other, but is not frequently written. Most official (written) business is carried out in French. German is usually the first language taught in school and is the language of much of the media and of the church. English is taught in the compulsory schooling, mostly from the age of 13 to 14 years, and much of the population of Luxembourg can speak some simple English, at any rate in Luxembourg City. Portuguese and Italian, the languages of the two largest immigrant communities, are also spoken by large parts of the population.
In principle, women have full political and economic equality, but the country has a lower female labor force participation rate (43 percent) than other developed countries. Few women need to work outside the home, and housework is counted as employment in determining government benefits. A desire for independence, equality, and less social isolation, motivates women to seek work outside the home. Older women wield considerable authority, have a large share of the national wealth, and tend to help their middle-aged children financially, such as in buying a house. In the afternoon, older women gather at bakeries to meet friends over coffee and pastry.
Marriage rates declined sharply towards the end of the twentieth century. About 30 percent of couples live together without being married, about 15 percent of children are born to unmarried mothers, and 30 percent of marriages end in divorce. Nuclear family households predominate and three-generation households have become less common. An extensive network of day care centers is available for the 50 percent of mothers who work outside the home. Older women who cannot live independently move into retirement homes rather than to move in with one of their children. Inheritance is divided among children.
School attendance in Luxembourg is compulsory between the ages of six and 15. Pupils attend primary schools for six years and then enter secondary schools for a period of up to seven years. Post-secondary institutions in Luxembourg include the Central University of Luxembourg (founded in 1969), Superior Institute of Technology, and teacher training schools. However, most advanced students attend institutions of higher learning in Belgium and France. Luxembourg's education system is trilingual: the first years of primary school are in Luxembourgish, before changing to German, while secondary school, the language of instruction changes to French. Regarding literacy, 97.5 percent of the total population over the age of 15 could read and write in 2003.
There is a basic social division between native Luxembourgers and foreign-born residents, and Portuguese immigrants are likely to work lower-status jobs. Language marks class difference. Native Luxembourgers address each other in Luxembourgish but speak French, German, or English with foreigners.
Luxembourg is noted for ancient Gallic encampments, Roman outposts, and for the medieval fortress built on Bock promontory. Portions remain of Sigefroi's castle built in 963. Spanish, French, and Austrians, who occupied Luxembourg in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, left elaborate fortifications on the promontory, and Luxembourg became known as the "Gibraltar of the North." Carved inside the cliff was a 14-mile (23km) maze of defense tunnels. Narrow two- or three-story row houses, built for wealthier families, typify the central historic area. Those originally are more ornate than those originally occupied by working-class families.
In the City of Luxembourg: its Old Quarters and Fortifications were declared a World Heritage Site in 1994. Partially demolished, the fortifications remain a fine example of military architecture spanning several centuries and numerous cultures.
The country has produced some internationally known artists, including the painters Joseph Kutter and Michel Majerus, as well as the photographer Edward Steichen, whose The Family of Man exhibition is permanently housed in Clervaux.
Luxembourgian cuisine reflects the country's position on the border between the Latin and Germanic worlds, being heavily influenced by the cuisines of neighboring France and Germany, as well as from its many Italian and Portuguese immigrants.
Luxembourg has many delicacies: pastries, Luxembourg Cheese, the fresh fish from local rivers (trout, pike, and crayfish), Ardennes ham smoked in saltpeter, game during hunting season (such as hare and wild boar), small plum tarts in September (quetsch), smoked neck of pork with broad beans (judd mat gaardebounen), fried small river fish (such as bream, chub, gudgeon, roach, and rudd), calves' liver dumplings (quenelles) with sauerkraut and boiled potatoes, black pudding (treipen) and sausages with mashed potatoes and horseradish, and green bean soup (bouneschlupp). French cuisine is featured prominently on many menus, and German and Belgian cuisine (but not as much).
These are some specialties of Luxembourg:
In 1993, it was reported that Luxembourg had the highest worldwide per capita consumption of alcohol; an average of three beers a day for every man, woman, and child. French wine is the most commonly drunk alcohol, and fine beers from Germany and Belgium are widely available. Alcohol is available cheaper in Luxembourg than anywhere else in Europe. It's also common to come across home-produced alcohol, called eau de vie, distilled from various different fruits and usually 50 percent alcohol by volume.
Some white and sparkling wines are even produced in Luxembourg, alongside the north bank of the Moselle, which has a winemaking history dating back to the Romans. The names of some wines made in Luxembourg: Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois, Rivaner, Elbling, Gewürztraminer, and Crémant de Luxembourg. Look for the National Mark, which identifies authentic Luxembourg wine.
Luxembourg has a fair number of breweries, given its tiny size. During the 1970s and 1980s, over 600,000 hectoliters of beer were brewed each year. The peak was reached in 1976 when over 800,000 hectoliters of beer were brewed, and since then the amount has been decreasing. In 2001, production dropped below 400,000 hectoliters for the first time since 1950.
Luxembourg lacks a distinctive literary tradition because of the limitations of Luxembourgish. The major writers include the essayist Marcel Noppeney (1877–1966) and the poet Michel Rodange (1827–1876). Luxembourg's periodicals, literary reviews, and magazines aimed at intellectuals are mostly written in French.
Luxembourg's music and cultural heritage is Germanic. The national music federation is called LGDA, and another important institution is the Luxembourg Conservatory of Music. Music festivals include the Echternach Music Festival and the Rock um Knuedler. The national radio station, Radio Luxembourg, is listened to throughout Europe. Modern Luxembourg is home to an array of performers, folk, classical and pop, as well as rock, hip hop and other genres. The national anthem is "Ons Hémécht" ("Our Homeland"), which was written by Jean-Antoine Zinnen (music) and Michel Lentz (lyrics).
Sport in Luxembourg encompasses a number of sports, both team and individual, and over 100,000 people in Luxembourg are licensed members of one sports federation or another. Football is the most popular spectator sport there, and the top-flight National Division is the premier domestic sports league in the country. Luxembourg was among the first countries in the world to be introduced to football, with the National Division being established in 1913 and the national team playing its first match in 1911.
The game is most popular in the south of the country, having developed earliest in the industrial Red Lands and Luxembourg City. Historically, Jeunesse Esch has been the most successful domestic club, having won the National Division on 27 occasions (out of a total of 93). The most famous Luxembourgian footballer in 2007 was Jeff Strasser, who has made a successful career in the French and German leagues. Luxembourg's most famous past players include Louis Pilot and Guy Hellers, both of whom also coached the national team after ending their playing careers.
Cycling is one of the main participatory sports. The country's flat terrain lends itself to the sport, with the Tour de Luxembourg being run around the country on an annual basis as a prelude to the Tour de France. Famous Luxembourgian cyclists include Nicolas Frantz, Charly Gaul, and François Faber, all of whom won the Tour de France (Frantz having done so twice). Altogether, Luxembourgian cyclists have won the Tour de France four times, ranking Luxembourg seventh overall.
Cricket is a minority sport, played predominantly within the British expatriate community located in and around Luxembourg City; very few native Luxembourgers play the sport. The game's governing body is the Luxembourg Cricket Federation, whose primarily purpose is to promote the game to the non-British population. The dominant club is the Optimists Cricket Club, which plays in the Belgian league, which it has won on three occasions.
Luxembourg made its first appearance in the Summer Olympics in 1900, and the Grand Duchy has been represented as a total 21 Games, including every one since 1936. However, Luxembourg has won only two medals in all events:
In addition, Luxembourger Michel Théato won the gold medal in the marathon at the 1900 Games in Paris. However, at the time, it was assumed that Théato was French, so the medal is officially credited to France.
All links retrieved August 4, 2018.
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