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Luxembourg

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The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (also Luxemburg) is a landlocked state in the north-west of the continental European Union, bordered by France, Germany and Belgium.

Grand-Duché de Luxembourg
Großherzogtum Luxemburg
Groussherzogtum (Grand-Duché) Lëtzebuerg
Flag of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg Coat of Arms of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
(In Detail)
National motto: Mir wëlle bleiwe wat mir sinn
(Luxembourgish, We wish to stay what we are [Meaning: we wish to stay independent])
image:LocationLuxembourg.png
Official languages French, German, Luxembourgish
Capital Luxembourg
Grand DukeGrand Duke Henri
Prime ministerJean-Claude Juncker
Area
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 166th
2,586 km²
Negligible
Population
 - Total
 - Density
Ranked 168th
442,972
171/km²
GDP (2003)
 - Total 
 - Total
 - GDP\capita
 - GDP\capita
Ranked 98th, 62nd1st1st
22 billion USD (PPP)
26 billion USD (Nominal)
48,900 USD (PPP)
66,279 USD (Nominal)
Sovereignty 1815
Independence
 - Declared
 - Recognised

1839
May 11, 1867
Currency Euro(€)¹,
see Lux. euro coins
Time zone
 - in summer
CET (UTC+1)
CEST (UTC+2)
National anthem Ons Heemecht
Internet TLD.lu
Calling Code352
(1) Prior to 1999: Luxembourg franc
Contents

History

Main article: History of Luxembourg

The recorded history of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg begins with the construction of Luxembourg Castle in the middle ages. Legend has it that a Count named Sigfrid constructed a small fort on land given to him by the Abbey of Trier in 963 AD. Around this fort a town gradually developed, which became the centre of a small but important state of great strategic value to France, Germany and the Netherlands. Luxembourg'Bourbons" title ="Bourbons">Bourbons, Habsburgs and Prussians, which made it one of the strongest fortresses on the European continent. The Luxembourgian dynasty provided several German Emperors, Kings of Bohemia, as well as Archbishops of Trier and Mainz. From the Early Middle Ages to the Renaissance, Luxembourg bore multiple names, depending on the author. These include: Lucilinburhuc, Lutzburg, Lützelburg, Luccelemburc, Lichtburg, etc.

The Congress of Vienna gave formal autonomy to Luxembourg in 1815, but its fortress was to be taken over by Prussian forces, following Napoleon'Zollverein" title ="Zollverein">Zollverein, a Prussian-dominated free trading zone. It is from those times that the Luxembourgers still call the Germans informally "Preisen" (Prussians). Luxembourg eventually became an independent and neutral nation in the 1839, but it was not until 1867 that the independence was formally ratified, after a period of unrest which even included a brief time of civil unrest against plans to annex Luxembourg to Belgium, Germany or France. Famous visitors to Luxembourg in the 18th and 19th centuries included the German lyric Goethe, the French writers Emile Zola and Victor Hugo, the composer Franz Liszt, and the English painter Joseph Mallord William Turner.

The country was repeatedly attacked by Germany in the twentieth century. German troops invaded Luxembourg in 1914, but the government and the Grandduchess Marie-Adelaide were allowed to remain in office throughout the occupation, which brought it the accusation of collaboration by France. Through the intervention of the United States, Luxembourg was not annexed to Belgium in 1918, as France had wanted. After a 3-day period as a Soviet Socialist Republic in 1919, which was quickly abolished by French troops, Luxembourg reverted to being a parliamentary monarchy. In the 1930's the internal situation deteriorated, as Luxembourgian politics was influenced by European left- and right-wing politics. The government tried to counter Communist led unrest in the industrial areas and continued a friendly politics towards Nazi Germany, which led to much critique. The attempts to quell unrest peaked into the Maulkorbgesetz, the "muzzle" Law, aimed at censoring the press. The law failed to get through Parliament. A second German invasion on 10 May 1940 swept away the government and monarchy, most of whom went into exile in London, from which the Grandduchess Charlotte broadcast regularly to Luxembourg to give hope to the people. Measures to quell any Luxembourgian feelings 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 Luxembourgians resorted to 'digging out'Deportation" title ="Deportation">deportation, forced labour, forced conscription and, more drastically, internment, deportation to concentration camps and execution. The latter measure was applied after a general strike from the 1 September to the 3 September 1942, which paralyzed the administration, agriculture, industry and education as response to the declaration of forced conscription by the German administration on 30 August 1942. The then civilian commander of Luxembourg, Gauleiter Gustav Simon had declared conscription necessary to support the German war effort. It was to remain one of only two mass strikes against German war machinery in the West of Europe.

The liberation by US troops in September 1944 restored Luxembourgian sovereignty. It was briefly endangered during the Battle of the Bulge, otherwise known as the Ardennes Offensive or the Rundstedt Offensive, which had German troops take back most of the North of Luxembourg for a few weeks before the Allies' final push into Germany. Even today some areas are still mined and closed for the public. Hikers are advised to stay out of marked areas, as these areas still contain unstable explosives.

After World War II Luxembourg abandoned its politics of neutrality, when it became a founding member of NATO, the United Nations and the European Economic Community (later the European Union). It is a signatory of the Treaty of Rome, and constituted a monetary union with Belgium, and an economic union with Belgium and The Netherlands, the so-called BeNeLux treaty.

Furthermore, Luxembourg has been one of the strongest avocates of the European Union in the tradition of Robert Schuman. In 1995 it was given the honour to provide the President of the European Commission, former Prime Minister Jacques Santer. The current Prime Minister, Jean-Claude Juncker follows the European tradition. On September 10, 2004 Mr Juncker became the semi-permanent President of the group of finance ministers from the 12 countries that share the euro, a role dubbed "Mr Euro".

Politics

Main article: Politics of Luxembourg

Luxembourg has a parliamentary form of government with a constitutional monarchy by inheritance. Under the constitution of 1868, executive power is exercised by the Grand Duke and the cabinet, which consists of a prime minister and several other ministers.

Legislative power is vested in the Chamber of Deputies, elected directly to 5-year terms. A second body, the "Conseil d'Etat" (Council of State), composed of 21 ordinary citizens appointed by the Grand Duke, advises the Chamber of Deputies in the drafting of legislation.

Districts

Main article: Districts of Luxembourg

Luxembourg is divided in to three administrative subdivisions, or districts:

Geography

Main article: Geography of Luxembourg

Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in Europe. It is ranked 166th in size of all the countries of the world. The country is about 2,586 km². This makes it approximately the same size as many counties in the United States.

The north of the country, part of the Ardennes, has hills and low mountains, with the Buurgplaz as the highest point at 559 m. The rest of the country is also hilly.

Luxembourg'Moselle" title ="Moselle">Moselle, the Sûre and the Our.

The capital Luxembourg is the largest city of the country. Other important cities are Esch-sur-Alzette (a.k.a. Esch), to the south-west of the capital, and Echternach, against the German border in the east.

Economy

Main article: Economy of Luxembourg

The stable, high-income economy features moderate growth, low inflation, and low unemployment. The industrial sector, until recently dominated by steel, has become increasingly more diversified to include chemicals, rubber, and other products. During the past decades, growth in the financial sector has more than compensated for the decline in steel. Services, especially banking, account for a growing proportion of the economy. Agriculture is based on small family-owned farms. Luxembourg has especially close trade and financial ties to Belgium and the Netherlands, and as a member of the EU, enjoys the advantages of the open European market. Luxembourg posseses the highest GDP per capita in the world.

Map of Luxembourg

Demographics

Main article: Demographics of Luxembourg

As a small country, much of the population of Luxembourg originates from neighbouring countries, and there are three languages spoken. Besides French (spoken in neighbouring Belgium and France) and German (Germany), Luxembourgish is spoken. There are sizeable minorities of Portuguese and Italian speakers.

Most Luxembourgers adhere to the Roman Catholic faith.

Culture

Main article: Culture of Luxembourg

The language of Luxembourg is Luxembourgish, a blend of old German and Frankish elements. The official language of the civil service, law, and parliament is French, although criminal and legal debates are conducted partly in Luxembourgish and police case files are recorded in German. German is the primary language of the press. French, German and English are taught in the schools, with German spoken mainly at the primary level; French and English at the secondary level.


Public service information is in French, German, and sometimes English or Portuguese, since roughly 10% of the population is Portuguese. There have been debates in parliament about making Portuguese a fourth official language.

Miscellaneous topics

External links




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Dependencies: Faroe Islands | Gibraltar | Guernsey | Jan Mayen | Jersey | Isle of Man | Svalbard


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