luxembourg flag red white blue

Country of the Week: Luxembourg

In Countries by Continental StaffLeave a Comment

This week we’ve reached the end of the eurozone road, with a visit to one of the smaller European states. In our return to the Low Countries, we welcome you to Luxembourg!

  • Capital of Luxembourg: Luxembourg City
  • Biggest City in Luxembourg: Luxembourg City
  • Population of Luxembourg (2015): 576,200 (166th)
  • Total Area of Luxembourg: 2,586.4 km² (168th)
  • Official Languages of Luxembourg: Luxembourgish, German, French
  • Currency of Luxembourg: Euro (€) (EUR)

luxembourg view building

History of Luxembourg

The beginnings of Luxembourg can be traced back to a solitary castle from which Luxembourg City grew. For much of the late Middle Ages, Luxembourg was a country beholden to the Holy Roman Empire – albeit one ruled by a powerful house. Through the early modern age of Europe, Luxembourg grew in power and wealth thanks to the ruling nobility.

Luxembourg in the 1800’s

After the final defeat of Napoleon in 1815, Luxembourg was eyed by both the Netherlands and Prussia. A treaty was reached, though only a couple decades later (in 1839) this was amended to essentially grant the small country independence. As the region industrialized rapidly, Luxembourg found itself torn at by powerful neighbours, with ownership of the eponymous fortress changing hands multiple times. The Franco-Prussian War in 1870 resulted in Prussian dominance of the region – specifically through control of the all-important railroad.

The World Wars in Luxembourg

Like Belgium, Luxembourg’s neutrality was violated at the beginning of World War I by the German invasion. Though the country remained independent in many ways, it was occupied for the duration of the war. The same thing happened once again in WWII, though this time the country lost most of its powers of self-determination and was completely annexed by Germany. Following the end of the war, Luxembourg quickly jumped on the diplomatic bandwagon – being a founding member of the UN in 1945 and NATO just four years later.

Modern Luxembourg

Following this, Luxembourg was also quick to join the predecessor to the EU, the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 and the EU itself when it formed in 1993. Today, though small, it holds an incredibly important place in the regional body. As the seat of the European Court of Justice, Luxembourg City is considered one of the EU’s three ‘capitals’.

vineyard luxembourg field country rural

Culture of Luxembourg

Luxembourg’s culture has predominantly been dominated by its much larger neighbours (both the other Low Countries as well as France and Germany). Despite this, the small nation has made many great contributions to the arts and cultural scene through music, painting, and more, all of which can be seen in the country’s notable museums. The rural nature of the country throughout its history has also contributed to the people’s way of life and perceptions.

Food in Luxembourg

French and German influences (especially the latter) are the most evident in the cuisine of Luxembourg. While largely similar to its neighbors, the country has recently mixed in some more Mediterranean styles thanks to immigrants from Portugal and Italy.

Sports in Luxembourg

There is no one clear dominant sport in Luxembourg. Athletics, cycling, and tennis are popular for solo athletes, while soccer and cricket are both widely played. Despite this, soccer remains the most popular, however the national team is considered one of the world’s weaker squads (despite a strong showing at the 1964 Euros).

luxembourg city river bridge

Geography of Luxembourg

Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in Europe. It is landlocked and borders Belgium, France, and Germany. It’s considered a member of the Low Countries – coastal or near coastal areas that are generally below sea level – like Belgium and the Netherlands. Luxembourg itself can be divided between Gutland in the south (a largely flat region which covers more than half of the country) and Oesling in the north, which is hillier.

Cities in Luxembourg

The capital, Luxembourg City, is by far the biggest population centre in the country (numbering just over 115,000). Luxembourg Castle dominates proceedings – appropriate considering it is responsible for the city’s existence in the first place. Despite its small size, Luxembourg City remains an important centre of European diplomacy and governance.

luxembourg statue gold remembrance World War I

Facts about Luxembourg

  • Luxembourg is the EU’s least populous country
  • The country is considered a tax haven
  • It has the lowest unemployment rate in Europe
  • The country is the world’s only Grand Duchy
  • If you give flowers to someone, make sure it is an odd number (though not 13!)
  • The University of Luxembourg is the country’s only university
  • The motto ‘Mir wëlle bleiwe wat mir sinn’ is translated as ‘We want to remain what we are’

palace luxembourg water fountain pond

Last Word

Despite its size, there’s quite a lot more to learn about Luxembourg. Check back as we see what exactly there is to see and do in the Grand Duchy later this week!

Stay tuned to the Current for our Country of the Week. We’ll explore the familiar and the foreign, plus uncover some hidden gems (see them all HERE). Be sure to check out our Currency Spotlight for more information on the euro.

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