Official names1 Groussherzogtum Lëtzebuerg (Luxembourgish); Grand-Duché de Luxembourg (French); Grossherzogtum Luxemburg (German) (Grand Duchy of Luxembourg)
Form of government constitutional monarchy with one legislative house (Chamber of Deputies )2
Head of state Grand Duke: Henri
Head of government Prime Minister: Xavier Bettel
Official languages See footnote 1.
Official religion none
Monetary unit euro (€)
Population (2013 est.) 546,000COLLAPSE
Total area (sq mi) 999
Total area (sq km) 2,586
- Urban: (2011) 85.5%
- Rural: (2011) 14.5%
Life expectancy at birth
- Male: (2011) 77.9 years
- Female: (2011) 82.8 years
Literacy: percentage of population age 15 and over literate
- Male: (2010) 100%
- Female: (2010) 100%
GNI per capita (U.S.$) (2012) 76,960
Background of Luxembourg
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. In January 2013, Luxembourg assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2013-14 term.
Luxembourg, country in northwestern 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. 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.
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 neighbours. In the 20th century Luxembourg became a founding member of several international economic organizations. Perhaps most importantly, the grand duchy was an original member of the Benelux Economic Union (1944), which linked its economic life with that of the Netherlands and of Belgium and would subsequently form the core of the European Economic Community (EEC; ultimately succeeded by the European Union).
Geography of Luxembourg
Relief and soils
The northern third of Luxembourg, known as the Oesling (Ösling), comprises a corner of the Ardennes Mountains, which lie mainly in southern Belgium. It is a plateau that averages 1,500 feet (450 metres) in elevation and is composed of schists and sandstones. 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”). This region has a more-varied topography and an average elevation of 800 feet (about 245 metres). The Bon Pays is much more densely populated than the Oesling and contains the capital city, Luxembourg, as well as smaller industrial cities such as Esch-sur-Alzette. In the centre 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.
In the east-central part of the Bon Pays lies a great beech forest, the Müllerthal, as well as a sandstone area featuring an attractive ruiniform topography. The country’s eastern border with Germany is formed (successively from north to south) by the Our, Sûre, and Moselle rivers. The slopes of the Moselle River valley, carved in chalk and calcareous clay, are covered with vineyards and receive a substantial amount of sunshine, which has earned the area the name “Little Riviera.” Besides vineyards, the fertile soils of the Moselle and lower Sûre valleys also support rich pasturelands. Luxembourg’s former iron mines are located in the extreme southwest, along the duchy’s border with France.
Luxembourg has a mild climate with considerable precipitation. The north is slightly colder and more humid than the south. 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.
Demography of Luxembourg
- Ethnic groups, languages, and religion
Luxembourg has been one of the historic crossroads of Europe, and myriad peoples have left their bloodlines as well as their cultural imprints on the grand duchy. The Celts, the Belgic peoples known as the Treveri, the Ligurians and Romans from Italy, and especially the Franks were most influential. The language spoken by Luxembourg’s native inhabitants is Luxembourgish, or Lëtzebuergesch, a Moselle-Franconian dialect of German that has been enriched by many French words and phrases. Luxembourgish is the national language; German and French are both languages of administration. There is a strong sense of national identity among Luxembourgers despite the prevalence of foreign influences. The great majority of Luxembourg’s native citizens are Roman Catholic, with a small number of Protestants (mainly Lutherans), Jews, and Muslims.
Luxembourg has a high proportion of foreigners living within its borders. This is chiefly the result of an extremely low birth rate among native Luxembourgers, which has led to a chronic labour shortage. About two-fifths of the total population is of foreign birth and consists mainly of Portuguese, French, Italians, Belgians, and Germans. Among the foreign workers are many in the iron and steel industry, and numerous others work in foreign firms and international organizations located in the capital.
- Settlement patterns
Northern Luxembourg is sparsely populated compared with the heavily urbanized and industrialized south. The north’s rural population is clustered in villages of thick-set stone houses with slate roofs. The urban network in the south is dominated by the capital city, Luxembourg, which rises in tiers, with the upper (and older) section of the city separated from the lower-lying suburbs by the gorges of the Alzette and Petrusse rivers. A newer quarter housing many European organizations nestles in a picturesque site carved into the river valley’s sandstone cliffs. The second largest city in Luxembourg, Esch-sur-Alzette, lies in the extreme southwest and is a traditional iron- and steel-making centre. Its growth, like that of the neighbouring iron and steel centres of Pétange, Differdange, and Dudelange, has slowed since the shrinkage of those industries in western Europe in the late 20th century. The remainder of the country’s population lives in towns and villages of relatively small size. Many of Luxembourg’s villages date from ancient Celtic and Roman times or originated in Germanic and Frankish villages after about 400 ce. In addition, many medieval castle villages continue to thrive, centuries after the castles themselves fell into ruin.
Demographic trends The 20th century witnessed a continual internal migration away from the countryside to urban areas, and the growth of Luxembourg’s service sector at the expense of heavy industry has only accelerated this trend. Luxembourg city in particular continues to attract migrants from the rest of the country because of its vibrant banking and finance sector. The increasing concentration of the population in the southwest has led the government to try to locate some industries in rural areas. About three-fourths of Luxembourg’s workforce is engaged in trade, government, and other service occupations, while about one-fifth of the workforce is employed in industry and construction, and the small remainder works in agriculture and other pursuits.
Economy of Luxembourg
Luxembourg’s economy is notable for its close connections with the rest of Europe, since Luxembourg itself is too small to create a self-sustaining internal market. Luxembourg’s prosperity was originally based on the iron and steel industry, which in the 1960s represented as much as 80 percent of the total value of exports. By the late 20th century, however, the country’s economic vigour stemmed chiefly from its involvement in international banking and financial services and in such noncommercial activities as hosting intra-European political activities. In the 21st century, information technology and electronic commerce also became important components of Luxembourg’s economy. The result of the country’s adaptability and cosmopolitanism is a very high standard of living; the Luxembourgers rank among the world’s leaders in standard of living and per capita income.
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. Livestock and their by-products account for the bulk of agricultural production, cattle raising having gained in importance at the expense of pig and sheep raising. Wheat, barley, and other cereal grains are the next most important products, followed by root vegetables. 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.
- Resources and power
Luxembourg’s natural resources are far from abundant. In addition to its agriculture not being particularly prosperous, its once copious iron ore deposits had been exhausted by the 1980s. With the exception of water and timber, there are no energy resources. 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 meets most of its energy needs with imports. Its only domestic source of power is the hydroelectricity obtained from several dams on its rivers, which meets about one-fifth of the country’s energy needs. Nuclear power constitutes a negligible portion of the country’s power.
- Manufacturing and trade
The production and export of iron and steel have long played major roles in Luxembourg’s economy. Steel production was originally based on exploitation of the iron ore deposits extending from Lorraine into the southwestern corner of the grand duchy. This ore has a high phosphorus content, however, and it was not until the introduction of the basic Bessemer process in 1879 that the ore could be used for making steel. Thereafter, Luxembourg’s metallurgical industries grew and flourished. During the 1970s, however, the worldwide demand for steel slumped, causing the steel industry’s portion of Luxembourg’s gross domestic product to fall. In response to this crisis, the government took measures aimed at helping the steel industry increase efficiency and maintain profitability. By the late 1970s ARBED (Aciéries Réunies de Burbach-Eich-Dudelange) SA was Luxembourg’s only remaining steelmaker. In 2001 ARBED merged with the Spanish company Aceralia and the French company Usinor to form Arcelor, which subsequently joined Mittal to create ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel company at the time of its formation in 2006. Since the end of the 20th century, Luxembourg’s economy has been increasingly dependent on foreign-owned factories and other multinational companies operating in the country. These factories primarily produce motor-vehicle tires, chemicals, and fabricated metals.
By the late 20th century Luxembourg had become an important international financial centre, and in the early 21st century it remained home to scores of banks, most of which were foreign-owned. Those banks operated in a climate of general secrecy permitted by the country’s banking laws, which had come under criticism from some other countries. Luxembourg owes its prominent position in the world of finance to a number of other factors, perhaps chief of which is the government’s own farsighted policies. In 1929 the government began to encourage the registering in Luxembourg of holding companies; those large corporations can control a number of subsidiary companies but are heavily taxed in many countries of the world. The liberal tax climate produced by the new policy led many industrial and financial corporations to maintain offices, often as their European headquarters, in Luxembourg city.
Luxembourg city is also one of the capitals of the European Union (EU) and, as such, is home to the European Court of Justice; the European Investment Bank, which enjoys decision-making independence within the EU’s institutional system; and several major EU administrative offices. Most of the grand duchy’s merchandise trade takes place with EU countries, especially with its three neighbours—Germany, Belgium, and France, which together receive about 60 percent of Luxembourg’s exports and provide about 80 percent of its imports.
Luxembourg’s internal road system is not extensive but is well maintained, and several highways link the country with its neighbours. A port at Mertert on the canalized Moselle River connects the grand duchy with the Rhine waterway system and provides it with an avenue for the international movement of goods. The government has operated the nation’s railroads since World War II. They are modern, electrified, and mostly double-tracked. A major portion of international transportation to and from Luxembourg is by train, and the country is connected with its neighbours by a large number of lines. Findel Airport outside Luxembourg city has become a major European air terminal served by the lines of many countries. Luxair is the national airline.
Luxembourg’s advanced telecommunications system provides it with close links both to EU countries and to other financial partners around the world, including Japan and the United States. The government operates the postal service in Luxembourg. RTL (Radio-Television-Luxembourg) Group SA, a privately owned broadcasting company that has radio and television outlets in a number of European countries, is also a satellite operator with a plethora of channels that reach as far as Great Britain and Scandinavia. RTL is arguably Europe’s most important private radio and television broadcaster.
Government and Society of Luxembourg
Luxembourg has a parliamentary form of government with a constitutional monarchy by inheritance. Under the constitution of 1868, as amended, executive power is exercised by the Grand Duke and the Council of Government (cabinet), which includes the prime minister, who serves as head of government. The prime minister is the leader of the political party or coalition of parties having the most seats in parliament, known as the Chamber of Deputies.
Legislative power is vested in the Chamber of Deputies, the members of which are elected directly to 5-year terms. A second body, the "Conseil d'État" (Council of State), composed of 21 ordinary citizens appointed by the Grand Duke, advises the Chamber of Deputies in the drafting of legislation. The Council’s opinions have no binding effect, and the responsibilities of its members are in addition to their normal professional duties.
Luxembourg law is a composite of local practice, legal tradition, and French, Belgian, and German systems. The apex of the judicial system is the Superior Court, whose judges are appointed by the Grand Duke.
Principal Government Officials Head of State--Grand Duke Henri Prime Minister, Minister of Finance--Jean-Claude Juncker (CSV) Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs--Jean Asselborn (LSAP) Minister of Justice, Minister of Treasury and Budget--Luc Frieden (CSV) Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade--Jeannot Krecké (LSAP) Minister of Defense--Jean-Louis Schiltz (CSV) Minister of Interior--Jean-Marie Halsdorf (CSV) Ambassador to the United States--Joseph Weyland Ambassador to the United Nations--Jean-Marc Hoscheit
The Embassy of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in the United States is located at 2200 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-265-4171) www.luxembourg-usa.org.
Consulates of Luxembourg are located in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle.
- POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Luxembourg’s political system has a strong local focus. National politicians very often begin their careers and establish their base serving as mayors, and members of the Chamber of Deputies are elected from one of four regions. The political culture favors consensus, and the parties coexist within the context of broad agreement on key issues, including the value of deep European integration.
Since the end of World War II the Christian Social Union (CSV) has been part of the governing coalitions and usually the dominant party. The only exception was from 1974-1979 when the CSV was in opposition to a governing coalition led by the Democratic Party (DP). The CSV resembles Christian democratic parties in other west European countries and enjoys broad popular support. Its leader, Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, in power since 1995, is the longest serving head of government in the European Union.
The Socialist Party (LSAP) is a center-left party similar to most social democratic parties in Europe. Initially founded by a worker’s movement and a main defender of universal suffrage in 1919, the LSAP defends state intervention in the economy and the sustainability of the welfare system. Part of the government from 1984 to 1999, it lost its junior coalition status to the Democratic Party but regained it in the 2004 elections. While in the opposition, the LSAP voiced opposition to U.S. action in Iraq.
The Democratic Party (DP) is a center-right party, drawing support from civil servants, the professions, and urban middle class. Like other west European liberal parties, it advocates both social legislation and minimum government involvement in the economy. It also is strongly pro-NATO. In the opposition from 1984 to 1999, the DP overcame the LSAP to claim the role of junior partner in the government from 1999-2004. It is currently again in the opposition. The Green Party has received growing support since it was officially formed in 1983. It opposes both nuclear weapons and nuclear power and supports environmental and ecological preservation measures. This party generally opposes Luxembourg's military policies, but it has shown some openness to peacekeeping missions.
National elections are held at least every five years and municipal elections every six years. In the June 2004 parliamentary elections the CSV won 24 seats, the LSAP 14, the DP 10, the Greens 7, and the ADR 5. The ADR (Alternative Democratic Reform Party) when elected was known as the Action Committee for Democracy and Pension Rights. It now has only four members in the parliament after one member recently left the party and declared himself an independent.
Culture Life of Luxembourg
The major cultural institution of Luxembourg is the Grand Ducal Institute, which has sections devoted to history, science, medicine, languages and folklore, arts and literature, and moral and political sciences. It functions as an active promoter of the arts, humanities, and general culture rather than as a conservator. The Luxembourg National Museum (formally the National Museum of History and Art) surveys fine arts and industrial arts as well as the history of Luxembourg. Other prominent museums include the Villa Vauban–Museum of the Art of the City of Luxembourg, MUDAM Luxembourg (Grand Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art), the Museum of the History of the City of Luxembourg, and the National Museum of Natural History. There is considerable public use of the National Library, the National Archives, and the Music Conservatory of the City of Luxembourg. The grand duchy also maintains cultural agreements with several European and other nations that provide it with the finest in the musical and theatrical arts. The Philharmonic Orchestra of Luxembourg (which was known as the Grand Orchestra of Radiotelevision Luxembourg before it came under government administration in 1996) is considered outstanding. There is an extensive market in Luxembourg city for works of painting and sculpture, both traditional and modern. The grand duchy’s architectural heritage extends through practically the entire span of Europe’s recorded history, from ancient Gallo-Roman villas to medieval castles, Gothic and Baroque churches, and contemporary buildings.
A small publishing industry exists, printing literary works in French, German, and Luxembourgish. The grand duchy’s newspapers express diverse political points of view—conservative, liberal, socialist, and communist. Luxembourg’s influence is felt far beyond its borders through the medium of the RTL (Radio-Television-Luxembourg) Group. The group’s early English-language radio service, Radio Luxembourg, played an important role in the history of rock music when it operated as Europe’s premier broadcaster of rhythm and blues and early rock and roll from the United States in the 1950s.
History of Luxembourg
Through the Nineteenth Century
The county of Luxembourg (originally Lützelburg), extending between the Meuse and Moselle rivers and including the Luxembourg province of Belgium, was one of the largest fiefs in the Holy Roman Empire. John of Luxemburg, king of Bohemia and father of Emperor Charles IV, made Luxembourg a duchy in 1354. The elder line of the house continued in Bohemia and other parts of the Roman empire, with Emperors Wenceslaus and Sigismund; the younger line, descended from Charles's brother, Duke Wenceslaus, continued in Luxembourg. (The French noble family of Luxembourg was descended in collateral line from an early count of Luxembourg.)
In 1443, Philip the Good of Burgundy seized the duchy, and in 1451, he was confirmed in possession by the estates of Luxembourg. Luxembourg passed in 1482 to the house of Hapsburg following the death of Mary of Burgundy. For the ensuing three centuries it shared the history of the S Netherlands (see Netherlands, Austrian and Spanish), passing from Spanish to Austrian rule in 1714. The southern part of the duchy, including Montmédy, Thionville, and Longwy, was ceded to France in the Peace of the Pyrenees (1659). In 1684, Louis XIV of France seized Luxembourg, but he was obliged to restore it to Spain by the Treaty of Ryswick (1697). Occupied by the French during the French Revolutionary Wars, the duchy was formally ceded to France by the Treaty of Campo Formio (1797).
The Congress of Vienna (1814–15) officially made Luxembourg a grand duchy, in personal union through the sovereign with the Netherlands. At the same time, Luxembourg became a member of the German Confederation, and the fortress in the capital was garrisoned by Prussian troops. When in 1830 the Belgians rebelled against William I of the Netherlands, Luxembourg shared in the revolt. Belgium, on gaining independence, claimed the entire grand duchy; it eventually obtained (1839) the major part (i.e., the present Belgian Luxembourg prov.). The remainder, continuing in personal union with the Netherlands as well as a member of the German Confederation, became autonomous and was granted a constitution in 1848.
When the German Confederation was dissolved in 1866, William III of the Netherlands agreed to sell the grand duchy to France, nearly provoking war between France and Prussia. At the London Conference of 1867 the European powers declared Luxembourg a neutral territory; its fortress was dismantled and the Prussian garrison withdrawn. William III died (1890) without a male heir; his daughter Wilhelmina succeeded him in the Netherlands, but Duke Adolf of Nassau, from a collateral line, became grand duke of Luxembourg.
- The Twentieth Century
Grand Duke Adolf was followed in 1905 by William IV and in 1912 by Marie Adelaide. In 1914, Germany violated the neutrality of the grand duchy and occupied it for the duration of World War I. Grand Duchess Marie Adelaide abdicated in 1919 in favor of her sister, Charlotte, who married Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma.
Germany again invaded (May, 1940) neutral Luxembourg in World War II. The grand duchess and her cabinet fled abroad, and a government in exile was established in London. Allied troops liberated Luxembourg in Sept., 1944. Luxembourg entered the United Nations (1946) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949, and it received Marshall Plan aid.
A constitutional revision (1948) abolished the perpetual neutrality of the grand duchy, a status that in practice had ended with the introduction of compulsory military service (1944–67). In 1958, Luxembourg joined with Belgium and the Netherlands to establish the Benelux Economic Union and became a founding member of the European Economic Community (now the European Union). In 1961, Prince Jean, son and heir of Grand Duchess Charlotte, was made his mother's representative as head of state; she formally abdicated in 1964, and Prince Jean became grand duke.
In 1995 Jean-Claude Juncker of the Social Christian People's party became premier; he succeeded Jacques Santer, who became head of the European Union's European Commission. Juncker resigned in 2013 and new elections were called after a misconduct scandal involving Luxembourg's secret service; Juncker was responsible for the agency's oversight. A recent problem in Luxembourg has been the increasing number of aging citizens and a lack of population growth, both of which affect the economy and have led to a dependence on foreign workers. Grand Duke Jean abdicated in favor of his eldest son, Prince Henri, in Oct., 2000. Constitutional changes in 2008 ended the monarch's power to approve Luxembourg's laws.
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...>>>Read On<<<
Luxembourg Area: 2,586 sq km (999 sq mi) Population (2005 est.): 457,000 Capital: Luxembourg Chief of state: Grand Duke Henri Head of government: Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker Luxembourg ...>>>Read On<<<
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