Front view of the Palais Grand-Ducal, Luxembourg City

Luxembourg, The Grand Duchy - in a Nutshell

Author: Sue
Date: 5th June 2020

A (Very Brief) History of Luxembourg

  • Luxembourg is named after a Saxon fortress, Lucilinburhuc (‘little fortress’) built by Sigefroid, Count of the Ardennes, in 963 AD. Luxembourg's fortress, located on a rocky outcrop known as the Bock, was steadily enlarged and strengthened over the years by successive owners. Some of these included the Bourbons, Habsburgs and Hohenzollerns, who made it one of the strongest fortresses on the European continent, the Fortress of Luxembourg. Its formidable defences and strategic location caused it to become known as the ‘Gibraltar of the North’. Around the fort of Luxembourg, a town gradually developed, which became the centre of a small but important state of great strategic value to France, Germany and the Netherlands and the land was ruled for the following five centuries by the powerful House of Luxembourg. After its extinction, in 1437 (there was no male heir) and a brief period of Burgundian rule, the country passed to the Habsburgs in 1477.
  •  Over the next 400 years various European nations have controlled this small country. Luxembourg was briefly a part of the Southern Netherlands, which passed to the Austrian line of the Habsburg dynasty in 1713. After occupation by Revolutionary France, the 1815 Treaty of Paris transformed Luxembourg into a Grand Duchy. It became an independent sovereign state in 1867, despite ongoing territorial claims by its neighbours and it remained in union with the Netherlands, who still tried to sell it at one point. It was also reduced in size.
  • Since the end of the Second World War, Luxembourg has become one of the world's richest countries, buoyed by a booming financial services sector, political stability, and European integration.

Facts and Factoids

  • Luxembourg is the only Grand Duchy in the world. Though the Grand Duke is actually known as the Crown Prince.
  • Luxembourg is about the same size as Dorset and is the least populated of all the EU countries.
  • Just under half of the permanent residents in Luxembourg are foreign and nearly half of Luxembourg’s workforce commutes to work in Luxembourg from another country.
  • The national language of Luxembourg is Lëtzebeurgesch or Luxembourgish (a Franconian dialect of High German).
  • Luxembourg’s motto is ‘mir wëllebleiwewatmirsinn’ which means ‘we want to remain what we are’.
  • As well as The Gibraltar of the North and the Grand Duchy, Luxembourg is also known as The Green Heart of Europe. Though Slovenia also lays claim to that title.
  • Luxembourg's flag is very similar tot hat of the Netherlands, except it's lightly longer and they use a different shade of blue. I'm told). Sometimes, it's also used the other way up.
  • Luxembourg has the highest rate of car ownership in the world.
  • There's also a province in Belgium called Luxembourg - don't mix them up.

Is Luxembourg a Safe Country to Visit?

  • According to a UN survey, you have less chance of being shot in Luxembourg than in any other country in the world. There are around 1,300 police and just two jails in Luxembourg.

Is Luxembourg a Poor Country?

  • Luxembourg is arguably the richest country in the world ranked by its GDP (gross domestic product) per capita.
  • Luxembourg has the highest minimum wage in the EU.

Is Luxembourg in the EU?

Luxembourg has been one of the strongest advocates of the European Union. It was one of the six founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1952 and of the European Economic Community (EEC) (later the European Union) in 1957; in 1999 it joined the euro currency area.

What is There to See and Do in Luxembourg?

Forests cover more than a third of the country - just over half of them have private owners. There are forest-covered hills, sandstone cliffs with impressive rock formations, the Schiessentümpel waterfall, tiny villages and the ruined castles of Beaufort and Larochette.

See what I did: Luxembourg - The Gibraltar of the North

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