Luxembourg, officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, is a landlocked country in western Europe. It is one of the most civilized countries in the world. With these 50 interesting facts about Luxembourg, let’s learn more about its: history, culture, people, economy, flag, cuisine, traditions; and some random facts.
Facts about Luxembourg’s History
Fact 1. Some of Charlemagne’s most important battles occurred in Luxembourg’s Ardennes forest. The Song of Roland describes a nightmare set in the Ardennes the emperor had on the eve of the Battle of Roncevaux Pass in 778.
Fact 2. The first towered fortification, the Bock, built in what would eventually become Luxembourg City was constructed on the rocky cliffs above the River Alzette and offered a natural fortification. Built in 963 by the Count Siegfried it was a castle as well. Over the ensuing centuries it has been attacked, rebuilt and reinforced multiple times as the armies of the Habsburgs, Spain, Burgundy, France and Prussia all vied for control of one of the most strategic strongholds in Europe. It is known as Bockfiels in Luxembourgish.
Fact 3. From 1310 to 1437 the House of Luxembourg (its Counts, who were later Dukes), were also Kings of Bohemia (what is now the modern Czech Republic). Three of its members were also elected Holy Roman Emperor: Henry VII, Charles IV, and Sigismund. Sigismund was also king of Hungary from 1387.
Fact 4. The daughter of Sigismund, Elizabeth of Luxembourg, wed Habsburg’s Albert II, who succeeded Sigismund as not only Holy Roman Emperor but King of Hungary and Bohemia as well. From then until the 1806 dissolution of the Empire, the Habsburgs provided all the Holy Roman Emperors. The foundation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, therefore, was achieved through the marriage of Albert II to Elisabeth of the House of Luxembourg in 1422. They also ruled as Dukes of Luxemburg for 307 years.
Fact 5. Thanks to the defenses of the Bock, Luxembourg City held out against a 1794 seven month siege by the French during that country’s Revolutionary Wars. Its walls were still unbreached when the garrison finally did surrender. That led the French to respectfully call it “the Gibraltar of the North”.
Fact 6. The Congress of Vienna declared Luxembourg to be a Grand Duchy in 1815 and gave it to the Netherlands. Belgium gained more than half its physical territory in 1839 but Luxembourg gained more autonomy over its own affairs. The country became fully independent in 1867.
Fact 7. The Treaty of London in 1867 ended the fights over the sovereignty of Luxembourg. (The country has such a strategic location it is known as “the heart of Europe”.) It fortifications were to be desolated as a condition of the Treaty. Today the castle ruins and its underground galleries and passages are Luxembourg’s major tourist attraction. Le Bock today is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Fact 8. The Ardennes is a region of steep-sided valleys carved by beautiful rivers and covered in dense forests. Its strategic position made it a battleground over the centuries between European powers and nations seeking to control its position and resources.
Fact 9. During the World Wars, the Ardennes was thought to be impenetrable for military traffic and troops and therefore was not well defended. Germany took a gamble and safely used the area as an invasion route into France during World War I. The Battle of the Ardennes was the result in August 1914 during World War I.
Fact 10. Germany successfully gambled again during World War II they could move troops and machines successfully through this almost-undefended area, so they used it twice as a route into Southern Belgium and Northern France. Many of the region’s towns suffered great damage during the Battle of France (1940) and the Battle of the Bulge (1944-45).
Facts about Luxembourg’s Economy
Fact 11. Luxembourg offers Europe’s highest minimum legal salary; second in the world only to Australia. This means workers are paid a minimum of Є 1,923 monthly. It also has one of the highest costs of living as well. The Luxembourg people have lots of opportunities to enjoy their money and their free time; the country offers a truly affluent European lifestyle. And their average unemployment rate has been the lowest in Europe for over 40 years.
Fact 12. Almost half of the country’s workforce lives in another country and commutes to work in Luxembourg. They come from France, Belgium and Germany. Luxembourg residents benefit from the fact that its government spends a third of its revenue on universal health care and social services for their people.
Fact 13. One of the world’s major business and financial centers, Luxembourg is home to over 150 banks including the European Investment Bank. These banks draw many investments from major companies in other countries, including the United States.
Fact 14. The country’s banking secrecy laws have made it a tax haven but recent reforms are increasing transparency.
Fact 15. Luxembourg is ranked by the Heritage Foundation as Europe’s first and the world’s fourth ranked country for economic freedom.
Fact 16. Skype has its headquarters in Luxembourg. Paypal, Amazon, Rovie Corporation and Rakuten all have their European headquarters there.
Fact 17. Luxembourg founded the European Union to create a politically stronger Europe. The highest court in the EU in matters of union law with its 28 justices, one for each member state, is located in Luxembourg.
Fact 18. Luxembourg is also is one of the founder nation-members of the Western European Union, the United Nations, the Benelux, and NATO.
Fact 19. With 54 television channels and 29 radio stations offered worldwide, Radio Television Luxembourg (RTL) Group is the largest television, production and radio company in Europe.
Fact 20. With 647 cars purchased per 1,000 people, Luxembourg has the highest rate of car ownership in the entire world. What is the top selling brand? Volkswagen is purchased most often.
Luxembourg’s Cultural facts
Fact 21. Over half of the permanent residents of Luxembourg are natives and just under half of them are foreign born. There are about 170 different nationalities calling Luxembourg home, the majority of the immigrants are Portuguese (over 15 percent). The country also has very small Jewish and Romani (Gypsy) populations.
Fact 22. Luxembourg’s population is generally tri-lingual. The national language, Luxembourgish, is taught in nursery school and spoken at home and among natives. In fact, the major symbol of social class divisions is which language is understood and spoken in the home. German is the first new language taught at school and French and English are taught in secondary school. All three are spoken in public and French, German and English used doing business.
Fact 23. The country’s motto is ‘Mir wëlle bleiwe, war mir sin’ (“We want to remain what we are.”) This refers to the wish to remain independent after the centuries of battles with other countries over their autonomy.
Fact 24. Prime Minister Xavier Bettel was the first leader of a country in the EU to marry someone of the same sex when he married Gauthier Destenay in 2015. (Luxembourg approved same-sex marriage the previous year with the support of 83 percent of the population,)The country is secular with no national religion although 87 percent of the people are practicing Roman Catholics.
Fact 25. The country is divided into four geographical and cultural regions. (Oesling is the northernmost one third portion (and eastern part of the Ardennes forest if the country. The Ardennes mountain range and Moselle and Meuse River basins form the Ardennes forest. The mid-country Moselle river valley hillsides are covered with Riesling vineyards in terraces. The Gutland (“Good Land”) is in the south. This is where the more metropolitan areas are and around 85 percent of the population lives.
Fact 26. Specialties in Luxembourg’s cuisine include thuringer (small sausages), gromper keeschelche (potato pancakes), quetsche tort (plum tart), friture de la Moselle (petite river fish that are deep-fried), kach keis (soft melted cheese), jugged hare, Ardennes ham, and Judd matt Gaardebou’nen (smoked collar of pork with broad beans with Diekirch beer).
Fact 27. The cuisine is heavily influenced by French and German cuisine, with more recent influences from their Italian and Portuguese immigrants. Special dishes are eaten on Sunday afternoons, religious and national holidays.
Fact 28. Bouneschlupp is Luxembourg’s national dish and is a medley of green bean soup with potatoes, bacon and onions. Plum brandies from yellow and purple plums are another specialty of the country.
Fact 29. Luxembourg is a Grand Duchy ruled by a Grand Duke and its Parliament, the only one in the world. Their monarch’s birthday is the most important and largest single celebration annually. Once celebrated on late Grand Duchess Charlotte’s actual birthday in the month of January, it was changed in 1962 to the month of June to gain good weather for the event. The current Grand Duke is Henri.
Fact 30. More Luxembourgers turn out to vote than any other citizens of other European countries. Ninety one percent voted in recent elections.
Luxembourg Facts for Kids
Fact 31. There are 17 kilometers (over ten and a half miles) of underground tunnels under The Bock that are cut through solid rock beneath Luxembourg City. First started in 1644, they were used as air raid shelters during World Wars I and II. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, they are open to the public.
Fact 32. The Eurovision Song Contest, is the longest-running international TV song competition held annually, has been won by Luxembourg five times. Only Ireland has won the event more times. ABBA and Celine Dion launched international careers after winning this same contest.
Fact 33. Luxembourg is a little smaller than the state of Rhode Island, making it one of the tiniest countries in the world.
Fact 34. When eating out with others in Luxembourg, table manners are formal and you must have good ones at all times. First, remain standing until you are invited to sit down. The table manners are Continental: you hold your knife in your right hand and your fork in your left when eating. Do not rest your elbows on the table at any time. You begin to eat when your hostess does. Almost all foods are eaten using utensils, including sandwiches. Clean your plate and then show you are finished eating by laying your knife and fork together on the parallel across the right side of your plate.
Fact 35. Luxembougers honor Saint Willibrord every Whit Tuesday in the city of Echertnach by forming a traditional procession which performs synchronized hopping in costume around the city to the music of a polka marching band. The event holds UNESCO World Heritage status.
Fact 36. The Mullerthal region of the country is known as Little Switzerland for its cliffs, waterfall, castle ruins, villages, and forest-covered mountains, making it resemble Switzerland.
Fact 37. Luxembourg’s flag has three horizontal stripes: a red, then white, then blue (on the bottom). Almost identical to the flag of the Netherlands, the blue color is just a slight bit different (ultramarine instead of sky blue). Why? Luxembourg and the Netherlands had the same monarch in the nineteenth century when it was created.
Fact 38. The national bird is the Goldcrest, known as “the king of the birds” in European folklore. The national animal is the lion, also known as “the king of beasts”.
Fact 39. Schiessentumpel is a three-part waterfall in the heart of beautiful Little Switzerland on the Black Ernz River that tourists and locals both love to visit.
Fact 40. The Hohllay Cave, also known as The Hollow Cave, is covered inside with strange markings you might think were made by elves. They are really just old mining scars. Also in Little Switzerland, this natural amphitheater holds concerts when weather permits. It is also a popular hiking destination.
Random Facts about Luxembourg
Fact 41. Assisted suicide and euthanasia is legal in Luxembourg.
Fact 42. According to a survey conducted by the United Nations, you are least likely to be shot there than anywhere in the world. Luxembourg is one of the world’s safest countries and has only two jails.
Fact 43. Visit Restaurant Chiggeri in Luxembourg’s capital city and you can order wine from the world’s largest wine list. It offers more than 2,200 choices.
Fact 44. Good manners dictate you must always take gifts along if invited to someone’s Luxembourg home, usually good chocolates or flowers for the hostess. But always give flowers in odd numbers (but never 13), and don’t give chrysanthemums as they are given at funerals.
Fact 45. The Grund is a beautifully picturesque neighborhood deep in a gorge with some stone houses built right into the face of the rock. It features a 15th-century bridge, fort, vineyards, restaurants and pubs, a mini golf course and a miniature train with acres and acres of parklands. It is well worth the visit.
Fact 46. Luxembourg has seven national parks: two are diverse nature parks, two are humid zones, two are nature reserves, and one is a protected area.
Fact 47. Le Chemin de La Corniche is a pedestrian walkway built along the tops of the ramparts on the eastern side of the fortress-city of Le Chemin. Its nickname is “Europe’s most beautiful balcony”.
Fact 48. The 1916 park laid out around Colpach Castle, Colpach Park, houses sculptures from various important 19th century artists including Maillol, Kolbe, and Bourdelle. It was originally the private park of a steel baron.
Fact 49. Ansembourg Castle, in the Valley of the Seven Castles, is home to French terraced gardens with botanical collections, fruit-bearing trees, and exotic plants well-known throughout Europe.
Fact 50. Good manners are important to and demonstrated by the Luxembourg people. Being blunt is considered rude behaviors and punctuality is taken very seriously. If you are late, you are seen as unreliable and should offer an explanation and an apology.
Luxembourg has culture, cuisine, beauty, natural wonders, and history to explore and enjoy. Do share your thoughts about this beautiful country in the comments section below.
Luxembourg facts – country at a glance
|Capital City||Luxembourg City
|Largest City||Luxembourg City
|Total area||2,586 sq km|
|Independence||1839 (from the Netherlands)
|National anthem tune|
|National anthem||"Ons Heemecht" (Our Motherland); "De Wilhelmus" (The William)|
|National symbols||lion; national colors: red, white, light blue
|Borders||Belgium, Germany and France|
|Currency||Euro (€)b (EUR)|
|Religion||Roman Catholicism and other|
|Life expectancy||80.26 years (2016)
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
|Terrain||grassy plains and wooded hills east of Rio Paraguay; Gran Chaco region west of Rio Paraguay mostly low, marshy plain near the river, and dry forest and thorny scrub elsewhere|
|Natural resources||iron ore (no longer exploited), arable land|
|Government type||constitutional monarchy|
|Industries||banking and financial services, construction, real estate services, iron, metals, and steel, information technology, telecommunications, cargo transportation and logistics, chemicals, engineering, tires, glass, aluminum, tourism, biotechnology
|Exports||$20.9 billion (2015 est.)
machinery and equipment, steel products, chemicals, rubber products, glass
|Imports||$21.9 billion (2015 est.)
commercial aircraft, minerals, chemicals, metals, foodstuffs, luxury consumer goods
|GDP - per capita (PPP)||$99,000 (2015 est.)|
|Birth rate||11.37 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)|
|Death rate||7.24 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)|
|Sex ratio||1.01 male(s)/female (2015 est.)|
|Internet country code||.lu|
percent of population: 97.3% (July 2015 est.)
|Time Zone||CET (UTC+1)
Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
|Drives on the||Right|