Last updated on August 26th, 2019
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
Flag of Luxembourg
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
14. The country’s banking secrecy laws have made it a tax haven but recent reforms are increasing transparency.
15. Luxembourg is ranked by the Heritage Foundation as Europe’s first and the world’s fourth ranked country for economic freedom.
16. Skype has its headquarters in Luxembourg. Paypal, Amazon, Rovie Corporation and Rakuten all have their European headquarters there.
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.
18. Luxembourg is also is one of the founder nation-members of the Western European Union, the United Nations, the Benelux, and NATO.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
30. More Luxembourgers turn out to vote than any other citizens of other European countries. Ninety-one percent voted in recent elections.
Continue reading on the next page…