Luxembourg

                                      Officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

Location, size and extent

A landlocked country in Western Europe, Luxembourg has an area of 2,586 sq km (998 sq mi), with a length of 82 km (51 mi) North–South and a width of 57 km (35 mi) East–West. Comparatively, the area occupied by Luxembourg is slightly smaller than the state of Rhode Island. The eastern boundary with Germany is formed by the Our, Sûre (Sauer), and Moselle rivers. Luxembourg is bordered on the South by France and on the West and North by Belgium, with total border length of 359 km (223 mi).

Capital

Luxembourg's capital city, Luxembourg, is located in the south central part of the country.

Population

The population of Luxembourg in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 457,000, which placed it at number 163 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 14% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 19% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 97 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 2005–10 was expected to be 0.4%, a rate the government viewed as too low. The projected population for the year 2025 was 544,000. The population density was 176 per sq km (457 per sq mi).

The UN estimated that 91% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 1.42%. The capital city, Luxembourg, had a population of 77,000 in that year. The chief industrial city is Esch-sur-Alzette, with a population of 28,000. Other urban areas and their estimated populations include Differdange, 19,005; Dudelange, 17,000; and Schifflange, 8,084.

Monetary Unit

The Luxembourg franc was replaced by the euro as official currency as of 2002. The euro is divided into 100 cents. There are coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents and 1 euro and 2 euros. There are notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 euros. €1 euro = $1.25475 (or $1 = €0.79697) as of 2005.

Languages

  • Luxembourgian, or Letzeburgesch, the original dialect of the country.
  • French
  • Germany

National Holidays

  • New Year's Day: 1 January
  • Labor Day: 1 May
  • Public celebration of the Grand Duke's Birthday: 23 June
  • Assumption: 15 August
  • All Saints' Day: 1 November
  • Christmas: 25–26 December.
  • Movable religious holidays include: Shrove Monday, Easter Monday, Ascension, and Pentecost Monday.

History

The land now known as Luxembourg fell under the successive domination of the Celts, the Romans, and the Riparian Franks before its founding as the County of Luxembourg in 963 by Sigefroid, count of the Ardennes, who reconstructed a small ruined fortress called Lucilinburhuc (Little Burg) on the site of the present capital. The area tripled in size during the reign of Countess Ermesinde (1196–1247). John, count of Luxembourg (r. 1309–46) and king of Bohemia, became the national hero; although blind for many years, the inveterate knight-errant laid the foundations for a powerful dynasty before he fell in the Battle of Crécy, in northern France, during the Hundred Years' War. His son Charles (1316–78) was the second of four Luxembourg princes to become Holy Roman emperor. He made Luxembourg a duchy, but under his successors the country was ruined financially.

Luxembourg came under Burgundian rule in 1443 and remained in foreign hands for more than 400 years.

The country was occupied by German troops in World War I. In 1919, Grand Duchess Charlotte succeeded to the throne, and on 28 September 1919, in a referendum held to decide the country's future, a plurality supported her. In 1921, Luxembourg formed an economic union with Brussels.

The Germans again invaded the country in May 1940, but the grand ducal family and most members of the government escaped to safety. Under the Nazi occupation, the people suffered severely, particularly when their revolt in 1942 protesting compulsory service in the German army was savagely repressed. Luxembourg was liberated by Allied forces in September 1944.

In April 1963, Luxembourg celebrated its 1,000th anniversary as an independent state.

Geography

The country is divided into two distinct geographic regions: the rugged uplands (Oesling) of the Ardennes in the north, where the average elevation is 450 m (1,476 ft) with the highest point, Buurgplaatz, at 559 m (1,834 ft); and the fertile southern lowlands, called Bon Pays (Good Land), with an average altitude of 250 m (820 ft).

The entire area is crisscrossed by deep valleys, with most rivers draining eastward into the Sûre, which in turn flows into the Moselle on the eastern border. The northern region, comprising one-third of the country, is forested and has poor soil.

Weather

Luxembourg's climate is temperate and mild. Summers are generally cool, with a mean temperature of about 17°c (63°f); winters are seldom severe, average temperature being about 0°c (32°f). The high peaks of the Ardennes in the north shelter the country from rigorous north winds, and the prevailing northwesterly winds have a cooling effect. Rainfall is plentiful in the extreme southwest; precipitation throughout the country averages about 75 cm (30 in) annually.

Major Cities

Luxembourg

Esch-Alzette

Dudelange

Schifflange

Bettembourg

Belvaux

Points of interest-Tourism

Grand Ducal Palace

The Grand-Ducal Palace, in the historic centre of the city of Luxembourg, and is the official residence of the Grand Duke. Although the grand-ducal families actually reside at Berg Castle, the Grand-Ducal Palace is the seat of the Court and is where the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess spend their working day. It is also the venue for state ceremonies and official receptions

The Moselle Valley

The Moselle Valley is famous for Luxembourg’s vineyard and winery region. The gentle slopes on both sides of the Moselle River are covered in vineyards. A tour of the region will let you view the wineries and how the wines are made. In the southeast, the River Moselle flows through the green valleys of Luxembourg’s main wine-producing region.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre-Dame Cathedral is a tourist attraction in luxembourg which is the Roman Catholic cathedral of Luxembourg City. It was originally a Jesuit church, and its cornerstone was laid in 1613 and 1621. This magnificent Gothic cathedral houses the royal family vault and the large sarchophagus of John the Blind as a well as a notable treasury.

Transportation

By car

Luxembourg's road infrastructure is well-developed.

Current national speed limits are 50km/h in towns and villages, 90km/h on open country roads, and 130km/h on the motorway (110km/h in the rain).

Parking in Luxembourg City can be tricky on weekends. For this reason,Luxembourg City offers a "Parking Guidance System" which displays the availability of parking spaces per car park on signs throughout the city.

Public transport

The central railway station’s mobility helpdesk and website (Mobilitéitszentral) will help to plan trips by bus or train. They can be reached easily by phone (+352 2465 2465).

The same tickets are valid on trains as buses and the same rates apply: 1.50€ for two hours (unlimited transfers) or 4€ for one day. A monthly ticket can be purchased for the price of 40€ at some newsstands, in the postal office or at any train station office.

Some train and bus lines experience a reduced service on Saturdays and Sundays.

  • By train

Trains in Luxembourg are run by the national railroad company CFL. Trains generally run on time, they are modern and comfortable and fares are relatively cheap, which makes travelling by train an option worth considering.

While the south of the country is well covered by the CFL train network, the north is limited to one main line which runs from Luxembourg City via Mersch, Ettelbrück, Wilwerwiltz and Clervaux to Troisvierges. The line continues north into Belgium towards Liège. Diekirch has a branch line to Ettelbrück, and Wiltz has a branch line to Kautenbach. There is also a line to the east that crosses into Germany over the Moselle River at Wasserbillig and ends in Trier.

From an aesthetic point of view, perhaps the best way to approach Luxembourg City is by train from the north via Line 10, as this is a beautiful scenic route through valleys of the Ardennes.

  • By bus

Within Luxembourg City, the comprehensive bus service is reliable and efficient. Buses numbered 1-25 serve Luxembourg City, with Line 16 going from the city centre to the Airport via Kirchberg. Almost all buses pass the central bus station Hamilius, located close to the city centre, and the railway station (Luxembourg Gare) in their routes. Bus tickets (which are also valid on trains) are available from the driver. A standard ticket costs 1.50€ and will be valid on any bus or train for up to 2 hours after its purchase.

The overland bus service is also extensive. Every village has a number of bus stops which are served at least once every hour during weekdays. On weekends andbank holidays, service may be reduced. Buses numbered 100 and upwards will take you out of the city.

Some local authorities have started their own initatives, which include night buses, linking the villages to the City of Luxembourg during weekend nights, and buses on call, which stop anywhere. Fares for these may be a little bit higher than for the regular service.

By bike

The streets and countryside in Luxembourg make for good cycling territory. Expect to be charmed by the variety and quality of 575 km of cycling paths across the country.

Many places in the Grand-Duchy offer bike rental.

By taxi

Taxis in Luxembourg are rather expensive. The standard fare is 1.02€ per kilometer, but expect to pay a 10% surcharge at night and a 25% surcharge on a Sunday. Asking a taxi to wait for you will cost about 0.33€ per minute.

Taxis can be booked by telephone or hired from designated stops outside public buildings, such as train stations, and in the city centre.

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