Country profile: Luxembourg
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg - a small country landlocked by Belgium, France and Germany - is a prominent banking centre and tax haven.
With roots stretching back to the 10th century, Luxembourg's history is closely intertwined with that of its more powerful neighbours, especially Germany.
Many of its inhabitants are trilingual in French, German and Luxembourgish - a dialect of German.
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg with a population of only 435,700 is bordered by Belgium on the north and west, Germany on the east, and France on the south. It has an area of 2,586 sq km (998 sq mi). Until the EU expansion of May 1 2004, Luxembourg was the smallest member country in the European Union (now Malta is the smallest EU member country).
Luxembourg is often divided in two parts: the northern plateau land called Ö?sling and the southern Gutland. Ö?sling is part of the Ardennes , a rolling high plateau from the Devonian, dissected by narrow valleys. Gutland is built up of sedimentary rocks from the Triassic and Jurassic. Climate is sub-maritime in the north and somewhat more continental in the south. About a third of the country is forested, originally mainly oak and beech forest, now to a considerable degree replaced by spruce plantations.
Luxembourg is one of the world's most industrialised countries and has the highest standard of living in the EU. The GNP per capita is among the highest in the world, USD 66 727 in 2005. The Economy is based on the steel industry and on banking.
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. The center of Luxembourg is Luxembourg city and there are a number of other beautiful small cities and villages to visit. Really worth a visit is Echternach and Vianden. All places can be easily visited in a day from the capital or neighbouring Trier.
Despite declaring its neutrality, Luxembourg was occupied by Germany during both World Wars. Attempts to escape German influence initially led to an economic union with Belgium in 1921.
After renewed occupation in World War II, Luxembourg abandoned its neutrality and became a front-rank enthusiast for international co-operation.
Luxembourg became a founder member of a customs union with Belgium and the Netherlands in 1948, and of the European Economic Community, a forerunner of the European Union, in 1957. Around one-third of Luxembourg's population are foreigners.
Luxembourg's prosperity was formerly based on steel manufacturing. With the decline of that industry, Luxembourg diversified and is now best known for its status as a tax haven and banking centre.
But Luxembourg's strict laws on banking secrecy mean the system can be exploited for the purposes of tax evasion and fraud.
Luxembourg's politics are characterised by stability and long-serving administrations.
- Full name: Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
- Population: 467,000 (UN, 2007)
- Capital: Luxembourg Area: 2,586 sq km (999 sq miles)
- Major languages: French, German, Luxembourgish
- Major religion: Christianity
- Life expectancy: 76 years (men), 82 years (women) (UN)
- Monetary unit: 1 Euro = 100 cents
- Main exports: Steel products, chemicals, rubber products
- GNI per capita: US $65,630 (World Bank, 2006)
- Internet domain: .lu
- International dialling code: +352
Head of state: Grand Duke Henri
Prime minister: Jean-Claude Juncker
Jean-Claude Juncker, of the conservative Christian Social Party, has been prime minister since 1995 when his predecessor, Jacques Santer, became president of the European Commission.
He carries on as premier in coalition with the Socialist Workers Party following general elections in June 2004. For the five years before that his party had formed a coalition government with the Democratic Party.
Jean-Claude Juncker was born in 1954 and is a lawyer by training.
Luxembourg exerts immense media clout and has a long tradition of operating radio and TV services for pan-European audiences, including those in France, Germany and the UK.
The Luxembourg-based media group RTL is behind much of this activity. RTL's radio stations have been a part of the broadcasting landscape in France and Germany for decades.
Generations of British listeners grew up with Radio Luxembourg, which beamed pop music programmes into the UK on the legendary "208" wavelength. "The Great 208" is no more, but RTL's TV and radio stations remain key players in media markets across Europe.
Luxembourg's media empire extends to the skies. The country is home to Europe's largest satellite operator, Societe Europeenne des Satellites (SES), which operates the Astra satellite fleet.
RTL and other privately-owned radio and TV stations broadcast to domestic audiences. The constitution guarantees freedom of speech and of the press. Print media are privately owned and reflect diverse viewpoints.
- Letzebuerger Journa
- Luxemburger Wort
- 352 - English-language weekly
- RTL Tele Letzebuerg - RTL's domestic network
- Nordliicht TV - station for northern Luxembourg