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The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, a constitutional monarchy, is an independent sovereign state, tucked between Belgium , France and Germany . The country is 84 km (51.7 miles) long and 52 km (32 miles) wide, encompassing an area of 2586 square kilometres (999 square miles) with a population of 459 500 inhabitants (official estimate Jan 1, 2006).

The country is divided into two clearly defined REGIONS:

The "Eisléck" or 'Oesling' in the north, which is part of the Ardennes, on the western rim of the Eifel , and covers one-third of the territory. It is a wooded country of great scenic beauty. Highest point: 555 metres (1823 feet).
The 'Good country' in the centre and the south, covering the remainder of the territory, is mainly rolling farmland and woods. Average height: 270 metres (900 feet). Culminating point 426 metres (1400 feet). It is bordered in the east by the wine-producing valley of the Moselle, and in the extreme south west by a narrow strip of red earth which forms the Luxembourg iron-ore basin.
Economy

It was the discovery of the iron ore around 1850 which marked the turning point for Luxembourg and meant its economic take-off. An important steel industry came into being in the south-western corner of the country, drawing tens of thousands of foreign workers into the ore mines and steel factories, and bringing prosperity to the whole country.

The steel exports constitute one quarter of the value of the Luxembourg export trade. The Arcelor group alone (previously known as ARBED), produces 90% of the whole Luxembourg steel output. In spite of severe labour-shedding during the eighties, Arcelor remains the largest private employer in the country. Arcelor is the number one steel company in the world with a turnover of 32.6 billion euros in 2005. The company holds leadership positions in its main markets: automotive, construction, household appliances and packaging as well as general industry. In 2006, Arcelor employs 110,000 associates in over 60 countries.

Since the end of World War II, great efforts have been made to bring diversity into the former monolithic industry. Aluminium, glass, cement, tyres, magnetic tapes and computer manufacturers have established plants, dams have been built in Esch-sur-Sûre and Rosport; Vianden houses Europe's second largest pumping station producing peak hydro-electricity; the ASTRA satellites are controlled from Luxembourg.
Tax rebates, help in obtaining credits, and a host of other incentives are offered to companies intending to set up plant in the Grand Duchy. However, despite these continuing efforts, Luxembourg 's industrial labour is dropping in numbers, marking a slide into the service sector.

Luxembourg plays a major role as a prominent international financial centre . Numerous banks and important investment trusts have settled in the capital, as the fiscal legislation, which dates back to 1929, favours Banks and Holding Companies.
Luxembourg as an international centre numbers more than 14000 domiciled Holding Companies , some 8500 investment funds and 220 banks which represent the greatest banking concentration in the European Union.

In parallel with the growth of private banking, which year on year emerges as the core activity for Luxembourg 's banks, the development of other sectors, such as Investment Fund Promotion and Services, as well as Life Insurance are reinforcing Luxembourg 's claim to be Europe 's premier centre for all forms of Personal Investment business.

Its economic structure and its geographical position have necessarily led Luxembourg into a close co-operation with other countries, and particularly with Belgium since 1921, and with Belgium and the Netherlands since the second World War, with the creation of BENELUX, an economic Union which was the first step towards the present larger European Union.

Population & Languages

Of the country's 459 500 inhabitants (official estimate 2006) , some 90,000 live in Luxembourg-city and its immediate surroundings. The number of foreign residents in Luxembourg has already exceeded 32 % of the population. It is the highest proportion of foreigners of any EU country.

' Lëtzebuergesch ' is the everyday spoken language of the people, and the symbol of the Luxembourgers national identity. Since the creation of a dictionary and a grammar, this former Mosel-Frankish dialect is now recognised as the national language (since 1984), while both French and German remain the official languages.
Both German and French culture meet in Luxembourg . Franco-German bilinguism, without any language differences, is a typical aspect of the country's social structure. If both German and French are used in the press, in political and in religious life, French is nevertheless the official language of the administration, jurisdiction, parliament, education, and of some literary circles. Public offices though are held to answer -wherever possible- in the language they are addressed in.
This peculiar language situation is a direct result of the size of the country, and its historic associations with both France and Germany . When going abroad -which after all, is not very far- the Luxembourgers have to speak other languages, simply because their own is not understood elsewhere.

 

Country Information

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