| ||INFORMATION STATION|
|Facts at a Glance|
| ||Full country name: Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (Luxemburg, Letzeburg)|
Area: 2586 sq km (999 sq mi)
Capital city: Luxembourg City (pop 90,000)
People: 70% nationals (Celtic stock, with French and German), 30% resident foreigners (mostly Belgian, French, German, Italian and Portuguese)
Language: Luxembourgish (Letzeburgesch), French, German
Religion: 97% Roman Catholic
Government: Constitutional monarchy
President: Grand Duke Henri
Prime Minister: Jean-Claude Juncker
In the northwest reaches of the heart of Europe, just southeast of Belgium and wedged between France and Germany, tiny Luxembourg is almost lost among the local big boys. Only 82km (51mi) long and 58km (36mi) wide, Luxembourg is slightly smaller than the US state of Rhode Island and not much larger than metropolitan London. Still, its borders encompass 2586 sq km (999 sq mi) of varied landscapes, from forested highlands in the north to rolling farmland and world-class vineyards in the south.
The capital, Luxembourg City, is centered in southern Luxembourg, 294km (183mi) east of Paris, 190km (118mi) southeast of Brussels and 176km (110mi) west of Frankfurt. Northeast of the capital, the Müllerthal region is Luxembourg's 'Little Switzerland', an area of predictable charm and renowned (if only nationally) recreational possibilities. Just east of the capital is Luxembourg's portion of the Moselle Valley, known for its vineyards. The northern third of the country - famous as part of the Ardennes plateau, the scene of the 1944-45 Battle of the Bulge - is called the Eisléck or Oesling and is composed mainly of densely forested highlands, peppered with medieval castles like Esch-sur-Sûre and Bourscheid. The southern two thirds of the nation - known collectively as Gutland, or the 'Good Country' - is dedicated mostly to farming and viticulture and is covered in rolling hills and patches of forest. At its southernmost end, a narrow swath of red soil belies the country's once vast iron ore deposits and aging steel industry in what's known as the Minette, or the 'Land of the Red Earth'.
The highest point in the country is in the Eisléck region, but at 555m (1823ft) it's nothing to plan your trip around. Nearer to the capital, the hills average around 270m (900ft). The four most important rivers are the Alzette, the Moselle, the Our and the Sûre, but there are many lesser streams and channels too. The Moselle was canalised in 1964 and links the Grand Duchy to larger European waterways.
In a country this small, it's no wonder the climate doesn't vary much from one end to the other. The surprise is that it doesn't vary much between seasons either. Luxembourg enjoys mild temperatures most of the year, with warm summers and cool winters, slipping down to the low chillies only between November and February and very rarely dipping below freezing. The sunniest period is from May to August, when temperatures average around 20°C (68°F) during the day and 10°C (50°F) at night. April and September tend to be sunny as well. The Ardennes often have snow all winter, when the sun shines only a few hours per day. Rainfall is spread out pretty evenly throughout the year, averaging one good showering every three days.
| ||GDP: US$14 billion|
GDP per head: US$32,700
Annual growth: 3%
Major industries: Iron and steel, plastic and rubber, chemicals, mechanical and electrical equipment
Major trading partners: EU (esp. Belgium, France, Germany, UK, Netherlands)
Member of EU: yes
Euro zone participant: yes
|Facts for the Traveler|
| ||Visas: Citizens of many countries - including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the USA and virtually all of Western Europe - require only a passport to enter Luxembourg for stays of up to 3 months.|
Health risks: none
Time: GMT/UTC plus 1 hour
Electricity: 220V, 50Hz
Weights & measures: Metric
|Money & Costs|
| ||Currency:euro (EUR), formerly Luxembourg franc (f or flux)|
Budget: US$5-7Mid-range: US$7-20Top-end: US$20+
Budget: US$25-35Mid-range: US$35-60Top-end: US$60+
Though Luxembourg is not Western Europe's cheapest destination, a shoestring traveller should be able to eke by on about US$30 a day. Travelling in comfort, sleeping in mid-range places and letting your belly get the better of your budget, you could easily bump your total to more than twice that. Double it again if you want luxury.
The Luxembourg franc is pegged to Belgium's, and although the latter is commonly exchanged in both countries, the reverse does not hold true. To avoid a walletful of Luxembourgian mementos, exchange your change before you leave. Banks are best for changing money, and all major credit cards are widely accepted.
Note that a 15% value-added tax (abbreviated in French as TVA) is slapped on just about everything except for hotel, restaurant and campground prices, which are taxed at a much gentler 3%. Tipping is not obligatory, and haggling is considered downright rude.
|When to Go|
Springtime, the choicest time of year to visit, brings a riot of wildflowers and ushers in celebrations and folk festivals nationwide. The weather from spring through fall is usually good for outdoors activities - so long as you don't mind rain. Winter is not as extreme in Luxembourg as it can be in nearby countries, so if you find yourself visiting during the colder months, you needn't weigh yourself down with polar gear.
|Powered by |