Luxembourg is a small country in western Europe. It shares borders with Germany, France and Belgium. The capital city is also called Luxembourg. The country has been a member of the European Union since the organization was founded in 1957. It uses the Euro as its currency. Its population is just over half a million people but it is an important financial centre.
Luxembourg has a long history but its independence dates from 1839. Present-day parts of Belgium were part of Luxembourg in the past but became Belgian after the 1830s Belgian Revolution. Luxembourg has always tried to remain a neutral country but it was occupied in both World War I and World War II by Germany. In 1957 Luxembourg became a founding member of the organization which is today known as the European Union.
The country is only 2,586 square kilometres which makes it one of the smallest countries in the world. The geography of the country is dominated by low hills and mountains. The highest mountain is Kneiff at 560 metres.
The vast majority of the population live in the southern part of the country in the area of the capital. Northern areas are sparsely populated and largely covered by forests and hills. Luxembourg is considered to be one of the cleanest and least-polluted countries in the world (4th out of 132 countries in some studies).
People from Luxembourg are known as Luxembourgers and natives are a mixture of French, German and Celtic origins. There are large numbers of people in the country with Belgian, Italian, Bosnian and Serbian backgrounds.
The languages of the country are French, German, and Luxembourgish. There are large numbers of Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Christians, Jews and Muslims in Luxembourg. Luxembourg is the richest country in the world (when measured per population). The average Luxembourger earns about $90,000 per year.
Food and drink in the country are influenced by the location so typically German food. However, in recent years there has been a lot of immigration from former Yugoslavia, Italy and Spain so the cuisine is very mixed.
The rural areas near the German border are popular with German tourists and the capital city, Luxembourg, is a popular weekend-break destination and also an important place for business meetings. Almost 1 million people visit Luxembourg for tourism every year.
Other popular sites include the City of Luxembourg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; Vianden, a very picturesque town with an 11th century castle and Echternach which is 1300 years old and the oldest town in Luxembourg.
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