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The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (Groussherzogtum Lëtzebuerg) is a very small- about 1,000 square miles- and entirely land-locked country in Western Europe. Less than half a million people live there.
History was not kind to it: it stands at the border of the French and the Teutonic worlds. This is a sucky place to be. Just ask Belgium. French, German, and the local Letzeburgisch (a bit Dutch, a bit German, mostly Letzeburgisch) are all spoken less on the grounds of "ethnicity" than by everyone at different times and situations.
Luxembourg was part of the Holy Roman Empire, then Napoleon's Empire, and finally the Kingdom of the Netherlands (and simultaneously the lame-duck German Confederation). When Belgium left the Netherlands, Luxembourg stayed, but now it was stranded and it integrated its economy with that of Germany. Nevertheless, it was a poor country and many people headed for America.
Then Bismarck took over in Germany, and his Germany was anything but lame-duck. He had no interest in allowing the Dutch king to participipate and he kicked Luxembourg out, The French offered to buy it up and the Dutch said yes. Bismarck said no, demanding a neutral and independant country (so the French couldn't invade Germany that way). Four years later, France learned that you don't cross a Magnificent Bastard.
Forty years later, Luxembourg learned once again that being where it is sucks when Germany invaded (and had they not, the French, documents show, would have done so instead). But Luxembourg got off better than Belgium: their comically miniscule army was captured without loss of life by the Germans before war against Germany could be declared and so the Germans legitimised their position in Luxembourg by claiming that absolutely nothing had happened and allowing civilian independant government to continue. Luxembourg was to be asked to join Germany (at gunpoint) after German victory. Thankfully for Luxembourg, this was not to be.
The Nazis weren't so civil. Luckily, they lost too. Since then, Luxembourg has been independent and very, very, rich: France and Germany having sorted their thing out, it's actually a real nice place to be. It was a founder member of the European Union and uses the euro as its currency.
Luxembourg is a constitutional monarchy: the Grand Duke is currently Henri I. The Prime Minister is currently Jean-Claude Juncker.
Ever since the emergence of parties in 1918, Luxembourg has been governed by coalitions (except for a period between 1921-1925), making it one of the most stable democracies. The CSV (Christian Social People's Party) and its predecessor the PD (Party of the Right) probably deserve some sort of record for being in charge between 1918-1925, 1926-1974 (during which the PD became the CSV) and 1979-present. Prime Ministers tend to have quite long mandates, like the most recent Pierre Werner (1959-1974 and 1979-1984), Jacques Santer (1984-1995) and Jean-Claude Juncker (since 1995).
It has no navy (the no coast thing is a bit of a problem) and an army of c.450 people. Its air force consists of 17 AWACS planes, three trainers and a cargo plane, all bar the last NATO aircraft registered with the country for convenience purposes. That said, it does do peacekeeping a fair bit (when you're surrounded by allies, you don't need to worry too much about keeping troops at home).
Low taxes on alcohol, wink-wink nudge-nudge.
Radio Luxembourg (RTL- Radio Television Luxembourg- for non-English listeners)
One of the most famous things from the country is a long-wave radio station called Radio Luxembourg.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Radio Luxembourg was the only English-language non-BBC radio station (not counting the Radio Caroline pirate stations) that could be picked up in the UK, even then only at night.
Quite a few famous British disk jockeys pre-recorded shows in London, which were then transmitted from Luxembourg.
British people could listen to adverts and pop music, both of which The BBC didn't play (the latter until Radio 1 was created in 1967).
The parent company, RTL Group, today owns UK TV channel Five and two production companies (Freemantle Media and Talkback Thames), as well as several other European networks, these often using the RTL name.
Luxembourg and Luxembourgers in fiction
- MASH, oddly enough, features an episode with a missing Luxembourger. Luxembourg participated in The Korean War, with two deaths and two injuries.
- In Resistance: Retribution, Luxembourg is the home of the Maquis and one of the few the free countries in Europe. Predictably, it is attacked and destroyed by the Chimera halfway through the game.
the luxembourger flag
- ↑ Highest GDP per capita in the world, around 108,000 USD, comparing with US's 47,000 USD. Cost of living is a bit high, so by purchasing power, it's actually second (after Qatar), around 80,000 USD (still ridiculously high).