Luxembourg is no longer the smallest member of the European Union – that honour goes to Malta – but at just under 2,600km2 and with close to 494,000 inhabitants, the Grand Duchy has always managed to punch above its weight, using geographical location and demographic advantages to establish and maintain a level of importance far greater than its size would suggest.
Bordered by France, Germany and Belgium, and at the crossroads of many major trade routes through Europe, Luxembourg’s population has always displayed a dexterous approach to culture and language. The vast majority of native Luxembourgers are fluent in French, German and English, and many of the second or third generation of immigrants have an additional language to their bow with either Italian or Portuguese. But Luxembourgers have also retained their own language, which is continually promoted as an important symbol of cultural identity.
The historic capital city itself dates back to the 10th century and is built on the remains of a fortress. It is now a truly a cosmopolitan city with over half of its population consisting of non-Luxembourgers. Luxembourg is the only city to have twice reigned as European Capital of Culture, and the legacy of those two programmes, as well as efforts by national and local governments and private entrepreneurs, has created a thriving cultural scene with a host of impressive and internationally acknowledged venues and events. Luxembourg can also boast some of the finest restaurants in Europe, and the capital city has a dynamic and international nightlife scene.
Links with the German, French and Belgian motorway networks ring the capital city and provides easy access to the rest of Europe. The airport, with a new state-of the-art terminal, is just a ten-minute drive from the city centre and serves all major European destinations, while the city's main railway station is now linked to France’s TGV high-speed rail network.
The country is also rich in natural beauty. Charming farmhouses, villages and châteaux dot the landscape, while vines cover the gentle slopes along the Moselle valley in the East and forests and lakes can be found in the rugged hills of “little Switzerland” and the Ardennes to the North.