(redirected from Country Luxembourg)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.


, grand duchy, W Europe

Luxembourg (lŭkˈsəmbûrg, Fr. lüksäNbo͞orˈ) or Luxemburg (lŭkˈsəmbûrg, Ger. lo͝okˈsəmbo͝orkh), officially Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, grand duchy (2015 est. pop. 567,000), 998 sq mi (2,586 sq km), W Europe. Roughly triangular, it borders on Belgium in the west and north, Germany in the east, and France in the south. The city of Luxembourg is the capital and largest city.

Land and People

Luxembourg is drained by the Sûre (Sauer) and Alzette rivers, both tributaries of the Moselle (Mosel), which forms part of its eastern border. The Ardennes Mts. extend into N Luxembourg. The southwestern section is part of the Luxembourg-Lorraine iron-mining basin, once one of the most productive iron and steel manufacturing regions in the world; Esch-sur-Alzette is its main center. The people are an amalgam of Celtic, French, and German ancestry. In the Letzeburgesch language, which is a prevailing Low German dialect, the duchy is called Letzeburg. German and French are both administrative languages, and English is also widely spoken. The majority of the population is Roman Catholic; there are Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim minorities.


Iron ore made the fortune of modern Luxembourg in the post–World War II years, and although its ores are now depleted and the size of its steel industry reduced, the steel industry continues to contribute to the economy. The country is now important as a hub for banking and financial services and an information technology and telecommunications center. Luxembourg derives great economic benefits as a center for many European Union functions, including the European Investment Bank and the European Court of Justice. Tourism also is significant. Other industries are food processing, cargo transport, and the production of chemicals, metal products, tires, glass, and aluminum. Much of the labor force consists of foreign workers. Grapes, grains, potatoes, and fruits are grown and livestock is raised. Machinery and equipment, steel and rubber products, chemicals, and glass are the main exports; imports include minerals, metals, foodstuffs, consumer goods, and fuel. Germany, Belgium, France, and the Netherlands are the principal trading partners.


Luxembourg is a constitutional monarchy governed under the constitution of 1868 as revised. The hereditary monarch, the titular head of state, has a largely ceremonial role. The government is headed by the premier, who is appointed by the monarch with the approval of the legislature. The 60 members of the unicameral legislature, the Chamber of Deputies, are elected by popular vote to five-year terms. The 21 members of the Council of State, an advisory body to the legislature, are appointed by the monarch on the advice of the premier. Administratively the country is divided into three districts.


Through the Nineteenth Century

The county of Luxembourg (originally Lützelburg), extending between the Meuse and Moselle rivers and including the Luxembourg province of Belgium, was one of the largest fiefs in the Holy Roman Empire. John of Luxemburg, king of Bohemia and father of Emperor Charles IV, made Luxembourg a duchy in 1354. The elder line of the house continued in Bohemia and other parts of the Roman empire, with Emperors Wenceslaus and Sigismund; the younger line, descended from Charles's brother, Duke Wenceslaus, continued in Luxembourg. (The French noble family of Luxembourg was descended in collateral line from an early count of Luxembourg.)

In 1443, Philip the Good of Burgundy seized the duchy, and in 1451, he was confirmed in possession by the estates of Luxembourg. Luxembourg passed in 1482 to the house of Hapsburg following the death of Mary of Burgundy. For the ensuing three centuries it shared the history of the S Netherlands (see Netherlands, Austrian and Spanish), passing from Spanish to Austrian rule in 1714. The southern part of the duchy, including Montmédy, Thionville, and Longwy, was ceded to France in the Peace of the Pyrenees (1659). In 1684, Louis XIV of France seized Luxembourg, but he was obliged to restore it to Spain by the Treaty of Ryswick (1697). Occupied by the French during the French Revolutionary Wars, the duchy was formally ceded to France by the Treaty of Campo Formio (1797).

The Congress of Vienna (1814–15) officially made Luxembourg a grand duchy, in personal union through the sovereign with the Netherlands. At the same time, Luxembourg became a member of the German Confederation, and the fortress in the capital was garrisoned by Prussian troops. When in 1830 the Belgians rebelled against William I of the Netherlands, Luxembourg shared in the revolt. Belgium, on gaining independence, claimed the entire grand duchy; it eventually obtained (1839) the major part (i.e., the present Belgian Luxembourg prov.). The remainder, continuing in personal union with the Netherlands as well as a member of the German Confederation, became autonomous and was granted a constitution in 1848.

When the German Confederation was dissolved in 1866, William III of the Netherlands agreed to sell the grand duchy to France, nearly provoking war between France and Prussia. At the London Conference of 1867 the European powers declared Luxembourg a neutral territory; its fortress was dismantled and the Prussian garrison withdrawn. William III died (1890) without a male heir; his daughter Wilhelmina succeeded him in the Netherlands, but Duke Adolf of Nassau, from a collateral line, became grand duke of Luxembourg.

The Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries

Grand Duke Adolf was followed in 1905 by William IV and in 1912 by Marie Adelaide. In 1914, Germany violated the neutrality of the grand duchy and occupied it for the duration of World War I. Grand Duchess Marie Adelaide abdicated in 1919 in favor of her sister, Charlotte, who married Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma.

Germany again invaded (May, 1940) neutral Luxembourg in World War II. The grand duchess and her cabinet fled abroad, and a government in exile was established in London. Allied troops liberated Luxembourg in Sept., 1944. Luxembourg entered the United Nations (1946) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949, and it received Marshall Plan aid.

A constitutional revision (1948) abolished the perpetual neutrality of the grand duchy, a status that in practice had ended with the introduction of compulsory military service (1944–67). In 1958, Luxembourg joined with Belgium and the Netherlands to establish the Benelux Economic Union and became a founding member of the European Economic Community (now the European Union). In 1961, Prince Jean, son and heir of Grand Duchess Charlotte, was made his mother's representative as head of state; she formally abdicated in 1964, and Prince Jean became grand duke.

In 1995 Jean-Claude Juncker of the Christian Social People's party (CSV) became premier; he succeeded Jacques Santer, who became head of the European Union's European Commission. Grand Duke Jean abdicated in favor of his eldest son, Prince Henri, in Oct., 2000. Constitutional changes in 2008 ended the monarch's power to approve Luxembourg's laws. Juncker resigned in 2013 and new elections were called after a misconduct scandal involving Luxembourg's secret service; Juncker was responsible for the agency's oversight. Following the elections, Xavier Bettel of the Democratic party became premier of a coalition government. In the 2018 elections the CSV won a plurality, but the parties in the governing coalition won a narrow majority of the seats, and Bettel remained premier. A recent problem in Luxembourg has been the increasing number of aging citizens and a lack of population growth, both of which affect the economy and have led to a dependence on foreign workers.


See R. C. Riley and G. Ashworth, Benelux: An Economic Geography (1975); J. Newcomer, The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (1984).


, province, Belgium
Luxembourg, Du. Luxemburg, province (1991 pop. 232,813), 1,706 sq mi (4,419 sq km), SE Belgium, in the Ardennes, bordering on the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in the east and on France in the south. The chief towns are Arlon (the capital), Bastogne, and Marche-en-Famenne. The province is drained by the Ourthe, Semois, and Lesse rivers. It is mainly agricultural, producing grain, rye, clover, and potatoes. Pigs and cattle are raised, and there is dairy farming. Tobacco is grown, iron is mined, and timber is exported. The population is largely French-speaking, although Letzeburgesch, a Low German dialect, is spoken in the east. The province was detached from the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in 1839. In World War II it was a major battleground in the Battle of the Bulge (Dec., 1944–Jan., 1945). Tourism is extensive, especially in the Ardenne highlands.


, city, Luxembourg

Luxembourg or Luxemburg, city (1991 pop. 75,377), capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, S Luxembourg, at the confluence of the Alzette and Pétrusse rivers. It is a commercial, banking, industrial, administrative, and cultural center as well as a rail junction. First established by the Romans on a defensive site inside the rivers' meanders, it was known by the Saxons as Lucilinburhuc [little fortress]. Luxembourg developed around a 10th-century castle that was one of Europe's strongest fortresses until the garrison was dismantled according to the terms of the Treaty of London (1867).

The original nucleus of the city, in the upper town, consists of numerous medieval houses and churches, the most notable of which are the Grand Ducal Palace and the Cathedral of Notre Dame (both 16th cent.). Newer features such as the city hall and the Chamber of Deputies, as well the National Museum of Art and History and the city history museum, are also located there. The modern upper town to the west is a busy commercial center bordered by a complex of parks that replaced the old fortifications. On the Kirchberg Plateau to the northwest are Radio-Television-Luxembourg, the Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte Concert Hall, the Grand Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art, and several institutions of the European Union, including the European Court of Justice, the European Investment Bank, and the Secretariat of the European Parliament. The lower town, in the winding valley bottoms, is mostly industrial. The entrenched meanders of the rivers are crossed by spectacular bridges, including the Adolphus Bridge and the Bridge of Europe. The city is the seat of a university (founded 1958).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(in German Luxemburger, Lützelburger), a dynasty that ruled the Holy Roman Empire (1308-13, 1347-1400, and 1410-37), Bohemia (1310-1437), and Hungary (1387-1437).

The main representatives of the Luxembourg dynasty were Henry VII (count of Luxembourg), emperor in 1308-13; John, king of Bohemia in 1310-46; Charles IV, emperor in 1347-78 and king of Bohemia as Charles I from 1346; Vaclav, emperor in 1378-1400 and king of Bohemia as Vaclav IV in 1378-1419; and Sigismund I, king of Hungary in 1387-1437, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 1410-37, and king of Bohemia in 1419-21 and 1436-37.

The Luxembourgs used their imperial position to expand their family domains. The basis of their rising economic and political power was Bohemia, which came under Luxembourg rule when John of Luxembourg, the son of Emperor Henry VII, married the heiress to the Bohemian throne, thus becoming King John of Bohemia. The power of the Luxembourgs reached its zenith under Charles IV. Whereas the Luxembourgs strengthened central authority in Bohemia, their policy in the empire promoted the power of the princes through such acts as Charles IV’s Golden Bull of 1356. Sigismund I, in alliance with the papacy, suppressed the Hussite revolutionary movement in Bohemia.



a province in southern Belgium, located mainly in the Ardennes. Area, 4,400 sq km. Population, 219,200 (1971). Arlon is the capital. The province is basically an agricultural region. There is cattle breeding (mainly horned cattle). Wheat and tobacco are cultivated and horticulture is practiced. Much of the province is covered with forests.



the capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the country’s basic economic center and a European railroad and highway junction. Located at the confluence of the Alzette and Petrusse rivers; elevation, 334 m. The climate is temperate, transitional between maritime and continental. The average temperature in January is 0.9° C, and in July, 16.6° C. Annual precipitation, 829 mm. Population, approximately 90,000 (1972).

Luxembourg is mentioned in sources for the first time in 963 as a trade settlement near Lucilinburhuc Castle, which was built by Count Siegfried I on the ancient Roman route from Reims to Trier. Luxembourg was granted the rights of a city in 1244. It belonged to Spain from 1506 to 1684 and from 1697 to 1714, to France from 1684 to 1697 and from 1794 to 1815, and to Austria from 1714 to 1794. After the formation of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, which joined the German Confederation, Luxembourg was a Prussian fortress from 1815 to 1867. It was occupied by the troops of the German Reich in World War I (1914-18). Luxembourg was again occupied by the troops of fascist Germany in May 1940 during World War II (1939-45) and liberated by British and American allied troops from the fascist German invaders in February 1945.

The Alzette and Pétrusse rivers divide Luxembourg into the Lower City and Upper City. The numerous bridges play an important role in the city’s architectural appearance. The major monuments are to be found in the Upper City: ruins of a Roman watchtower, the Chapel of St. Quirinus (a cave; sixth and 15th centuries), the Gothic St. Michel Church (1519; bell tower, 1634), the left wing of the Grand Ducal Palace (former Rathaus, 1563; Renaissance), the Palace of Justice (1556-72; facade, 19th century; Neorenaissance), the Notre Dame Cathedral (1613-21; architect, J. du Blocq; Baroque), and the city hall (1830; classical). Contemporary buildings include the Radio House (1937-52) and the National Theater (1962-66; French architect, A. Bourbonnais). The Lower City is the site of enterprises of the food-and-condiment industry (including breweries), steel mills, enterprises of transport machinery, light industry, large banks, and the boards of several monopolies.

Luxembourg’s educational institutions include the International University of Comparative Sciences, a medical college, and other specialized schools; its scientific institutions include the Grand Ducal Institute (sections of history, medicine, natural science, literature, art, and other disciplines) and the Society of Naturalists. In Luxembourg are the National Library and the National Museum; also located there (1973) are the Municipal Theater, the Luxembourg Conservatory, the Radio-Luxembourg Symphony Orchestra, and a motion picture studio.


Willequet, J., and E. Kutter. Luxemburg. Luxemburg, 1960.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Official name: Grand Duchy of Luxembourg

Capital city: Luxembourg

Internet country code: .lu

 Flag description: Three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and light blue; similar to the flag of the Netherlands, which uses a darker blue and is shorter; design was based on the flag of France

National anthem: “Ons Hémécht” (Our Motherland)

National flower: Rose

Geographical description: Western Europe, between France and Germany

Total area: 999 sq. mi. (2,586 sq. km.)

Climate: Modified continental with mild winters, cool summers

Nationality: noun: Luxembourger(s); adjective: Luxem­

bourg, Luxembourgian, Luxembourgish

Population: 480,222 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: Celtic base (with French and German blend), Portuguese, Italian, Slavs (from Montenegro, Albania, and Kosovo), Belgians, French, and Germans

Languages spoken: Luxembourgish (national language), German (administrative language), French (administra­tive language), English

Religions: Roman Catholic 87%, other (includes Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim) 13%

Legal Holidays:

All Saints' DayNov 1
Assumption DayAug 15
Christmas DayDec 25
Easter MondayApr 25, 2011; Apr 9, 2012; Apr 1, 2013; Apr 21, 2014; Apr 6, 2015; Mar 28, 2016; Apr 17, 2017; Apr 2, 2018; Apr 22, 2019; Apr 13, 2020; Apr 5, 2021; Apr 18, 2022; Apr 10, 2023
May DayMay 1
National DayJun 23
New Year's DayJan 1
St. Stephen's DayDec 26
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


duchy of 999 square miles in Western Europe. [Eur. Hist.: NCE, 1632]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. a grand duchy in W Europe: it formed the Benelux customs union with the Belgium and the Netherlands in 1948 and was a founder member of the Common Market, now the European Union . Languages: French, German, and Luxemburgish. Religion: Roman Catholic majority. Currency: euro. Capital: Luxembourg. Pop.: 459 000 (2004 est.). Area: 2586 sq. km (999 sq. miles)
2. the capital of Luxembourg, on the Alzette River: an industrial centre. Pop.: 77 300 (2003 est.)
3. a province in SE Belgium, in the Ardennes. Capital: Arlon. Pop.: 254 120 (2004 est.). Area: 4416 sq. km (1705 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005