Luxemberg Basic Facts - History

Luxemberg Basic Facts - History

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Population 2007............................................................480,222
GDP per capita 2006 (Purchasing Power Parity,US$)........... $68,800
GDP 2002 (Purchasing Power Parity, US$ billions)................$32.6

Average annual growth 1991-97
Population (%) ....... 1.4
Labor force (%) .......1.4

Total Area...................................................................- sq. mi.
Urban population (% of total population) ...............................90
Life expectancy at birth (years)..................................................... 76
Infant mortality (per 1,000 live births)........................................ 5
Child malnutrition (% of children under 5) ............................0
Access to safe water (% of population) ....................................100
Illiteracy (% of population age 15+) ...........................................o

History of Luxembourg

The earliest human remains found in present-day Luxembourg date from about 5140 bce , but little is known about the people who first populated the area. Two Belgic tribes, the Treveri and Mediomatrici, inhabited the country from about 450 bce until the Roman conquest of 53 bce . The occupation of the country by the Franks in the 5th century ce marked the beginning of the Middle Ages in the locality. St. Willibrord played a very important role in the area’s Christianization in the late 7th century. He founded the Benedictine abbey of Echternach, which became an important cultural centre for the region.

The area successively formed part of the Frankish kingdom of Austrasia, of the Holy Roman Empire under Charlemagne and Louis I (the Pious), and then of the kingdom of Lotharingia. Luxembourg became an independent entity in 963, when Siegfried, count de Ardennes, exchanged his lands for a small but strategically placed Roman castle lying along the Alzette River. This castle became the cradle of Luxembourg, whose name is itself derived from that of the castle, Lucilinburhuc (“Little Fortress”). Siegfried’s successors enlarged their possessions by conquests, treaties, marriages, and inheritances. About 1060 Conrad, a descendant of Siegfried, became the first to take the title of count of Luxembourg. Conrad’s great-granddaughter, Countess Ermesinde, was a notable ruler whose great-grandson, Henry IV, became Holy Roman emperor as Henry VII in 1308. This Luxembourg dynasty was continued on the imperial throne in the persons of Charles IV, Wenceslas, and Sigismund. In 1354 the emperor Charles IV made the county a duchy. In 1443 Elizabeth of Görlitz, duchess of Luxembourg and niece of the Holy Roman emperor Sigismund, was forced to cede the duchy to Philip III (the Good), duke of Burgundy.

Interesting facts about the Luxembourg Palace

The Luxembourg Palace is a beautiful building situated in even more beautiful gardens in the center of Paris, on the left bank of Seine.

It is the first great example of French classical architecture during the 17th century, was the culmination of the long tradition of the chateau as a building type.

Throughout it existence its purpose has been changed many times.

It was originally built (1615–1645) to the designs of the French architect Salomon de Brosse to be the royal residence of the regent Marie de Médicis, mother of Louis XIII of France.

The Luxembourg Palace remained the property of the French Crown until the French Revolution.

The palace actually served as the precursor to the Louvre Museum in the mid-18th century before being used for a short time during the French Revolution as a prison.

Napoleon I moved the Senate in the Luxembourg Palace in 1801.

The palace became the seat of the House of Peers in 1815.

In 1852 Napoleon III re-transferred the Senate into the Luxembourg Palace.

Since 1958 it has been the seat of the French Senate of the Fifth Republic (current republican constitution of France).

Immediately west of the palace on the rue de Vaugirard is the Petit Luxembourg, now the residence of the Senate President.

During the 19th century the Luxemburg Palace was extensively remodeled.

From 1799 to 1805 the architect Jean Chalgrin transformed the palace into a legislative building. He demolished the grand central staircase (escalier d’honneur), replacing it with a senate chamber on the first floor, which incorporated and destroyed Marie de Médicis’ chapel on the garden side of the corps de logis.

Chalgrin also enclosed the flanking terraces, making space for a library. At the same time he created a neo-classical escalier d’honneur [pic. below] in the west wing, a single monumental flight enclosed by an ionic colonnade and covered with a coffered barrel vault, the construction of which resulted in the destruction of the long gallery that had formerly housed the cycle of paintings by Rubens.

Poussin, Philippe de Champaigne, and Rubens were commissioned to decorate the interior the 24 paintings depicting the life of the queen by Rubens are now at the Louvre.

Beginning in 1835 the architect Alphonse de Gisors added a new garden wing parallel to the old corps de logis, replicating the look of the original 17th-century facade so precisely that it is difficult to distinguish at first glance the old from the new. The new senate chamber was located in what would have been the courtyard area in-between.

The new wing included a library (bibliothèque) with a cycle of paintings (1845–1847) by Eugène Delacroix. The library contains some 450,000 books.

In the 1850s, at the request of Emperor Napoleon III, Gisors created the highly decorated Salle des Conférences (inspired by the Galerie d’Apollon of the Louvre).

The Jardin du Luxembourg or the Luxembourg Garden is the biggest park in Paris, covering a massive 22.5 hectares (55.6 acres). The garden is famed for its calm atmosphere.

The gardens are split into French gardens and English gardens.

Between the two, lies a geometric forest and a large pond. There is also an orchard with a variety of old and forgotten apples, an apiary for you to learn about bee-keeping and greenhouses with a collection of breathtaking orchids and a rose garden.

The garden has 106 statues spread throughout the park, the monumental Medici fountain, the orangerie and the Pavillon Davioud.

The Medici Fountain was built in about 1630 by Marie de’ Medici, the widow of King Henry IV of France and regent of King Louis XIII of France. It was moved to its present location and extensively rebuilt in 1864-66.

The orangerie was built during the 19th century. Today the orangerie displays art, photography and sculptures.

The Davioud Pavillion was constructed and named after the architect back in the 1860s. It is now home to a school of horticulture, plus the setting for the annual honey festival.

During WWII, the Nazis occupied the Palais and used it as the Luftwaffe headquarters.

The palace was a designated “strong point” for German forces defending the city in August 1944, but thanks to the decision of Commanding General Dietrich von Choltitz to surrender the city rather than fight, the palace was only minimally damaged.

From 29 July to 15 October 1946, the Luxembourg Palace was the site of the talks of Paris Peace Conference.

The Luxembourg Palace is open to the public once a year during the Heritage Day in September.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

The dominant public space is the medieval fortress built on Bock promontory. Portions remain of Sigefroi's castle built in 963, as well as archaeological evidence from ancient Gallic encampments and Roman outposts. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when the nation was occupied by the Spanish, French, and Austrians, increasingly elaborate fortifications were constructed on the promontory, and Luxembourg became known as the "Gibraltar of the North." Carved inside the cliff was a fourteen-mile (twenty-three-kilometer) maze of tunnels for underground defense, known as casemates.

When the Prussians withdrew in 1867, the fortifications were larger than the city of Luxembourg. No longer serving a military purpose, most of the fortifications were demolished in the late nineteenth century. During the 1930s though, eleven miles (seventeen kilometers) of casemates and some of the aboveground fortifications were restored as parks and museums. The restored fortifications are the most prominent feature in contemporary "skyline" photographs of the city.

Homes in the historic, central area are typically narrow two- or three-story row houses. Those originally built for wealthier families are more ornate than those originally occupied by working-class families. Older homes in smaller towns and villages, and newer ones in the suburbs, are free-standing, but relatively close together. Outside these houses are well-kept gardens, as well as space to park cars.

Beginning of War, 1939-1940

In September 1939, the German army occupied the western half of Poland. German police soon forced tens of thousands of Polish Jews from their homes and into ghettoes, giving their confiscated properties to ethnic Germans (non-Jews outside Germany who identified as German), Germans from the Reich or Polish gentiles. Surrounded by high walls and barbed wire, the Jewish ghettoes in Poland functioned like captive city-states, governed by Jewish Councils. In addition to widespread unemployment, poverty and hunger, overpopulation made the ghettoes breeding grounds for disease such as typhus.

Meanwhile, beginning in the fall of 1939, Nazi officials selected around 70,000 Germans institutionalized for mental illness or disabilities to be gassed to death in the so-called Euthanasia Program. After prominent German religious leaders protested, Hitler put an end to the program in August 1941, though killings of the disabled continued in secrecy, and by 1945 some 275,000 people deemed handicapped from all over Europe had been killed. In hindsight, it seems clear that the Euthanasia Program functioned as a pilot for the Holocaust.

National Anthem

  • Anthem Title: Ons Heemecht ('Our Homeland')
  • Music composer: Jean Antoine
  • Lyricist: Michel Lentz
  • Date of Adoption: Jean Antoine Zinnen

The national anthem of Luxembourg is Ons Heemecht ('Our Homeland'). It was written in 1859 by Michel Lentz and set to music in 1864 by Jean Antoine Zinnen. The anthem was performed publicly in June 1864 at Ettelbruck. Although the anthem has four verses, only the first and last verses were adopted as the official national anthem of Luxembourg in 1993

Ons Heemecht

Wou d'Uelzecht durech d'Wisen

Duerch d'Fielsen d'Sauer brécht,

Wou d'Rief laanscht d'Musel

Den Himmel Wäin ons mécht:

Dat as onst Land, fir dat mer géif

Ons Heemechtsland dat mir so

Duerch d'Welt d'Natioune leet,

Behitt Du d'Lëtzebuerger Land

Du hues ons all als Kanner

Looss viru blénken d'Fräiheetssonn,

Our Homeland

Where the Alzette slowly flows,

The Sauer plays wild pranks,

There lies the land for which

Dare everything down here,

Our own, our native land which

O Thou above whose powerful

Makes States or lays them low,

Protect this Luxembourger land

From foreign yoke and woe.

Your spirit of liberty bestow

Let Freedom's sun in glory

Would a Basic Income Reduce Poverty?

It is not enough for a basic income to be harmless it must also—bureaucracy-busting arguments aside—reduce poverty and, ideally, inequality.

Brazil's Bolsa Família program has been encouraging in this regard. Beginning in 2004, the program has made modest cash grants to poor families who send their kids to school and the doctor. The country's poverty rate fell from 26.1% in 2003 to 14.1% in 2009 the extreme poverty rate fell from 10.0% to 4.8%. From 2007 to 2009, Bolsa Família led to an estimated 59% of the reduction in poverty and 140% of the reduction in extreme poverty (the rate would have risen otherwise). The Gini coefficient, a measure of inequality, fell from 0.580 to 0.538 from 2003 to 2009, in part due to Bolsa Família. Now, however, the Brazilian government has been cutting those benefits, even as the coronavirus pandemic spreads.

The development sector has begun to favor direct cash transfers over aid in kind. Having previously thought that recipients would waste the money, well-meaning benefactors realized they were hardly any better without it. Africa is dotted with broken water pumps whose donors made no provision to fix them. Cash aid, on the other hand, appears to work rather well. A 2013 study by MIT's Johannes Haushofer and Jeremy Shapiro found that unconditional cash grants made to Kenyan households by Give Directly cut the days children went without food by 42% and increased livestock holdings by 51%.  

For some goals, however, adding conditions helps. Adolescent girls' school attendance in Malawi rose with no-strings-attached cash grants, but making school a mandatory condition for receiving payments had a much larger effect.  

The OECD estimates that, in some rich countries at least, a revenue-neutral basic income would increase poverty. In countries such as Britain, those depending exclusively on transfer programs would see their benefits cut whereas 2% of the UK's population would move out of poverty due to a hypothetical basic income, 7% would fall into it.

The Schueberfouer, Did you know?

The big traditional fair in Luxembourg, called ‘Schueberfouer’ in Luxembourgish, attracts around two million visitors every year, making it one of the largest events in the region and a much-anticipated occasion to meet with friends and family. It takes places every year from the end of August to the beginning of September and is an attraction that reflects the diversity of the country, its inhabitants and Luxembourg City.

Above all, with around 180 rides and games, 100 stalls and restaurants, it's a huge fairground to have fun at. Here you can taste regional products and dishes and try out many games.

The Schueberfouer was founded in 1340, when John the Blind, Count of Luxembourg founded an eight-day market week for the occasion of Saint Bartholomew's Day. At that time, it was a market of great economic importance. The monarch wanted to improve the economic competitiveness of Luxembourg - after all, the country was geographically ideally located on the new road connecting Italy and Flanders.

From the end of the 16th century, traders also offered cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and horses at the fair and the strategic and economic importance of this hub continued to increase.

Thanks to the Industrial Revolution in 1844, entertainment in the form of rides became an integral part of the fair for the first time.

Since 1893 the Schueberfouer takes place on the Glacis (Champs de Glacis).

The traditional clearance sale of Luxembourg City, the so-called Braderie, was launched in 1929 by the Schueberfouer.

During the WWII, the Schueberfouer was temporarily suspended. Later, foreign dealers and showmen were admitted again - and eventually the event regained its former importance.

On the ‘Kirmes’ day, musicians with sheep will roam the streets of Luxembourg City and play the ‘Hämmelsmarsch’ (Mutton March) for the Schueberfouer celebrations. The local shooting club used to organize a shooting competition every year with a sheep as the main prize. At the opening of the fair, the ‘Hämmelsmarsch’ is played to this day in the middle of a herd of sheep.

The fair mascot is ‘Lämmy’, a sheep dressed in the traditional clothes of the Hämmelsmarsch musicians. The traditional food specialty of the fair is the ‘Fouerfësch’, brewer's yeast-fried whiting, served with French fries and a glass of beer or dry Mosel wine.

The name or the Luxembourgish term Schueberfouer goes back to ‘Schuedbuerg’, the fortress on today's Plateau de St Esprit, where the market took place first. It later became the ‘Schadebergermesse’ and later on in Luxembourgish ‘Schueberfouer’.

Come and experience this historic folk festival during a late summer trip to Luxembourg!

To learn more about this year's edition, please click on the image


The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, bordered by France, Germany, and Belgium in Western Europe, became an independent country in 1890. Although a relatively new nation, Luxembourg has a very ancient history that can be traced back to the time of Julius Caesar when the Romans in 54 and 51 B.C.E defeated the Treveri people, the original inhabitants of modern Luxembourg. The country's history was influenced by the competing needs of the Roman Catholic Church and the ruling dynasties of the Holy Roman Empire and Imperial Germany with those of royal and republican France for the population's souls and land.

Christianity was introduced into Luxembourg in the seventh century B.C.E., when the Roman Catholic Church founded a group of Benedictine monasteries between 633 and 721. The feudal County of Luxembourg was awarded in 963, to Siegfried, a relative of Wigerik, a Palace Count serving Charles the Simple, a member of the Carolingian Dynasty that governed France. For two centuries the descendants of Wigerik and Siegfried of the House of Ardennes, governed the region that would become modern Luxembourg in fealty to Saxon and Salian Holy Roman Emperors. The first dynasty Luxembourg counts became extinct in 1136. The title and lands were awarded to Henry IV of Namur, who founded Luxembourg's second dynasty. With the arrival of political stability Luxembourg became home to the Benedictine, Cistercian, Dominican, Franciscan, and the Penitents monastic orders and the Knights Templar and the Teutonic Knights.

In the fourteenth century, the Counts of Luxembourg increased the dynasty's international prestige by advantageous political marriages and battlefield heroics as allies of France's kings in territorial and religious wars in Europe and Africa. The feudal alliances paid off with the election of Henry of Luxembourg as Holy Roman Emperor in 1308. Although reigning only five years before succumbing to a fever, Henry represented the highest ideals of feudal Europe's chivalric code. For the next four generations, Henry's male descendants ruled as Kings of Bohemia. Two great-grandsons, Wenceslas and Sigismund, were elected Holy Roman Emperors. Henry's bloodline entered the royal houses of France and Burgundy when his granddaughter Bonne married King John the Good of France. In the sixteenth century the County of Luxembourg was incorporated into the Burgundy inheritance awarded Charles V, King of Spain, Holy Roman Emperor, and Duke of Luxembourg, as the Spanish Netherlands.

During the Middle Ages education in Luxembourg was under the clerical control of the Benedictine Order at Munster Abbey, founded in 1083. Educational authority was temporarily transferred to the suburb of Grund during the Counterreformation period, but was restored to the Roman Catholic Church in the seventeenth century when a Jesuit College was built in Luxembourg in 1603. The Capuchin Fathers came to Luxembourg in 1621 and offered education to garrisoned soldiers. In 1627, the Congregation of Notre Dame from Lorraine founded a chapter in Luxembourg and assumed responsibility for the education of girls. The Sisters of Notre Dame continue to staff and administer Luxembourg's private girls schools.

From the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, Luxembourg was fought over in dynastic wars by either the French Bourbon or Bonaparte dynasties with the Austrian Habsburgs. French King Louis XIV won Luxembourg on the battlefield and governed it until 1713, when the Treaty of Utrecht awarded Luxembourg to the Habsburgs as part of the Austrian Netherlands. During the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte, Luxembourg was once again incorporated into France. The Congress of Vienna in 1815 ceded the Duchy of Luxembourg in personal union to the King of the Netherlands, the head of the House of Nassau-Orange. The United Netherlands of Catholics and Calvinists barely lasted fifteen years before Catholic Flemish-speaking and Walloon (Frenchspeaking) citizens in the southern part of the country rebelled against the Calvinist Dutch in the north, gaining independence in 1830 as the new country of Belgium. By treaty in 1830, Luxembourg was split into a Walloon section that merged with modern Belgium, while the predominately German-speaking section remained a sovereign grand duchy in personal union with the King of the Netherlands, but a member state within German economic and political organizations.

Writing under the pseudonym Poor Richard Saunders, Ben Franklin published an obituary for a still-living rival in his Almanac. When the rival actually died a few years later, Franklin wrote an article giving him credit for finally putting an end to the prank.


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