Luxembourg is a small country located between Belgium, Germany, and France. Though not as well-known as its neighbors, this beautiful country has a rich history and vibrant culture that’s worth exploring. It’s influenced strongly by the countries surrounding it and the large numbers of European immigrants who call Luxembourg home. It’s also the second richest country in the world. If you’re curious about this tiny European nation filled with delicious food, beautiful architecture, and intelligent locals, read on to learn 10 interesting facts about Luxembourg.
1. Most Luxembourgers speak three to four languages
Luxembourg’s education system teaches students three to four different languages. Children first learn the local language called Luxembourgish. They are then taught German in primary school and French in secondary school. The reason for this is because Luxembourgish is the language locals typically use to speak with one another, while French and German are the languages used for business. English is being incorporated more and more into Luxembourg’s education system as well because it opens up more business opportunities. A recent survey found 99% of Luxembourg residents can speak French, 82% can speak Luxembourgish, 81% can speak German, and 72% can speak English.
2. It is the least populated country in the EU
Most people know that Luxembourg is the richest country in Europe and the second richest country in the world. But not everyone knows that Luxembourg also has the smallest number of inhabitants in the European Union. An interesting fact about Luxembourg is that this country has a little over half a million residents, nearly half of which are foreigners.
3. Cars without windshields in Luxembourg are still required to have windshield wipers
Luxembourg is very strict about car safety. One particular law in Luxembourg states that all cars must be equipped with windshield wipers – including cars that don’t have windshields, an interesting Luxembourg fact. While this will likely only affect a very small number of motorists, it’s definitely a strange rule to deal with.
4. This country has the highest percentage of car owners
Speaking of cars, Luxembourg has a ratio of 647 car owners per 1000 residents or an 86% rate of car ownership. This means almost 9 out of 10 households in the country have one or more cars in their garage. These statistics surpass the car ownership rates of Luxembourg’s three neighboring countries, France, Belgium, and Germany.
5. Luxembourg is the first country with free public transportation
Those without cars in Luxembourg don’t have to worry. In 2020, Luxembourg removed the fares for buses, trams, and trains, making it the first and currently the only country in the world with completely free public transportation, an interesting Luxembourg fact. The government created this policy as a way to contribute positively to the environment and deal with the intense traffic congestion in its capital city. They hope that the free rates for public transportation within the country will encourage car owners to take the cheaper route to school and work.
6. The capital of Luxembourg is called Luxembourg City
Many people confuse the country of Luxembourg with its capital city, also called Luxembourg. This is why some people think Luxembourg is only a city and not a country. Luxembourg City contains 122,273 of the country’s half a million inhabitants. It houses most of the country’s attractions and businesses as well as many of the important offices of the European Union. Thanks to its highly developed banking and administration sectors, Luxembourg City is the main source of the country’s high income.
7. The country celebrates a romantic holiday called Pretzel Sunday
Bretzelsonndeg or “Pretzel Sunday” is a tradition celebrated on the 4th Sunday of the Lenten Season in Luxembourg. Men give their love interest pretzels made of puff pastry and icing with almond slices, a Luxembourg specialty. If their sweetheart feels the same way, they will receive an Easter egg in return. If not, they will receive an empty basket. This sad fate even comes with its own expression in Luxembourg: De Kuerf kréien or “To be given the basket” which means being rejected. During the leap year, the roles are reversed and the women are the ones who provide the pretzels. Pretzel Day is a special holiday for romantics; many believe that forgetting this holiday will have a bad impact on your love life.
8. Luxembourg is full of castles
Because of its location, Luxembourg has a rich history of creating fortified tower defenses and opulent residences. There is 1 castle for every 100 square miles of this tiny country. Many are open to visitors, some are in ruins, and some are privately owned homes. Interestingly, the origin of the country’s name translates to “Little Fortress.”
9. It has a large system of underground tunnels
A significant part of Luxembourg’s history of fortification is the network of hidden underground tunnels built hundreds of years ago. These passageways could be used by soldiers as barracks or to access other areas of the country’s defenses. Known as “Bock Casemates,” these tunnels are classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site. 17 km of the subterranean passages are still in good condition and can be visited by tourists today, a fun Luxembourg fact.
10. Luxembourgers have a hopping holiday
In the town of Echternach in Luxembourg, thousands of people gather each year to do a hopping dance towards the tomb of St. Willibrord. The Hopping Procession of Echternach is a religious tradition created by the Luxembourgers to celebrate the beloved saint. Despite the liveliness of the dance, participants are not allowed to wear colorful clothing because the procession is seen as a religious rite and not a festival or parade. The Catholic Church was once opposed to this tradition but eventually saw it as a joyful form of worship.
Luxembourg is a beautiful and vibrant country with an interesting history and fascinating customs. It’s an important location for European culture and politics thanks to its highly developed capital city and strategic location. From luxury cars to sweet pastries to magnificent castles, the country of Luxembourg is full of exciting facts to discover.
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