Luxembourg is a land-locked country located in western Europe. The country shares land borders with three other European countries: Germany, which lies to the east, France to the south, and Belgium to the north and west. Luxembourg has a cool and mild oceanic climate, with an average temperature of 17 to 18 degrees Celsius in the summer. In the winter, temperatures range from 0 degrees to 10 degrees Celsius. The country also has an unusually high level of precipitation, with 10 to 15 days of rain in most months.
Despite its small size and population—around 2,500 square kilometres, and half a million residents—Luxembourg plays an important role in Europe, as its capital, Luxembourg City, is one of the capitals of the European Union. Luxembourg is also known as a powerful investment management capital.
Luxembourg is a nation of immigrants—who number around one third of its population—and has historically been heavily influenced by neighbours France and Germany. As a result, the unique culture of Luxembourg has been somewhat overshadowed by the cuisine and cultural traditions of its neighbouring countries. However, Luxembourg does have its own unique cultural traditions, such as the annual dancing procession of Echternach, a Roman Catholic procession held on Whit Tuesdays. The event honours Luxembourg’s patron saint, and is Europe’s only surviving traditional dancing procession. The slow-moving procession of dancers and musicians moves from the edge of town to the central church, taking several hours to travel a distance of around 1.5 kilometres.
Luxembourg’s history can be traced to the 10th century CE, when a French count purchased land and a ruined Roman castle in the area. The House of Luxembourg was a politically important force by the 14th century, and a small town grew up in the area. When the Luxembourg line died out the duchy passed to another noble French family, the House of Valois-Burgundy, and subsequently to others, including the Bourbons and the Hapsburgs, before falling under French rule.
France’s ownership of Luxembourg was disputed after the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, and until 1839 the country was ruled by the Netherlands. In 1839 Luxembourg gained full independence, and remained a neutral country during the Franco-Prussian war in the 1870s.
In 1945 Luxembourg became a founding member of the United Nations, a founding member of NATO in 1949, and a founding member of the European Coal and Steel Community—which would later become the EEC and then the EU—in 1951.
The plants and animals of Luxembourg share many characteristics of neighbouring countries, and Luxembourg itself does not have a wholly unique wildlife profile. The north of the country is covered in oak and beech trees, with great oaks up to 45 metres tall and 7 metres in circumference. Willow and black alder trees are plentiful along riverbanks.
Native animals include roe deer, elk, brown bear, and wild boar, as well as an array of small carnivores: foxes, martens, ermine, badgers, otters, and wild cats. Luxembourg is also home to the least weasel, the world’s smallest carnivore.
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