We are so lucky today, because we are doing, Luck-sembourg (Luxembourg)! Yeah! Just make sure you don’t call it Little Switzerland, Okay? Hey everybody I am your host Barbs! I once had a conversation with a German guy, and it kind of went like this: Hey, so what’s interesting in Luxembourg like what do people do when they go there? You know you can open up a bank account. You know. It’s pretty cool Okay, anything else like what else? I mean you could also leave to- No, but seriously, Luxembourg is kind of like this curiously distinct nation with a lot of mixed hybrid culture cues that have jumbled up to create what it is today. Oh, and it’s like super small. You can drive across the entire nation in like 45 minutes. Let’s find out where it is on the map now, shall we? You know what’s funny? I feel like we’re kind of just playing copy and paste because we did Liechtenstein, another rich landlocked microstate tax haven and now it’s happening again. First of all, Luxembourg is a landlocked nation located in Western Europe right along the tri-point of France Germany and Belgium. The country is only about 35 miles or 57 kilometers wide and 51 miles or 82 km long making it just barely under a 1,000 square miles in area or 2,500 square kilometers. The country is made up of 12 cantons with the capital of Luxembourg City located in the south which also acts as one of the three capitals of the EU. In addition to Brussels, Belgium, and Strasburg, France. Luxembourg city also holds the European Court of Justice the highest judicial authority in the EU. Out of the 12 main towns and cities, the largest ones after Luxembourg City are Esch-sur-Alzette and Differdange. The country has one main Airport: Luxembourg City International close to the capital which is actually the fifth busiest cargo transporting Airport in Europe servicing three large shipping airlines: Cargolux, China Airlines Cargo and Qatar Airways cargo. Yeah, when you want to make quick cash, you got to make yourself a transport hub with great international trade rates. You know what I’m talking about Singapore? Ehh, What can I say? Now traditionally, the country is kind of divided into two main regions when it comes to populous. The Oesling or “Eiseck” in the north which has most of the higher hills and forests. And the flatter Gutland in the south where about eighty-five percent of the population lives. Luxembourg actually used to be a lot larger in the past until three partitions happened from the French, Prussians and finally the Belgians in the 1800s. To add insult to injury, they actually named their largest southern region touching Luxembourg the “Luxembourg region”. For such a small land area though, Luxembourg is incredibly compact with amazing ancient sites and landmarks and businesses. Over 100 castles 75 of which were built in the Middle Ages. I mean there’s a reason why they were labeled the European Capital of Culture twice. Over 150 main banks and many companies like Skype, Amazon, Pepsi, JPMorgan, FedEx and IKEA have their European headquarters in Luxembourg. So yeah, this place knows how to keep busy with commerce. Speaking of which, some notable sites of interest might include: The Luxembourg catacombs, the old quarter of Luxembourg City, the National Museum of History and Art, the Bock city casements and tunnels, the Mondorf-les-bains, Clerveaux castle and abbey, Berdorf rocks, Parc Merveilleux, smaller castles like Beaufort, Hollenfels, Bourshield, Larocehette and the Grand Ducal Palace of Luxembourg. Lots of stuff happening on such a small space. Speaking of which, let’s jump into the landscape now. Luxembourg is sometimes referred to as the Green Heart of Europe. Speaking of which, they do kind of have the highest ecological footprint in the world. As mentioned before, the northern part of the country or the Öesling highlands are part of the greater Ardennes hilly range that extends across South Belgium into Germany. With the tallest peak at only 560 meters, Kneiff summit Just one meter taller than Buurgplaatz, which is often mistaken for the highest point but it’s not. Most of the country’s 30% forest coverage can be found here and in the eastern Müllethal forest. From here, the important rivers, the Sûre, Woltz and Alzette all join up in the middle whereas the largest body of water being the upper Sûre Lake Reservoir. However the longest river is the Moselle flowing along the border with Germany in the east. Alright. Technical facts out of the way. Let’s see, some other things to note: Luxembourg only gets about 61 days of sunshine a year so uhh… get your vitamin D. Supplements. Hah! Amateur. They have the highest consumption of wine per capita out of any country in Europe. Pffff… Wrong! I challenge you to… Wine off Luxembourg. Fake! Fake-zimberg!! They also have the highest rate of car ownership at about 650 per thousand residents. The national animal is the gold crest bird and the… lion? because Africa, right? Actually in ancient times, Lions did naturally inhabit parts of southern Europe and Asia. However today, due to human interaction and natural environment ships, they’re actually almost exclusively found in Africa. Uhhh, Noah thank goodness, you’re here ok. Because I’ve been meaning to take a break from teaching these friggin annoying… Ughghgh… the adorable subscribe of mine. I need a triple shot of espresso, okay? You know how they tell prompter works, the audience loves you, okay? Take it away. You got it, dude! Historically Luxembourg didn’t really have too much going on prior the 20th century And it wasn’t until huge iron ore deposits were found in the South Redlands that really kicked off their industry output. Today the world’s largest steel producer, ArcelorMittal merged the Indian Mittal company is headquartered in Luxembourg City and today produces nearly 100 million tonnes of steel. But steel isn’t Luxembourg financial trophy. In fact the industry has been in decline since the 70s. What really gave Luxembourg a boost was a financial and banking sectors. In 1929, they passed the holding law which meant that corporate holding companies be allowed manager subsidiaries in Luxembourg for incredibly low tax rates, some as low as 1%. Finally in the late 90s and early 2000s, known as a golden age during the online business and tech boom in which they doubled their GDP per capita in only five years by a complex system of business and management deals. This however did lead to this as frequent Lux leaks 2014 in which tax evasion techniques were released the public from a team of accountants. This was a huge deal which then led politicians calling for reforms all over the world. Oooh, cool. Thanks a lot Noah! Yeah, no problem, buddy. So-nyway, Some of the top dishes of the country might include things like: Fried potato pancakes, boiled pork meat with beans, Human-shaped brioche pastries and Kacheis. Speaking of food, are you in the mood for some Luxemburgers?! Luxembourger, that’s what you call somebody from this country. Luxembourgish is what you call the language and something from this country, Luxembourgeois is the French word for both. But the locals here call it Lëtzebuergesch. Remember in the Belgium episode, we talked about how Belgium is kind of like a mix between Dutch and French influences? Well Luxembourg is like a mix between German and French but don’t exactly say that to them, even though they all literally speak German and French. We’ll get to that in a bit but first of all, The country has about six hundred thousand people and is a second richest country per capita after Qatar. The nation is about 56% native Luxembourger whereas about 17% are actually Portuguese, 7% French and the rest are made up of a slew of other nations mostly Europeans with few Asians and Africans mixed in. They use the Euro as their currency. They use a type C, And F plug outlets and they drive on the right side of the road. Back to the language thing. Luxembourg is pretty much a trilingual nation. Every citizen learns German at age 6, French at age 7 and in high school, the language switches from German to French. The citizens though usually all start off with the national language, Luxembourgish, which is a Germanic language related to German. But do NOT call it a dialect of German!! They hate it when you say that. Even though the two are not that far off, I mean you get some discrepancies like: Firwat? VS Warum? Klinik (Spidol) VS Krankenhaus Bic VS Kugelscreiber and the list goes on and on. There’s websites devoted to this. But overall, the grammar and syntax are pretty intelligible, but it’s definitely not a Dialect. Overall yeah, they learn English in school at around age 12, so in a sense, many people might actually be quadrilingual but all administration and media are published mostly in French or German or Luxembourgish if you request it. And nowadays, Portuguese is spoken everywhere too since nearly a fifth of their population is Portuguese. Luxembourg is also a Hereditary Constitutional monarchy with the last Grand Duchy in the world. What is a Grand Duchy? Keith, explain! It’s like something to do with a Duke in royalty, I think? It was under the Holy Roman Empire thing and everyone was like: “Whoa! Let’s just make a big country instead”, but Luxembourg was like: “No way! I’m gonna stay the way I am.” Keith that was actually a really accurately condensed summary. Dude, it’s like whatever man. You know? Obviously? ♫ Keith Keith Keith Keith Keith Keith Keith, It’s Keith! OOOOOOOHHH, KEITH! ♫ Basically, Henri Grand Duke of Luxembourg has been reigning since 2000. He married Cuban-born Maria Teresa Mestre y Batista, had five children with her. His legislative duties are limited as a constitutional monarch. He can appoint the Prime Minister ambassadors dissolve the Chamber of Deputies. He’s commander in chief of the rather small army of about 800. He also acts as a representative in diplomatic Affairs. Him and his family also live in Burg castle. Now despite the influx of wealth, over the years, they do have the largest external debt per capita though at around 3.5 million per citizen. 3.5 million times, 600,000 for the popular… Whoa whoa whoa…! Yeah. But if your rate of fiscal growth exceeds that your deficit percent of your country is so categorically in the clear, technically. Oh okay. So they’re still good then right. Yeah, yeah, okay, cool. Yeah, that’s kind of why after all those Lux leaks, they were like: “Hey, let’s follow the US and investing space mining. That’ll expand our portfolio. I swear, these episodes are becoming more and more like a consumer economics course. Culture wise, Luxembourgers are quite unique in that they kind of have to coalesce two worlds of the French and German sides while maintaining their own native one. To varying degrees of devotion, about 87% claim to be at least part of the Roman Catholic Church. They’re the last country to have the formal dancing procession celebrated on wheat Tuesday, the day after Pentecost, in which ten thousand men women and children gather an Echternach honoring the seventh century monk Saint Willeford by doing a 1.5 kilometre hopping dance. Speaking of which, History: This dude in 963AD basically built a fort, From there Luxembourg city has developed, wars over ownership with the holy roman empire, Dutch, French and even Spain was involved for some reason, 1939 independence, some drama with Belgians and Prussians, both world wars invaded by Germany, 1950s is one of the founding members of ECSC the predecessor to what would become the EU, 1980s, money starts really flowing in, 2000’s money really really starts flowing in, 2014 Lux leaks, the space mining thing comes in, and here we are today. some notable people of Luxembourgish descent might include: Jean-Claude Juncker, Josy Barthel, the Schleck brothers, Kim Kirchen, Charly Gaul, Gilles Muller, Edward Steichen, Georges Christian, Jimmy Zabello and David Gould Drake. And of course a noble family of Luxembourg. Sweet, that just about does it for this segment. Let’s move on to the last part, The… All across the world to get places like Luxembourg. Small yet powerful. And when you are a country like that, everything becomes kind of strategic for the very continuity of your existence. France and Germany are of course really close. They give their biggest business and trade with Luxembourg. The people can communicate perfectly fine. People cross the border to either work or shop in the country every day. Plus, alcohol and gas are usually cheaper. Portugal and to some extent, Cape Verde are close friends as they make the largest minority group in Luxembourg. Radio stations sometimes even play Portuguese music and broadcast to accommodate. Of course as part of Benelux, the Netherlands does great business and trade. They love stopping by and hanging out with their southern friends. However, most Luxembourgers I talked to have said Belgium is probably the best friend. Before the Euro was introduced, they pegged their old currencies. They could even exchange them and the Luxembourg military trains often in Belgium. On top of that, Grand Duke Henry’s mom was Belgian which makes him cousins with the current king of Belgium, King Philippe. In conclusion, it’s really no surprise why Luxembourg was selected to be the host of one of Europe’s capitals. It in itself is a melting pot of pan-Europeanism with a populace that prides itself on being versatile. Stay tuned, Madagascar is coming up next!