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Oesling, medieval castles, European Economic Community, Mosel, national motto

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Slightly smaller in area than the state of Rhode Island, Luxembourg measures only about 89 km (55 mi) from north to south and 56 km (35 mi) from east to west. The northern region, known as the Oesling, or E’sleck, consists of the rugged uplands of the Ardennes plateau. In the south is the Bon Pays (“Good Land”), a fertile area of low, gently rolling, hills. Much of Luxembourg is crisscrossed by the broad, deep valleys of swift streams and rivers. The principal river is the Sauer (Sure), a tributary of the Mosel. The Sauer cuts across northern Luxembourg through winding, wooded valleys and past historic towns such as Esch-sur-Sure.

Although famous for its picturesque villages, medieval castles, and natural beauty, Luxembourg is a prosperous urban and industrialized nation. Until the 1970s, iron and steel industries dominated Luxembourg’s economy, but depleted iron-ore reserves and declining international demand prompted considerable economic diversification. Other important heavy industries, many of which are financed by foreign investment, include the production of tires, glass, and chemicals. In recent decades the growth of financial services has established Luxembourg as a tax haven and major banking center.

Despite its declaration of neutrality after 1867, Luxembourg was occupied by Germany during both World War I and World War II. After World War II, Luxembourg abandoned its neutrality in support of greater international cooperation. Luxembourg was a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and of the European Economic Community (EEC), a forerunner of the European Union (EU). Most Luxembourgers share a strong sense of national identity and independence, reflected in the national motto, Mir welle bleiwe wat mir sin (“We want to remain what we are”).



Bailey, Anthony. The Horizon Concise History of the Low Countries. American Heritage, 1972. Surveys the cultural, economic, and geographic development of The Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg.

Barteau, Harry C. Historical Dictionary of Luxembourg. Scarecrow, 1996. A guide to the small but prosperous European nation.

Fodor's the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg. Fodor's Travel, 1997. A standard travel guide to Luxembourg and surrounding countries.


Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation.

Article key phrases:

Oesling, medieval castles, European Economic Community, Mosel, national motto, tax haven, industrialized nation, steel industries, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, EEC, tributary, forerunner, foreign investment, NATO, state of Rhode Island, northern region, European Union, founding member, World War II, natural beauty, Germany, Luxembourg, rivers, independence, economy, west, hills, glass, east, chemicals

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