Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Grand Duchy of Luxembourg

On Wednesday I have a Ryanair flight from Bratislava to Cherleroi, Belgium. Then it’s about 2.5 hours on a bus to reach Luxembourg, the capital city of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. This will be the first stop on my Luxembourg & Belgium getaway.

The country is a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarchy. Luxembourg is ruled by a Grand Duke and is the world’s only remaining sovereign Grand Duchy. It is one of the smallest countries in Europe; just a little smaller than Rhode Island. Luxembourg is known for banking and with a population just over a half million people, it has the world’s highest per capita GDP.

The country also has the highest percentage of foreigners than any other country in Europe. Immigration is encouraged and about 37% of the total population comes from outside of the country. Mostly from Italy, Portugal and the former Yugoslav republics.

Luxembourg is a trilingual country. People speak Luxembourgish, while official business is normally conducted in French and German is used in the media and by the church. All of this is supported by the educational system. The first years of primary school are in Luxembourgish before it switches to German. In secondary school, classes are taught in French. Proficiency in all three languages is required in order to graduate. On top of this, English is also taught as a compulsory subject. This just amazes me!!! It’s a real shame that American students are not required to pass a foreign language in order to graduate high school.

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