Luxembourg is a small landlocked country in western Europe, sharing 359 km of border with Belgium, Germany and France. Its heritage stretches back to the 10th century, and it has a history with its more powerful neighbours, especially Germany.
As European countries go, The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is among the strongest supporters of multilateral organisations. Luxembourg is one of six founding members of the European Union, a NATO member, a signatory to the Brussels Treaty providing for collective self-defence between its members, and a founding member of the Council of Europe. The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a hereditary constitutional monarchy ruled by a Grand Duke.
With a population of 591,501, Luxembourg has a stable economy, relatively open and 13th largest in the world. This small nation also has one of the highest GDP per capita levels globally. The Industrial sector contributed 11.58% to GDP. 90% of its industrial production is exported, with steel making up 29% of that figure and providing 22% of the country’s industrial employment.
The Service sector is however the backbone of the economy accounting for 78.93% of GDP, and the country is a first-rate financial marketplace. Agriculture contributed only 0.28% to the national GDP.
Luxembourg has a social security system of very high standard, and anyone working here must be a member of a social security fund. The national health care system is highly effective and, in comparison with other WHO member states, is among the highest spenders on health care per capita. Most schools in the country are free public schools, although the Grand Duchy also offers many private and international schools. Schooling is compulsory between the ages of 4 and 16 years.
Though the country gained its full independence only in 1839, Luxembourg City’s roots go way back. Construction of the city’s fortification began around 960.
The Grand duchy is a place of fairy tales. Vestiges of Luxembourg’s medieval history are evident in the towns, villages and countryside all through the country. Reminders can also be found on display in the many museums and in the Casemates, which are underground tunnels built in the 17th century to defend the city.
The country boasts as many as 130 castles throughout the grand duchy. The duchy’s many castles can be discovered in all their authentic magnificence during the Medieval festivals, exhibitions and concerts. The national 37-km hiking trail of the “Valley of the 7 castles” runs through the picturesque Valley of Eisch where the seven magnificent castles stand within fairy tale settings.
The nation’s capital, Luxembourg City, juxtaposes ancient and contemporary wonderfully. The city centre dates back to the middle ages and small; old buildings are not in short supply along with remnants of its medieval past. The valley in the city centre is resplendent with natural scenery complete with a river. The financial centre, Kirchberg, brings grand avenues and glass skyscrapers. The cultural heart of the country boasts plenty of museums, art galleries, bars, and restaurants.
Luxembourg is a member of the European Union and is also part of the Schengen zone. The Schengen group is named after the Luxembourg village of Schengen where the agreements were signed, for the free movement of citizens among member states.
The Schengen borderless policy changed the manner in which the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg participated with European and non-EU visitors. As a Member State, Luxembourg is open to short-stay visitors from 62 countries which participate in the visa liberation policy. Luxembourg nationals are likewise permitted to travel and work within the Schengen zone.
The EU Commission proposed the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) in response to elevated terrorism activity and uncontrolled immigration within Europe. ETIAS will identify potential travellers who present a threat to the security and safety of European citizens. The system requires nationals from the 62 countries currently benefitting from the visa liberation policy to complete an application online and pay a nominal fee before travelling to Europe.
The authorisation is electronically attached to the passport within minutes and is valid either until the passport expires or 3 years.
Australians currently benefit from the visa liberation policy and will have to bear a valid ETIAS prior to travelling to Luxembourg once ETIAS is rolled out in 2021. Similar to Australia’s ETA, Electronic Travel Authorisation, the process will be inexpensive and fast.
Migrants to Australia did not include nationals from Luxembourg over time, and as the nation remained neutral during both world wars, despite being occupied by Germany during wartime, the citizens were not required to take refuge outside of their borders.
Australia and Luxembourg enjoy a constructive and positive bilateral relationship focusing largely on multilateral issues including in the United Nations, the World Trade Organization and international disarmament negotiations.
Australia and Luxembourg have bilateral agreements covering such issues as mutual assistance on criminal matters, extradition and visas.
Australians wanting to visit The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg can presently do so bearing only a valid passport. Once ETIAS is implemented, Australians will have to go through a process similar to Australia’s own ETA and obtain pre-authorisation before embarking. Just like ETA, the process is inexpensive and not at all time-consuming.