What’s the Deal with Luxembourg?

Luxembourg City (Photo by By Martin Röll via Wikipedia)
Luxembourg City (Photo by By Martin Röll via Wikipedia)

On this date in 1867, Luxembourg gained its independence. At just under 1,000 square miles, it’s considered by some to be the largest European microstate.

Here are some things you may not have known about Luxembourg and European microstates.

Luxembourg is a grand duchy, meaning its monarch is a grand duke. It is the only such country remaining in the world.

Luxembourg is a little smaller than Rhode Island, which is the smallest state in the U.S. It’s population of 524,000 is just less than that of Tucson, Arizona.

It was a founding member of the European Union, as you know if you listened to Monday’s podcast. It’s also part of the Benelux union with Belgium and the Netherlands.

It’s capital is Luxembourg City, which would sound like an embarrassingly bad guess if it wasn’t true.

Andorra is the next smallest European state. It’s a principality, meaning it is ruled by a prince, or more specifically for Andorra, co-princes. One of the princes is the the Bishop of Urgell. The other prince is whoever is the president of France. This makes Andorra the only country in the world to have another country elect its monarch.

Malta is a seven-island archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It was part of the British Empire until it became independent in 1964. It became a republic in 1974. Malta was the scene of a 1989 summit between U.S. President George H.W. Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, that was seen as part of the end of the Cold War.

Liechtenstein is also a principality, and one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Its prince is the world’s sixth wealthiest monarch, worth about $5 billion. The country is located between Austria and Switzerland and is the fourth smallest country in Europe.

No. 3 is San Marino, which is the oldest surviving sovereign state in the world. It traces its origins to 301 AD and has survived the various consolidations of Italy. It’s completely surrounded by Italy and is located in the northeastern part of the Italian Peninsula. It is the only country in the world to have more vehicles than people, with 1.2 cars per person. The next closest is also the next smallest country in Europe and that’s Monaco, which has about .8 vehicles per person.

The drop-off in size between San Marino and Monaco is immense. San Marino is about 24 square miles, about the size of the island of Manhattan. Monaco meanwhile, is under one square mile, or about half the size of Manhattan’s Central Park.

Monaco is the smallest country in the world that has a coastline. It’s famous for its casino and grand prix auto race. It’s also well known as a tax haven and a playground for the rich, as it has no individual income tax and low business taxes. As of 2014, about 30 percent of its population was made up of millionaires. Monaco is also the world’s most developed country, according to the Human Development Index.

The smallest country in Europe and the world is Vatican City. Monaco is about 4 and a half times larger. It is about 100 acres and is surrounded by the city of Rome. Its monarch is the Pope and it’s the only remaining absolute monarchy in Europe. It has a population of about 700, which is mostly made up of clergy, but also the Swiss Guard papal security force. Vatican City was established as an independent nation in 1929 with the signing of a treaty in which the church recognized the Italian state and Catholicism was made the state religion of Italy.

Our question: What is the name of the ruling family of Monaco?

Today is National Technology Day in India, Human Rights Day in Vietnam and Statehood Day in Minnesota.

It’s unofficially National Receptionists Day, National Root Canal Appreciation Day and Hostess Cupcake Day.

It’s the birthday of composer Irving Berlin, who was born in 1888; artist Salvador Dali, born in 1904 and soccer star Andres Iniesta, who is 32 today.

Because our topic happened before 1960, we’ll spin the wheel to pick a year at random.

This week in 1987, the top song in the U.S. was “(I Just) Died in Your Arms” by Cutting Crew.

The No. 1 movie was “The Secret of My Success,” while the novel “Fine Things” by Danielle Steel topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.


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