Country profile - Distinguishing factors (Luxembourg)
A small country, a small, but very dynamic, economy and a location at the heart of the main western European transit routes for both goods and passengers are key drivers to a very particular country profile. Important demographic growth, the even more significant increase in the number of cross-border commuters, the increasing national and international traffic, the continuous urban sprawling are key factors acting on the environment. Besides their impacts on landscapes and nature, these factors also explain the biggest environmental challenge Luxembourg has to face for the moment: reducing its greenhouse gas emissions through national policies and measures.
With 2 586 km², Luxembourg is the second-smallest Member State of EU, after Malta. The country is located at the heart of the main western European transit routes for both goods and passengers and has direct borders with Belgium, Germany and France. The maximum distance from the northern to the southern borders is some 82 km and from west to east about 57 km.
Luxembourg is mainly covered by agricultural and forest land. In 2009, 86 % of the territory fell in these two categories. The built-up areas occupied about 9 % of the country, whereas water and transport infrastructure represented about 5 % of the total surface.
The north of Luxembourg is part of the Ardennes and is called ‘Ösling’. Its altitude is on average 400 to 500 metres above sea level. The ‘Ösling’ landscape is characterised by hills and deep river valleys. In the South of Luxembourg lies the region ‘Gutland’. This area has higher population and industrial densities than ‘Ösling’. The lowest point in the country (129 m above sea level) is located at the confluence of the Moselle and the Sûre rivers.
Luxembourg has a moderate oceanic western European climate with mild winters and comfortable summers. As shown by the long-term annual averages (WMO reference period from 1961 to 1990) measured at Findel Airport meteorological station, temperatures have a unimodal distribution, with the lowest long-term mean values occurring during January (0.0 °C) and the highest air temperature in July (16.9 °C). Absolute minimum and maximum air temperatures in the reference period 1961-1990 reach from –17.8 °C in January (1979) to 35.1 °C in July (1964).