Lynda Page writes a piece for us upon the release of her new book All the Fun of the Fair.
- - - - - - - - - - - - Uruguay (Listeni/ˈjʊərəɡwaɪ/; Spanish: [uɾuˈɣwai]), officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay (Spanish: República Oriental del Uruguay), is a country in the southeastern region of South America. It is bordered by Argentina to its west and Brazil to its north and east, with the Río de la Plata (River of Silver) to the south and with the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast. Uruguay is home to an estimated 3.42 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the metropolitan area of its capital and largest city, Montevideo. With an area of approximately 176,000 square kilometres (68,000 sq mi), Uruguay is geographically the second-smallest nation in South America after Suriname. Uruguay was inhabited by the Charrúa people for approximately 4000 years before the Portuguese established Colonia del Sacramento, one of the oldest European settlements in the country, in 1680. Montevideo was founded as a military stronghold by the Spanish in the early 18th century, signifying the competing claims over the region. Uruguay won its independence between 1811 and 1828, following a four-way struggle between Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Brazil. It remained subject to foreign influence and intervention throughout the 19th century, with the military playing a recurring role in domestic politics until the late 20th century. Modern Uruguay is a democratic constitutional republic, with a president who serves as both head of state and head of government. Uruguay is ranked first in Latin America in democracy, peace, lack of corruption, e-government, and is first in South America when it comes to press freedom, size of the middle class and prosperity. On a per-capita basis, Uruguay contributes more troops to United Nations peace-keeping missions than any other country. It ranks second in the region on economic freedom, income equality, per-capita income and inflows of FDI. Uruguay is the third-best country on the continent in terms of HDI, GDP growth, innovation and infrastructure. It is regarded as a high-income country (top group) by the UN. Uruguay is also the third-best ranked in the world in e-Participation. Uruguay is an important global exporter of combed wool, rice, soybeans, frozen beef, malt and milk. The Economist named Uruguay "country of the year" in 2013, acknowledging the innovative policy of legalizing the production, sale and consumption of cannabis. Same-sex marriage and abortion are also legal, leading Uruguay to be regarded as one of the most liberal nations in the world, and one of the most socially developed, outstanding regionally, and ranking highly on global measures of personal rights, tolerance, and inclusion issues. Contents 1 Etymology 2 History 2.1 Early colonisation 2.2 Independence struggle (1811–1830) 2.3 Blancos–Colorados conflicts 2.3.1 Mass immigration and development 2.4 20th century 2.4.1 Return to democracy (1984–present) 3 Geography 4 Flora 5 Environment 5.1 Climate 5.2 Green Energy Supply 6 Government 6.1 Administrative divisions 6.2 Foreign relations 6.3 Military 7 Economy 7.1 Agriculture 7.2 Transportation 7.3 Telecommunications 7.4 Water supply and sanitation 8 Demographics 8.1 Largest cities 8.2 Health 8.3 Religion 8.4 Language 9 Culture 9.1 Visual arts 9.2 Music 9.3 Literature 9.4 Media 9.5 Cuisine 9.6 Sport 10 Education 11 See also 12 Notes 13 References 14 Further reading 15 External links Etymology The name of the namesake river comes from the Spanish pronunciation of the regional Guarani word for it. There are several interpretations, including "bird-river" ("the river of the urú", via Charruan, urú being a common noun of any wild fowl). The name could also refer a river snail called uruguá (Pomella megastoma) that was plentiful in the water. In Spanish colonial times, and for some time thereafter, Uruguay and some neighbouring territories were called the Cisplatina and Banda Oriental [del Uruguay] ("East Bank [of the river Uruguay]"), then for a few years the "Eastern Province", and after independence ultimately became la República Oriental del Uruguay, translated either as the "Oriental Republic of Uruguay" or the "Eastern Republic of Uruguay". History Main article: History of Uruguay The only documented inhabitants of Uruguay before European colonization of the area were the Charrúa, a small tribe driven south by the Guarani of Paraguay. Early colonisation The Portuguese discovered the region of present-day Uruguay in 1512. The Spanish arrived in present-day Uruguay in 1516. The indigenous peoples' fierce resistance to conquest, combined with the absence of gold and silver, limited their settlement in the region during the 16th and 17th centuries. Uruguay then became a zone of contention between the Spanish and Portuguese empires. In 1603, the Spanish began to introduce cattle, which became a source of wealth in the region. The first permanent Spanish settlement was founded in 1624 at Soriano on the Río Negro. In 1669–71, the Portuguese built a fort at Colonia del Sacramento. Spanish colonization increased as Spain sought to limit Portugal's expansion of Brazil's frontiers. Montevideo was founded by the Spanish in the early 18th century as a military stronghold in the country. Its natural harbor soon developed into a commercial area competing with Río de la Plata's capital, Buenos Aires. Uruguay's early 19th century history was shaped by ongoing fights for dominance in the Platine region, between British, Spanish, Portuguese and other colonial forces. In 1806 and 1807, the British army attempted to seize Buenos Aires and Montevideo as part of the Napoleonic Wars. Montevideo was occupied by a British force from February to September 1807. Independence struggle (1811–1830) The oath of the Thirty-Three Orientals by Uruguayan painter Juan Manuel Blanes Further information: Banda Oriental, Liga Federal, and Cisplatina In 1811, José Gervasio Artigas, who became Uruguay's national hero, launched a successful revolution against the Spanish authorities, defeating them on 18 May at the Battle of Las Piedras. In 1813, the new government in Buenos Aires convened a constituent assembly where Artigas emerged as a champion of federalism, demanding political and economic autonomy for each area, and for the Banda Oriental in particular. The assembly refused to seat the delegates from the Banda Oriental, however, and Buenos Aires pursued a system based on unitary centralism. As a result, Artigas broke with Buenos Aires and besieged Montevideo, taking the city in early 1815. Once the troops from Buenos Aires had withdrawn, the Banda Oriental appointed its first autonomous government. Artigas organized the Federal League under his protection, consisting of six provinces, four of which later became part of Argentina. In 1816, a force of 10,000 Portuguese troops invaded the Banda Oriental from Brazil; they took Montevideo in January 1817. After nearly four more years of struggle, Portuguese Brazil annexed the Banda Oriental as a province under the name of "Cisplatina". The Brazilian Empire became independent from Portugal in 1822. In response to the annexation, the Thirty-Three Orientals, led by Juan Antonio Lavalleja, declared independence on 25 August 1825 supported by the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata (present-day Argentina). This led to the 500-day-long Cisplatine War. Neither side gained the upper hand and in 1828 the Treaty of Montevideo, fostered by the United Kingdom, gave birth to Uruguay as an independent state. The nation's first constitution was adopted on 18 July 1830. Blancos–Colorados conflicts Manuel Oribe, leader of Blancos Further information: Uruguayan Civil War The Battle of Caseros, 1852 At the time of independence, Uruguay had an estimated population of just under 75,000. Era from independence until 1904 was marked by regular military conflicts and civil wars between the Blanco and Colorado Parties. The political scene in Uruguay became split between two parties: the conservative Blancos (Whites) headed by the second President Manuel Oribe, representing the agricultural interests of the countryside; and the liberal Colorados (Reds) led by the first President Fructuoso Rivera, representing the business interests of Montevideo. The Uruguayan parties received support from warring political factions in neighboring Argentina, which became involved in Uruguayan affairs. The Colorados favored the exiled Argentine liberal Unitarios, many of whom had taken refuge in Montevideo while the Blanco president Manuel Oribe was a close friend of the Argentine ruler Manuel de Rosas. On 15 June 1838, an army led by the Colorado leader Rivera overthrew President Oribe, who fled to Argentina. Rivera declared war on Rosas in 1839. The conflict would last 13 years and become known as the Guerra Grande (the Great War). In 1843, an Argentine army overran Uruguay on Oribe's behalf, but failed to take the capital. The siege of Montevideo, which began in February 1843, would last nine years. The besieged Uruguayans called on resident foreigners for help, which led to a French and an Italian legion being formed, the latter led by the exiled Giuseppe Garibaldi. In 1845, Britain and France intervened against Rosas to restore commerce to normal levels in the region. Their efforts proved ineffective and, by 1849, tired of the war, both withdrew after signing a treaty favorable to Rosas. It appeared that Montevideo would finally fall when an uprising against Rosas, led by Justo José de Urquiza governor of Argentina's Entre Ríos Province began. The Brazilian intervention in May 1851 on behalf of the Colorados, combined with the uprising, changed the situation and Oribe was defeated. The siege of Montevideo was lifted and the Guerra Grande finally came to an end. Montevideo rewarded Brazil's support by signing treaties that confirmed Brazil's right to intervene in Uruguay's internal affairs. In accordance with the 1851 treaties, Brazil intervened militarily in Uruguay as often as it deemed necessary. In 1865, the Triple Alliance was formed by the emperor of Brazil, the president of Argentina, and the Colorado general Venancio Flores, the Uruguayan head of government whom they both had helped to gain power. The Triple Alliance declared war on the Paraguayan leader Francisco Solano López and the resulting Paraguayan War ended with the invasion of Paraguay and its defeat by the armies of the three countries. Montevideo, which was used as a supply station by the Brazilian navy, experienced a period of prosperity and relative calm during the war. The constitutional government of General Lorenzo Batlle y Grau (1868–72) suppressed Revolution of the Lances by the Blancos. After two years of struggle, a peace agreement was signed in 1872 that gave the Blancos a share in the emoluments and functions of government, through control of four of the departments of Uruguay. This establishment of the policy of co-participation represented the search for a new formula of compromise, based on the coexistence of the party in power and the party in opposition. Despite this agreement, Colorado rule was threatened by the failed Tricolor Revolution in 1875 and Revolution of the Quebracho in 1886. The Colorado effort to reduce Blancos to only three departments caused a Blanco uprising of 1897, that ended with creation of 16 departments out of which Blancos now had control over six. Blancos were given 1/3 of seats in Congress. This division of power lasted until the President Jose Batlle y Ordonez instituted his political reforms which caused the last uprising by Blancos in 1904 that ended with the Battle of Masoller and death of Blanco leader Aparicio Saravia. Between 1875 and 1890, the military became the center of power. During this authoritarian period, the government took steps toward the organization of the country as a modern state, encouraging its economic and social transformation. Pressure groups (consisting mainly of businessmen, hacendados, and industrialists) were organized and had a strong influence on government. A transition period (1886–90) followed, during which politicians began recovering lost ground and some civilian participation in government occurred. Mass immigration and development Main article: Immigration to Uruguay Juan Idiarte Borda (1844–1897), 17th President of Uruguay and the only one assassinated. After the Guerra Grande, there was a sharp rise in the number of immigrants, primarily from Italy and Spain. By 1879, the total population of the country was over 438,500. The economy saw a steep upswing, above all in livestock raising and exports. Montevideo became a major economic centre of the region and an entrepôt for goods from Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. 20th century The Colorado leader José Batlle y Ordóñez was elected president in 1903. The following year, the Blancos led a rural revolt and eight bloody months of fighting ensued before their leader, Aparicio Saravia, was killed in battle. Government forces emerged victorious, leading to the end of the co-participation politics that had begun in 1872. Batlle had two terms (1903–07 and 1911–15) during which, taking advantage of the nation's stability and growing economic prosperity, he instituted major reforms, such as a welfare program, government participation in many facets of the economy, and a plural executive. Gabriel Terra became president in March 1931. His inauguration coincided with the effects of the Great Depression, and the social climate became tense as a result of the lack of jobs. There were confrontations in which police and leftists died. In 1933, Terra organized a coup d'état, dissolving the General Assembly and governing by decree. A new constitution was promulgated in 1934, transferring powers to the president. In general, the Terra government weakened or neutralized economic nationalism and social reform. In 1938, general elections were held and Terra's brother-in-law, General Alfredo Baldomir, was elected president. Under pressure from organized labor and the National Party, Baldomir advocated free elections, freedom of the press, and a new constitution. Although Baldomir declared Uruguay neutral in 1939, British warships and the German ship Admiral Graf Spee fought a battle not far off Uruguay's coast. The Admiral Graf Spee took refuge in Montevideo, claiming sanctuary in a neutral port, but was later ordered out. In the late 1950s, partly because of a world-wide decrease in demand for agricultural products, Uruguayans suffered from a steep drop in their standard of living, which led to student militancy and labor unrest. An armed group known as the Tupamaros emerged in the 1960s, engaging in activities such as bank robbery, kidnapping and assassination, in addition to attempting an overthrow of the government. President Jorge Pacheco declared a state of emergency in 1968, followed by a further suspension of civil liberties in 1972. In 1973, amid increasing economic and political turmoil, the armed forces, asked by the President Juan María Bordaberry, closed the Congress and established a civilian-military regime. Around 200 Uruguayans are known to have been killed and disappeared, with hundreds more illegally detained and tortured during the 12-year civil-military rule of 1973 to 1985. Most were killed in Argentina and other neighbouring countries, with 36 of them having been killed in Uruguay. Return to democracy (1984–present) The then-Uruguayan president Jorge Batlle with former U.S. president George H. W. Bush in 2003. A new constitution, drafted by the military, was rejected in a November 1980 referendum. Following the referendum, the armed forces announced a plan for the return to civilian rule, and national elections were held in 1984. Colorado Party leader Julio María Sanguinetti won the presidency and served from 1985 to 1990. The first Sanguinetti administration implemented economic reforms and consolidated democracy following the country's years under military rule. The National Party's Luis Alberto Lacalle won the 1989 presidential election and amnesty for human rights abusers was endorsed by referendum. Sanguinetti was then re-elected in 1994. Both presidents continued the economic structural reforms initiated after the reinstatement of democracy, and other important reforms were aimed at improving the electoral system, social security, education, and public safety. The 1999 national elections were held under a new electoral system established by a 1996 constitutional amendment. Colorado Party candidate Jorge Batlle, aided by the support of the National Party, defeated Broad Front candidate Tabaré Vázquez. The formal coalition ended in November 2002, when the Blancos withdrew their ministers from the cabinet, although the Blancos continued to support the Colorados on most issues. Low commodity prices and economic difficulties in Uruguay's main export markets (starting in Brazil with the devaluation of the real, then in Argentina in 2002), caused a severe recession; the economy contracted by 11%, unemployment climbed to 21%, and the percentage of Uruguayans in poverty rose to over 30%. Bicentennial celebrations in 2011. The image shows 500 school children from 19 schools across the country gathered at the Palacio Legislativo. In 2004, Uruguayans elected Tabaré Vázquez as president, while giving the Broad Front a majority in both houses of Parliament. Vázquez stuck to economic orthodoxy. As commodity prices soared and the economy recovered from recession, he tripled foreign investment, cut poverty and unemployment, cut public debt from 79% of GDP to 60%, and kept inflation steady. In 2009, José Mujica, a former left-wing militant who spent almost 15 years in prison during the country's military rule, emerged as the new President as the Broad Front won the election for a second time. Abortion was legalized in 2012, followed by same-sex marriage and cannabis in the following year. Geography A satellite image of Uruguay. Main article: Geography of Uruguay See also: Geology of Uruguay With 176,214 km2 (68,037 sq mi) of continental land and 142,199 km2 (54,903 sq mi) of jurisdictional water and small river islands, Uruguay is the second smallest sovereign nation in South America (after Suriname) and the third smallest territory (French Guiana is the smallest). The landscape features mostly rolling plains and low hill ranges (cuchillas) with a fertile coastal lowland. Uruguay has 660 km (410 mi) of coastline. A dense fluvial network covers the country, consisting of four river basins, or deltas: the Río de la Plata Basin, the Uruguay River, the Laguna Merín and the Río Negro. The major internal river is the Río Negro ('Black River'). Several lagoons are found along the Atlantic coast. The highest point in the country is the Cerro Catedral, whose peak reaches 514 metres (1,686 ft) AMSL in the Sierra Carapé hill range. To the southwest is the Río de la Plata, the estuary of the Uruguay River (which river forms the country's western border). Montevideo is the southernmost capital city in the Americas, and the third most southerly in the world (only Canberra and Wellington are further south). There are ten national parks in Uruguay: Five in the wetland areas of the east, three in the central hill country, and one in the west along the Rio Uruguay. Flora Main article: Flora of Uruguay Ceibo (Erythrina crista-galli), the national flower in Uruguay Uruguay has about 2500 species distributed in 150 biological families, both native and foreign. "Ceibo" or Erythrina crista is the national flower in Uruguay. Environment Climate Maldonado bay. Main article: Climate of Uruguay Located entirely within a temperate zone, Uruguay has a climate that is relatively mild and fairly uniform nationwide. Seasonal variations are pronounced, but extremes in temperature are rare. As would be expected with its abundance of water, high humidity and fog are common. The absence of mountains, which act as weather barriers, makes all locations vulnerable to high winds and rapid changes in weather as fronts or storms sweep across the country. Both summer and winter weather may vary from day to day with the passing of storm fronts, where a hot northerly wind may occasionally be followed by a cold wind (pampero) from the Argentine Pampas. Uruguay has a largely uniform temperature throughout the year, with summers being tempered by winds off the Atlantic; severe cold in winter is unknown. The heaviest precipitation occurs during the autumn months, although more frequent rainy spells occur in winter. The mean annual precipitation is generally greater than 40 inches (1,000 mm), decreasing with distance from the sea coast, and is relatively evenly distributed throughout the year. The average temperature for the midwinter month of July varies from 12 °C (54 °F) at Salto in the northern interior to 9 °C (48 °F) at Montevideo in the south. The midsummer month of January varies from a warm average of 26 °C (79 °F) at Salto to 22 °C (72 °F) at Montevideo. National extreme temperatures at sea level are, Paysandú city 44 °C (111 °F) (20 January 1943) and Melo city −11.0 °C (12.2 °F) (14 June 1967). Punta del Este Green Energy Supply Nearly 95% of Uruguay's electricity comes from renewable energy. The dramatic shift, taking less than ten years and without government funding, lowered electricity costs and slashed the country's carbon footprint.  Most of the electricity comes from hydroelectric facilities and wind parks. Uruguay no longer imports electricity. Government Palacio Legislativo, Montevideo, Uruguay Main article: Politics of Uruguay Uruguay is a representative democratic republic with a presidential system. The members of government are elected for a five-year term by a universal suffrage system. Uruguay is a unitary state: justice, education, health, security, foreign policy and defense are all administered nationwide. The Executive Power is exercised by the president and a cabinet of 13 ministers. The legislative power is constituted by the General Assembly, composed of two chambers: the Chamber of Representatives, consisting of 99 members representing the 19 departments, elected based on proportional representation; and the Chamber of Senators, consisting of 31 members, 30 of whom are elected for a five-year term by proportional representation and the Vice-President, who presides over the chamber. The judicial arm is exercised by the Supreme Court, the Bench and Judges nationwide. The members of the Supreme Court are elected by the General Assembly; the members of the Bench are selected by the Supreme Court with the consent of the Senate; and the judges are directly assigned by the Supreme Court. Uruguay adopted its current constitution in 1967. Many of its provisions were suspended in 1973, but re-established in 1985. Drawing on Switzerland and its use of the initiative, the Uruguayan Constitution also allows citizens to repeal laws or to change the constitution by popular initiative, which culminates in a nationwide referendum. This method has been used several times over the past 15 years: to confirm a law renouncing prosecution of members of the military who violated human rights during the military regime (1973–1985); to stop privatization of public utilities companies; to defend pensioners' incomes; and to protect water resources. For most of Uruguay's history, the Partido Colorado has been in government. However, in the Uruguayan general election, 2009, the Broad Front won an absolute majority in Parliamentary elections, and José Mujica of the Broad Front defeated Luis Alberto Lacalle of the Blancos to win the presidency. A 2010 Latinobarómetro poll found that, within Latin America, Uruguayans are among the most supportive of democracy and by far the most satisfied with the way democracy works in their country. Uruguay ranked 27th in the Freedom House "Freedom in the World" index. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit in 2012, Uruguay scored an 8.17 in the Democracy Index and ranked equal 18th amongst the 25 countries considered to be full democracies in the world. Uruguay ranks 18th in the World Corruption Perceptions Index composed by Transparency International. Administrative divisions A map of the departments of Uruguay. Main article: Administrative divisions of Uruguay Uruguay is divided into 19 departments whose local administrations replicate the division of the executive and legislative powers. Each department elects its own authorities through a universal suffrage system. The departmental executive authority resides in a superintendent and the legislative authority in a departmental board. Department Capital Area Population (2011 census) km2 sq mi Artigas Artigas 11,928 4,605 73,378 Canelones Canelones 4,536 1,751 520,187 Cerro Largo Melo 13,648 5,270 84,698 Colonia Colonia del Sacramento 6,106 2,358 123,203 Durazno Durazno 11,643 4,495 57,088 Flores Trinidad 5,144 1,986 25,050 Florida Florida 10,417 4,022 67,048 Lavalleja Minas 10,016 3,867 58,815 Maldonado Maldonado 4,793 1,851 164,300 Montevideo Montevideo 530 200 1,319,108 Paysandú Paysandú 13,922 5,375 113,124 Río Negro Fray Bentos 9,282 3,584 54,765 Rivera Rivera 9,370 3,620 103,493 Rocha Rocha 10,551 4,074 68,088 Salto Salto 14,163 5,468 124,878 San José San José de Mayo 4,992 1,927 108,309 Soriano Mercedes 9,008 3,478 82,595 Tacuarembó Tacuarembó 15,438 5,961 90,053 Treinta y Tres Treinta y Tres 9,529 3,679 48,134 Total[note 1] — 175,016 67,574 3,286,314 Note: "Doesn't include the 1,199 km2 (463 sq mi) artificial lakes on the Rio Negro.". Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 November 2013. Retrieved 13 September 2013. Foreign relations Main article: Foreign relations of Uruguay Tabaré Vázquez (President from 2005–2010, 2015–present) with then-President of Brazil Lula da Silva in 2007. José Mujica (President from 2010–2015) with then-President of Brazil Lula da Silva in 2010. José Mujica with President of Brazil, Dilma Rouseff in 2011. In November 2010, Uruguay ratified the UNASUR Constitutive Treaty, becoming the ninth nation out of twelve to do so. The treaty was written in 2008 and was to come into force 30 days after the date of receipt of the ninth instrument of ratification. Argentina and Brazil are Uruguay's most important trading partners: Argentina accounted for 20% of total imports in 2009. Since bilateral relations with Argentina are considered a priority, Uruguay denies clearance to British naval vessels bound for the Falkland Islands, and prevents them from calling in at Uruguayan territories and ports for supplies and fuel. A rivalry between the port of Montevideo and the port of Buenos Aires, dating back to the times of the Spanish Empire, has been described as a "port war". Officials of both countries emphasized the need to end this rivalry in the name of regional integration in 2010. Construction of a controversial pulp paper mill in 2007, on the Uruguayan side of the Uruguay River, caused protests in Argentina over fears that it would pollute the environment and lead to diplomatic tensions between the two countries. The ensuing dispute remained a subject of controversy into 2010, particularly after ongoing reports of increased water contamination in the area were later proven to be from sewage discharge from the town of Gualeguaychú in Argentina. In November 2010, Uruguay and Argentina announced they had reached a final agreement for joint environmental monitoring of the pulp mill. Brazil and Uruguay have signed cooperation agreements on defence, science, technology, energy, river transportation and fishing, with the hope of accelerating political and economic integration between these two neighbouring countries. Uruguay has two uncontested boundary disputes with Brazil, over Isla Brasilera and the 235 km2 (91 sq mi) Invernada River region near Masoller. The two countries disagree on which tributary represents the legitimate source of the Quaraí/Cuareim River, which would define the border in the latter disputed section, according to the 1851 border treaty between the two countries. However, these border disputes have not prevented both countries from having friendly diplomatic relations and strong economic ties. So far, the disputed areas remain de facto under Brazilian control, with little to no actual effort by Uruguay to assert its claims. Uruguay has enjoyed friendly relations with the United States since its transition back to democracy. Commercial ties between the two countries have expanded substantially in recent years, with the signing of a bilateral investment treaty in 2004 and a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement in January 2007. The United States and Uruguay have also cooperated on military matters, with both countries playing significant roles in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti. President Mujica backed Venezuela's bid to join Mercosur, and supported Venezuelan Economy Minister Ali Rodriguez to become general secretary of UNASUR, a position previously held by Néstor Kirchner. Venezuela has a deal to sell Uruguay up to 40,000 barrels of oil a day under preferential terms. On 15 March 2011, Uruguay became the seventh South American nation to officially recognize a Palestinian state, although there was no specification for the Palestinian state's borders as part of the recognition. In statements, the Uruguayan government indicated its firm commitment to the Middle East peace process, but refused to specify borders "to avoid interfering in an issue that would require a bilateral agreement". Military Main article: Military of Uruguay The Uruguayan armed forces are constitutionally subordinate to the president, through the minister of defense. Armed forces personnel number about 14,000 for the Army, 6,000 for the Navy, and 3,000 for the Air Force. Enlistment is voluntary in peacetime, but the government has the authority to conscript in emergencies. Since May 2009, homosexuals have been allowed to serve openly in the military after the defence minister signed a decree stating that military recruitment policy would no longer discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. In the fiscal year 2010, the United States provided Uruguay with $1.7 million in military assistance, including $1 million in Foreign Military Financing and $480,000 in International Military Education and Training. Uruguay ranks first in the world on a per capita basis for its contributions to the United Nations peacekeeping forces, with 2,513 soldiers and officers in 10 UN peacekeeping missions. As of February 2010, Uruguay had 1,136 military personnel deployed to Haiti in support of MINUSTAH and 1,360 deployed in support of MONUC in the Congo. In December 2010, Uruguayan Major General Gloodtdofsky, was appointed Chief Military Observer and head of the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan. Economy Graphical depiction of the country's exports in 28 colour-coded categories. Main article: Economy of Uruguay Uruguay experienced a major economic and financial crisis between 1999 and 2002, principally a spillover effect from the economic problems of Argentina. The economy contracted by 11%, and unemployment climbed to 21%. Despite the severity of the trade shocks, Uruguay's financial indicators remained more stable than those of its neighbours, a reflection of its solid reputation among investors and its investment-grade sovereign bond rating, one of only two in South America.[dated info] In 2004, the Batlle government signed a three-year $1.1 billion stand-by arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), committing the country to a substantial primary fiscal surplus, low inflation, considerable reductions in external debt, and several structural reforms designed to improve competitiveness and attract foreign investment. Uruguay terminated the agreement in 2006 following the early repayment of its debt but maintained a number of the policy commitments. Vázquez, who assumed the government in March 2005, created the "Ministry of Social Development" and sought to reduce the country's poverty rate with a $240 million National Plan to Address the Social Emergency (PANES), which provided a monthly conditional cash transfer of approximately $75 to over 100,000 households in extreme poverty. In exchange, those receiving the benefits were required to participate in community work, ensure that their children attended school daily, and had regular health check-ups. In 2005, Uruguay was the first exporter of software in South America. The Frente Amplio government, while continuing payments on Uruguay's external debt, also undertook an emergency plan to attack the widespread problems of poverty and unemployment. The economy grew at an annual rate of 6.7% during the 2004–2008 period. Uruguay's exports markets have been diversified in order to reduce dependency on Argentina and Brazil. Poverty was reduced from 33% in 2002 to 21.7% in July 2008, while extreme poverty dropped from 3.3% to 1.7%. Between the years 2007 and 2009, Uruguay was the only country in the Americas that did not technically experience a recession (two consecutive downward quarters). Unemployment reached a record low of 5.4% in December 2010 before rising to 6.1% in January 2011. While unemployment is still at a low level, the IMF observed a rise in inflationary pressures, and Uruguay's GDP expanded by 10.4% for the first half of 2010. According to IMF estimates, Uruguay was likely to achieve growth in real GDP of between 8% and 8.5% in 2010, followed by 5% growth in 2011 and 4% in subsequent years. Gross public sector debt contracted in the second quarter of 2010, after five consecutive periods of sustained increase, reaching $21.885 billion US dollars, equivalent to 59.5% of the GDP. The growing, use, and sale of cannabis was legalized on 11 December 2013, making Uruguay the first country in the world to fully legalize marijuana. The law was voted at the Uruguayan senate on the same date with 16 votes to approve it and 13 against. Agriculture Main article: Agriculture in Uruguay In 2010, Uruguay's export-oriented agricultural sector contributed to 9.3% of the GDP and employed 13% of the workforce. Official statistics from Uruguay's Agriculture and Livestock Ministry indicate that meat and sheep farming in Uruguay occupies 59.6% of the land. The percentage further increases to 82.4% when cattle breeding is linked to other farm activities such as dairy, forage, and rotation with crops such as rice. According to FAOSTAT, Uruguay is one of the world's largest producers of soybeans (9th), greasy wool (12th), horse meat (14th), beeswax (14th), and quinces (17th). Most farms (25,500 out of 39,120) are family-managed; beef and wool represent the main activities and main source of income for 65% of them, followed by vegetable farming at 12%, dairy farming at 11%, hogs at 2%, and poultry also at 2%. Beef is the main export commodity of the country, totaling over $1 billion US dollars in 2006. In 2007, Uruguay had cattle herds totalling 12 million head, making it the country with the highest number of cattle per capita at 3.8. However, 54% is in the hands of 11% of farmers, who have a minimum of 500 head. At the other extreme, 38% of farmers exploit small lots and have herds averaging below one hundred head. Transportation The Port of Montevideo. Main article: Transport in Uruguay The Port of Montevideo, handling over 1.1 million containers annually, is the most advanced container terminal in South America. Its quay can handle 14-metre draught (46 ft) vessels. Nine straddle cranes allow for 80 to 100 movements per hour. The port of Nueva Palmira is a major regional merchandise transfer point and houses both private and government-run terminals. Carrasco Airport was initially inaugurated in 1947 and in 2009, Puerta del Sur, the airport owner and operator, with an investment of $165 million, commissioned Rafael Viñoly Architects to expand and modernize the existing facilities with a spacious new passenger terminal to increase capacity and spur commercial growth and tourism in the region. The London-based magazine Frontier chose the Carrasco International Airport, serving Montevideo, as one of the best four airports in the world in its 27th edition. The airport can handle up to 4.5 million users per year. PLUNA was the flag carrier of Uruguay, and was headquartered in Carrasco. The Laguna del Sauce Airport, located 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from Punta del Este, was remodeled in 1997, and runways have been renovated through a private investment concession. The Administración de Ferrocarriles del Estado is the autonomous agency in charge of rail transport and the maintenance of the railroad network. Uruguay has about 1,200 km (750 mi) of operational railroad track. Until 1947, about 90% of the railroad system was British-owned. In 1949, the government nationalized the railways, along with the electric trams and the Montevideo Waterworks Company. However, in 1985 the "National Transport Plan" suggested passenger trains were too costly to repair and maintain. Cargo trains would continue for loads more than 120 tons, but bus transportation became the "economic" alternative for travellers. The last passenger train rolled into Montevideo on 2 January 1988. Surfaced roads connect Montevideo to the other urban centers in the country, the main highways leading to the border and neighboring cities. Numerous unpaved roads connect farms and small towns. Overland trade has increased markedly since Mercosur (Southern Common Market) was formed in the 1990s. Most of the country's domestic freight and passenger service is by road rather than rail. Telecommunications Main article: Communications in Uruguay Telecommunications in Uruguay are more developed than in most other Latin American countries, being the first country in the Americas to achieve complete digital telephony coverage in 1997. The telephone system is completely digitized and has very good coverage over all the country. The system is government-owned, and there have been controversial proposals to partially privatize since the 1990s. The mobile phone market is shared by the state-owned ANTEL and two private companies, Movistar and Claro. Water supply and sanitation Main article: Water supply and sanitation in Uruguay Uruguay is the only country in Latin America that has achieved quasi-universal coverage of access to safe drinking Water supply and adequate sanitation. Water service quality is considered good, with practically all localities in Uruguay receiving disinfected water on a continuous basis. 70% of wastewater collected by the national utility was treated. Given these achievements, the government's priority is to improve the efficiency of services and to expand access to sewerage, where appropriate, in areas where on-site sanitation is used. Demographics Racial and Ethnic Composition in Uruguay (2011 census) Race/Colour White 87.7% Black 4.6% Indigenous 2.4% Other/none 5.1% Asian 0.2% Further information: Uruguayan people, Demographics of Uruguay, and Italian Uruguayan Montevideo is the capital and largest city of Uruguay Uruguayans are of predominantly European origin, with over 87.7% of the population claiming European descent in the 2011 census. Most Uruguayans of European ancestry are descendants of 19th and 20th century immigrants from Spain and Italy (about one-quarter of the population is of Italian origin), and to a lesser degree France, Germany and Britain. Earlier settlers had migrated from Argentina. People of African descent make up an even smaller proportion of the total. From 1963 to 1985, an estimated 320,000 Uruguayans emigrated. The most popular destinations for Uruguayan emigrants are Argentina, followed by the United States, Australia, Canada, Spain, Italy and France. In 2009, for the first time in 44 years, the country saw an overall positive influx when comparing immigration to emigration. 3,825 residence permits were awarded in 2009, compared with 1,216 in 2005. 50% of new legal residents come from Argentina and Brazil. A migration law passed in 2008 gives immigrants the same rights and opportunities that nationals have, with the requisite of proving a monthly income of $650. Uruguay's rate of population growth is much lower than in other Latin American countries. Its median age is higher than the global average due to its low birth rate, high life expectancy, and relatively high rate of emigration among younger people. A quarter of the population is less than 15 years old and about a sixth are aged 60 and older. Metropolitan Montevideo is the only large city, with around 1.9 million inhabitants, or more than half the country's total population. The rest of the urban population lives in about 30 towns. Largest cities v t e Largest cities or towns in Uruguay http://ift.tt/2a64V1u Rank Name Department Pop. Rank Name Department Pop. Montevideo Montevideo Salto Salto 1 Montevideo Montevideo 1,304,687 11 Artigas Artigas 40,657 Ciudad de la Costa Ciudad de la Costa Paysandú Paysandú 2 Salto Salto 104,011 12 Minas Lavalleja 38,446 3 Ciudad de la Costa Canelones 95,176 13 San José de Mayo San José 36,743 4 Paysandú Paysandú 76,412 14 Durazno Durazno 34,368 5 Las Piedras Canelones 71,258 15 Florida Florida 33,639 6 Rivera Rivera 64,465 16 Barros Blancos Canelones 31,650 7 Maldonado Maldonado 62,590 17 Ciudad del Plata San José 31,145 8 Tacuarembó Tacuarembó 54,755 18 San Carlos Maldonado 27,471 9 Melo Cerro Largo 51,830 19 Colonia del Sacramento Colonia 26,231 10 Mercedes Soriano 41,974 20 Pando Canelones 25,947 Health Health statistics: Fertility rate – 140th most fertile, at 1.89 per woman Birth rate – 157th most births, at 13.91 per 1000 people Infant mortality – 128th most deaths, at 1 per 1000 live births Death rate – 84th death rate at 9.16 per 1000 people Life expectancy – 47th at 76.4 years Suicide rate – 24th suicide rate per 100,000 (15.1 for males and 6.4 for females) HIV/AIDS rate – 108th at 0.30% Religion Religion in Uruguay (2008) Religion Percent Roman Catholic 45.7% Non-Catholic Christian 9.0% Nonsectarian believers 30.1% Atheist 12.0% Agnostic 2.0% Other 1.2% Main article: Religion in Uruguay Uruguay has no official religion; church and state are officially separated, and religious freedom is guaranteed. A 2008 survey by the INE of Uruguay showed Catholicism as the main religion, with 45.7% of the population; 9.0% are non-Catholic Christians, 0.6% are Animists or Umbandists (an Afro-Brazilian religion), and 0.4% Jewish. 30.1% reported believing in a god, but not belonging to any religion, while 14% were Atheist or Agnostic. Among the sizeable Armenian community in Montevideo, the dominant religion is Christianity, specifically Armenian Apostolic. Political observers consider Uruguay the most secular country in the Americas. Uruguay's secularization began with the relatively minor role of the church in the colonial era, compared with other parts of the Spanish Empire. The small numbers of Uruguay's Indians and their fierce resistance to proselytism reduced the influence of the ecclesiastical authorities. After independence, anti-clerical ideas spread to Uruguay, particularly from France, further eroding the influence of the church. In 1837, civil marriage was recognized and in 1861 the state took over the running of public cemeteries. In 1907, divorce was legalized and in 1909, all religious instruction was banned from state schools. Under the influence of the innovative Colorado reformer José Batlle y Ordóñez (1903–1911), complete separation of church and state was introduced with the new constitution of 1917. Language Main article: Rioplatense Spanish Uruguayan Spanish has some modifications due to the considerable number of Italian immigrants. Immigrants used to speak a mixture of Spanish and Italian known as 'cocoliche' and some of the words are still commonly used by the population. As is the case with neighboring Argentina, Uruguay employs both voseo and yeísmo (with [ʃ] or [ʒ]). English is common in the business world and its study has risen significantly in recent years, especially among the young. Other languages include Portuguese and Portuñol (a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese). Both are spoken in the northern regions near the Brazilian border. As few native people exist in the population, no indigenous languages are thought to remain in Uruguay. Culture Main article: Culture of Uruguay Uruguayan culture is strongly European and its influences from southern Europe are particularly important. The tradition of the gaucho has been an important element in the art and folklore of both Uruguay and Argentina. Visual arts A "livable sculpture", Carlos Páez Vilaró's Casapueblo was his home, hotel and museum. A prominent exponent of Uruguayan art was abstract painter and sculptor Carlos Páez Vilaró. He drew from both Timbuktu and Mykonos to create his best-known work: his home, hotel and atelier Casapueblo near Punta del Este. Casapueblo is a "livable sculpture" and draws thousands of visitors from around the world. The 19th-century painter Juan Manuel Blanes, whose works depict historical events, was the first Uruguayan artist to gain widespread recognition. The Post-Impressionist painter Pedro Figari achieved international renown for his pastel studies of subjects in Montevideo and the countryside. Blending elements of art and nature the work of the landscape architect Leandro Silva Delgado (es) has also earned international prominence. Uruguay has a small but growing film industry, and movies such as Whisky by Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll (2004), Marcelo Bertalmío's Los días con Ana (2000; "Days with Ana") and Ana Díez's Paisito (2008), about the 1973 military coup, have earned international honours. Music La cumparsita Menu 0:00 It is among the most famous and recognizable tangos of all time. Problems playing this file? See media help. Main article: Music of Uruguay The folk and popular music of Uruguay shares not only its gaucho roots with Argentina, but also those of the tango. One of the most famous tangos, "La cumparsita" (1917), was written by the Uruguayan composer Gerardo Matos Rodríguez. The candombe is a folk dance performed at Carnival, especially Uruguayan Carnival, mainly by Uruguayans of African ancestry. The guitar is the preferred musical instrument, and in a popular traditional contest called the payada two singers, each with a guitar, take turns improvising verses to the same tune. Folk music is called canto popular and includes some guitar players and singers such as Alfredo Zitarrosa, José Carbajal "El Sabalero", Daniel Viglietti, Los Olimareños, and Numa Moraes. Numerous radio stations and musical events reflect the popularity of rock music and the Caribbean genres, known as música tropical ("tropical music"). Early classical music in Uruguay showed heavy Spanish and Italian influence, but since the 20th century a number of composers of classical music, including Eduardo Fabini, Vicente Ascone (es), and Héctor Tosar, have made use of Latin American musical idioms. Tango has also had an impact on Uruguayan culture, especially during the 20th century, especially the ´30s and ´40s with Uruguayan singers such as Julio Sosa from Las Piedras. When the famous tango singer Carlos Gardel was 29 years old he changed his nationality to be Uruguayan, saying he was born in Tacuarembó, but this subterfuge was probably done to keep French authorities from arresting him for failing to register in the French Army for World War I. Gardel was born in France and was raised in Buenos Aires. He never lived in Uruguay. Nevertheless, a Carlos Gardel museum was established in 1999 in Valle Edén, near Tacuarembó. Rock and roll first broke into Uruguayan audiences with the arrival of the Beatles and other British bands in the early 1960s. A wave of bands appeared in Montevideo, including Los Shakers, Los Mockers, Los Iracundos, Los Moonlights, and Los Malditos, who became major figures in the so-called Uruguayan Invasion of Argentina. Popular bands of the Uruguayan Invasion sang in English. Popular Uruguayan rock bands include La Vela Puerca, No Te Va Gustar, El Cuarteto de Nos, Once Tiros, La Trampa, Chalamadre, Snake, Buitres, and Cursi. In 2004, the Uruguayan musician and actor Jorge Drexler won an Academy Award for composing the song "Al otro lado del río" from the movie The Motorcycle Diaries, which narrated the life of Che Guevara. Literature José Enrique Rodó Main article: Uruguayan literature José Enrique Rodó (1871–1917), a modernist, is considered Uruguay's most significant literary figure. His book Ariel (1900) deals with the need to maintain spiritual values while pursuing material and technical progress. Besides stressing the importance of upholding spiritual over materialistic values, it also stresses resisting cultural dominance by Europe and the United States. The book continues to influence young writers. Notable amongst Latin American playwrights is Florencio Sánchez (1875–1910), who wrote plays about contemporary social problems that are still performed today. From about the same period came the romantic poetry of Juan Zorrilla de San Martín (1855–1931), who wrote epic poems about Uruguayan history. Also notable are Juana de Ibarbourou (1895–1979), Delmira Agustini (1866–1914), Idea Vilariño (1920–2009), and the short stories of Horacio Quiroga and Juan José Morosoli (1899–1959). The psychological stories of Juan Carlos Onetti (such as "No Man's Land" and "The Shipyard") have earned widespread critical praise, as have the writings of Mario Benedetti. Uruguay's best-known contemporary writer is Eduardo Galeano, author of Las venas abiertas de América Latina (1971; "Open Veins of Latin America") and the trilogy Memoria del fuego (1982–87; "Memory of Fire"). Other modern Uruguayan writers include Mario Levrero, Sylvia Lago, Jorge Majfud, and Jesús Moraes. Uruguayans of many classes and backgrounds enjoy reading historietas, comic books that often blend humour and fantasy with thinly veiled social criticism. Media The Reporters Without Borders worldwide press freedom index has ranked Uruguay as 37th of 178 reported countries in 2010. Freedom of speech and media are guaranteed by the constitution, with qualifications for inciting violence or "insulting the nation". Uruguayans have access to more than 100 private daily and weekly newspapers, more than 100 radio stations, and some 20 terrestrial television channels, and cable TV is widely available. Uruguay's long tradition of freedom of the press was severely curtailed during the years of military dictatorship. On his first day in office in March 1985, Sanguinetti re-established complete freedom of the press. Consequently, Montevideo's newspapers, which account for all of Uruguay's principal daily newspapers, greatly expanded their circulations. State-run radio and TV are operated by the official broadcasting service SODRE. Some newspapers are owned by, or linked to, the main political parties. El Día was the nation's most prestigious paper until its demise in the early 1990s, founded in 1886 by the Colorado party leader and (later) president José Batlle y Ordóñez. El País, the paper of the rival Blanco Party, has the largest circulation. Búsqueda is Uruguay's most important weekly news magazine and serves as an important forum for political and economic analysis. Although it sells only about 16,000 copies a week, its estimated readership exceeds 50,000. MercoPress is an independent news agency focusing on news related to Mercosur and is based in Montevideo. Cuisine Main article: Uruguayan cuisine The local hot drink mate being consumed in transit Beef is fundamental to Uruguayan cuisine, and the country is one of the world's top consumers of red meat per capita. Asado, a kind of barbecued beef, is the national dish in Uruguay, and other popular foods include beef platters, chivito (steak sandwiches), pasta, barbecued kidneys, and sausages. Locally produced soft drinks, beer, and wine are commonly served, as is clericó, a mixture of fruit juice and wine. Uruguay and Argentina share a national drink called mate. Grappamiel, made with alcohol and honey, is served in the cold mornings of autumn and winter to warm up the body. Often locals can be seen carrying leather cases containing a thermos of hot water, the traditional hollowed gourd called a mate or guampa, a metal straw called a bombilla, and the dried yerba mate leaves. Sweet treats, including crème caramel with dulce de leche and alfajores (shortbread cookies), are favorites for desserts or afternoon snacks. Other Uruguayan dishes include morcilla dulce (a type of blood sausage cooked with ground orange fruit, orange peel, and walnuts), chorizo, milanesa (a breaded veal cutlet similar to the Austrian Wiener Schnitzel), snacks such as olímpicos (club sandwiches), húngaras (spicy sausage in a hot dog roll), "tortas fritas" (similar to elephant ears, and traditionally eaten when it rains), "martin fierro" (a bread-less sandwich of cheese and quince paste), postre chaja (a cake made mostly from meringue and peaches in syrup), "pascualina" (kale and egg pie), "pastafrola" (a quince pie) and masas surtidas (bite-sized pastries), many of which are of Spanish and Italian origin, like the "massini". Sport Centenario Stadium Main article: Sport in Uruguay Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Uruguay. The first international match outside the British Isles was played between Uruguay and Argentina in Montevideo in July 1902. Uruguay won gold at the 1924 Paris Olympic Games and again in 1928 in Amsterdam. The Uruguay national football team has won the FIFA World Cup on two occasions. Uruguay won the inaugural tournament on home soil in 1930 and again in 1950, famously defeating home favourites Brazil in the final match. Uruguay has won the Copa América (an international tournament for South American nations and guests) more than any other country, their victory in 2011 making a total of 15 Copa Américas won. Uruguay has by far the smallest population of any country that has won a World Cup. Despite their early success, they have only qualified for three of the last six World Cups. Uruguay performed very credibly in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, having reached the semi-final for the first time in 40 years. Diego Forlán was presented with the Golden Ball award as the best player of the 2010 tournament. In the rankings for June 2012, Uruguay were ranked the second best team in the world, according to the FIFA world rankings, their highest ever point in football history, falling short of the first spot to the Spain national football team. Uruguay exported 1,414 football players during the 2000s, almost as many players as Brazil and Argentina. In 2010, the Uruguayan government enacted measures intended to retain players in the country. Football was taken to Uruguay by English sailors and labourers in the late 19th century. Less successfully, they introduced rugby and cricket. There are two Montevideo-based football clubs, Nacional and Peñarol, who are successful in domestic and South American tournaments and have won three Intercontinental Cups each. Education Main article: Education in Uruguay Education in Uruguay is secular, free, and compulsory for 14 years, starting at the age of 4. The system is divided into six levels of education: early childhood (3–5 years); primary (6–11 years); basic secondary (12–14 years); upper secondary (15–17 years); higher education (18 and up); and post-graduate education. Public education is the primary responsibility of three institutions: the Ministry of Education and Culture, which coordinates education policies, the National Public Education Administration, which formulates and implements policies on early to secondary education, and the University of the Republic, responsible for higher education. In 2009, the government planned to invest 4.5% of GDP in education. Uruguay ranks high on standardised tests such as PISA at a regional level, but compares unfavourably to the OECD average, and is also below some countries with similar levels of income. In the 2006 PISA test, Uruguay had one of the greatest standard deviations among schools, suggesting significant variability by socio-economic level. Uruguay is part of the One Laptop per Child project, and in 2009 became the first country in the world to provide a laptop for every primary school student, as part of the Plan Ceibal. Over the 2007–2009 period, 362,000 pupils and 18,000 teachers were involved in the scheme; around 70% of the laptops were given to children who did not have computers at home. The OLPC programme represents less than 5% of the country's education budget.
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WAKANDA FTW: 'Black Panther' just broke a handful of records at the box office thanks to its seismic opening weekend. - - - - - - - - - - - - Luxembourg Listeni/ˈlʌksəmbɜːrɡ/ (Luxembourgish: Lëtzebuerg; German: Luxemburg), officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg,[note 1] is a landlocked country in western Europe. It is bordered by Belgium to the west and north, Germany to the east, and France to the south. Its capital Luxembourg City is together with Brussels and Strasbourg one of the three official capitals of the European Union and seat of the European Court of Justice, highest juridical instance in the EU. Its culture, people and languages are highly intertwined with its neighbors, making it essentially a mixture of French and Germanic cultures. The repeated invasions by its neighbor countries, especially in World War II, resulted in the country's strong will for mediation between France and Germany and led to the foundation of the European Union. It comprises two principal regions: the Oesling in the north as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland ("Good Land") in the south. With an area of 2,586 square kilometres (998 sq mi), it is one of the smallest sovereign states in Europe (about the same size as the state of Rhode Island or the English county of Northamptonshire). Luxembourg had a population of 524,853 in October 2012, ranking it the 8th least-populous country in Europe. As a representative democracy with a constitutional monarch, it is headed by a grand duke, Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and is the world's only remaining grand duchy. Luxembourg is a developed country, with an advanced economy and the world's highest GDP (PPP) per capita, according to the United Nations in 2014. Its central location has historically made it of great strategic importance to numerous powers, dating back to its founding as a Roman fortress, its hosting of a vital Frankish castle during the Early Middle Ages, and its role as a bastion for the Spanish Road between the 16th and 17th centuries. Luxembourg is a founding member of the European Union, OECD, United Nations, NATO, and Benelux, reflecting its political consensus in favour of economic, political, and military integration. The city of Luxembourg, which is the country's capital and largest city, is the seat of several institutions and agencies of the EU. Luxembourg served on the United Nations Security Council for the years 2013 and 2014, which was a first in the country's history. In 2016, Luxembourgish citizens had visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 172 countries and territories, ranking the Luxembourgian passport 6th in the world, tied with countries such as Canada and Switzerland. Contents 1 History 1.1 County 1.2 Duchy 1.3 Nineteenth century 1.4 Twentieth century 2 Politics 2.1 Administrative divisions 2.2 Foreign relations 2.3 Military 3 Geography 3.1 Climate 4 Economy 4.1 Transport 4.2 Communications 4.3 Data centres 5 Demographics 5.1 Ethnicity 5.2 Language 5.3 Religion 5.4 Education 5.5 Health 6 Culture 6.1 Sports 6.2 Cuisine 6.3 Media 7 See also 8 Footnotes 9 References 10 Further reading 11 External links History Main article: History of Luxembourg Charles IV, the 14th century Holy Roman Emperor and king of Bohemia from the House of Luxembourg. Historic map (undated) of Luxembourg city's fortifications Photograph of the fortress of Luxembourg prior to demolition in 1867 County Main article: County of Luxemburg The recorded history of Luxembourg begins with the acquisition of Lucilinburhuc (today Luxembourg Castle) situated on the Bock rock by Siegfried, Count of Ardennes, in 963 through an exchange act with St. Maximin's Abbey, Trier. Around this fort, a town gradually developed, which became the centre of a state of great strategic value. Duchy Main article: Duchy of Luxemburg In the 14th and early 15th centuries, three members of the House of Luxembourg reigned as Holy Roman Emperors. In 1437, the House of Luxembourg suffered a succession crisis, precipitated by the lack of a male heir to assume the throne, which led to the territories being sold by Duchess Elisabeth to Philip the Good of Burgundy. In the following centuries, Luxembourg's fortress was steadily enlarged and strengthened by its successive occupants, the Bourbons, Habsburgs, Hohenzollerns and the French. Nineteenth century See also: History of rail transport in Luxembourg After the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, Luxembourg was disputed between Prussia and the Netherlands. The Congress of Vienna formed Luxembourg as a Grand Duchy within the German Confederation in personal union with the Netherlands, being at the same time a part of the Netherlands and ruled as one of its provinces, with the Fortress of Luxembourg manned by Prussian troops. This arrangement was revised by the 1839 First Treaty of London, from which date Luxembourg's full independence is reckoned. Luxembourg City: The Passerelle, also known as the viaduct or old bridge, over the Pétrusse river valley, opened 1861 At the time of the Belgian Revolution of 1830–1839, and by the 1839 Treaty establishing full independence, Luxembourg's territory was reduced by more than half, as the predominantly francophone western part of the country was transferred to Belgium. In 1842, Luxembourg joined the German Customs Union (Zollverein). This resulted in the opening of the German market, the development of Luxembourg's steel industry, and expansion of Luxembourg's railway network from 1855 to 1875, particularly the construction of the Luxembourg-Thionville railway line, with connections from there to the European industrial regions. While Prussian troops still manned the fortress, in 1861 the Passerelle was opened, the first road bridge spanning the Pétrusse river valley, connecting the Ville Haute and the main fortification on the Bock with Luxembourg railway station, opened in 1859, on the then fortified Bourbon plateau to the south. After the Luxembourg Crisis of 1866 nearly led to war between Prussia and France, the Grand Duchy's independence and neutrality were again affirmed by the 1867 Second Treaty of London, Prussia's troops were withdrawn from the Fortress of Luxembourg and its Bock and surrounding fortifications were dismantled. The King of the Netherlands remained Head of State as Grand Duke of Luxembourg, maintaining personal union between the two countries until 1890. At the death of William III, the Netherlands throne passed to his daughter Wilhelmina, while Luxembourg (then restricted to male heirs by the Nassau Family Pact) passed to Adolph of Nassau-Weilburg. At the time of the Franco-Prussian war in 1870, despite allegations about French use of the Luxembourg railways for passing soldiers from Metz (then part of France) through the Duchy, and for forwarding provisions to Thionville, Luxembourg's neutrality was respected by Germany, and neither France nor Germany invaded the country. But in 1871, as a result of Germany's victory over France, Luxembourg's boundary with Lorraine, containing Metz and Thionville, changed from being a frontier with a part of France to a frontier with territory annexed to the German Empire as Alsace-Lorraine under the Treaty of Frankfurt. This allowed Germany the military advantage of controlling and expanding the railways there. View to Place de la Constitution and Gëlle Fra monument, from the capital's Metz square at the Adolphe Bridge end of Avenue de la Liberté, connecting with the railway station Twentieth century Frontier with German Empire's Alsace-Lorraine, from 1871 to 1918 In August 1914, Imperial Germany violated Luxembourg's neutrality by invading it in its war against France. This allowed Germany to use the railway lines, while at the same time denying them to France. Nevertheless, despite the German occupation, Luxembourg was allowed to maintain much of its independence and political mechanisms. Current cross-border railway network, connecting Luxembourg City with Luxembourg's neighbouring countries, north (Belgium) – south (France) and east (Germany) – west (France) In 1940, after the outbreak of World War II, Luxembourg's neutrality was again violated when the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany entered the country, "entirely without justification". In contrast to the First World War, under the German occupation of Luxembourg during World War II, the country was treated as German territory and informally annexed to the adjacent province of the Third Reich. A government in exile based in London supported the Allies, sending a small group of volunteers who participated in the Normandy invasion. Luxembourg was liberated in September 1944, and became a founding member of the United Nations in 1945. Luxembourg's neutral status under the constitution formally ended in 1948, and in 1949 it became a founding member of NATO. In 1951, Luxembourg became one of the six founding countries of the European Coal and Steel Community, which in 1957 would become the European Economic Community and in 1993 the European Union, and in 1999 Luxembourg joined the euro currency area. In 2005, a referendum on the EU treaty establishing a constitution for Europe was held in Luxembourg. Politics Main articles: Politics of Luxembourg and Law of Luxembourg Luxembourg is a parliamentary democracy headed by a constitutional monarch. Under the constitution of 1868, executive power is exercised by the Grand Duke and the cabinet, which consists of several other ministers. The Grand Duke has the power to dissolve the legislature, in which case new elections must be held within three months. However, since 1919, sovereignty has resided with the Nation, exercised by the Grand Duke in accordance with the Constitution and the law. Legislative power is vested in the Chamber of Deputies, a unicameral legislature of sixty members, who are directly elected to five-year terms from four constituencies. A second body, the Council of State (Conseil d'État), composed of twenty-one ordinary citizens appointed by the Grand Duke, advises the Chamber of Deputies in the drafting of legislation. The Grand Duchy has three lower tribunals (justices de paix; in Esch-sur-Alzette, the city of Luxembourg, and Diekirch), two district tribunals (Luxembourg and Diekirch) and a Superior Court of Justice (Luxembourg), which includes the Court of Appeal and the Court of Cassation. There is also an Administrative Tribunal and an Administrative Court, as well as a Constitutional Court, all of which are located in the capital. Administrative divisions Main articles: Districts of Luxembourg, Cantons of Luxembourg, and Communes of Luxembourg Further information: Administrative divisions of Luxembourg Luxembourg is divided into 3 districts, which are further divided into 12 cantons and then 105 communes. Twelve of the communes have city status, of which the city of Luxembourg is the largest. The districts are Diekirch, Grevenmacher, and Luxembourg. The three Partitions of Luxembourg have greatly reduced Luxembourg's territory. Districts of Luxembourg Foreign relations Main article: Foreign relations of Luxembourg Luxembourg has long been a prominent supporter of European political and economic integration. In efforts foreshadowing European integration, Luxembourg and Belgium in 1921 formed the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union (BLEU) to create an inter-exchangeable currency and a common customs regime. Luxembourg is a member of the Benelux Economic Union and was one of the founding members of the European Economic Community (now the European Union). It also participates in the Schengen Group (named after the Luxembourg village of Schengen where the agreements were signed), whose goal is the free movement of citizens among member states. At the same time, the majority of Luxembourgers have consistently believed that European unity makes sense only in the context of a dynamic transatlantic relationship, and thus have traditionally pursued a pro-NATO, pro-US foreign policy. Luxembourg is the site of the European Court of Justice, the European Court of Auditors, the Statistical Office of the European Communities ("Eurostat") and other vital EU organs. The Secretariat of the European Parliament is located in Luxembourg, but the Parliament usually meets in Brussels and sometimes in Strasbourg. Military Main article: Luxembourg Army A NATO owned AWACS aircraft. Luxembourg contributes an army of about 800 soldiers and 100 civil servants to its defense and to NATO. As a landlocked country, it has no navy. Luxembourg also lacks an air force, though the 17 NATO AWACS aeroplanes are, for convenience, registered as aircraft of Luxembourg. In accordance with a joint agreement with Belgium, both countries have put forth funding for one A400M military cargo plane. Geography Main article: Geography of Luxembourg The largest towns are Luxembourg, Esch-sur-Alzette, Dudelange, and Differdange. Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in Europe, and ranked 179th in size of all the 194 independent countries of the world; the country is about 2,586 square kilometres (998 sq mi) in size, and measures 82 km (51 mi) long and 57 km (35 mi) wide. It lies between latitudes 49° and 51° N, and longitudes 5° and 7° E. To the east, Luxembourg borders the German Bundesland of Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, and, to the south, it borders the French région of Lorraine. The Grand Duchy borders the Belgian Walloon Region, in particular the latter's provinces of Luxembourg and Liège, part of which comprises the German-speaking Community of Belgium, to the west and to the north respectively. The northern third of the country is known as the 'Oesling', and forms part of the Ardennes. It is dominated by hills and low mountains, including the Kneiff near Wilwerdange, which is the highest point, at 560 metres (1,837 ft). Other mountains are the 'Buurgplaaz' at 559 metres near Huldange and the 'Napoléonsgaard' at 554 metres near Rambrouch. The region is sparsely populated, with only one town (Wiltz) with a population of more than four thousand people. Countryside of Alscheid. The southern two-thirds of the country is called the "Gutland", and is more densely populated than the Oesling. It is also more diverse, and can be divided into five geographic sub-regions. The Luxembourg plateau, in south-central Luxembourg, is a large, flat, sandstone formation, and the site of the city of Luxembourg. Little Switzerland, in the east of Luxembourg, has craggy terrain and thick forests. The Moselle valley is the lowest-lying region, running along the southeastern border. The Red Lands, in the far south and southwest, are Luxembourg's industrial heartland and home to many of Luxembourg's largest towns. The border between Luxembourg and Germany is formed by three rivers: the Moselle, the Sauer, and the Our. Other major rivers are the Alzette, the Attert, the Clerve, and the Wiltz. The valleys of the mid-Sauer and Attert form the border between the Gutland and the Oesling. According to the 2012 Environmental Performance Index, Luxembourg is one of the world's best performers in environmental protection, ranking 4th out of 132 assessed countries Luxembourg also ranks 6th among the top ten most livable cities in the world by Mercer's. Climate Luxembourg has an oceanic climate (Köppen: Cfb), marked by high precipitation, particularly in late summer. The summers are cool and winters mild. Economy Main article: Economy of Luxembourg Graphical depiction of Luxembourg's product exports in 28 colour-coded categories. Luxembourg's stable and high-income market economy features moderate growth, low inflation, and a high level of innovation. Unemployment is traditionally low, although it had risen to 6.1% by May 2012, due largely to the effect of the 2008 global financial crisis. Consequently, Luxembourg's economy was forecast to have negligible growth in 2012. In 2011, according to the IMF, Luxembourg was the second richest country in the world, with a per capita GDP on a purchasing-power parity (PPP) basis of $80,119. Luxembourg is ranked 13th in the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom, 26th in the United Nations Human Development Index, and 4th in the Economist Intelligence Unit's quality of life index. External debt of Luxembourg is extremely high when external debt per capita or debt-to-GDP ratio is taken into consideration. External debt per capita (2014) is $3,696,467 and as a percentage of GDP it is 3443%, the world's highest by both measurements.[better source needed] The industrial sector, which was dominated by steel until the 1960s, has since diversified to include chemicals, rubber, and other products. During the past decades, growth in the financial sector has more than compensated for the decline in steel production. Services, especially banking and finance, account for the majority of economic output. Luxembourg is the world's second largest investment fund centre (after the United States), the most important private banking centre in the eurozone and Europe's leading centre for reinsurance companies. Moreover, the Luxembourg government has aimed to attract internet start-ups, with Skype and Amazon being two of the many internet companies that have shifted their regional headquarters to Luxembourg. In April 2009, concern about Luxembourg's banking secrecy laws, as well as its reputation as a tax haven, led to its being added to a "grey list" of nations with questionable banking arrangements by the G20. In response, the country soon after adopted OECD standards on exchange of information and was subsequently added into the category of "jurisdictions that have substantially implemented the internationally agreed tax standard". In March 2010, the Sunday Telegraph reported that most of Kim Jong-Il's $4 billion in secret accounts is in Luxembourg banks. Amazon.co.uk also benefits from Luxembourg tax loopholes by channeling substantial UK revenues as reported by The Guardian in April 2012. Luxembourg ranked third on the Tax Justice Network's 2011 Financial Secrecy Index of the world's major tax havens, scoring only slightly behind the Cayman Islands. In 2013, Luxembourg is ranked as the 2nd safest tax haven in the world, behind Switzerland. Agriculture is based on small, family-owned farms. Luxembourg has especially close trade and financial ties to Belgium and the Netherlands (see Benelux), and as a member of the EU it enjoys the advantages of the open European market. With $171 billion in May 2015, the country ranks eleventh in the world in holdings of U.S. Treasury securities. The ranking is however imperfect as some foreign owners entrust the safekeeping of their securities to institutions that are neither in the United States nor in the owner's country of residence. Transport Luxembourg's international airline Luxair is based at Luxembourg Airport, the country's only international airport. Main article: Transport in Luxembourg Luxembourg has efficient road, rail and air transport facilities and services. The road network has been significantly modernised in recent years with 147 km (91 mi) of motorways connecting the capital to adjacent countries. The advent of the high-speed TGV link to Paris has led to renovation of the city's railway station and a new passenger terminal at Luxembourg Airport was opened some years ago. There are plans to introduce trams in the capital and light-rail lines in adjacent areas within the next few years. The number of cars per 1000 persons amount to 680.1 in Luxembourg — lower than all but two states, namely the Principality of Monaco and the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. Communications The telecommunications industry in Luxembourg is liberalised and the electronic communications networks are significantly developed. Competition between the different operators is guaranteed by the legislative framework Paquet Telecom of the Government of 2011 which transposes the European Telecom Directives into Luxembourgean law. This encourages the investment in networks and services. The regulator ILR – Institut Luxembourgeois de Régulation ensures the compliance to these legal rules. Luxembourg has modern and widely deployed optical fiber and cable networks throughout the country. In 2010, the Luxembourg Government launched its National strategy for very high-speed networks with the aim to become a global leader in terms of very high-speed broadband by achieving full 1 Gbit/s coverage of the country by 2020. In 2011, Luxembourg had an NGA coverage of 75%. In April 2013, Luxembourg featured the 6th highest download speed worldwide and the 2nd highest in Europe: 32,46 Mbit/s. The country's location in Central Europe, stable economy and low taxes favour the telecommunication industry. It ranks 2nd in the world in the development of the Information and Communication Technologies in the ITU ICT Development Index and 8th in the Global Broadband Quality Study 2009 by the University of Oxford and the University of Oviedo. Signs in front of the Centre Drosbach on the Cloche d'or, in the city of Luxembourg. Luxembourg is connected to all major European Internet Exchanges (AMS-IX Amsterdam, DE-CIX Frankfurt, LINX London), datacenters and POPs through redundant optical networks. In addition, the country is connected to the virtual meetme room services (vmmr) of the international data hub operator Ancotel. This enables Luxembourg to interconnect with all major telecommunication operators and data carriers worldwide. The interconnection points are in Frankfurt, London, New York and Hong Kong. Several providers interconnect Luxembourg to the major European data hubs: Teralink (P&TLuxembourg, also called EPT Luxembourg: incumbent operator) LuxConnect (shareholder : Government) LuxConnect tested the 100G coherent transmission of data signals between Luxembourg and Amsterdam in June 2011. Artelis/Cegecom (alternative telecommunications provider in Luxembourg and Saarland) Satellite connectivity – Teleports (SES), Broadcasting Center Europe and P&T Luxembourg Teleport. Luxembourg is connected through an optical DWDM network, called Teralink to several Tier 1 upstream providers like Level3 and Global Crossing. Teralink offers connectivities up to 100 Gbit/s. P&TLuxembourg established a coherent 100Gbit/s IP connection between Frankfurt and Luxembourg with live traffic in 2011. The Internet IPV6 protocol has been introduced to the country by Restena and P&T Luxembourg. Luxembourg has one Internet exchange point and one Carrier Ethernet Exchange point. LU-CIX is Luxembourg's neutral and commercial Internet Exchange Point which was founded in 2009 by Cegecom, Datacentre Luxembourg, Global Media Systems, INEXIO, LuxConnect, P&T Luxembourg and Root eSolutions. It offers a short, fast and efficient route to the major European Internet networks. In 2012, LIX, the neutral Internet exchange operated by the RESTENA Foundation, merged with LU-CIX. In March 2013, LU-CIX launched the 'Central European Peering Hub' in order to provide the opportunity to its members to connect to other IXs' reseller programs, AMS-IX (Amsterdam), LINX (London), DE-CIX (Frankfurt) and France-IX (Paris), etc. LIX is the Luxembourg Ethernet Exchange located in the Tier IV certified eBRC datacentre. The online portal De Guichet of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a single one-stop online shop for citizens and companies to undertake various administrative operations (procedures, online forms, downloadable forms and advice) by Internet. PSA Peugeot Citroën, with P&TLuxembourg as its partner, has introduced an integrated mobile telecommunication solution for the development of its telematic services in Europe. Data centres Some 20 data centres are operating in Luxembourg. Six data centers are Tier IV Design certified: three of ebrc, two of LuxConnect  and one of European Data Hub. In a survey on nine international data centers carried out in December 2012 and January 2013 and measuring availability (up-time) and performance (delay by which the data from the requested website was received), the top three positions were held by Luxembourg data centers. Demographics Main article: Demographics of Luxembourg Ethnicity The people of Luxembourg are called Luxembourgers. The immigrant population increased in the 20th century due to the arrival of immigrants from Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, and Portugal, with the majority coming from the latter: in 2013 there were about 88,000 inhabitants with Portuguese nationality. There is also a very small Romani (Gypsy) and Jewish population. Both of the two groups living in Luxembourg were affected by the Holocaust in the past and were expelled from Luxembourg. Since the beginning of the Yugoslav wars, Luxembourg has seen many immigrants from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia. Annually, over 10,000 new immigrants arrive in Luxembourg, mostly from the EU states, as well as Eastern Europe. In 2000, there were 162,000 immigrants in Luxembourg, accounting for 37% of the total population. There were an estimated 5,000 Illegal immigrants in Luxembourg in 1999. Language Coin of the former Luxembourg franc in two of the country's three languages: French (obverse, left) and Luxembourgish (reverse, right). Main articles: Languages of Luxembourg, Multilingualism in Luxembourg, and Literature of Luxembourg Three languages are recognised as official in Luxembourg: French, German, and Luxembourgish, a Franconian language of the Moselle region that is also spoken in neighbouring parts of Belgium, France and Germany. Though Luxembourgish is part of the West Central German group of High German languages, more than 5,000 words in the language are of French origin. The first printed sentences in Luxembourgish appeared in a weekly journal, the 'Luxemburger Wochenblatt', in the second edition on 14 April 1821. Apart from being one of the three official languages, Luxembourgish is also considered the national language of the Grand Duchy; it is the mother tongue or "language of the heart" for nearly all Luxembourgers. Each of the three languages is used as the primary language in certain spheres. Luxembourgish is the language that Luxembourgers generally use to speak to each other, but it is not often used as the written language. Since the 1980s, an increasing number of novels have however been written in Luxembourgish. Most official (written) business is carried out in French. German is usually the first language taught in school and is the language of much of the media and of the church. Luxembourg's education system is trilingual: the first years of primary school are in Luxembourgish, before changing to German; while in secondary school, the language of instruction changes to French. Proficiency in all three languages is required for graduation from secondary school, but half the students leave school without a certified qualification, with the children of immigrants being particularly disadvantaged. In addition to the three official languages, English is taught in the compulsory schooling and much of the population of Luxembourg can speak English, especially in Luxembourg City. Portuguese, the language of the largest immigrant community, is also spoken by large parts of the population, but by relatively few from outside their community. French is the preferred language of the government. Official legislation must be conducted in French. Notre-Dame Cathedral, Luxembourg City Circle frame.svg Religious Affiliation in Luxembourg 2012 Roman Catholic (68%) Protestant (3%) Orthodox Christian (1%) Other Christian (3%) Muslim (2%) Buddhist (1%) Other religion (1%) Non believer/Agnostic (14%) Atheist (6%) Unknown (1%) Notre-Dame Cathedral at night Religion Main article: Religion in Luxembourg Luxembourg is a secular state, but the state recognises certain religions as officially mandated religions. This gives the state a hand in religious administration and appointment of clergy, in exchange for which the state pays certain running costs and wages. Currently, religions covered by such arrangements are Roman Catholicism, Judaism, Greek Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, Russian Orthodoxy, Lutheranism, Mennonitism and Islam. Since 1980 it has been illegal for the government to collect statistics on religious beliefs or practices. An estimation by the CIA Factbook for the year 2000 is that 87% of Luxembourgers are Catholic, including the royal family, the remaining 13% being made up of Muslims, Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Jews, and those of other or no religion. According to a 2010 Pew Research Center study 70.4% are Christian, 2.3% Muslim, 26.8% unaffiliated and 0.5% other religions. According to a 2005 Eurobarometer poll, 44% of Luxembourg citizens responded that "they believe there is a God", whereas 28% answered that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 22% that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, god, or life force". Education The University of Luxembourg is the only university in the country. See also: List of secondary schools in Luxembourg The University of Luxembourg is the only university in the country. Health Main article: Health in Luxembourg Luxembourg sells the most alcohol in Europe per capita. However, the large proportion of alcohol purchased by customers from neighbouring countries contributes to the statistically high level of alcohol sales per capita; this level of alcohol sales is thus not representative of the actual alcohol consumption of the Luxembourg population. Culture Main articles: Culture of Luxembourg and National symbols of Luxembourg Edward Steichen, Luxembourgish photographer and painter Luxembourg has been overshadowed by the culture of its neighbours. It retains a number of folk traditions, having been for much of its history a profoundly rural country. There are several notable museums, located mostly in the capital. These include the National Museum of History and Art (NMHA), the Luxembourg City History Museum, and the new Grand Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art (Mudam). The National Museum of Military History (MNHM) in Diekirch is especially known for its representations of the Battle of the Bulge. The city of Luxembourg itself is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, on account of the historical importance of its fortifications. The country has produced some internationally-known artists, including the painters Théo Kerg, Joseph Kutter and Michel Majerus, and photographer Edward Steichen, whose The Family of Man exhibition has been placed on UNESCO's Memory of the World register, and is now permanently housed in Clervaux. Movie star Loretta Young was of Luxembourgish descent. Luxembourg was the first city to be named European Capital of Culture twice. The first time was in 1995. In 2007, the European Capital of Culture was to be a cross-border area consisting of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Rheinland-Pfalz and Saarland in Germany, the Walloon Region and the German-speaking part of Belgium, and the Lorraine area in France. The event was an attempt to promote mobility and the exchange of ideas, crossing borders physically, psychologically, artistically and emotionally. Luxembourg was represented at the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, China, from 1 May to 31 October 2010 with its own pavilion. The pavilion was based on the transliteration of the word Luxembourg into Chinese, "Lu Sen Bao", which means "Forest and Fortress". It represented Luxembourg as the "Green Heart in Europe". Sports In his cycling career, Charly Gaul won three Grand Tours. Main article: Sport in Luxembourg Unlike most countries in Europe, sport in Luxembourg is not concentrated upon a particular national sport, but encompasses a number of sports, both team and individual. Despite the lack of a central sporting focus, over 100,000 people in Luxembourg, out of a total population of only 512,353, are licensed members of one sports federation or another. The largest sports venue in the country is d'Coque, an indoor arena and Olympic swimming pool in Kirchberg, north-eastern Luxembourg City, which has a capacity of 8,300. The arena is used for basketball, handball, gymnastics, and volleyball, including the final of the 2007 Women's European Volleyball Championship. The national stadium (also the country's largest) is the Stade Josy Barthel, in western Luxembourg City; named after the country's only official Olympic gold medallist, the stadium has a capacity of 8,054. Notable sportspeople include (see also List of Luxembourgish Sportspeople of the Year): Alpine skier Marc Girardelli, World Cup overall champion five times between 1985 and 1993 Cyclists Nicolas Frantz, winner of the 1927 and 1928 Tours de France; Charly Gaul, winner of the 1956 and 1959 Giro d'Italia and of the 1958 Tour de France; Elsy Jacobs, first ever women's Road World Champion in 1958; and Andy Schleck, winner of the 2010 Tour de France Middle-distance runner Josy Barthel, winner of the men's 1500 metres at the 1952 Summer Olympics 1961 world water skiing champion Sylvie Hülsemann Cuisine Main article: Luxembourg cuisine Luxembourg cuisine reflects its position on the border between the Latin and Germanic worlds, being heavily influenced by the cuisines of neighboring France and Germany. More recently, it has been enriched by its many Italian and Portuguese immigrants. Most native Luxembourg dishes, consumed as the traditional daily fare, share roots in the country's folk dishes the same as in neighboring Germany. Judd mat Gaardebounen served with boiled potatoes and Diekirch beer Bouneschlupp is considered to be a Luxemburgish national dish Träipen, sometimes treipen, is the Luxembourg variant of black pudding Media The main languages of media in Luxembourg are French and German. The newspaper with the largest circulation is the German-language daily Luxemburger Wort. In addition there are both English and Portuguese radio and national print publications but accurate audience figures are difficult to gauge since the national media survey by ILRES  is conducted in French. Luxembourg is known in Europe for its radio and television stations (Radio Luxembourg and RTL Group). It is also the uplink home of SES, carrier of major European satellite services for Germany and Britain. Due to a 1988 law that established a special tax scheme for audiovisual investment, the film and co-production in Luxembourg has grown steadily. There are some 30 registered production companies in Luxembourg. Luxembourg won an Oscar in 2014 in the Animated Short Films category with Mr Hublot.
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