Luxembourg is about half the size of Delaware. The Ardennes Mountains extend from Belgium into the northern section of Luxembourg. The rolling plateau of the fertile Bon Pays is in the south.
Luxembourg, once part of Charlemagne's empire, became an independent state in 963, when Siegfried, count of Ardennes, became sovereign of Lucilinburhuc (“Little Fortress”). In 1060, Conrad, a descendant of Siegfried, took the title count of Luxembourg. From the 15th to the 18th century, Spain, France, and Austria held the duchy in turn. The Congress of Vienna in 1815 made it a grand duchy and gave it to William I, king of the Netherlands. In 1839, the Treaty of London ceded the western part of Luxembourg to Belgium. The eastern part, continuing in personal union with the Netherlands and a member of the German Confederation, became autonomous in 1848 and a neutral territory by decision of the London Conference of 1867, governed by its grand duke. Germany occupied the duchy in World Wars I and II. Allied troops liberated the enclave in 1944.
Luxembourg joined NATO in 1949, the Benelux Economic Union (with Belgium and the Netherlands) in 1948, and the European Economic Community (later the EU) in 1957. In 1961, Prince Jean, son and heir of Grand Duchess Charlotte, was made head of state, acting for his mother. She abdicated in 1964, and Prince Jean became grand duke. Luxembourg's parliament approved the Maastricht Accord, paving the way for the economic unity of the EU in July 1992. Crown Prince Henri was sworn in as grand duke in Oct. 2000, replacing his father, Jean, who had been head of state for 26 years.
Prime Minister Resigns after Being Implicated in Spying Probe
On July 11, 2013, Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker resigned. Juncker was the longest-serving head of government in the European Union and led the euro finance ministers group until early 2013. Juncker said he decided to resign after his socialist party coalition asked for early elections.
Juncker had been recently implicated in a spying probe. On July 5, 2013, Parliament was sent a report that said Juncker had failed to inform lawmakers of "irregularities and supposed illegalities" by the State Intelligence Service. Early elections were set for October 2013.
Early general elections were held on October 20, 2013. Juncker's Christian Social People's Party lost three seats, but still remained the biggest party in the Chamber of Deputies, keeping 23 of 60 seats. However, it was the party's worst election since 1999. Immediately following the election, Juncker's opponents worked to form a coalition, but a new prime minister had not been named yet.
Five days after the election, Grand Duke Henri bypassed Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker and named Xavier Bettel, the current Mayor of Luxembourg City, “formateur” responsible for organizing a coalition government. On December 4, 2013, Bettel was sworn in as prime minister.
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