Luxembourg at a Glance
Living in Luxembourg
There are three official languages in Luxembourg.
The country’s population is very small and very cosmopolitan.
The naturalization process has been recently simplified because Luxembourg wants to assimilate its foreign workers.
A Country Where Almost Half of the Population Is Foreign
Luxembourg, despite its tiny size, is a truly cosmopolitan country, with more than 46% of the population consisting of foreign residents. There are more expats living in Luxembourg than in any other European country. Of Luxembourg’s roughly 571,000 inhabitants, about 100,000 live in Luxembourg City. Another baffling fact is that the country has three official languages altogether: French, German, and Lëtzebuergesch (Luxembourgish). All three of them are used commonly in everyday life and in the media. However, German and French clearly dominate when it comes to administrative purposes.
Luxembourg’s Population Reached Half a Million Only Recently!
Since the late 19th century, Luxembourg has been a popular immigration country and has experienced continuous population growth. By 1910, about 260,000 people were living in Luxembourg, the number growing to over twice as many by January 2016. Currently, almost half of Luxembourg’s residents are foreigners, 86% of whom come from other EU countries. Over a third (37%) of Luxembourg’s migrant population is Portuguese, 14% are from France, followed by Italians and Belgians with 8% each. All in all, the expat community represents around 160 nationalities living in Luxembourg.
National Languages: Where Multilingualism Is the Norm
Multilingualism is an important aspect of life in Luxembourg. Its heritage lies with the Romanic and Germanic ethnic groups which coexisted and heavily influenced the development of the country. In the 14th century, Walloon and Lëtzebuergesch were the dominant spoken languages. However, German and French served as primary administrative languages of the time. In subsequent years, French and German occupation both cemented that bilingual tradition, with French having the slightly stronger influence. Since 1843, people living in Luxembourg are officially free to choose which language — French, German, or Lëtzebuergesch — they wish to speak.
Lëtzebuergesch goes back to the Moselle-Franconian dialect which was spoken in Luxembourg. Eventually it became the mother tongue of Luxembourgers. Even if you do not plan on staying in Luxembourg forever, you should be aware that all three official languages are often used simultaneously. If you want to prove how well you’ve settled in, you should try to pick up some Lëtzebuergesch. You can even get official leave for that: everybody working and living in Luxembourg is entitled to take 200 hours off work to learn the local language.
Here to Stay? The Naturalization Process
A lot of expats living in Luxembourg have decided to stay here, and even acquire citizenship. The different political parties agreed on a new naturalization law in March 2016, which is scheduled to go into effect in in January 2017. The first novelty of this law is that Jus soli is implemented. This means that persons born in Luxembourg to non-citizen parents can acquire the nationality when they turn 18, on the condition that they lived in Luxembourg for five consecutive years before turning 18. In addition to this, you can apply for Luxembourgish citizenship if you have lived here for the past five years, have passed a Luxembourgish language test (you need a B1 level in oral comprehension, and A2 in oral expression), and have passed the course “Living together in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg”. If you need more information, please visit the Ministry of Justice website (in French).
The Healthcare System: Expensive but Efficient
Luxembourg has a compulsory public health system which offers universal coverage to 98% of the population. If you are covered under public health insurance, you are free to choose a hospital or doctor for treatment. There is a private health sector, but it is predominantly supplemental and usually simply covers the gap between medical fees and what you’re reimbursed — about 60% of the people living in Luxembourg opt for such additional complementary mutual insurance. The public system strives to guarantee equal treatment to all patients regardless of their financial or social status. Although Luxembourg’s healthcare system is one of the most expensive, it is also among the most generous and comprehensive in the world.
The majority of Luxembourg’s population is covered under the Caisse nationale de santé — CNS (the National Health Fund). Unless you are self-employed, contributions are automatically deducted from your monthly salary and your employer pays about half the fees. The state health insurance covers almost all treatments by your general practitioner and by specialists. This includes lab tests, childbirth, rehabilitation and hospitalization, as well as prescriptions. Keep in mind that, while living in Luxembourg, you have to pay all treatment costs right away and then submit the receipts to the CNS for reimbursement.
Medical Services: A Hospital for Every Condition
Luxembourg’s healthcare system is very hospital-centric, with several general hospitals and specialized hospitals, which between them offer all types of medical services. Of the latter, a minority provide acute care and a few others offer reeducation. These hospitals take turns in providing 24/7 emergency services to their patients. For simpler emergencies or smaller medical incidents, you can also turn to so-called Maisons Médicales where general practitioners are always on duty.
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