Fun with numbers, Luxembourg edition

More off topic, but here we go anyways. Here are some comparisons probably never made before, but as GG is in Luxembourg, it was amusing to compare with back home…

Luxembourg is one of those small states that most Americans couldn’t locate on a map and so when it is brought up, it is compared with Rhode Island, which most Americans don’t really grasp either. So let’s compare Luxembourg with Boulder County, Colorado. It is a surprisingly robust comparison…

  • Area: Luxembourg, 2586 sq. km; Boulder Co. 1945 sp. km
  • Population: Luxembourg 520,000; Boulder Co. 310,000
  • Population density: Luxembourg 200 /sq km; Boulder Co. 160 /sq.km
  • GDP: Luxembourg $63B, Boulder Co. $18B
  • GDP/person: Luxembourg $121,150; Boulder Co. $58,710
  • Daily in-commutes: Luxembourg 150,000; Boulder Co. ~60,000

When you figure that Boulder County includes a fair chunk of the Indian Peaks Wilderness, the population densities look awfully similar, but we can see that Luxembourg is more of an economic powerhouse–which is to be expected from the world’s number 1 or 2 in GDP/person (depending on who is counting and when).  One wonders how median income compares, though. But both areas have issues with transportation, problems with parking, have cheap bicycle rental stations around town.  But Luxembourg has the fixed rail Boulder has been dreaming of for years (kind of a big help for all those commuters from France, Germany and Belgium).

Here is a weird one, though.  Oldest university: Boulder, the University of Colorado, 1876.  Luxembourg: University of Luxembourg, 2002. The reason of course is that Luxembourg is the whole state, while Boulder is merely the fortunate county to host the main university of a much larger area. Still a bit of a surprise given the differing histories of the two places.

In America, learning a second language in school is kind of a painful rite of passage, almost a trick pony if you succeed at it.  In Luxembourg it is practically a necessity.  Walking the streets here you can hear Luxembourgish [ironically brought back into style by the Nazis, who forbade French and the pissed-off locals reverted to their old language], French, English, German, and Portuguese.  Hang out near the European centers on the Kirchberg Plateau on the northeast side of town and you can hear most nearly any European language.  Hang out near the Gëlla Fra and the Petrusse casemates and you will probably hear Chinese, Korean, and maybe Japanese in addition as various tour groups pass through (there are also several Chinese/SE Asian markets in the Gare Quarter of town–go figure). While it can be disorienting (should I be saying “Merci” or “Danke” or “Thanks”?), it means that nearly everybody is at some point speaking in a second (or third or fourth) tongue and so is familiar with not being able to quite find the right words. It also means that Luxembourg is one of the few places on the continent where it is common for the English language version of American movies to be shown (most places screen the dubbed versions).

Boulder is generally accused of being in a bubble, the People’s Republic of Boulder, oblivious to the realities of the surrounding region and politically out of step.  Luxembourg has nearly the opposite reputation, having determined that its safety is best kept by encouraging and nurturing cooperation amongst its bigger neighbors (though those neighbors sometimes joke that the only reason to visit is to see their money).  So all kinds of landmarks in the history of increased cooperation in Europe are found here. The Schengen Zone, for instance, is the agreement that allows you to now land in Madrid and drive to above the Arctic Circle without pulling out a passport; the pact is named for a town in Luxembourg where it was first signed.

Anyways, might discuss some of the odd geology that made Luxembourg unique later on, but this was just for fun.

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