A philatelic cover is an envelope prepared with a stamp and address and sent through the mail delivery system for the purpose of creating a collectible item. Stamp collectors began to send mail to each other and to themselves early on, philatelic mail is known from the late 19th century onward. While some collectors specialize in philatelic covers first day covers and cacheted covers, others regard them as contrived objects that are not reflective of real-world usage, will pay a higher price for a cover that represents genuine commercial use. However, mail sent by stamp collectors is no less a genuine article of postage than is mail sent with no concern of seeing the mailed item again. Philatelic covers include first day of stamp issues ceremonies. Over the years there have been numerous Expositions where special postmarks are made and where a post office is set up where mail can be sent from on the given date of the Expo'. Like any other genuine item of mail these covers include postage stamps and postmarks of the time period and were processed and delivered by an official postal system.
A philatelic cover will have more historical significance than randomly mailed covers as philatelic covers are often mailed from the location on the date of an important or noteworthy event, like an inauguration or a space launch. The possible kinds of philatelic covers are only limited by the imagination of creative collectors, but there are a number of well-known categories: First day covers, mailed on the first day of issue of a stamp. Cacheted covers, sent on envelopes with additional artwork relating to the theme of the stamp. Covers with special or commemorative cancellations used temporarily by a post office. Covers with cancellations from unusual places. Covers sent to collect particular postal markings. "One of everything" cover, all stamps of a old issue affixed to the cover. Unnecessary mixed frankings. Last day of service of a discontinued post office Philatelic covers are very easy to spot but sometimes they can escape detection by the inexperienced philatelist. Characteristics include: The cover is still sealed and appears to be empty.
The stamps used are far above that needed for the postal service used. The cover is addressed to a well known dealer; the stamps include a full set of one particular issue applied in order of value. The stamps are applied tidily and/or the postmark appears to have been carefully applied so as not to obscure too much of the stamps; the cover bears a cachet or special design on the left side portion of the envelope. The address consists of a small rubber stamp or adhesive label in the bottom right hand corner of the cover; the cover has a seen combination of stamps, for instance with stamps that were issued many years apart. While many philatelists prefer genuine commercial covers to philatelically contrived covers, philatelic covers may still be acceptable in collections of countries and eras where few other covers exist. Whether the cover was contrived or not, it is still an item of mail sent through the same postal system as other covers from a given country, with a postage stamp and postmark, is more significant than covers set with no intention of recovery.
Various types of covers prepared by collectors, historians or other enthusiasts, have great historical significance and, regardless of the intention for the mailed item, are sometimes noteworthy or famous in their own right. Among the most definitive examples of famous or popular philatelic covers is Zeppelin mail; these are covers that were carried aboard zeppelins in the 1930s and bear special postmarks and other special markings. Because the new Zeppelins were the fastest way to get mail delivered across the Atlantic Ocean they carried a great deal of mail; because of all the fanfare surrounding the Zeppelins most of mail carried aboard were Zeppelin first flight covers. Much of the funding for the Zeppelin delivery system was generated by collectors and other enthusiasts of the period; because of the fast mail delivery service there was a lot of commercial mail aboard these vessels. Mail service across the Atlantic Ocean was reduced from weeks to a few days. Hindenburg’s 2-1/2 day service was the fastest way to send mail between Europe and North America in 1936.
With the advent of air travel it wasn't long before airplanes were carrying the mail between distant points about the globe. In the United States and Germany Air Mail delivery was greeted with the same national enthusiasm and fanfare as was experienced with the first trips to the moon by US Astronauts. Many people sent philatelic mail to themselves or friends, carried aboard these flights in order to get a souvenir of the historic event. First flight covers carried aboard are popular and famous in some cases; the first scheduled U. S. Air Mail service began on May 15, 1918, carried mail from Washington DC to New York City; the type of airplane used was the U. S. Army Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny" biplanes flown by army pilots with an intermediate stop in Philadelphia. Among those who were on hand for the departure of the first flight from Washington, D. C. were President Woodrow Wilson, U. S. Postmaster General Albert S. Burleson, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt. Army Lt. George L. Boyle was selected to pilot aircraft #38262 on the first Northbound flight which turned out to be a somewhat less than successful initial venture.
Airmails of the United States Apollo Insurance Covers Cover
Jean, Grand Duke of Luxembourg
Jean reigned as Grand Duke of Luxembourg from 1964 until his abdication in 2000. Jean was the eldest son of Grand Duchess Prince Felix. Jean's primary education was in Luxemboug before attending Ampleforth College in England. In 1938, he was named Hereditary Grand Duke as heir to the throne of Luxembourg. While Luxembourg was occupied by Germans during the Second World War, the grand ducal family was abroad in exile. Jean studied at the Université Laval in Quebec City. Jean volunteered to join the British army's Irish Guards in 1942, after graduating from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, received his commission in 1943, he participated in the Normandy landings, the Battle for Caen and joined the Allied forces in the liberation of Luxembourg. From 1984 until 2000, he was made colonel of the Irish Guards. On 9 April 1953, Jean married Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium with whom he had five children. On 12 November 1964, Grand Duchess Charlotte abdicated and Jean succeeded her as Grand Duke of Luxembourg.
He reigned for 36 years before he himself abdicated on 7 October 2000 and was succeeded by his son, Grand Duke Henri. Jean was born on 5 January 1921, at Berg Castle, in central Luxembourg, the son of Grand Duchess Charlotte and of Prince Félix of Bourbon-Parma. Among his godparents was Pope Benedict XV, who gave him his second name, he attended primary school in Luxembourg, where he continued the initial stage of secondary education. He completed secondary school at Ampleforth College, a Roman Catholic boarding school in the United Kingdom. Upon reaching maturity, on 5 January 1939 he was styled'Hereditary Grand Duke', recognising his status as heir apparent. On 10 May 1940, Germany invaded Luxembourg. Having been warned of an imminent invasion, the Grand Ducal Family escaped the previous night. At first, they sought refuge before fleeing France only weeks later; the Grand Ducal Family sought refuge in the United States, renting an estate in Brookville, New York. Jean studied Political Science at Université Laval, Quebec City.
He joined the British Army as a volunteer in the Irish Guards in November 1942. After receiving officer training at the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, Jean was commissioned as a lieutenant on 30 July 1943, before being promoted to captain in 1944, he landed in Normandy on 11 June 1944, took part in the Battle for Caen and the liberation of Brussels. On 10 September 1944, he took part in the liberation of Luxembourg before moving on to Arnhem and the invasion of Germany, he relinquished his commission in the British Army on 26 June 1947. After the war, from 1984 until his abdication, he served as Colonel of the Regiment of the Irish Guards riding in uniform behind Queen Elizabeth II during the Trooping the Colour, he was named Lieutenant-Representative of the Grand Duchess on 28 April 1961. He became Grand Duke when his mother, the Grand Duchess Charlotte, abdicated on 12 November 1964; the same day, he was made a General of the Luxembourg Army. Grand Duke Jean abdicated on 7 October 2000, was succeeded on the throne by his son Henri.
Grand Duke Jean now lives at Fischbach Castle. On 27 December 2016, Grand Duke Jean was hospitalized due to bronchitis and was discharged from hospital on 4 January 2017, a day before he celebrated his 96th birthday; the Grand Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art bears his name. At age of 98, he is former monarch in the world, he was married in Luxembourg on 9 April 1953 to Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium, daughter of Leopold III, King of the Belgians. They had five children, twenty-two grandchildren and fifteen great-grandchildren: Archduchess Marie Astrid of Austria she married Archduke Carl Christian of Austria on 6 February 1982, they have nine grandchildren. Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, he married María Teresa Mestre y Batista on 14 February 1981, they have four grandchildren. Prince Jean of Luxembourg he married Hélène Vestur on 27 May 1987 and they were divorced in 2004, they have two grandsons. He remarried Diane de Guerre on 18 March 2009. Princess Margaretha of Liechtenstein she married Prince Nikolaus of Liechtenstein on 20 March 1982.
They have four children. Prince Guillaume of Luxembourg he married Sibilla Weiller on 8 September 1994, they have four children. 5 January 1921 – 12 November 1964: His Royal Highness The Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Hereditary Prince of Nassau, Prince of Bourbon-Parma 12 November 1964 – 28 July 1987: His Royal Highness The Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Duke of Nassau, Prince of Bourbon-Parma 28 July 1987 – 7 October 2000: His Royal Highness The Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Duke of Nassau 7 October 2000 – present: His Royal Highness Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, Duke of NassauHis full title is "by the Grace of God, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Duke of Nassau, Count Palatine of the Rhine, Count of Sayn, Königstein and Diez, Burgrave of Hammerstein, Lord of Mahlberg, Idstein, Merenberg and Eppstein." Many of the titles are held without regard to the strict rules of salic inheritance. Jean renounced the titles of the House of Bourbon-Parma for himself and his family in 1986 when his eldest son, then-Hereditary Grand Duke Henri married Maria-Theresa Mestre.
The reason for this was that the Duke of Parma, Carlos Hugo, ruled the marriage unequal in 1981, as well as the marriage of Prince Jean to Hélène Suzanna Vestur in 1987, for which he had renounced his rights to Luxembourg in 1986. It is not known if the marriage of Prince Guillaume was seen by C
William IV, Grand Duke of Luxembourg
William IV reigned as the Grand Duke of Luxembourg from 17 November 1905 until his death. He succeeded Adolphe. William was the religion of the House of Nassau, he married Princess Marie Anne of Portugal, believing that a Roman Catholic country ought to have a Roman Catholic monarch. Thus his heirs have been Catholic. At the death of his uncle, Prince Nikolaus-Wilhelm in 1905, the only other legitimate male in the House of Nassau-Weilburg was William's cousin, Georg Nikolaus, Count of Merenberg, the product of a morganatic marriage. So in 1907, William declared the Counts of Merenberg non-dynastic, naming his own eldest daughter Marie-Adélaïde as heir presumptive to the grand ducal throne, she became Luxembourg's first reigning grand duchess upon her father's death in 1912, upon her own abdication in 1919, was succeeded by her younger sister Charlotte. Charlotte's descendants reign until the present day, he was the last monarch of Luxembourg to die whilst still on the throne. On 21 June 1893 in Fischhorn Castle, Zell am See, he married Infanta Marie Anne of Portugal, daughter of the deposed king Miguel I of Portugal and Adelaide of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg.
The couple had six daughters: Marie-Adélaïde, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg who remained unmarried and childless Charlotte, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg who married her first cousin Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma, a son of Marie Anne's younger sister. Princess Hilda, married in Berg Castle on 29 October 1930 Adolf 10th Prince of Schwarzenberg, without issue Crown Princess Antonia of Bavaria, who married Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria as his second wife Princess Elisabeth, married in Schloss Hohenburg on 14 November 1922 Prince Ludwig Philipp of Thurn and Taxis, son of Albert I, Prince of Thurn and Taxis, had issue Princess Sophie, married at Schloss Hohenburg on 12 April 1921 Prince Ernst Heinrich of Saxony, youngest son of king Frederick Augustus III of Saxony, had issue Although the duchy of Nassau was annexed by Prussia after the Austro-Prussian war of 1866, the title of Duke of Nassau was retained by William and his heirs; this does not imply any sovereignty over Nassau. 22 April 1852 - 23 November 1890: His Highness The Hereditary Prince of Nassau 23 November 1890 - 17 November 1905: His Royal Highness The Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Hereditary Prince of Nassau 17 November 1905 - 25 February 1912: His Royal Highness The Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Duke of Nassau Grand Master and Knight of the Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau Grand Master of the Order of Adolphe of Nassau Grand Master of the Order of the Oak Crown Austria-Hungary: Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Stephen of Hungary - 1890 Denmark: Knight of the Order of the Elephant - 23 April 1876 Netherlands: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion Sweden: Knight of the Royal Order of the Seraphim Grand-Ducal House of Luxembourg
International Standard Book Number
The International Standard Book Number is a numeric commercial book identifier, intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency. An ISBN is assigned to each variation of a book. For example, an e-book, a paperback and a hardcover edition of the same book would each have a different ISBN; the ISBN is 13 digits long if assigned on or after 1 January 2007, 10 digits long if assigned before 2007. The method of assigning an ISBN is nation-based and varies from country to country depending on how large the publishing industry is within a country; the initial ISBN identification format was devised in 1967, based upon the 9-digit Standard Book Numbering created in 1966. The 10-digit ISBN format was developed by the International Organization for Standardization and was published in 1970 as international standard ISO 2108. Published books sometimes appear without an ISBN; the International ISBN agency sometimes assigns such books ISBNs on its own initiative.
Another identifier, the International Standard Serial Number, identifies periodical publications such as magazines and newspapers. The International Standard Music Number covers musical scores; the Standard Book Numbering code is a 9-digit commercial book identifier system created by Gordon Foster, Emeritus Professor of Statistics at Trinity College, for the booksellers and stationers WHSmith and others in 1965. The ISBN identification format was conceived in 1967 in the United Kingdom by David Whitaker and in 1968 in the United States by Emery Koltay; the 10-digit ISBN format was developed by the International Organization for Standardization and was published in 1970 as international standard ISO 2108. The United Kingdom continued to use the 9-digit SBN code until 1974. ISO has appointed the International ISBN Agency as the registration authority for ISBN worldwide and the ISBN Standard is developed under the control of ISO Technical Committee 46/Subcommittee 9 TC 46/SC 9; the ISO on-line facility only refers back to 1978.
An SBN may be converted to an ISBN by prefixing the digit "0". For example, the second edition of Mr. J. G. Reeder Returns, published by Hodder in 1965, has "SBN 340 01381 8" – 340 indicating the publisher, 01381 their serial number, 8 being the check digit; this can be converted to ISBN 0-340-01381-8. Since 1 January 2007, ISBNs have contained 13 digits, a format, compatible with "Bookland" European Article Number EAN-13s. An ISBN is assigned to each variation of a book. For example, an ebook, a paperback, a hardcover edition of the same book would each have a different ISBN; the ISBN is 13 digits long if assigned on or after 1 January 2007, 10 digits long if assigned before 2007. An International Standard Book Number consists of 4 parts or 5 parts: for a 13-digit ISBN, a prefix element – a GS1 prefix: so far 978 or 979 have been made available by GS1, the registration group element, the registrant element, the publication element, a checksum character or check digit. A 13-digit ISBN can be separated into its parts, when this is done it is customary to separate the parts with hyphens or spaces.
Separating the parts of a 10-digit ISBN is done with either hyphens or spaces. Figuring out how to separate a given ISBN is complicated, because most of the parts do not use a fixed number of digits. ISBN is most used among others special identifiers to describe references in Wikipedia and can help to find the same sources with different description in various language versions. ISBN issuance is country-specific, in that ISBNs are issued by the ISBN registration agency, responsible for that country or territory regardless of the publication language; the ranges of ISBNs assigned to any particular country are based on the publishing profile of the country concerned, so the ranges will vary depending on the number of books and the number and size of publishers that are active. Some ISBN registration agencies are based in national libraries or within ministries of culture and thus may receive direct funding from government to support their services. In other cases, the ISBN registration service is provided by organisations such as bibliographic data providers that are not government funded.
A full directory of ISBN agencies is available on the International ISBN Agency website. Partial listing: Australia: the commercial library services agency Thorpe-Bowker.
France the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean, it is bordered by Belgium and Germany to the northeast and Italy to the east, Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic and Indian oceans; the country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nice. During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by a Celtic people. Rome annexed the area in 51 BC, holding it until the arrival of Germanic Franks in 476, who formed the Kingdom of Francia.
The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned Francia into Middle Francia and West Francia. West Francia which became the Kingdom of France in 987 emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages following its victory in the Hundred Years' War. During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world; the 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Protestants. France became Europe's dominant cultural and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, established one of modern history's earliest republics, saw the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day. In the 19th century, Napoleon established the First French Empire, his subsequent Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870.
France was a major participant in World War I, from which it emerged victorious, was one of the Allies in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis powers in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and dissolved in the course of the Algerian War; the Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, remains today. Algeria and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s and retained close economic and military connections with France. France has long been a global centre of art and philosophy, it hosts the world's fourth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the leading tourist destination, receiving around 83 million foreign visitors annually. France is a developed country with the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP, tenth-largest by purchasing power parity. In terms of aggregate household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, human development.
France is considered a great power in global affairs, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and an official nuclear-weapon state. It is a leading member state of the European Union and the Eurozone, a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, La Francophonie. Applied to the whole Frankish Empire, the name "France" comes from the Latin "Francia", or "country of the Franks". Modern France is still named today "Francia" in Italian and Spanish, "Frankreich" in German and "Frankrijk" in Dutch, all of which have more or less the same historical meaning. There are various theories as to the origin of the name Frank. Following the precedents of Edward Gibbon and Jacob Grimm, the name of the Franks has been linked with the word frank in English, it has been suggested that the meaning of "free" was adopted because, after the conquest of Gaul, only Franks were free of taxation.
Another theory is that it is derived from the Proto-Germanic word frankon, which translates as javelin or lance as the throwing axe of the Franks was known as a francisca. However, it has been determined that these weapons were named because of their use by the Franks, not the other way around; the oldest traces of human life in what is now France date from 1.8 million years ago. Over the ensuing millennia, Humans were confronted by a harsh and variable climate, marked by several glacial eras. Early hominids led a nomadic hunter-gatherer life. France has a large number of decorated caves from the upper Palaeolithic era, including one of the most famous and best preserved, Lascaux. At the end of the last glacial period, the climate became milder. After strong demographic and agricultural development between the 4th and 3rd millennia, metallurgy appeared at the end of the 3rd millennium working gold and bronze, iron. France has numerous megalithic sites from the Neolithic period, including the exceptiona
The United Nations is an intergovernmental organization, tasked to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international co-operation and be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations. The headquarters of the UN is in Manhattan, New York City, is subject to extraterritoriality. Further main offices are situated in Geneva, Nairobi and The Hague; the organization is financed by voluntary contributions from its member states. Its objectives include maintaining international peace and security, protecting human rights, delivering humanitarian aid, promoting sustainable development and upholding international law; the UN is the largest, most familiar, most internationally represented and most powerful intergovernmental organization in the world. In 24 October 1945, at the end of World War II, the organization was established with the aim of preventing future wars. At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; the UN is the successor of the ineffective League of Nations.
On 25 April 1945, 50 governments met in San Francisco for a conference and started drafting the UN Charter, adopted on 25 June 1945 in the San Francisco Opera House, signed on 26 June 1945 in the Herbst Theatre auditorium in the Veterans War Memorial Building. This charter took effect on 24 October 1945; the UN's mission to preserve world peace was complicated in its early decades during the Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union and their respective allies. Its missions have consisted of unarmed military observers and armed troops with monitoring and confidence-building roles; the organization's membership grew following widespread decolonization which started in the 1960s. Since 80 former colonies had gained independence, including 11 trust territories, which were monitored by the Trusteeship Council. By the 1970s its budget for economic and social development programmes far outstripped its spending on peacekeeping. After the end of the Cold War, the UN shifted and expanded its field operations, undertaking a wide variety of complex tasks.
The UN has six principal organs: the General Assembly. The UN System agencies include the World Bank Group, the World Health Organization, the World Food Programme, UNESCO, UNICEF; the UN's most prominent officer is the Secretary-General, an office held by Portuguese politician and diplomat António Guterres since 1 January 2017. Non-governmental organizations may be granted consultative status with ECOSOC and other agencies to participate in the UN's work; the organization, its officers and its agencies have won many Nobel Peace Prizes. Other evaluations of the UN's effectiveness have been mixed; some commentators believe the organization to be an important force for peace and human development, while others have called the organization ineffective, biased, or corrupt. In the century prior to the UN's creation, several international treaty organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross was formed to ensure protection and assistance for victims of armed conflict and strife.
In 1914, a political assassination in Sarajevo set off a chain of events that led to the outbreak of World War I. As more and more young men were sent down into the trenches, influential voices in the United States and Britain began calling for the establishment of a permanent international body to maintain peace in the postwar world. President Woodrow Wilson became a vocal advocate of this concept, in 1918 he included a sketch of the international body in his 14-point proposal to end the war. In November 1918, the Central Powers agreed to an armistice to halt the killing in World War I. Two months the Allies met with Germany and Austria-Hungary at Versailles to hammer out formal peace terms. President Wilson wanted peace, but the United Kingdom and France disagreed, forcing harsh war reparations on their former enemies; the League of Nations was approved, in the summer of 1919 Wilson presented the Treaty of Versailles and the Covenant of the League of Nations to the US Senate for ratification.
On January 10, 1920, the League of Nations formally comes into being when the Covenant of the League of Nations, ratified by 42 nations in 1919, takes effect. However, at some point the League became ineffective when it failed to act against the Japanese invasion of Manchuria as in February 1933, 40 nations voted for Japan to withdraw from Manchuria but Japan voted against it and walked out of the League instead of withdrawing from Manchuria, it failed against the Second Italo-Ethiopian War despite trying to talk to Benito Mussolini as he used the time to send an army to Africa, so the League had a plan for Mussolini to just take a part of Ethiopia, but he ignored the League and invaded Ethiopia, the League tried putting sanctions on Italy, but Italy had conquered Ethiopia and the League had failed. After Italy conquered Ethiopia and other nations left the league, but all of them realised that they began to re-arm as fast as possible. During 1938, Britain and France tried negotiating directly with Hitler but this failed in 1939 when Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia.
When war broke out in 1939, the League closed down and its headquarters in Geneva remained empty throughout the war. The earliest concrete plan for a new world organization began under the aegis of the U. S. State Department in 1939; the text of the "Declaration by United Nations" was drafted at the White House on December 29, 1941, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Roosevelt aide Harry Hopkins
Luxembourg the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, is a small landlocked country in western Europe. It is bordered by Belgium to the west and north, Germany to the east, France to the south, its capital, Luxembourg City, is one of the three official capitals of the European Union and the seat of the European Court of Justice, the highest judicial authority in the EU. Its culture and languages are intertwined with its neighbours, making it a mixture of French and German cultures, as evident by the nation's three official languages: French and the national language, Luxembourgish; the repeated invasions by Germany in World War II, resulted in the country's strong will for mediation between France and Germany and, among other things, led to the foundation of the European Union. With an area of 2,586 square kilometres, it is one of the smallest sovereign states in Europe. In 2018, Luxembourg had a population of 602,005, which makes it one of the least-populous countries in Europe, but by far the one with the highest population growth rate.
Foreigners account for nearly half of Luxembourg's population. As a representative democracy with a constitutional monarch, it is headed by Grand Duke Henri and is the world's only remaining grand duchy. Luxembourg is a developed country, with an advanced economy and one of the world's highest GDP per capita; the City of Luxembourg with its old quarters and fortifications was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 due to the exceptional preservation of the vast fortifications and the old city. The history of Luxembourg is considered to begin in 963, when count Siegfried I acquired a rocky promontory and its Roman-era fortifications known as Lucilinburhuc, ′little castle′, the surrounding area from the Imperial Abbey of St. Maximin in nearby Trier. Siegfried's descendants increased their territory through marriage and vassal relations. At the end of the 13th century, the Counts of Luxembourg reigned over a considerable territory. In 1308, Henry VII, Count of Luxembourg became King of the Germans and Holy Roman Emperor.
The House of Luxembourg produced four Holy Roman Emperors during the high Middle Ages. In 1354, Charles IV elevated the County to the Duchy of Luxembourg. Since Sigismund had no male heir, the Duchy became part of the Burgundian Circle and one of the Seventeen Provinces of the Habsburg Netherlands. Over the centuries, the City and Fortress of Luxembourg, of great strategic importance situated between the Kingdom of France and the Habsburg territories, was built up to be one of the most reputed fortifications in Europe. After belonging to both the France of Louis XIV and the Austria of Maria Theresia, Luxembourg became part of the First French Republic and Empire under Napoleon; the present-day state of Luxembourg first emerged at the Congress of Vienna in 1815. The Grand-Duchy, with its powerful fortress, became an independent state under the personal possession of William I of the Netherlands with a Prussian garrison to guard the city against another invasion from France. In 1839, following the turmoil of the Belgian Revolution, the purely French-speaking part of Luxembourg was ceded to Belgium and the Luxembourgish-speaking part became what is the present state of Luxembourg.
Luxembourg is a founding member of the European Union, OECD, United Nations, NATO, Benelux. The city of Luxembourg, 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, a first in the country's history; as of 2018, Luxembourgish citizens had visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 186 countries and territories, ranking the Luxembourgish passport 5th in the world, tied with Austria, the Netherlands, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States. The recorded history of Luxembourg begins with the acquisition of Lucilinburhuc 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 developed, which became the centre of a state of great strategic value. 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 enlarged and strengthened by its successive occupants, the Bourbons, Habsburgs and the French. 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. The Dutch king became, in the grand duke. Although he was supposed to rule the grand duchy as an independent country with an administration of its own, in reality he treated it to a Dutch province; the Fortress of Luxembourg was manned by Prussian troops for the German Confederation. This arrangement was revised by the 1839 First Treaty of London, from which date Luxembourg's full independence is reckoned. At the time of the Belgian Revolution of 1830–1839, 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 (Zoll