National Geographic : 1970 Jul
ones with Rhode Island. Well, if you put 100 Rhode Islands into Texas, there would still be ample room for 140 Luxembourgs. More precisely, the country has an area of 999 square miles. This immediately leads visitors to ask an obvious question, and I was no exception: "Couldn't you somehow get just one more mile-make it an even 1,000?" The Luxembourger I asked had a joke about that, too. "We did get another mile once," he told me. "But the people who lived on it couldn't speak the language, so we gave it back." The language? It is not French, and it is not proper German, though the people speak those, too. It is a dialect called Letzeburgesch. The 343,000 citizens of Luxembourg speak it most of the time, though it is not ordinarily used as a written language. Foreigners do not understand it, and this fact is more important than it might seem, for it is one of the reasons why this odd, small country exists, staunchly independent, in the heart of Europe (inset map, page 72). There are other reasons, and they extend as far back into history as you care to go. I cared to go back about 2,000 years, and so I did one EKTACHROME (RIGHT) ANDKODACHROME (C) N.G.S. Lord of the flues, a dour chimney sweep in traditional top hat and with brushes on his back awaits a bus with his apprentice in Luxembourg City. Though he is regarded as a good-luck sign, his own fortunes sag as gas increasingly replaces coal for heating. Charity drive on the hoof: Bandsmen in peasant dress parade through downtown Luxembourg with a flock of sheep. As they march, they collect gifts to support their band program on the opening day of Schue berfo'er, a late-summer trade fair dating from the 14th century. Luxembourg's wine festivals, religious rites, and folk pageants attract almost a million visitors a year.