Terrain shapes and bedrock
According to COUNTRYAAH, Luxembourg is often divided into a northern area, Ösling, which covers one third of the country, and Gutland, which comprises the southern two-thirds. The eastern border of the country is marked by the rivers Our, Sûre and Moselle.
Ösling is a plateau landscape between the Ardennes in Belgium and Eifel in Germany. The highest point, Kneiff, is located at the far north and reaches 560 m above sea level. The dominant rocks are devonian shales.
The landscape of Gutland is a cuesta landscape with stored rocks such as sandstones and mussel lime from Trias and Jurassic.
Due to Luxembourg’s small size and topographical homogeneity, the climate shows only marginal variations across the country. Its inland location and the wind-protective effect of the Ardennes in the north provide a continental-like climate, just like in southern Belgium.
The northern part of Luxembourg has slightly more maritime features than the south, which is drier, sunny and somewhat warmer. Some winters can be quite grim with snow cover for several weeks. According to BRIDGAT, the average annual rainfall is 800–900 mm, the lowest in the Moselle Valley. The average temperature in January is 0 °C and in July 16 °C.
Plant-and animal life
Luxembourg is one of Europe’s smallest countries with an area big like Blekinge. The northern part of the country includes the southeastern parts of the Ardennes, with forests, mountains, river valleys and pastures with a lot of natural values. South of the river Sûre is spreading a more fertile lowland area, where the city of Luxembourg is also located along the Alzette River, and which is largely heavily cultivated or industrialized. In the southeastern part of the Moselle Valley there are some valuable wetlands.
Luxembourg’s most important natural area is Our Nature Park in the northeast. Together with the German nature park Südeifel created this Europe’s first cross-border sanctuary in 1964. Along the Our River – which also forms the border between the two countries – propagating in the hillside forests of beech, maple, elm and linden, while the vegetation in the river valley dominated by ash and alder. Where the terrain allows, there are also meadows and pastures. The river pearl mussel is a specialty and restoration measures have been initiated to improve living conditions for brook trout, which is an important host in the mussel’s complex life cycle. Among the birds are black stork, happy, bivouac, pilgrim falcon, jerk, teal (see streamers) and kingfishers. Wildcats belong to the rare mammals. Among the more notable plants are Sankt Pers keys, Virgin Marie keys, genuine storm hat and yellow storm hat (Aconitum vulparia), tibast, large sand lily and small thistle flower (Digitalis lutea) – the latter related to the Mediterranean region. The region is also famous for its medieval castles.
In the upper parts of the river Sûre an important water reservoir has been built and in order to guard a high water quality, the Haute-Sûre nature park has been established. In addition to creating good opportunities for outdoor life and thus the development of the local business community, species such as black stork, jerky and medium spotted have benefited. Downstream of the nature park you will often find white stork flooding.
In the Moselle Valley in south-east Luxembourg lies Haff Remich, the country’s most important wetland area. Particularly famous is the bird life, with nesting dwarf rhythms, kingfishers and gray- tailed sparrows. During the winter months you will find pipe drum, saddle rake and pilgrim falcon.
There are two smaller nature reserves (2012) in Luxembourg. In addition, about 20% of the country consists of so-called nature parks, which in practice, however, have no protection.