A history of migration Luxembourg is thriving through migration

Did you know that 47.4% of Luxembourg's population have a foreign nationality? While Luxembourg undoubtedly has one of the highest ratios of foreign nationals, it is also true that we do not only manage to integrate people from other cultures, we also have learned how to prosper together with those from other countries and cultures who wish to live here. This has come to be an integral part of the openness and cosmopolitan flair Luxembourg is famous for.

A haven for people from all parts of the world

Luxembourg's ratio of foreigners has been on the rise for the past 70 years. While only 13.2% of the resident population did not have the Luxembourg nationality in 1961, we are talking about 47.4% as of 2020 – nearly half the population.

The reasons for this are manifold:

Economic opportunities: Luxembourg is without doubt the economic powerhouse of the Greater Region and an internationally confirmed financial hotspot on the European continent. Luxembourg's thriving economy is a major argument for many foreign nationals to live in the country.

A European capital: Along with Brussels and Strasbourg, Luxembourg City is one of the three European capitals. Some 14,000 European civil servants now live and work in one of the EU's many institutions that are located here, and many activities have sprung up around these institutions.

High quality of life: Despite the fast economic development of the past 60 years, Luxembourg has conserved an intact natural beauty, and much more. The country's health insurance and social security systems, its high quality infrastructures and the government's support for families has led to one of the world's highest quality of life standards.

Multilingual environment: When so many people from all parts of the world come together, communication is key. Luxembourg's population has always been multilingual, making it easy for foreigners to take part in an open and welcoming society.

Did you know?

The biggest foreign communities are, in order, the Portuguese (95,000 individuals), French (48,000), Italian (23,000), Belgian (20,000) and German (13,000) communities. British nationals number some 5,000, Chinese some 4,000 and US citizens a little bit over 2,000 people.

(Source: Statec figures as of 1 January 2020)

All of this has contributed to a steady stream of migration towards Luxembourg and, more recently, the Greater Region, as housing prices have sensibly risen in the Grand Duchy.

Right now, people form 195 nationalities live together in Luxembourg, in total some 296,465 individuals (Source: Statec figures as of 1 January 2020). Moreover, 203,522 cross-border employees travel to Luxembourg every day (Source: Statec figures for Q4 2019) – Luxembourg is the perfect example of a functioning borderless Europe.

From emigration to immigration

Luxembourg has not always been a haven for migration. Indeed, the country's past is marked by waves of emigration. Before the rise of the steel industry in the mid-19th century, Luxembourg was a poor and rural country. Driven by the hope of carving out a better life elsewhere, numerous inhabitants left their homeland.

In the 12th and 18th centuries, a wave of emigration led Luxembourgers to Transylvania and Banat, respectively. Traces of this can still be found in the Romanian city of Sibiu, which partnered with Luxembourg City in 2007 for the European Capital of Culture.

In the course of the 19th century and until the First World War, there was a strong trend in the country towards overseas emigration (USA, Brazil, Argentina, etc.). Others went to France to work as artisans or, in the case of young girls, as maids and house-keepers. The number of Luxembourgers who left the country between 1841 and 1891 is thought to be more than 72,000 (out of a total population of 212,800 inhabitants in 1891).

Entire families and sometimes entire villages left Luxembourg in the hopes of finding a better life. As an example, 16,000 Luxembourg emigrants were living in Chicago in 1908. Some became famous in their new homeland, such as Hugo Gernsback (1884-1967), the inventor of the term 'science fiction', or Edward Steichen, a painter and famous photographer, who became Director of the Department of Photography in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

After the rise of the steel industry in the second half of the 19th century, the tide turned, and successive waves of Germans, Italians, Portuguese and other nationals have come to Luxembourg to work and live here.

More information on the official website of Luxembourg's statistics office:

Get all the information about immigrating to Luxembourg here: