Despite being one of the world’s smallest countries, Luxembourg has a surprisingly diverse landscape that divides it into four distinct regions.
The north of the country, Oesling, is a mountainous region covered in dense forests.
Gutland in the south is made up of gently rolling hills, limestone outcrops and a mosaic of fields decorating broad valleys.
The sunny eastern valley of Moselle is home to the country’s vineyards, and part of Esch-sur-Alzette in the very south of Luxembourg is a mineral basin known as “the Land of the Red Rocks”.
The reason for the difference in landscapes across this tiny country is that Luxembourg straddles two separate land formations.
The northern region, Oesling, is part of the Ardennes Mountains that also cover Belgium and portion of north-eastern France.
Some of the Ardennes’s highest peaks are found in Oesling, reaching above 550 metres.
Erosion from fast-flowing rivers has created deep valleys and jagged gorges making the region visually stunning but largely inhospitable; only 15% of Luxembourg’s population live in the Oesling region.
Infertile soil and poor drainage combined with very cold winters make farming here difficult; instead the land is mainly used for cattle pasture.
In the south, Gutland, Moselle and Esch-sur-Alzette are all part of the Lorraine region: a limestone plateau that stretches from eastern France into Luxembourg.
This landscape is more forgiving than the Ardennes, with a milder climate and flatter land providing a suitable environment for farming and wine production.
The Lorraine Plateau also contains huge pockets of mineral deposits.
It was an abundance of iron ore at Esch-sur-Alzette that resulted in the growth of Luxembourg’s successful steel industry.
Unlike the sparsely-populated Oesling, the south is relatively urbanised: Gutland has four towns with a population of over 15,000, including Luxembourg City, the country’s capital.