How large is Luxembourg?

27 February 2010

Apparently an iceberg the size of Luxembourg has detached from the Antarctic. It sounds serious, but how large is Luxembourg? Do people know the surface area of Luxembourg? I doubt many do, beyond Luxembourg is a small country in Europe.

Not knowing Luxembourg’s size, people can react in many different ways on hearing this piece of news. One possible reaction: oh dear, the size of Luxembourg? That’s big! Terrible news. Another possible reaction: the size of Luxembourg? The iceberg couldn’t be that big then. Why are we worried about it? The fate of the penguins – poor penguins! – not the size of the iceberg, may concern others.

The Times helpfully gives the size of the iceberg in figures in its article. It’s 2,550 square km. Luxembourg is 2,586 square km. But does that help? English counties such as Derbyshire (2,547) and Dorset (2,542) are close enough, and probably easier for Britons to imagine than Luxembourg. Perhaps an iceberg the size of Dorset sounds less ominous or grabs less attention as Luxembourg. Or was it just being lazy? News agencies reported it as the size of Luxembourg, so the journalists just passed on this piece as such.