Luxembourg, Vatican City, Monaco, San Marino, Singapore, Baarle-Hertog / Baarle-Nassau, Neutral Moresnet, Malta, Gibraltar. I love-love-love microstates, small nations and other quirks of geopolitical history.
The principality is a semi-constitutional monarchy headed by the Prince of Liechtenstein; the Prince’s extensive powers are equivalent to those of a President in a semi-presidential system. The current head of state us HSH Hans-Adam II. His son, Alois, Hereditary Prince and Regent of Liechtenstein, Count of Rietberg, is regent. Prince Alois runs the current affairs, Prince Hans-Adam II stays the forma head of state.
Liechtenstein is bordered by Switzerland to the west and south and Austria to the east and north. It is Europe‘s fourth-smallest country, with an area of just over 160 square kilometres (62 square miles) and a population of some 39,000.
Divided into eleven municipalities, its capital is Vaduz, and its largest municipality is Schaan. It is also the smallest country to border two countries.
Liechtenstein is one of only two doubly landlocked countries in the world, along with Uzbekistan.
Economically, Liechtenstein has one of the highest gross domestic products per person in the world when adjusted for purchasing power parity.
The country has a strong financial sector centred in Vaduz. It was once known as a billionaire tax haven, but is no longer on any official blacklists of uncooperative tax haven countries. An Alpine country, Liechtenstein is mountainous, making it a winter sport destination.
Liechtenstein is a member of the United Nations, the European Free Trade Association, and the Council of Europe. Although not a member of the European Union, it participates in both the Schengen Area and the European Economic Area. It has a customs union and a monetary union with Switzerland.
The Principality of Liechtenstein was established within the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation in 1719. Liechtenstein was occupied by both French and Russian troops during the Napoleonic Wars and became a sovereign state in 1806.
Until the end of World War I, it was closely tied to Austria, but the economic devastation caused by that conflict forced Liechtenstein to conclude a customs and monetary union with Switzerland. Since World War II (in which Liechtenstein remained neutral, although it supposedly helped the Nazis), the country has seen outstanding economic growth.
Shortcomings in banking regulatory oversight have resulted in concerns about the use of the financial institutions for money laundering and tax evasion. However, the days of bringing suitcases of money into banks for deposit without questions asked is over.
Liechtensteiners are also very proud of the fact that their nation has never been physically involved in a battle or military confrontation with an “enemy state” and see their flag as a banner of peace.
Frank and I stopped in Liechtenstein during our 2012 road trip to
- Nuremberg in Germany;
- Salzburg, Elsbethen and Sankt Jakob am Thurn in Austria;
- Davos in Switzerland;
- Alsace with the Haut Koenigsbourg in France.
Looking for a cable
We entered the principality from the Austrian side. First, we asked around for an electrical retailer. Why? The cable I use(d) to charge my sat nav (gps) was broken. So I needed to replace it. Although I don’t remember if we found a cable, or bought a new sat nav altogether.
As Liechtenstein just was a quick stop, we didn’t visit the Liechtenstein Kunstmuseum or the Postage Stamp Museum. We just walked around and stent a postcard or two.
Worth a visit?
Is Liechtenstein worth a visit? Yes, if you’re in the region. You can add a country on your list of visited countries. It’s quirky. It’s lovely. But you won’t need hours and hours.
As Liechtenstein is a quirky place in the world, you can find quite a few videos.
Source: Wikipedia, Wikitravel