Gutenberg Castle in Balzers, Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein, Land of the Princely Family - in a Nutshell

Author: Sue
Date: 2nd June 2020

When did Liechtenstein become a country?

  • The Principality of Liechtenstein first gained Political identity in 814, with the formation of the sub country of Lower Rhætia (Rhaetia was formerly a Roman province). The area was incorporated into the Carolingian empire, and divided into countships, which became subdivided over the generations.
  • The Principality takes its name from the Liechtenstein ruling family, rather than vice versa, and the family in turn takes its name from Liechtenstein Castle, then in Lower Austria, which it owned from at least 1140, until the 13th century and from 1807 onwards. Over the centuries, the family acquired huge landed estates, mostly in Moravia, Lower Austria and Styria
  •  In 1434, the country took on its present form, with the Rhine establishing the border between the Holy Roman Empire (of which it was a part) and the Swiss cantons.
  • The Imperial Principality of Liechtenstein was established on 23 January 1719 ; on 12 July 1806 it established independence from the Holy Roman Empire.
  • Liechtenstein did not participate in World War I, claiming neutrality. However, until the end of the war, Liechtenstein was closely tied to Austria. In response, the Allied Powers imposed an economic embargo on the principality. The economic devastation forced the country to conclude a customs and monetary union with Switzerland.

Is Liechtenstein a Rich Country?

  • Despite the fact that is entirely mountainous Liechtenstein is one of the most heavily industrialised countries in the world, has one of the highest per capita GDPs in the world, and is one of only five countries which have no government debt.
  • The number of businesses registered in this tiny tax haven is double the number of residents, which is 37,000
  • The crime rate is so low, that the average Liechtenstein resident reportedly doesn’t even lock their front door. Its prison is built to hold 20 – currently half of that space is in occupation.

Is Liechtenstein in the EU?

 Liechtenstein is not in the EU, but it is the only microstate (not counting Iceland by population) that is part of the EEA, as it joined the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) in 1991. (Previously, it had participated in EFTA through Switzerland's membership). All EFTA states bar Switzerland are in the EEA, which gives them access to the EU single market. It also obliges Liechtenstein to apply European Union laws considered EEA-relevant. As of June 2016, around 5,000 of 23,000 EU legal acts in total were in force in the EEA.

Switzerland safeguards Liechtenstein's interests and citizens abroad, since this was agreed in 1919. The two countries form a common economic and monetary area. Liechtenstein has used the Swiss franc since 1920, and the two countries have formed a customs union since 1924 and have open borders. Both are now also parties to the Schengen Agreement. Swiss consular protection is extended to citizens of Liechtenstein. Switzerland represents Liechtenstein abroad, unless they choose otherwise.

Facts and Factoids

  • Liechtenstein is double landlocked: to reach the sea, one must cross at least two borders. The only other doubly landlocked country is Uzbekistan.
  • It doesn't have an airport either, so to reach Liechtenstein you're travelling overland from another country (usually Switzerland), unless you're rich enough to come by helicopter
  • Liechtenstein’s national flag was the same as that of Haiti. No-one realised until the opening ceremony of the 1936 Olympic games. This prompted Liechtenstein to add the crown found in their current flag, a year later. They’ve also ‘ borrowed’ their national anthem, using the same melody as the UK’s God Save the Queen.
  • Liechtenstein is also the world’s largest manufacture of false teeth; twenty per cent of the worlds output is made here, by one company - Ivoclar Vivadent.
  • The name Liechtenstein means - 'Light stone'. The country doesn't really have nicknames - except for 'The Land of the Princely Family'.
  • Once a year, on Staatsfeiertag, the prince holds a party in his castle grounds. Everyone is invited.
  • Lunch hour is official here. Except it's 90 minutes- noon till 1.30.
  • Liechtenstein was the last country in Europe to give women the vote - in 1984. Shame on you......

What is There to See and Do in Liechtenstein?

  • Liechtenstein is the only country which is totally covered by mountains, so most activity is walking and sports related. There is a ski resort at Malbun. It is a very, very small country...
  • Read Vaduz to see what I did

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