• Population: 34,000 (official figure, 2003)
  • Capital: Vaduz
  • Area: 160 sq km (61.8 sq miles)
  • Major language: German
  • Major religion: Christianity
  • Life expectancy: 75 years (men), 82 years (women)
  • Monetary unit: 1 Swiss franc = 100 centimes

 

Liechtenstein is an unspoiled corner of Europe and much deservingly so for its generally uninterrupted situation and, as a “corner”, its size. As a country without states or cities, and with a village for its capital, this pint-sized micronation that’s tucked away in the mighty Alps is rightfully the Principality of Liechtenstein. It is really small enough that a 4-minute travel intro is possible. Nestled between two major holiday destinations of Switzerland and Austria, it’s pretty easy to overlook the country on your European tour.

And without seaport or airport, Liechtenstein’s tourism is destined to fall short. Yet a big part of its modern-day economy is tourism . Liechtenstein is under the rule of iron fists of a billionaire monarch who surprisingly lives on a castle perched on a hill, as in fairy tales. Now there is very little to be said of famous Liechtensteiners or their inventions, but getting to know them is a must for these are a group of people with their own traditions, cultures, and lifestyle.

GEOGRAPHY

Liechtenstein (47 16 N, 9 32 E) is a landlocked nation without states or cities – just 11 villages nestled in its 160 km2 – 6 km in width; 25 km in length. With that, Liechtenstein is the 6th smallest country in the world. Straddled right in the Alps, the landscape is 66% mountainous, where the remainder hills and plateaus are near the Rhine. The Rhine Valley forms the western third. Understandably, the lowest point is at a tall height of 430m, at the Rugeller Riet, while the highest, the Vorder-Grauspitz, 2,599 m above sea level. There are only 11 villages in Liechtenstein.

CLIMATE

The climate of Liechtenstein varies depending on elevation, but continental for the most part. The climate can also be temperate with variations. As a result of geography and terrain, winters are cold and cloudy with snow or rain, whereas summers are warm, cloudy and humid.

PEOPLE

Liechtenstein is the 212th in world population size. As the 4th smallest country in Europe, the entire principality only has 35,236 people – an increase of 234 from the past year, an annual population growth rate of only 0.9%. Of the entire population, 65.6% are Liechtensteiners while 34.4% are other nationalities/ethnicities (Swiss, Austrians, Germans, and Italians). One-third of Liechtenstein’s resident population are foreign-born. And two-thirds of the work force is formed by these foreign-born people. There are no cases of HIV.

LANGUAGE

Liechtensteiners are German-speakers because even its non-Liechtensteiner population are also from its German-speaking neighbours. GERMAN is the official language, while the ALEMANNIC dialect spoken is highly divergent from the Standard German, like Austrian German. Most of them understand ENGLISH

RELIGION

The Liechtensteiner population is chiefly Christian with almost 90% of the population under its wing, majority of which are Roman Catholics (more than 75%). Then, there also are Protestants (8%) and Orthodox Christians (1.1%) for the Christian church, while the remainder are Jews (0.1%), Muslims (4.8%), and those without religion (7%).

ATTRACTIONS

Liechtenstein is Europe’s last Shangri-La, so because of its mythical element with the Vaduz Castle up on a hill where a powerful prince oversees his kingdom of 11 communes, which is just about the size they come in fairy tales. In Liechtenstein, the Prince wields more political power over his land than any other monarch in Europe.  The people are just as happy too, as in fairy tales. Many outsiders are clueless about this amazing nation, while those who know a thing or two about the principality advise to visit only if you’re close. Most people don’t actually look at this as a distinctive country, but more like a city up in the Alps where visitors basically just get their passports stamped and buy souvenirs. But you’ll find in here a place with a beautiful capital and stunning Alpine landscapes that stretch as far as the eyes can see. The country is dotted with quaint chapels, as with modern art.

In Liechtenstein, tourism is renowned more for genuine natural beauty, and not its low-tax novelty, despite the numerous banks and businesses that are in Vaduz.  Vaduz, the capital, has indescribable beauty that not only the prince finds fit for royalty. The Gutenberg Castle in Balzer, the medieval castle in Schloss Vaduz, and the church and museum up in isolated alpine town Treisenberg are all set against the greenest backdrops of nature you’ll ever see.  Each of Liechtenstein’s 11 towns have their own attraction like Bendern for history as the birthplace of Liechtenstein,  Schaan with its vibrant social atmosphere as the most populated,  Malbun with its ski and snowboarding lure, or the natural grandiose of Ruggell , and so on.

FOOD

While a country that’s barely any larger than Manhattan is unchallenging on the face of things, there’s quality in their tourism that Liechtensteiners take pride in. It’s not all about bragging rights here, but this forgotten corner Europe is a fair match to Austria’s and Switzerland’s pretty little villages, stunning landscapes, magnificent people, and freshly delicious food even with just a few communes. Of course, the Liechtensteiner cuisine may just be the most exciting and delightful discovery on a holiday here. But what exactly do fairy-tale citizens eat in modern times? Even story-book land has a McDonald’s, but the specialty is far and away much better.

Contrary to what you might think, Austrian or Swiss cuisine are not the influences here, but French. The main source of diet is rebi – half cornmeal, half semolina, due to French influences, cheese. Saukerkas is the local cheese. They also have German influences with food and schnitzel and pork stews with sauerkraut are standard meals. However, the local specialty is actually dumplings with cheese or Käseknöpfle. Overall, Liechtensteiner dishes can be paired with the local Liechtensteiner beer brew or, for more refined taste, wine from the Prince’s very own vineyard! Besides that, there are astounding sandwiches and top-of-the-charts street grub from hotdogs to fish and chips. And versus the Viennese waffles, Liechtensteiner fruit-filled pancakes are more forgiving. 

***

Josh Boorman

Editor-in-chief

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