In the enchanting land of Liechtenstein, where vibrant art and fairytale castles collide, an unexpected twist awaits. Journey with me as I uncover the hidden gems that make this tiny nation a treasure trove for curious explorers. From the bustling creativity of Vaduz’s art scene to the flawless organization and warm welcome of its people, Liechtenstein is a paradox waiting to be unraveled.
“Don’t let its size fool you. It’s packed with interesting facts that will leave you in awe.”
Join us as we delve into the heart of Liechtenstein, where surprises lie around every corner.
FACTS ABOUT LIECHTENSTEIN
Size and Population
Liechtenstein is the sixth smallest country in the world. Liechtenstein is so small, you could probably sneeze and miss it. Maybe that’s what happened and why I got lost…
With an area of just 160 square kilometers (62 square miles), it is often referred to as a microstate. It’s 24.5 km (15.2 miles) long and 9.4 km (5.8 miles) wide. And the total population is only 38,387.
Liechtenstein is one of only two double-landlocked countries in the world. That means that not only is Liechtenstein landlocked, but so are all the countries that border it. The only other one is Uzbekistan.
They are not part of the EU, but they are part of the Schengen area, which means that they have open borders and visa policies with the EU. And it’s very easy to enter the country by bus or car from Switzerland or Austria – without even showing your passport. If you are one of those people collecting passport stamps, you can go to the local tourist office. Give them 3 Swizz Francs, and they’ll stamp your passport!
And speaking of getting to the country, you will have to do it by land since they don’t have an airport. And when you drive to the country, try not to get lost on the way like I did.
There are other things they don’t have apart from an airport, like their own currency. Liechtenstein is the only country (other than Switzerland) to use the Swiss franc as its official currency.
Also, they have no military. Being a small landlocked nation, the neighboring countries provide a strong defense umbrella and have traditionally ensured the security of Liechtenstein. There is also a mutual defense treaty with Switzerland, which covers their defense needs.
And finally. They don’t have their own language. Well, they sort of don’t. They speak German but with a unique dialect called Walser German. It’s like German, but with a Liechtensteinian twist and, when I said before that it sounds more like Switch German, I was probably wrong. I’ve since found out that Liechtenstein German and Swiss German are different dialects. It shares some similarities with Swiss German, but it also has its own distinct features.
SCHAAN, BIGGEST TOWN
As I arrive in this charming town, the first thing that captures my attention is the interesting blend of architectural styles. Schaan’s streets are a delightful mishmash of designs, where modern glass structures stand alongside traditional timber houses. The vibrant colors of the buildings add a touch of whimsy to the scene, and it’s both surprising and delightful.
I discovered Schaan’s warm and welcoming atmosphere. The locals, known for their friendliness, greet me with genuine smiles and makes me feel at home. The town’s small size is a part its intimate charm, allowing me to easily navigate its streets and engage with the community.
MEETING LOUISE CAPITAL VADUZ
After a walk and a cup of coffee, I get back in the car and drive eight minutes south with the stunning mountains on my left-hand side, to the capital Vaduz. Here I go into the tourist office to speak to Louise Hansson.
She’s a bonafide blend of Swedish origin and Liechtenstein upbringing, making her a trusted source for all things Liechtenstein. Born and raised in this enchanting European enclave, her depth of knowledge about the region is as vast as its stunning alps. Louise’s father was among the few dentists operating in Liechtenstein in the ’70s, and he served the local community for over 30 years. Now, she passionately showcases the charm and unexpected surprises this tiny nation has to offer.
WALKING IN VADUZ
Vaduz is the pint-sized wonderland of Liechtenstein! As I stepped into this charming capital, I felt like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole into a real-life dollhouse. The city’s impeccable organization and cleanliness made it feel like a miniature world on steroids. It was as if a tiny custodian would pop out at any moment to sweep the streets with a toothbrush. The first thing that struck me was the size – blink and you’ll miss it. Vaduz is so small that you can walk from one end to the other in minutes.
The scent of wealth hung in the air, courtesy of Liechtenstein’s tax haven status. The mere thought of million-dollar deals being made over champagne and caviar seemed to float on the breeze. And of course, Vaduz Castle on its hill, a fairy-tale dream with towers straight out of Disney – this one just with a real prince. As I walked around, I discovered a delightful art scene, with galleries and museums popping up in every nook and cranny. And in the middle of all this grandeur, Vaduz still retained its small-town charm. It may be small, but it’s big on charm.
Vaduz is an intoxicating mix of wealth, culture, and warmth, she concluded, made this tiny nation a must-visit destination.
LIVING IN LIECHTENSTEIN
Living in Liechtenstein is like participating in an exclusive club. It’s expensive but offers a quality of life that’s truly premium. The Swiss-influenced lifestyle offers a mix of outdoor activities, the comfort of progressive infrastructures, and a friendly, community-focused environment.
Louise talks about the similar cost of living between Liechtenstein and Switzerland, and she gives glimpses of life in the country and how locals adapt to it. Yet, despite the high costs, there are gems to be enjoyed, like a ski holiday in Maibun, which is less costly than Switzerland but just as fun. Louise reiterates that though the cost of living lands on the higher side, the cherished experiences outweigh everything else.
Liechtenstein is the only country in the world to have won an Olympic medal and not have a national Olympic committee.
Liechtenstein is home to the world’s largest collection of postage stamps. So, if you’re a stamp collector, Liechtenstein is basically your Mecca.
They were the last European country to allow women to vote. It was as late as 1984 after the United Nations and various global organizations had championed equal rights for women, that finally echoed through the corridors of power in Liechtenstein that they embraced the idea of women casting their ballots.
They have the lowest crime rate of just about any country in the world, and their prisons are most often empty. If someone is sentenced more than two years, they are sent to Austria – just so they don’t feel too lonely, I guess.
Liechtenstein is the world’s largest producer of false teeth. 20% of the world’s false teeth are produced here and one company (Ivoclar Vivadent), based in Schaan manufactures about 60 million artificial teeth every year. One of the reasons for this is Bollywood. These false teeth are surprisingly popular in the Indian movie industry.
The country has a very developed and highly industrialized free-enterprise economy and being a tax haven, many companies are registered here in Liechtenstein. In fact, they have more registered companies than citizens.
Alaska was once a Russian territory, and according to the current monarch, Prince Hans-Adam II – something he said in an interview with the largest daily newspaper in the country, he was told that Russia offered Alaska to Liechtenstein before the Tsar sold it to America in 1867. Here’s the story: According to the prince, one of his predecessors spoke fluent Russian, had strong ties with the Tsars of Russia.
At one point most likely in a cozy conversation over cigars and vodka, the Russian Tsar offered the personal sale of Alaska to the Prince.
It sounds like folklore and just another good story (and to be honest there are no documents to support this), but it comes from the prince himself.
Can you imagine what it would be like today if Liechtenstein had bought Alaska? Alaska is 10,698 times the size of Liechtenstein, so the world map would look a bit different if they had.
And they could afford it. The monarchy of Liechtenstein is the richest in Europe. According to Statista.com, the royal family has a net worth of $6.8 billion dollars – more than any other royal dynasty in Europe. This is thanks to the ownership of a private bank, extensive investments, and land holdings. In comparisons the British royal family has a net worth of 460 million dollars.
THINGS TO DO IN LIECHTENSTEIN
When it comes to things to do in Liechtenstein, you wouldn’t be short of choices. Whether you fancy romancing the snow-capped mountains or soaking up some lingering echoes of history, this tiny landlocked country knows how to serve variety on the table. Louise reveals a gamut of activities from exploring art and history museums to hiking trails overlooking beautiful vistas. A city train tour provides a nutshell of local history. There’s also the bird park in Maoran or the Gutenberg castle in Baltos and wine tasting in Fadoots, where you can taste wine all but stamped with royal approval. It’s as clear as daylight from Louise’s account that it’s never a question of “what to do” in Liechtenstein, but rather “where to start”.
LIECHTENSTEIN’S UNIQUE MONARCHY
Monarchies hold a certain fascination and Liechtenstein’s monarchy is no exception. It’s one of the rare countries where the monarch has real powers, including the right to veto any legislation passed by the parliament. The closeness of the royal family with the locals is something that adds vibrancy to the place adding to its unique character.
Paul Rosner might just be the world’s most unexpected royal enthusiast. Born in the U.S., Paul’s fascination with Europe’s monarchies began as early as ten. Unlike his childhood friends, Paul indulged more in family trees than football! His knowledge of royal families far surpasses the average enthusiast; he has an uncanny ability to recall the lineage and fascinating bits of trivia about numerous royal families. Today, he brings this same fervor to give us a sneak peek into Liechtenstein’s regal life – as The Radio Vagabond’s new “Senior Royal Correspondent.” Paul paints a picture of how the princely family of Liechtenstein, though immensely wealthy, leads a remarkably humble and accessible life.
The prince is known to invite Liechtensteiners to the castle for the National Day, making the meet-and-greet a cherished tradition. These instances create an intimate bond between the royals and locals making the monarchy a respected and integral part of life in Liechtenstein.
Despite Prince Hans-Adam II being a multi billionaire, he’s often seen strolling through the streets of Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein, engaging in casual conversations with locals and visiting shops and establishments. He does that without extensive security measures.
Another thing that shows the close relationship between the princely family and the citizens is when the Prince of Liechtenstein invites all Liechtenstein residents to his castle in Vaduz –the official residence of the princely family. This happens on Liechtenstein’s National Day held on August 15th each year. This invitation reflects the prince’s desire to connect with the people and express gratitude for their support and loyalty.
POEM, WRITTEN BY AN AI
Palle Bo, The Radio Vagabond, set his sights,
On Liechtenstein, a land of surprising delights.
It’s so small, you might miss it in a glance,
And our adventurer almost lost his chance.
Their prince has riches that astound,
But still, he shops in the supermarket he’s found.
He also invites the people to his castle each year,
Serving wine, spreading joy, with a smile and a cheer.
Liechtenstein, where oddities take root,
False teeth they produce, oh what a hoot!
No airports, no military, just peace they bestow.
They almost bought Alaska, but politely said “no,”
Mountains and towns, a picturesque view,
Palle Bo’s visit is a trip worth pursuing.
For in this land of mountains and quaint appeal,
Liechtenstein’s charm, forever surreal.
And dear listeners, before we part ways,
A favor to ask, if I may,
Please leave a review in your podcast app,
With kind words and five stars, give it a clap.
Your reviews bring joy to Palle’s heart,
Like a warm embrace, they play their part.
With your support, his spirits soar high,
So leave a review, and reach for the sky!
My name is Palle Bo and I gotta keep moving. See you.
00:00 – INTRODUCTION TO LIECHTENSTEIN
Palle Bo introduces the episode and mentions that he is currently in Europe, driving towards Liechtenstein. He shares his excitement about seeing the Alps and expresses his intention to explore the country.
03:08 – FACTS ABOUT LIECHTENSTEIN
Palle Bo discusses some interesting facts about Liechtenstein, such as its small size, being landlocked between Austria and Switzerland, and its unique features like using the Swiss franc as its official currency and having no military. He also mentions the language spoken in Liechtenstein, which is a dialect called Liechtenstein German.
08:39 – EXPLORING SCHAAN
Palle Bo arrives in Schaan, the biggest city in Liechtenstein, and describes the charming blend of architectural styles and the friendly atmosphere. He goes for a walk and enjoys the vibrant colors of the buildings.
09:33 – DRIVING TO THE CAPITAL
Palle Bo drives from Schaan to the capital city, Vaduz. He mentions the stunning mountains on his left-hand side during the drive.
10:13 – INTERVIEW WITH LOUISE HANSSON
Palle Bo visits the tourist office in Vaduz and speaks to Louise Hansson, who is originally from Sweden. They discuss her background and how she ended up working in Liechtenstein. Palle also asks about the rumor of Liechtenstein being a leading producer of false teeth, and Louise confirms that 25% of false teeth in the world are made here.
17:19 – THE RUSSIAN OFFER TO LIECHTENSTEIN
Prince Hans Adam of Liechtenstein claims that Russia offered Alaska to Liechtenstein before selling it to the US in 1867. Although there are no supporting documents, this story adds an interesting twist to the history of Alaska’s acquisition.
18:08 – THE WEALTH OF LIECHTENSTEIN’S MONARCHY
The monarchy of Liechtenstein is the richest in Europe, with a net worth of $6.8 billion. This wealth comes from owning a private bank, extensive investments, and land holdings. In comparison, the British royal family has a net worth of $460 million.
19:11 – TOURIST ATTRACTIONS IN LIECHTENSTEIN
Tourists are drawn to Liechtenstein for its beautiful mountains, skiing resorts, and hiking trails. The country’s principality, with a castle and a princely family, adds to its unique appeal.
21:18 – LIECHTENSTEIN’S PRINCELY FAMILY
Liechtenstein’s princely family has a long history and was granted the title of prince by the Holy Roman Empire. The current prince, Hans Adam, is officially the head of the monarchy, but his son, Prince Alois, is the head of the government. The family has also embraced diversity through Prince Max’s marriage to Angela Brown, who is of Panamanian African American heritage.
26:54 – LIECHTENSTEIN’S UNIQUE MONARCHY
Liechtenstein’s prince isn’t paid by the citizens of the country. He has his own money. In any other European monarchy (maybe with the exception of Monaco), the royals are basically just for show and mostly their roles are symbolic and ceremonial. They also often play a role in preserving and promoting their country’s cultural heritage, and engage in diplomatic activities, like representing their countries on official visits abroad and hosting foreign dignitaries at home. But in Liechtenstein, the Prince is the head of state, and holds a unique power known as the “right of veto.” This power allows him to effectively block legislation approved by the Parliament.
33:42 – LIVING IN LIECHTENSTEIN
Discussing the cost of living in Liechtenstein compared to Norway and Switzerland, mentioning the expensive currency and the affordable skiing resort in Maibun.
34:28 – THE BEAUTY OF LIECHTENSTEIN
Highlighting the stunning landscape of Liechtenstein, with half of the country covered by mountains, and expressing admiration for its beauty.
34:38 – THINGS TO DO IN LIECHTENSTEIN
Exploring the various activities and attractions in Liechtenstein, including the Adventure Pass with 30 attractions, museums, stamp collection, winery, city train tour, bird park, and castles.
37:54 – POEM AND FAREWELL
Presenting a poem written and read by an AI about Liechtenstein’s charm, the uniqueness of the country, and bidding farewell to listeners with a request for reviews.
Either way, I would love to hear from you. It’s so nice to know who’s on the other end of this.
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