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Liechtenstein measures around 160 square kilometers and could be considered more or less an extension of Switzerland, its western neighbour (Austria straddles the eastern border). But it does pack some variety into its borders. The Alps in the south-east make for excellent skiing and hiking opportunities, with the area's most popular resort being at Malbun. Head towards the Swiss border and you will be able to enjoy the gorgeous Rhine Valley. At Vaduz, the country's capital, you'll find the best of Liechtenstein's culture sweeped into one place: a collection of museums (covering such diverse areas of intrigue as art, stamps and skiing), a medieval castle, and a fair range of restaurants (all offering bottles of Liechtenstein's home-grown wine). Consider Liechtenstein an option for your next skiing or hiking trip.
The Liechtenstein dynasty is an old royal family, which is linked to the castle Liechtenstein that can be found in Austria. But the family wanted to obtain more power, and started to acquire pieces of land (Mainly within the Habsburgs Empire). The Liechtensteins wanted to have land that was not within somebody else’s empire. In 1699 they could finally buy a piece of land, the small “Herrschaft” of Schellenburg, that was not owned by anybody, and only had the Holy Roman Emperor as a supreme ruler. 13 years later they also bought the county of Vaduz. Both pieces of land were bought from the Hohenems.
In 1719, on January the 23rd the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles VI, signed a decreed that Schellenburg and Vaduz were to be united to become the Principality of Liechtenstein, with Anton Florian becoming the first Prince of Liechtenstein. By this act Liechtenstein became an independent member state of the Holy Roman Empire, a situation that lasted until 1806 when the Holy Roman Empire seized to excist due to the Napoleonic wars. After the rule of Napoleon, and his defeat a few years later, new borders were drawn up in Central Europe and Liechtenstein became a member of the German Confederation, which was governed by the Emperor of Austria.
Despite being the rulers of the country, the first visit of any of the Princes of Liechtenstein to the country had to wait until 1842. In 1861 the Saving and Loans Bank was opened. Something that would result in a profitable type of trade for Liechtenstein in the future.
Until the end of World War I, and the fall of the Austrian Empire, Liechtenstein had close ties to Austria. The main reason for this was that the Liechtensteins were still living in Austria. At the end of the war, the financial situation in Austria forced Liechtenstein to enter a monetary and customs union with Switzerland.
During World War II Liechtenstein was able to remain neutral, but the family lost the properties that they had possessed in Poland and Czechoslovakia. Until the “Anschluss” the princes had lived in Vienna, but then moved to Vaduz. The seizing of most of their land in Czechoslovakia lead to the situation that Liechtenstein did not have official relationship with that country during the cold war, and still does not have any official international relationships with either the Czech Republic or Slovakia. After the war the family on a regular bases sold pieces of art, to get the country back on track. Since the war Liechtenstein has raised it’s living standards dramatically, which is mainly because of the low tax rates businesses enjoy in Liechtenstein, which results in there being more companies than citizens in the country.
In early 2009 Switzerland has joined the Schengen-zone, which led to the situation that border controls were needed between Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Liechtenstein is expected to join the Schengen-zone itself in late 2009. Ratification of the agreement has already taken place in February 2009.
One of only two doubly-landlocked countries in the world (the other is Uzbekistan), Liechtenstein is a very mountainous country. The highest point, at 2599 metres, is the Grauspitz. Liechtenstein is the sixth smallest nation in Europe. Measured from north to south, the country is only about 24 kilometres long. Liechtenstein shares international borders with Switzerland and Austria. The border with Switzerland follows the Rhine river.
Liechtenstein is situated in the Upper Rhine valley of the European Alps and is bordered to the east by Austria and to the south and west by Switzerland. The entire western border of Liechtenstein is formed by the Rhine. New surveys using more accurate measurements of the country's borders in 2006 have set its area at 160 km2, with borders of 77.9 kilometres. Thus, Liechtenstein discovered in 2006 that its borders are 1.9 kilometres longer than previously thought.
Liechtenstein is made up of 11 municipalities, known as gemeinden, which usually consist of a single town. These municipalities are grouped into two counties, the Unterland (lower county) and Oberland (upper county).
Schloss Vaduz, also known as Vaduz Castle, is a stunning castle overlooking the capital of Vaduz. The oldest parts of the castle were built in the 12th century, although most of the castle burned down in 1499 and then rebuilt. An extension was added to the west side in the 17th century. In 1712 the castle became property of the royals and has been there residence since then. With stunning mountains behind it, the Schloss Vaduz is a breath taking sight.
Opened in 2000 the Liechtenstein Art Museum (Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein) is a great art museum. It has an excellent collection of international modern and contemporary art. It also has the national collection, which is the royal families private collection. Designed by the Swiss architects of Meinrad Morger this building is pretty from the outside also.
In Liechtenstein go enjoy the mountains with some world class skiing at the only ski area of Malbun. Enjoy sliding down these slopes in the Alps while looking at the amazing scenery. Remember many famous world class skiers have learned on these slops.
Liechtenstein has warm summers and cold winters. Temperatures in summer from June to September are generally between 22 and 25 degrees Celsius, sometimes with days over 30 degrees possible. Nights are pleasantly, around 14 degrees. This applies to the lower areas though, up in the mountains it is (much) cooler. Winters are around zero with frost at night, and cold conditions in the moutains where snow falls much of the winter and temperatures can plummit way below -20 degrees. Most of the rain falls during the summer season with sometimes very heavy showers and thunderstorms.
There is no airport in Liechtenstein. The nearest large airport is in Zürich, Switzerland. A smaller airport can be found in Friedrichshafen on the shores of Lake Konstanz in Germany
Austria and Switzerland are not connected to Liechtenstein by rail, but you can get buses to Sargans in
Switzerland which has frequent rail connections towards Zürich or Chur.
Liechtenstein shares borders with Austria and Switzerland and good tarred roads lead into those countries from a number of places.
Roads in Liechtenstein are in excellent condition. Many international as well as local firms have offices, mainly in and near the capital Vaduz. Traffic drives on the right and you need your national driver's licence to rent a car.
LBA is the only company offering comfortable bus travel around the country. It is well organised, but services are less during the evening and on Sundays. A 7-day pass costs only about 10 Swiss francs, about 8 US dollars or €6.
A great way to explore Liechtenstein is by bike as distances are small and several parts even have bike lanes. Some roads can be steep though, especially in the southeast. Bikes can be rented in most towns.
The same requirements as for Switzerland apply. There aren't any customs controls between Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
If you need more in depth information on visa requirements try contacting the tourist office.
See also: Money Matters
Liechtenstein uses the Swiss Franc (CHF). One franc is divided into 100 centimes (French) (German: Rappen). Banknotes come in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 1000 francs. Coins come as 5, 10 and 20 centimes and 1/2, 1, 2 and 5 francs.
Liechtenstein also accepts Euro as currency but the balance amount will be returned in CHF only. Tourists are advised to keep this in mind while paying by cash.
See also: German Phrasebook
The official language of Liechtenstein is German, with most people speaking a dialect, but standard German will be understood by everybody.
If you want to practise some German before visiting Liechtenstein, you can take a look at the German Phrasebook on this travel guide.
See also: Travel Health
There are no vaccinations legally required to travel to Liechtenstein. It is recommended to have a vaccination against tick borne encephalitis when you go hiking and/or camping for 4 weeks or more in the period of March to November.
See also: Travel Safety
Liechtenstein is probably one of the safest countries in the world. Just take the normal precautions when going out hiking, driving on the road and leave your valuables out of sight in the car. Few people will have any problems visiting the country.
See also: International Telephone Calls
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