Did you know that there are 195 countries in the World, this list is comprised of 193 United Nations member states and 2 non-member observer states the Holy See and Palestine. Today I am reaching a milestone, I will be visiting a new country for the very first time which will bring my total of countries visited to 65. That is one third of all the countries in the world.
For country number 65 I have chosen one of the smallest countries. At 27km long and 13km wide, the Alpine principality of Liechtenstein is the sixth smallest country by both land mass (160km2) and population (38,128 in 2020). Bordered to the East and South by Austria, with its western border scribed by the Rhine River and Switzerland, both landlocked, this makes Liechtenstein a ‘double landlocked’ country, a distinction shared by only one other country in the world, Uzbekistan.
I’m looking forward to a weekend of exploration and will let you know how I find the “Ländle” (little country). In the meantime here are some more fun facts about Liechtenstein:
- There is no room for an airport in Liechtenstein because of a decided lack of flat land between the mountains and the river. The nearest airport is in Zurich an hour away. It does however have its own university.
- The national anthem “Oben am Jungen Rhein” (Up Above the Young Rhine) uses the same tune as “God Save the King” and so when England play Liechtenstein you hear the same music twice.
- It has one of the lowest crime rates in the world.
- Liechtenstein is the world leader in denture production, who would have thought. The owner of the factory Christoph Zeller is the country’s only billionaire.
- It is the world’s wealthiest country by GDP.
- Liechtenstein has more registered companies and more jobs than citizens. Many workers commute from neighbouring countries.
- Women only got the vote as recently as 1984 and even then only by the narrowest of margins.
- To avoid a rush of people seeking residence, due to its favourable low taxes, Liechtenstein issue only 88 new residence permits each year. Achieving citizenship takes a 30 year commitment to the country, before you are eligible or you can be voted in by locals and once final approval is given by the Government and the Prince you become a Liechtensteiner.
- Liechtenstein is neutral and has no military. It does have close links to Switzerland however and uses Swiss Francs as its official currency, euros are also accepted. German is the official language.