When I visited the Italian lakes in 2014, I decided to have a little look at Liechtenstein and this is what I discovered.
The famous story about Liechtenstein is that it tried to join in the Austro-Prussian war in 1866 (the last time its military were active) and sent out 80 soldiers to guard the border, they made a friend and returned with 81.
After WW2 Prince Franz Joseph II took in nearly 500 Russians seeking political asylum and refused to hand them over to Stalin. He also successfully negotiated for neutrality for his country with Hitler himself.
Liechtenstein has a very low crime rate, you’ll be pleased to know that they haven’t had a murder since 1997. There are only 10 inmates in their prison (the maximum capacity is 20). Any sentenced to more than two years get shipped off to Austria.
It was once invaded by Switzerland but it was entirely by accident when their infantry wandered over the border. They informed Liechenstein who hadn’t even noticed anyway and were of course aware that Switzerland weren’t one to strike first.
Not one for progressivism, Liechtenstein only gave women the vote in 1984. An all-male referendum only granted women the vote by 51.3%. Women couldn’t vote in local elections until 1986 which is the year I was born.
Is this backwards thinking a result of being a double-landlocked country? Not only are they landlocked, but they are landlocked by two landlocked countries, Switzerland and Austria.
It is the world’s biggest manufacturer of false teeth, and they make 60 million pairs per year. They sell them mainly to India and these gnashers help glamorous Bollywood actors to stay that way.
Liechtenstein is very expensive. It is more upmarket than Andorra but more downmarket than Monaco and San Marino and less religious than Vatican City.
At one point, Liechtenstein put itself up for hire for £43,000 which quite a bargain to hire a country if you think about it. But what do you get for that price? Well, accommodation for 150 people, a temporary currency, customised street signs, wine tasting at the Prince’s estate and the (symbolic) key to the city.
There is also toboggoning, horse riding, skiing and fireworks. You can purchase optional extras of a special candle wax logo or a medieval procession if you wanted to push the boat out. In fact that’s really the only thing you can’t do.
Visitors to Liechtenstein should be aware that there isn’t an airport or international rail station. Unless Prince Hans-Adam II sends a horse and carriage then you’ll have to get a bus or drive from Switzerland or Austria or even Italy, which is what we did.
Vaduz is the countrie’s capital but its biggest city (which makes all the false teeth) is Schaan with close to 6,000 dentally sound residents.
It’s an expensive country but it is certainly intriguing even if there are very few tourist attractions.