27 interesting facts about Liechtenstein

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From being doubly landlocked to threatening to sell the country to Bill Gates, these are the most interesting facts about Liechtenstein.

The Schloss Vaduz castle in Liechtenstein
Interesting facts about Liechtenstein include the Schloss Vaduz castle (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Principality of Liechtenstein
Population: 39,711
Area: 160 sq km
Capital city: Vaduz
Major languages: German
Major religions: Christianity
Time zone: UTC+1 (Central European Time)
– Source: CIA World Factbook

Interesting facts about Liechtenstein

1. Liechtenstein is a landlocked country in Central Europe bordering Austria and Switzerland. Landlocked countries are completely surrounded by land and do not have access to the open sea.
– Source: CIA World Fact BookThe Telegraph

2. Liechtenstein is also one of just two doubly landlocked countries, Uzbekistan is the second. A double landlocked country is surrounded only by landlocked countries and requires the crossing of at least two national borders to reach a coastline.
– Source: CIA World Fact BookThe Telegraph

3. Liechtenstein is the world’s sixth-smallest sovereign state by area.
– Source: World Bank

A map of Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein is doubly landlocked (Shutterstock)

4. Liechtenstein is one of just three sovereign principalities in the world. The others are Andorra and Monaco. A principality is a sovereign state ruled by a monarch with the title of prince and/or princess.
– Source: P. Christiaan Klieger (2012). The Microstates of Europe: Designer Nations in a Post-Modern World. Lanham: Lexington Books

5. Liechtenstein has the world’s fifth-smallest population of independent countries after NauruTuvaluPalau and San Marino.
– Source: World Bank

6. Liechtenstein’s flag is blue and red horizontally striped with a yellow crown in the top left corner. Blue represents the sky, red represents the evening fires in homes and the crown represents the unity of the people and their prince.
– Source: Britannica

Liechtenstein's flag flying in the wind with a blue sky
Liechtenstein’s flag (Shutterstock)

7. During the 1936 Summer Olympic Games, it was found that Haiti’s flag had the same blue and red design as Liechtenstein’s. To avoid future confusion, a yellow crown was added to Liechtenstein’s flag the following year.
– Source: Britannica

8. Liechtenstein has been continually inhabited by farming communities since the Late Stone Age, around 4000 – 1800 BC.
– Source: Embassy of the Principality of Liechtenstein

9. Liechtenstein was formally made up of the two counties of Vaduz and Schellenberg until 1719 when it acquired its present name and became an independent principality of the Holy Roman Empire.
– Source: Embassy of the Principality of Liechtenstein, BBC News

A village nestled among mountains in Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein is a primarily mountainous country (Shutterstock)

10. Liechtenstein is named after the Liechtenstein dynasty that purchased and united the counties of Schellenburg and Vaduz. The name in German means “light or bright stone”.
– Source: CIA World Factbook

11. Liechtenstein became fully independent in 1866.
– Source: BBC News

12. The current head of state in Liechtenstein is Prince Hans-Adam II. He was a successful banker before he became head of state in 1989, following the death of his father, Prince Franz Josef. In 2004 he handed over the everyday running of the principality to his son, Crown Prince Alois while remaining the titular head of state.
– Source: BBC News

13. In 2001, the prince threatened to sell the country to Bill Gates if the public didn’t support his constitutional reforms to boost his powers.
– Source: New York Times

Prince Hans-Adam II and Princess Marie
Prince Hans-Adam II and Princess Marie (GuentherZ/CC BY 3.0)

14. In the end, the Prince won a referendum granting him new powers. The vote made him “Europe’s most powerful ruler” and “the closest thing modern Europe has to an absolute monarch”. He now has the authority to appoint judges, dissolve the government, block legislation and ignore court rulings.
– Source: The Independent

15. Liechtenstein is considered to be one of the safest countries in the world to visit. It has been assessed as carrying an “insignificant travel security risk”.
– Source: International SOS Travel Risk Map

16. Liechtenstein does not have any airports. All travellers must enter Liechtenstein by public transport from Switzerland or Austria (or drive).
– Source: The TelegraphLonely Planet

A bus in Liechtenstein
Interesting facts about Liechtenstein include its absence of airports (Shutterstock)

17. Princely House of Liechtenstein is reportedly worth $5 billion, making it the wealthiest royal family in Europe.
– Source: Insider, The Richest

18. Liechtenstein has won more Olympic medals per capita than any other country. It has won 10 medals, all in Alpine skiing, which is one medal for every 3,647 inhabitants.
– Source: New York Times, Medals Per Capita

19. The official residence of the Prince of Liechtenstein is the Schloss Vaduz castle. It was built as a fortress in the 12th century.
– Source: Lonely Planet

20. On 15 August, Liechtenstein’s National Day (Staatsfeiertag), the prince invites all Liechtensteiners over to the Schloss Vaduz castle for a glass of wine or beer.
– Source: (Lonely Planet, Liechtenstein Marketing)

Crowds on the lawn of Schloss Vaduz castle
Liechtenstein’s National Day at Schloss Vaduz castle (Liechtenstein Marketing)

21. Liechtenstein is one of just 21 countries that does not have an army. Instead, its safety and security are the responsibility of the National Police.
– Source: The AtlanticCIA World Factbook

22. In 2007, Switzerland accidentally invaded Liechtenstein briefly. Around 170 infantry soldiers took a wrong turn and entered Liechtenstein’s territory. A spokesman for Liechtenstein said that nobody had even noticed the soldiers and “It’s not like they stormed over here with attack helicopters or something”.
– Source: The Guardian

23. Europe’s Alpine region encompasses the eight European countries of Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Slovenia and Switzerland. However, only Liechtenstein is situated entirely within the Alpine massif.
– Source: European Commission

A hiking trail in the mountains
A hiking trail in Liechtenstein’s Alps (Shutterstock)

24. Liechtenstein is Europe’s least visited country, only receiving around 98,000 international tourists in 2019 (the latest available data).
– Source: UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

25. Liechtenstein has been a member of the United Nations since 1990. However, it is not a member of most specialised agencies such as UNESCO, the IMF and the World Bank.
– Source: UN, World Bank, UNESCO, IMF

26. Liechtenstein has the world’s second-highest GDP per capita at $169,049 USD. Only Monaco’s is higher.
– Source: World Bank

27. Liechtenstein is one of the world’s most notorious tax havens. However, recently it has taken steps to shake off its bad image as foreign governments and international organisations have put the country under pressure to comply with international tax laws and be more transparent. It has since been removed from the OECD’s list of Unco-operative Tax Havens.
– Source: The Guardian, OECD, Financial Times

Every effort has been made to verify these facts about Liechtenstein using primary sources. However, if you find an error or have any questions, please contact us.