Copyright: Ina Van Hateren 123rf.com

Liechtenstein

Capital: Vaduz
Currency: Swiss franc(CHF)
Language: German
Listen to the national anthem

Evidence that the earliest habitation by hominids were essentially farmer in the lush valleys and dates to around 5,300 BC. During the Iron Age, Greek and Etruscan influence was very strong. The Helvetii tribe emerged as the strongest around 450 BC. 58 BC, at the Battle of Bibracte, Caesar defeated the Helvetii. By 15 BC Tiberius and his brother, Gaius, conquered the entire Alpine region and the area known today as Liechtenstein, all was absorbed into the Roman republic and became the Province of Raetia. As the Roman Empire started to shrink then the Germanic tribes took control once more.

After the Second World War, the Liechtenstein dynasty was in severe financial difficulty after selling off family treasures. In 1967 the famous painting "Ginerva de Benci" by Leonardo da Vinci was sold to the US National Gallery of Art for $5 million which at that time was a record sum. By the 1970's low corporate taxes drew wealthy companies and today it is seen as a tax haven.

Liechtenstein is one of only 2 countries that share borders with countries that are land locked, making Liechtenstein along with Uzbekistan, a doubly - landlocked country. The name Liechtenstein comes from the ruling dynasty that ruled in the country from 1140 until the 13th century and then again from 1807 to today. During these times the family acquired much land and estates. The borders have not changed since 1434.

Vaduz Castle (below) in the capital, Vaduz, is the home of the Liechtenstein family and as such is not really a big tourist attraction.

Vaduz CastleCopyright: Clément Bucco-Lechat Wikimedia Commons

The castle itself sits on a hilltop over looking the capital, which got its name from the castle. The castle was not always in the possession of the Princely Family. The first mention of the castle was in the 12th century which was then a keep. During the Swabian War, the Swiss burnt it down. The princely family acquired the castle in 712 and has remained in use as a residence ever since.

Liechtenstein is so small that it does not have an airport but instead there is a heliport. There are just 4 railway stations and although the Euro City trains pass through the country but none actually stop inside Liechtenstein's borders. Modern measurement technologies are shown that Liechtenstein is larger than originally mapped. In 2006 Liechtenstein 'grew' in area by 1.9 km (1.1 mile)!

In the village of Hinterschellenburg there is a monument that was erected in memory of about 500 Russian soldiers who were given asylum after the Second World War Liechtenstein MonumentCopyright: Hellebardius Flickr. Some of the soldiers decided to return voluntarily but were never heard of again once they boarded the train. After pressure from Russia, Argentina offered remaining soldiers asylum and they left. A French TV documentary "Le dernier secret de Yalta" was made to commemorate the event.

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