One of my childhood happy memories was receiving gifts from my Aunty Tracey who lived in Lichtenstein. She was always sending Liechtenstein paraphernalia and propaganda and I was here for it.
For over 30 years I’ve kept this magical vision in my mind of what the richest country per capita on earth would look like.
How safe could a country with no defence force feel? How do you even get to a country that has no airport? How small can the smallest country to win an Olympic medal be? How beautiful could the only country on earth to be completely in the alps be?
Today I got some answers.
P.S. Scroll to the bottom of the post for an awesome 360 photo!
We’re really lucky to be staying near the summits of the mountains, in Malbun, with friends of my aunt (thank you Martina and Markus!), it feels like we’re on the set of a fantastical movie. It’s unbelievably beautiful here.
The two furthest-away boundaries of the entire nation are 25km apart!
Some of the most interesting Lichtenstein facts I know:
- Liechtenstein is one of the smallest countries in the world, both in terms of land area and population. It covers just 160 square kilometres, about the physical size of Geelong, with a population of just over 39,000, about the same population as the town of Orange in New South Wales.
- It is one of only two countries in the world that are “double landlocked”, which means they are landlocked by countries that are also landlocked. The other is Uzbekistan.
- Despite its small size, Liechtenstein is one of the wealthiest countries in the world per capita. The Prince of Lichtenstein, the head bloke, makes $40 mil a month off his own investments and businesses, he doesn’t take a wage or anything like that.
- Liechtenstein is the world’s largest exporter of false teeth, specifically for dentures. This is due to the presence of Ivoclar Vivadent, a company that leads the world in false teeth manufacturing. The country is also home to Hilti the construction tools company.
- Liechtenstein doesn’t have its own airport or railway system. The nearest airport is in Zurich, Switzerland. For rail, it is served by the Swiss railways.
- Liechtenstein is a principality, governed by a constitutional monarch who holds expansive powers, including the ability to veto legislation. It is the last remaining monarchy in the Holy Roman Empire.
- Liechtenstein had the highest gross domestic product (GDP) per person in the world, when adjusted by purchasing power parity.
- The entire country is invited to the castle of the Prince of Liechtenstein for beer and pretzels on National Day (August 15).
- Despite being an independent country, Liechtenstein uses the Swiss Franc as its official currency.
- Liechtenstein has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. It has even been reported that the country’s citizens often don’t lock their doors.
- Liechtenstein disbanded its army in 1868 because it was too costly. In fact, Switzerland has been responsible for its defence since 1923. The CIA World Factbook for many years incorrectly stated it had a defence budget of $12. It’s actually closer to zero.
- The country’s capital, Vaduz, and the region of the Alps, has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its stunning alpine beauty.
- Liechtenstein is known for its excellent wines. The Prince of Liechtenstein Winery, owned by the princely family, is one of the most famous wineries. I drank one of his beers today and it’s equally delicious.
- Despite its location in Central Europe, Liechtenstein managed to remain neutral and was untouched during both World War I and World War II.
- There are more businesses registered in Lichtenstein than residents, so most of the residents work in support of these businesses, or in tourism, dentistry, or working for Hilti making tools.