Liechtenstein might just be one of the most beautiful countries in the entire world. It’s unique for the fact that it is a constitutional hereditary monarchy, which means elections happen on a parliamentary and democratic basis. It isn’t ruled by a king, but by a prince, which means instead of it being a kingdom, it is called a principality.
1. A Land of True Neutrality
Liechtenstein backs up its stance of being 100% neutral by not having an actively serving military at any given time. There are only 3 nation states in the world right now that don’t have any armed forces: Costa Rica and Andorra are the other two. The ruling prince has so much authority, however, that one could be instituted in a second if needed. The only law that cannot be vetoed by the monarchy, in fact, is a public referendum to become a republic.
The last time Liechtenstein did field an armed force was in 1866 for the Austro-Prussian War. The total number of soldiers was just 80 and they didn’t see any fighting. The last soldier to serve in Liechtenstein died in 1939.
2. It’s Completely Locked
Liechtenstein does not have any borders that have a maritime boundary. It is completely landlocked between just two nations – Switzerland and Austria. Switzerland actually conducts most of Liechtenstein’s international business on its behalf. The relationship between the Swiss and the monarchy are so close, in fact, that there isn’t any border control between the two countries and hasn’t been since 1923.
3. A Corporate Nation
Liechtenstein is also one of the few countries in the world today that has more registered businesses within its borders than it does actual citizens. This is because it has the second-lowest business taxes in all of Europe at just 12.5%. Their rules of incorporation are also allow holding companies to register an office in the principality, which actually accounts for up to 30% of the tax revenues which are received.
4. Wealthy to the Extreme
Liechtenstein has the second highest gross domestic product per capita in the world, with each resident accounting for $89,000+ every year. What contributes to all of this wealth? The principality is the world’s largest producer of false teeth. Ceramics play a critical role within the infrastructure, but tourism also plays a major role. Considering the terrain is mostly mountainous, with just a bit of the Rhine Valley included within the borders, there are just two natural resources in use: arable land and hydroelectric power.
5. Women’s Suffrage
Liechtenstein is also notable for the fact that is became the last country in Europe to grant women the right to vote. A referendum was held on July 1, 1984, to decide whether women should be allowed to vote. Only men voted in this election, of course, and the referendum passed with a 51.3% majority.
6. No Jail Time
There is a national police force which patrols the entire principality of Liechtenstein. The force consists of about 90 officers and about 40 more support staff. Small arms are given to the officers. The crime rate within the principality is one of the lowest in the world and there are many jails in the nation that don’t have any prisoners in them at all. If someone is sentenced to a term that is 2 years or longer, however, that prisoner is transferred to an Austrian prison.
7. Some Extra Cheese Please
At one point in the 1980s as the Swiss military was training, there was a shelling accident that burned down part of a forest in Liechtenstein. As the story goes, the Swiss were able to settle the matter over a large case of white wine. There is no confirmation that extra cheese was also required during the consumption of the wine.
8. Incredibly Small
To put the actual size of Liechtenstein into perspective, the entire country isn’t even as big as Washington DC. It’s actually about 0.9x the size of the district. Despite the similarities, Liechtenstein only has one hospital within the entire nation. In comparison, Washington DC has 16 different hospitals, with two of them being military related. Remarkably only about 1 in 6 people actually lives in the urban areas of Liechtenstein, making the cities remarkably small and the nation mostly rural.
Liechtenstein is wealthy, neutral, and beautiful. Just under 40,000 people call this principality their full-time home. It is one of the most interesting countries in the world and that is why it is so often an annual tourist destination.