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Liechtenstein is a country situated in the centre of Europe between Austria and Switzerland. It is one of the smallest countries in the World measuring approximately 16 miles long and 4 miles wide.
To the West the country is separated from Switzerland by the Rhine and to the East it is separated from Austria by the mountains.
The Principality of Liechtenstein was established within the Holy Roman Empire in 1719; it became a sovereign state in 1806. Until the end of World War I, it was closely tied to Austria, but the economic devastation caused by that conflict forced Liechtenstein to conclude a customs and monetary union with Switzerland. Since World War II (in which Liechtenstein remained neutral) the country's low taxes have spurred outstanding economic growth. However, shortcomings in banking regulatory oversight have resulted in concerns about the use of the financial institutions for money laundering. Despite being allowed to issue their own currency, the Swiss Franc has been used in the Principality for over 70 years.Liechtenstein has one of the lowest tax rates in the world.The country only has 30,000 residents but the Prince is one of the richest men in the World. The residents speak a Swiss-German dialect which varies across the country.

About 30,000 people live in the country with around 5,000 on the capital Vaduz. They enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world and unemployment is very rare. In the lower part of the country, the area alongside the Rhine is very flat and fertile. More than half of the country consists of snow-capped mountains reaching up to 8,000 ft.

Liechtenstein has been continuously inhabited since the New Stone Age. The County of Vaduz was created in 1342 with a treaty signed at Sargans Castle. In 1719 the Imperial Principality of Liechtenstein was created by uniting Schellenberg and Vaduz. In 1799, Liechtenstein was occupied by the French - since that time no foreign soldiers have occupied the land. In 1806, Napoleon conferred sovereign status on the country. In 1852, a customs treaty was signed with Austria which meant that the Austrian currency was used and revenue was gained from customs duties. In 1868, the first bridges across the Rhine were built as well as roads leading to the mountain villages of Triesenberg, Schellenberg and Planken. In 1921, a Postal Treaty with Switzerland was signed, and 2 years later the Customs Treaty with Switzerland was signed. In the Second World War, Liechtenstein remained neutral as it had done in the First and despite being completely without military defences it was never occupied. In recent years the success of the local industry and revenue from the many offshore companies registered there have made the country very wealthy.

Things to see and do in Liechtenstein : Liechtenstein State Art Collection, Vaduz: This contains works by Rubens which are considered to be among the greatest in the World. Postage Stamp Museum, Vaduz: Liechtenstein is famous throughout the world for its stamps and this museum contains rare examples dating from 1912. Ski Museum, Vaduz: Over 100 years of skiing history are on display at this unique museum.

Schloss Vaduz: The Prince of Liechtenstein is one of the few monarchs in the world to live in a castle. Parts of this building date from the 12th century although it was rebuilt at the beginning of the 16th century. His home, overlooking the town is not open to the public but visitors can walk up and view the exterior.

In Winter, Skiing for every age and ability is available at Malbun which is one of the highest points in the country. Members of the British Royal Family learnt to ski here as guests of the Prince.

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