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Holiday Guides for Europe - Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein Holiday

The Alpine hideaway of Liechtenstein may be small, but inside it holds a myriad of sights worth seeing.

The Principality of Liechtenstein is an Alpine hideaway nestled between Switzerland and Austria

Situated in central Europe, the tiny state is mostly Alps and is great for a To Insert Holidays - holiday, with the dramatic Rhine Valley in the west and a very similar landscape to neighbouring Switzerland.

Covering an area of just 160sq km (66sq miles) and with a population of just under 35,000, Liechtenstein is doubly landlocked and known best as a winter sports resort and tax haven of the rich.

Initially part of the Roman province of Raetia and created as part of the Holy Roman Empire, under the control of the German Liechtenstein Dynasty, in 1719, Liechtenstein became a sovereign state in 1806.

The principality was closely allied to Austria for a century, before switching its customs and monetary allegiance to Switzerland after the First World War. Low corporate taxes, political neutrality and a good standard of living have ensured strong economic growth since World War II.

The fourth smallest country in Europe after Vatican City, Monaco and San Marino, most visitors to Liechtenstein are there for the skiing and winter sports and its culture is largely a mish-mash of German, Austrian and Swiss.

In the summer, Liechtenstein enjoys a relatively mild climate, with temperatures regularly reaching the mid twenties. The mountains and valleys can look particularly beautiful in the spring and autumn. Home to some interesting species of Alpine plants and animals, biking and hiking tours are available.

The country is divided into 11 small communities, with the most important centres the capital Vaduz and the largest city, Shaan. The best shopping is to be found in these cities, while some of the smaller towns are little more than villages.

The capital Vaduz and nearby Triesenberg are worth paying a visit, with the latter offering charming views over Vaduz and across the Rhine Valley. Vaduz is a tiny city, but it is attractive and has a couple of good museums, including the impressive State Art Collection (Staatliche Kunstsammlung), the Ski Museum and the Postage Stamp Museum (Briefmarkenmuseum).

The major ski resort, Mabun, is located in the south east of Liechtenstein and has a couple of ski schools, a number of good runs to suit all abilities, toboggan runs and it is a bus ride away from Vaduz.

The official language of Liechtenstein is German and the principality is a constitutional monarchy ruled by Prince Hans-Adam II, who succeeded the throne after his father's death in 1989. The official currency is the Swiss franc and the population itself is mainly German, Swiss and Austrian.

Liechtenstein has an international rail link with the rest of Europe, good bus services and the nearest airport is in Zurich, Switzerland. Accommodation ranges from hostels to luxurious ski resorts and the principality is home to a number of good restaurants, though the nightlife is fairly quiet.