Liechtenstein National Tourist Office
Postfach 139 FL-9490 Vaduz,
Principality of Liechtenstein
Tel: 075 232 1443, 075 392111,
Telefax 075 392 1618

Physical geography

Liechtenstein is one of the smallest states on earth and lies like a jewel in the heart of Europe. Situated along the bank of the Rhine it is bordered in the east and north by the Federal Republic of Austria and in the south and west by Switzerland. The country only covers a mere 61.8 square miles (160 sq. km), but offers a wealth of beautiful mountain scenery. The highest altitude is the Grauspitz (8,525 feet-2,599m) and the lowest point is the Ruggeller 1,420 feet). The only river is the Rhine which forms the boundary between Liechtenstein and the Canton of St Gallen. Its plain occupies about 40 per cent of the country and is not only the most densely populated region, but also provides most of the agricultural land of the Principality. The rest of the country is of a mountainous character.


It varies from clear blue skies and brilliant sunshine to bitterly cold alpine weather. However, it is generally mild and is influenced by a southern wind called 'Fohn'.

Average temperatures: spring 9.1°C, summer 18.4°C, autumn 10.4°C, winter 0.3°C. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Economic geography</H3> Starting with the postwar period, industrialisation, in Liechtenstein, has now reached an exceptionally high level and is orientated towards exports. About 33 per cent of the working population (not counting frontier-crossers) is presently employed in industry and trade. On the other hand, agriculture, forestry and horticulture only engage 1.6. The strongest branch of industry is the construction of machines and technical equipment, whereas the ceramics and textile industries have the greatest tradition in Liechtenstein. Chemicals, pharmaceutical production and the manufacture of canned foods and artificial teeth are also important. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Demography</H3> Liechtenstein has a total population of 30,629 (31.12.94) of which 11,301 are foreigners. The capital is Vaduz with 5,067. Other larger villages: Shaan 5,143, Balzers 3,941, Triesen 3,789, Eschen 3,443, Mauren 2,963. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>A brief history</H3> What is now the country of Liechtenstein was once part of the Roman Empire. In the Middle Ages the territory was owned by the Counts of Werdenberg-Vaduz and later by the Barons of Brandis and the Counts of Sulz. In 1342 came the division of the inheritance of Count Rudolph and Count Hartmann of Werdenberg-Sargalls. The County of Vaduz came into being and in 1396 was raised to the status of immediate fief of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1437, under the rule of the Barons of Brandis, both parts of the country the old County of Vaduz and the Lordship of Schellenberg, were united. Since then the boundaries have remained unchanged. The next dynasty was the Counts of Sulz. They were Catholics and thus the country kept by this faith during the Reformation. In 1699 the estate of Schellenberg was bought by Prince Johann Adam of Liechtenstein from the impoverished Counts of Hohenems, who were deeply in debt. He needed to possess a territory immediately in order to get the seat and vote in the Diet of the Princes of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1712 he was able to purchase the County of Vaduz. In 1719 the two territories were joined and given the title 'Imperial Principality' of Liechtenstein by Emperor Charles VI. Napoleon founded the 'Confederation of the Rhine', a union of 16 member-states or the German Empire. In 1806 he granted them all political independence. Liechtenstein was included in this alliance and thus attained the sovereignty which it has enjoyed ever since. Later, in 1852 a Customs and Currency Treaty was agreed with Austria. Since 1942 there has been a Customs and Currency Treaty with Switzerland. <P>There has been no military service since 1868. The country has a Security Corps employing five policemen. In case of emergency, an Auxiliary Police Force with men is on call. Liechtenstein has been a democratic state since 1862. It acknowledges the principles of Christianity as its basic philosophy and advocates social progress. The country is ruled by the Prince and the people. The Liechtenstein Parliament, the Diet, is elected by the people through proportional representation. Since 1 July 1984 women have the right to vote. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Religions </H3> The Liechtenstein people are 80.4 per cent Catholic, 7.1 per cent Protestant and 12.5 per cent others. The foreigners living in Liechtenstein are 54.2 per cent Catholic, 16.5 per cent Protestant and 29.3 per cent others. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Languages spoken by nationals</H3> The language spoken in Liechtenstein is German. The population speaks an Alemanic dialect which varies from village to village. Most people throughout Liechtenstein can either speak or understand English. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Time</H3> Middle European Time. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Currency</H3> The monetary unit is the Swiss Franc (100 centimes). US$1 = CHFr. 1.26; £1 = Sw. Fr. 1.94 (June 1996). <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Official holidays </H3> 1 January, New Year - 6 January, Epiphany - 11 February Mardi gras, 19 March - Feast of St. Joseph - 28 March, Good Friday - 31 March, Easter Monday - 1 May, Labour Day - 8 May Ascension - 19 May, Whit Monday, - 29 May, Corpus Christi - 15 August, Assumption (National Day), - 8 September, Assumption - 1 November, All Saints Day - 8 December, Immaculate Conception - 25 December, Christmas Day - 26 December, Boxing Day. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What one should not fail to see</H3> Tourism in Liechtenstein developed rapidly after the Second World War. The Liechtenstein people do their utmost to enable visitors to have a memorable stay in this fairy-tale Principality, making them feel welcome guests. Castles, churches, chapels and monasteries dating back as far as the 13th century are of architectural interest. In Vaduz the National State Art Collect exhibits, in changing exhibitions, works from the world-famous collection of the Prince of Liechtenstein (until May 1997: Five Centuries of Italian Art). The Postage Stamp Museum is of particular interest to philatelists. The Ski Museum Noldi Beck exhibits a comprehensive collection on skiing history from its beginning to the present. A significant historical collection on the culture of the Walser community which settled here in the 13th century is shown at the Walser Museum in Triesenberg. There many other cultural activities such as operettas, concerts and exhibitions in private galleries, etc. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Most favourable seasons for sojourns and touring</H3> Throughout the year. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>How to dress</H3> For women: during summer, light cotton dresses and blouses or jeans. At night you could need a sweater or a light top-coat. Swimming suits sportswear and smart dresses for the evening as well as for the theatre. Jeans and good walking shoes for the mountains. In winter: snowboots, fur coats, skiing equipment. <P>For men: lightweight suits, sports shirts and jeans in summer. A dark suit for the evening. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main holiday resorts </H3> There are numerous holiday resorts in the plain as well as in the mountains: 44 hotels and guest-houses supplying 1,400 beds, a Youth hostel 96 beds; approx. 80 houses and apartments for rent in the mountain region - 400 beds; a total of 200 places in two camping and caravanning sites. At the resorts of Malbun (1,600m a.s.l.) and Steg (1,300m a.s.l.); there are ski and snowboard runs of over 20km and cross-country trails of about 19km. <P>Malbun has four ski lifts two chair-lifts, two natural ice-rinks and a sledge-run; the 'Liliput' lift is especially suited for children and beginners. There are ski, snowboard and cross-country ski schools and stores that rent ski, snowboard and cross-country equipment as well as other winter sports articles. The seven hotels have a total of 300 beds, an equal number is available in private accommodations. There are parking facilities for 1,200 cars. The road to Malbun (and Masescha, as well as Gaflei) is open year-round. The Malbun Tourist Office also maintains paths for pedestrians and hikers. <P>Steg is well-known for cross-country and its 'Valuna-Lopp' is offering three distances: 4km, 6km and 10.5km. The 'Valuna-Lopp' has a 1.7km long stretch which is lit daily. Apart from the prepared slope there are numerous opportunities for the cross-country skier to find relaxation in the beautiful countryside. The 1km long sledge run from the Sucka restaurant to Steg is floodlit daily. <P>Triesenberg, at an altitude of 2,300-3,600 feet (700-1,100m), is ideal for people who want to relax. Triesenberg built a community centre with the 'Walsermuseum' (household equipment art other historical items from the Walser community which settled here in the 13th century) and an exhibition of wood engravings by the local artist Rudolf Schadler as well as a sound/slide show on the alpine area of Liechtenstein (English, German and French version). <P>Liechtenstein's skiing area can be reached by a regular daily bus service from Vaduz to Triesenberg, Steg and Malbun with very good connections from and to the railway stations at Buchs and Sargans (Switzerland). <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main holiday sports</H3> There are numerous opportunities for sport including: 17 mountain peaks with an aititude of up to 8,525ft. (2,599m) for climbing, marked trails for hiking, streams and canals for fishing, sports grounds, one outdoor swimming pool and four public indoor swimming pools, three Finnish running tracks, 'Vila' gymnastic circuits, ski-lifts and two chair-lifts as well as ice-rinks, cross-country runs, three rifle ranges and nine tennis centres (four indoor). Facilities are also offered for cycling, and paragliding has become very popular. There is also a model airplane centre and squash-house as well as a Billiard-Center. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What to eat and drink</H3> There is a high gastronomic level in Liechtenstein. You will find the world-renowned Swiss cuisine here, but restaurants are only too delighted to please their guest by preparing a typically local dish. Red and white wines are grown in Liechtenstein and are well worth a trial. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What to buy</H3> Liechtenstein offers the same musical boxes, Swiss lace blouses, delicious chocolates, high precision watches and jewellery as Switzerland. Some very pretty pottery is made in Liechtenstein. The Principality is also known for its postage stamps and wines. There are also a large number of specialised shops. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Frontier formalities</H3> Liechtenstein lies within the Swiss Customs Borders, because of the Customs Treaty of 1924, therefore the same regulations apply as for Switzerland. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main travel routes</H3> By air: the nearest airport is Zurich-Kloten. Switzerland (130km from Vaduz). <P>By rail: the nearest railway stations are Buchs (7km from Vaduz) or Sargans (17km). Both towns are in the canton of St. Gallen, Switzerland. There is a distance of 15km from Feldkirch in Austria. <P>By road: the villages in Liechtenstein can be easily reached by car and also by the postal bus which runs frequently. Since 1989 there is a new bus fare system with very attractive prices. A monthly ticket, for example, costs only SFr20. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Miscellaneous</H3> 15 August, National Day. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Representatives abroad</H3> Liechtenstein is touristically represented by the Switzerland Tourism and its agencies. 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