Liechtenstein is a tiny country in central Europe and is one of the smallest countries in the world. It shares borders with Austria and Switzerland. The capital city is Vaduz. It is not part of the European Union and uses Switzerland's currency, the Swiss Franc, as its currency.
Liechtenstein had many advances in the 19th century. In 1836, the first factory was opened. In 1861, the Savings and Loans Bank was founded, as was the first cotton-weaving mill. Two bridges over the Rhine were built in 1868, and in 1872 a railway line across Liechtenstein was constructed. Liechtenstein follows a policy of neutrality and is one of few countries in the world to have no army. In 1866 Liechtenstein became permanently independent from the German Empire and has been a completely independent country ever since.
In the years after World War II, during which Liechtenstein remained neutral, the country became richer because of low taxes and attractive laws for businesses. Today Liechtenstein is a tax haven with many wealthy people and big corporations having bank accounts in the tiny country. Liechtenstein's people have one of the highest standards of living in the world. During the Cold War Liechtenstein remained neutral.
Cold War — between 1945 and 1991 there was military, economic, space, sporting and competition between the USA (and its allies) and the USSR (and its allies). There were often fears that a global war might start.
Liechtenstein is the fourth smallest country in Europe, after the Vatican City, Monaco, and San Marino. Liechtenstein is located in the Upper Rhine valley of the European Alps. The entire western border of Liechtenstein is formed by the river. In winter, the mountain slopes are well suited to winter sports.
The highest mountain in Liechtenstein is Grauspitz at 2,599 meters (8,527 ft). Liechtenstein is one of only two double landlocked countries in the world (with the other being Uzbekistan); this means that Liechtenstein is landlocked (it has no coast) and all countries surrounding Liechtenstein (Austria and Switzerland) are landlocked too.
Only 36,000 people live in Liechtenstein. Its population is made up of mostly ethnic Alemannic, although its resident population is approximately one third foreign-born, primarily German speakers from the Federal Republic of Germany, Austria, Swiss, Italians, and Turks. Foreign-born people make up two-thirds of the country's workforce. Nationals are referred to by the plural: Liechtensteiners. The official language is German. Most of the population is Roman Catholic but 5% of people living in the country are Muslim.
Because Liechtenstein is a small country there are not many tourists. Business people and wealthy individuals visit the country for financial reasons and some curious tourists come just because they want to visit one of the smallest countries in the world.
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, the national museum, is a popular site for locals and tourists who make it to the country. Vaduz Castle (see the image above) and Gutenberg Castle are popular for cultural reasons and it is possible to go skiing in Liechtenstein's high mountains.
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