Introduction to nearby Liechtenstein

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Introduction to nearby Liechtenstein

Entering Liechtenstein  There will hardly be any formalities at all as we cross the border into tiny Liechtenstein. We're still in the broad Valley of the Rhine.

The Principality of Liechtenstein  A relic of feudal Europe. Back in the Dark Ages, Europe was divided into a patchwork of small states, each one ruled like a single household. The duke lived in the castle — peasants in the surrounding town. But peasants sought refuge in the castle in time of war, sometimes even taking their meals there regularly. These mini-states were consolidated into nation-states in the 16th-17th centuries, but a few were "left out". Liechtenstein was one. Its area: 60 square miles, population 16.000. Low taxes make it an attractive place for tycoons to establish residence, but Liechtensteinian citizenship is difficult to get (because it's so desirable). The country was given to Prince Hans Adam of Liechtenstein in 1719 by the Holy Roman Emperor. Hans Adam's dynasty held on to it mainly because of the wise leadership of Prince John II, whose reign (1858-11929) is second only to Louis XIV's of France. Today's Prince of Liechtenstein is Franz-Joseph II (since 1938). Formerly, the country tended to ally with Austria; more recently it has moved closer to Switzerland, with which it has customs, postal, currency, and economic agreements. It is virtually a Swiss canton (no border formalities between Liechtenstein and Switzerland).

Approaching Vaduz: You're nearing the Rhine now, to your right. Ahead lies the city of Vaduz, Liechtenstein's capital.

Vaduz  Population: a mere 3,000 — hardly the appearance of a "capital." The land is flat, and the river is nearby, but the elevation of the town is still a hefty 1,500 feet. The mountains are not far off — the foothills of the Arlberg Alps. The town is dominated by the hilltop castle (not open to visitors) — the official residence of the Prince of Liechtenstein. For the rest, there are few outstanding features of the town — save that it is typical of the mountain towns that grew up in this area during the Middle Ages. During free time (if any), the students might enjoy visiting the central post office, where they can get the famous, colorful postage stamps of Liechtenstein, prized by philatelists.

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