Liechtenstein, officially the Principality of Liechtenstein, is a doubly landlocked alpine country in Central Europe, bordered by Switzerland to the west and south and by Austria to the east and north. Its area is just over 160 square kilometres (62 sq mi). Its capital is Vaduz. Despite its limited natural resources, Liechtenstein has developed a prosperous, highly industrialized free-enterprise economy and boasts a financial service sector as well as a living standard which compares favourably with those of the urban areas of Liechtenstein's large European neighbours.
The landlocked Central European country of Liechtenstein is officially known as the Principality of Liechtenstein. This small alpine country covering about 160 sq. km. (about 62 sq.mi.) is bordered on the west and south by Switzerland, and on the east and north by Austria. Liechtenstein's entire western border with Switzerland is formed by the Rhine River, flanked by impressive views of the Swiss Alps. The tiny country is only one of two totally land-locked countries and the world's sixth-smallest independent nation by land area.
The tiny principality of Liechtenstein is ruled by a family who once had ties to the Austrian empire, but have since sought to remain neutral. The ruling family of Liechtenstein derived from the Princely House of Liechtenstein. The head of state is Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein, who rules the principality as a constitutional hereditary monarch on a democratic and parliamentary basis. In 2004, Prince Hans-Adam designated his son, Prince Alois, as Regent of Liechtenstein, to handle day-to-day needs of the country. The head of the Liechtenstein government is Prime Minister Adrian Hasler. In March 2003, the country's voters supported Prince Hans-Adam's initiative to replace the country's 1921 constitution in favor of a new one, even though it expanded his powers as a monarch. Due to his popularity, however, the proposal passed in spite of opposition from the Council of Europe.
The economy of Liechtenstein boasts some world records (per 2009 statistics): the world's second-highest gross domestic product per person by purchasing power parity; the world's lowest external debt; and the world's second-lowest unemployment rate, at 1.5 percent.
Liechtenstein is renowned for its tourist industry, partially due to its numerous castles and museums, especially the famous Vaduz Castle, residence of Prince Hans-Adam and his family. (The Vaduz Castle, however, is not open to the public). The Princely Collection, consisting of over four centuries of art masterpieces and other treasures, is available for viewing at the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein (Museum of Fine Arts), with selected pieces displayed on a rotating theme basis.
Alpine skiing is also a favorite attraction for tourists, along with biking, hiking, and visiting tiny, quaint villages reminiscent of earlier days.
Essential Facts about Liechtenstein
- The capital of Liechtenstein is Vaduz.
- The official language of Liechtenstein is German.
- Liechtenstein operates as a principality and constitutional hereditary monarchy, governed by Prince Hans-Adam II and his son, Prince Alois.
- Liechtenstein is reported to have one of the highest standards of living in the world.
- Prince Hans-Adam is reported to be the world's sixth-wealthiest leader.
- Industries in Liechtenstein include ceramics, dental products, electronics, food products, metal manufacturing, optical instruments, pharmaceuticals, precision instruments, and tourism.
- Liechtenstein's major trading partners include the European Union (EU), which includes Austria, France, Germany, Italy, and the UK; the U.S.; and Switzerland.
- Liechtenstein has no airports of its own; people arrive in the tiny country by vehicles, the Liechtenstein Bus route, or rail.
Liechtenstein enjoys a mild climate, in spite of its mountainous, land-locked location, primarily due to the heavy influence of south winds. Winter temps usually don't drop below minus 15º Celsius (5º F), and summer temperatures range from 20º to 28º Celsius (68º to 82.4º F).
Overall annual precipitation measures around 900 and 1200 millimeters (about 35 to 47 in.) while the mountainous area can reach 1900 millimeters (nearly 75 in.).
Liechtenstein's official currency, the Swiss franc, is issued by the Swiss National Bank. The franc is denoted by the ISO 4217 code CHF, typically written preceding the figure, such as CHF 57. The Liechtenstein franc consists of 100 smaller units called rappen and francs, and the bill or bank note consists of 100 equal units of francs.
Francs include denominations of 5, 10, and 20 rappen, as well as ½, 1, 2, and 5 francs; bank note denominations are 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 1,000 francs.
One franc is roughly worth the equivalent of EUR 0.828 and USD 1.093.
Religion in Liechtenstein
The predominant religion in Liechtenstein is Christianity, followed by more than eighty percent of the country's citizens. The largest denomination is Roman Catholicism. Other religions observed by smaller numbers of people include those of Jewish and Muslim sects.
Study in Liechtenstein
Higher Education in Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein enjoys a 100 percent adult literacy rate. Like many other European countries, Liechtenstein offers reasonable tuition rates, usually not over CHF 4,946 (EUR 4,000; about USD 5,132) per academic year. Students wishing to study abroad in Liechtenstein would need to add in costs of a residence, but university hostels are widely available and inexpensive for students.
Students who are neither European Union (EU) citizens, nor citizens of a European Economic Area (EEA) country, typically need a visa to be able to study in Liechtenstein. Degrees earned in Liechtenstein schools are considered prestigious and receive global recognition.
The University of Liechtenstein offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree programs. The available bachelor's degree programs include Bachelor of Science in Architecture (BSc Arch), Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSc), and Bachelor of Science in Business Information Systems (Bsc). The available master's degree programs include Master of Science in Architecture (MSc Arch), Master of Science in Entrepreneurship (MSc Entrepreneurship), Master of Science in IT and Business Process Management (MSc), and Master of Science in Banking and Financial Management (MSc). Finally, the two available doctorate programs include Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Business Economics and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Architecture and Planning.
The International Academy of Philosopy offers only its prestigious Doctor of Philosopy (PhD) degree to those students who complete the rigorous coursework, plus a doctoral thesis of 70,000 to 100,000 words. Students may choose to write the thesis in German, Spanish, or English.
One other school is the Private University in the Principality of Liechtenstein.
The tuition fees in Liechtenstein tend to be similar to many other European countries. Fees vary slightly depending on the school and program the students enrolls in, as well as whether or not the student is a citizen of Liechtenstein or an international student studying abroad. However, tuition per academic year typically does not exceed CHF 4,946 (EUR 4,000; USD 5,132).
Eligibility for Study Visas
While international students typically need study visas to remain for more than 90 days and attend school in Liechtenstein, citizens of the country do not require study visas should they choose to study abroad in any European country. This is due to the proliferation of the "Study Abroad in Europe Consultants" (SAEC) program.
Why Study in Liechtenstein?
With its reasonable tuition, high standard of living, and beautiful scenery, Liechtenstein offers students an exception educational value. From its historical and cultural appeal, to the intrigue of a country ruled by a monarch, Liechtenstein is worth consideration as a location for studies. Liechtenstein's low unemployment rate may also convince graduates, already won over by the charm of the tiny country, to become citizens and begin their new careers.