- Travel and Places
Europe's microstates in brief: facts and photos
Andorra. Area: 181 square miles, 468 square kilometers. Government: parliamentary democracy and constitutional diarchy. Population: 84,000 (2009 estimate). Independence: 1278 from Aragon. Ethnicity and Languages: Catalan is the official language; 37% Andorran; 33% Spanish; 16% Portuguese; 6% French. Religion: Roman Catholic. Economy: Tourism (10.2 million visitors annually) and a tax haven with $34,240 per capita GDP. Points of Interest: Pyrenees Mountains. Overview: Mountainous state within Pyrenees Mountains bordered and surrounded by France and Spain which thrives on tourism and also serves as a tax haven for investors and citizens.
Liechtenstein. About the size of the District of Columbia; 62 square miles, 160 square kilometers. Government: Parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. Population: 35,000. Independence: Treaty of Pressburg, 1806. Ethnicity and Languages: German. Religion: Mostly Roman Catholic (78%). Economy: Tourism and low corporate tax-rates with well developed financial services sector. Per capita GDP is $134,045 with strong trading ties to neighboring Switzerland. Points of Interest: Vaduz Castle (home of the Prince of Liechtenstein). Overview: Tiny Alpine principality whose royal dynasty traces to the 12th century, Liechtenstein, like many other micro states, is well known for its secret banking laws, and despite its small population, has won a number of Olympic medals during the winter games.
Luxembourg. The largest of the European microstates covering 999 square miles, 2,586 square kilometers; slightly smaller than Rhode Island. Government: Parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. Population: 511,000 (2011 estimate). Independence: Treaty of Paris, 1815, from French Empire. Ethnicity and languages: Luxembourgish, French, and German. Religion: secular state but mostly Roman Catholic population. Economy: wealthy with per capita GDP of $108,831, Luxembourg is a member EU nation. Points of interest: Moselle River Valley, American Military Cemetery (grave of General George S. Patton), Old Luxembourg City. Overview: Wealthy Benelux country known for banking and finance industry in northern Europe.
Malta. Area: 121 square miles, 316 square kilometers consisting of two large inhabited islands in the Mediterranean Sea south of Sicily. Government: Republic. Population: 417,000 (2010 estimate). Independence: 1964 from United Kingdom. Ethnicity and Languages: Maltese and English spoken; 95% of the population are ethnic Maltese. Religion: Roman Catholic officially. Economy: Tourism with 1.2 million visitors annually, Malta is a member EU nation with per capita GDP of $19,746. Points of Interest: Blue Lagoon, and prehistoric megalithic sites of Mnajdra and Ggantija. Overview: A crossroads of history, the Maltese archipelago sixty miles south of Sicily is an interesting mix of cultures that have cross-pollinated this country since before recorded history. Beautiful beaches and southerly latitudes make this a tourist hot spot with the added historical interest.
Monaco. Area: Second smallest country in the world; 0.76 square miles, 1.98 square kilometers. Government: Constitutional monarchy. Population: 36,000 as of 2011 estimate. Independence: 1297. Ethnicity and Languages: French and Italian. Religion: Roman Catholic. Economy: Tourism, gambling, and tax haven with high GDP of $151,630 per capita. Points of Interest: Monte Carlo Casino, Cathedral of Monaco. Overview: Tiny state on French Riviera famous for gambling and wealthy tourists.
San Marino. Area: 24 square miles, 61 square kilometers; an enclave in Italy. Government: Republic. Population: 31,887 (2011 estimate). Independence: 301 from Roman Empire. Ethnicity and Languages: Italian. Religion: Roman Catholic. Economy: Tourism (2 million visitors in 2009), banking, electronics with per capita GDP of $44,208. Points of Interest: Mount Titano, Basilica of San Marino. Overview: Small capital city of this tiny republic, which dates to 4th century AD, is sprawled across the top of the rocky Monte Titano and looks down over a patchwork of agricultural fields. Arguably has the oldest constitution of any country enacted in 1600.
Vatican City. Area: 0.17 square miles, 0.44 square kilometers, enclave within the city of Rome and smallest independent country in the world. Government: Ecclesiastical with monarch, the Pope, elected for life by College of Cardinals. Current ruler is Benedict XVI. Population: 829 (2010 estimate). Independence: Origins from the Papal States, 6th century, and later independence from Kingdom of Italy in 1929 by the Lateran Treaty. Ethnicity and Languages: Italian and Swiss with Italian and Latin as the official languages. Religion: Roman Catholic. Economy: Vatican City has its own bank and makes money from souvenirs, admission fees, stamps, and coins. Points of Interest: St. Peters Basilica and Catacombs, Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museum and Library, Vatican Gardens. Overview: Also known as the Holy See, the smallest independent state in the world comes equipped with its own postage stamps, coinage, military, the Swiss Guard, who defend the borders and provide protection for the Pope, passports, and diplomatic corps with nuncios (embassies) all around the world.