Liechtenstein's Natural History

As the national anthem of Liechtenstein states - "Liechtenstein 'rests' on the bank of the young Rhine river." The eastern bank to be correct. The location has added to the stability of the country, although as late as last century, the Rhine was also one of the greatest dangers to Liechtenstein and its people.

Panoramic picture of the Rhine valley in Liechtenstein

The Principality of Liechtenstein lies at the centre of Europe, in the middle of the Alpine chain - within the Rhätikon mountain chain, at the junction of two neutral nations. The Rhine, whilst it has both given and taken life over the years, the flood plain only accounts for a fifth (20%) of the land area. From the perspective of traffic, Liechtenstein is situated at the intersection of the most important north-south and east-west routes, in modern times consisting of road and rail links. The main Paris to Venice rail route finds its halfway point in Liechtenstein, and a regular visitor is the Orient Express, although the travellers on this famous train are normally just rousing themselves at the time.

The country lies between Switzerland (the cantons of St Gallen and Graubünden) and Austria (Vorarlberg). In all but the mountain valleys, you will always be able to see one of the neighbouring countries. There is a popular saying amongst Liechtensteiners, that links the two neighbours - Liechtensteiners have their hearts in Austria and their wallets in Switzerland! This demonstrates the traditional links with Austria, from the Hapsburg era.

There are eleven communities in Fürstentum Liechtenstein, generally split between the Upper- and Lower-land - the so called Oberland and Unterland. This split is a remnant of the two original countries - the Duchy of Vaduz, and the County of Schellenberg.

The country stretches for 27 kilometres along the bank of the Rhine, with a border stone inscribed with the national coat of arms and the name 'Royal Liechtenstein' and dated 1735 in the South, on the border with Graubünden, to the Austrian border, over which double headed Hapsburg eagle still hangs, with the inscription "Empire of Austria, "Vorarlberg Province, District Governorship of Feldkirch, Court District of Feldkirch."