by Hank Schrader, USMA ’71, Europe Destination and Europe River Cruise Expert
Little European Treasures are our name for 6 tiny countries of Europe with unique charms. Although small in size, these unique countries are sometimes hidden among the great nations of Europe but are fascinating to visit. So let’s learn more about Andorra, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican.
Andorra is a tiny country in the Pyrenees wedged between Spain and France. Andorra is a duty free zone—a great shopping location. It is also popular for skiing, mountain climbing & outdoor sports. It is only 297,591 square miles (the largest of the 6 countries in this post). Among the best buys are cameras, electronic equipment, watches, porcelain, crystal, perfume, costumed dolls, woodcarvings, flags, leather jackets, sports items. The best shopping is in the capital, Andorra la Vella.
Liechtenstein is one of the world’s smallest countries—it is only 62 square miles! I have driven through the entire country & visited its capital Vaduz in 1989. Vaduz has about 5,000 inhabitants. Most of the country is Alpine mountains or Alpine valley. The language of Liechtenstein is German and they use Swiss Francs for currency. The capital is Vaduz and there are some interesting things to do including hiking up the castle of the Prince and visiting the stamp museum and Price’s Art Gallery.
Malta is an island about 60 miles south of Sicily. It is about 122 square miles. Valletta is the capital of Malta. Top attractions include the cities of Valletta, Mdina, a walled medieval city, & the island of Gozo. The fortifications of Valletta are among the most impressive in the world. They speak two main languages Maltese, and English. The currency is the Euro. The best buys include jewelry, handmade lace, perfume, pottery, blown glass, hand-woven materials, clothing, ceramics, briar pipes, dolls, copper & brass articles, wrought-iron items.
Monaco is an old principality—it is about 2 square miles. It has the highest population density of any country in the world. This country is known for being a tax haven & is home to the most famous casino in the world—Monte Carlo. It has one of the best formula one races in the world—the Monaco Grand Prix. In Monaco, they speak French and use the Euro for currency.
San Marino is an independent country completely surrounded by Italy. It is only 24 square miles. It is the smallest and oldest republic in the world. The town of San Marino does not allow automobiles. Attractions include the 3 forts on the 3 peaks of Monte Titano, a Basilica, & shopping in the village’s narrow streets. San Marino postage stamps are highly sought after. The language is Italian and the use the Euro.
The Vatican is the worldwide headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. It is the smallest state in the world (.17 square miles). The area is a walled city that is inside Rome. There are several famous sites—St. Peter’s Square, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Papal Gardens & the Museum (which has the Sistine Chapel). The official language is Italian and the use the Euro.
Between the two of us, we have visited five of the six Little European Treasures—all except Andorra. They are all unique and great places that will want you to visit more than once. Why not visit our website at www.dreamdestinations.com and select Europe Destinations to see PowerPoints on these great small countries? Or you could just send Hank an e-mail and request city guides on any of these countries. We hope these thoughts will make you want to
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