Microstates of Europe
Europe has some countries that you would have to visit several times to even scratch the surface of what they have to offer.
But there are also some you could explore in a day or two. Many of these have population numbers that could fit inside most of our Premier League football grounds!
The Flexicover Team have compiled a list of Europe's smallest countries. To put it in perspective, the largest country in Europe, Ukraine, is 233,100 sq. miles (603,700 km²) with a population of just under 45 million.
Size: 0.17 sq. miles (0.44 km²) Population: 836
The spiritual centre for the world's Roman Catholics, the Vatican is ruled entirely by the Pope, making him the only absolute ruler in Europe. The Vatican City is essentially a walled enclave within the city of Rome and is smaller than your average golf course! It's one of Rome's most visited areas and whilst you may have to queue to get into St Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums, it's worth it. No visit would be complete without a photo in front of the flamboyantly dressed Swiss Guards, both the smallest and oldest regular army in the world and the Pope's personal bodyguards. The army numbers 100 and all new recruits must be Catholic, single males with Swiss citizenship, aged between 19 and 30 and at least 5ft 8.5in (174 cm) tall.
Size: 0.76 sq. miles (1.96 km²) Population: 30,510
The principality of Monaco lies in the shadow of the Alps on the beautiful French Riviera. Synonymous with its grand casino and its glamorous royal family, the Grimaldis, it is most famed for what is probably the toughest race of the World Formula 1 Championship. For four days in May, high-powered supercars roar through the narrow, winding Monaco streets, making it a true spectacle! Thanks to its climate, outdoor sports are highly favoured in the country, so if you're the adventurous type then take to the water... there's a whole host of activities available including windsurfing, waterskiing, wake boarding, banana boats, jet skis and parascending to try!
Size: 23.6 sq. miles (61.2 km²) Population: 32,140
This tiny landlocked country in central Italy was founded by a Christian stonemason named Marinus in 301 CE, which must make this one of the oldest surviving republics. Mount Titano dominates the landscape and the capital, itself called San Marino, sits atop the mountain surrounded by a wall and three distinct towers looking out over the Adriatic coast. You can tour two of the towers (Rocca Guaita and Rocca Cesta) but unfortunately you can't enter the third (Montale) as there doesn't seem to be an entrance! San Marino is made up of several towns dotted around the mountain sides but the main city is where the action is – make sure you try the local speciality, the Torta Tre Monti(“cake of the Three Mountains”), a sumptuous layered wafer and chocolate cake!
Size: 62 sq. miles (160.5 km²) Population: 36,713
Tucked away between Switzerland and Austria, Liechtenstein is less than a quarter of the size of London! It's a great place for activities that take advantage of its mountainous terrain – in summer there's great hiking, road biking, and mountain biking, whilst winter offers excellent skiing and snowboarding in the ski resort of Malbun. The capital, Vaduz, is the main shopping centre in the country, with many souvenir stores and assorted restaurants, a modest cathedral and the Liechtenstein Kunstmuseum (“Art Museum”). The palace and official residence of the Prince of Liechtenstein, Vaduz Castle, is a magnificent sight, standing on a promontory overlooking the city. With its low tax rates, Liechtenstein is also a world-renowned offshore centre for financial wizardry!
Size: 122 sq. miles (316 km²) Population: 409,836
The Republic of Malta is an archipelago, with only the three largest islands (Malta, Gozo, and Comino) being inhabited. Due to its location in the middle of the Mediterranean, with its sunny climate, Malta is perfect for water sports and beach activities. For a country comprising many tiny rock and limestone islands there are an amazing number of festivals throughout the year, particularly in summer. From the Mediterranean Food Festival to Gozo's festa day in honour of St George - there's even a two day event to select the country's entry into the Eurovision Song Contest! If that sounds like too much, head to one of the uninhabited islands to unwind or check out the megalithic ruins of the island's ancient inhabitants. Indeed, being steeped in European, Asian and Arabic history, Malta is often described as one big open-air museum!
Microstates should not be confused with micronations, entities that claim independence but are not recognised by world governments or major international organisations. Here are a few examples:
Sealand (United Kingdom) — a World War II sea fort about 6 miles off the coast of Suffolk which declares itself to be the smallest independent 'country' in the world!
Christiania (Denmark) — a self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood within Copenhagen with its own laws, which include the legalisation of cannabis but prohibition of harder drugs. Populated by 850 people, it is also known as Freetown Christiania.
Užupis (Lithuania) — declared itself the "Independent Republic of Užupis" on April 1st 1997 and has its own flag, currency, president and constitution, which states among other things, that a "dog has a right to be a dog". It also claims a "standing army" of 17!
Not a lot of people know that!
Wherever you decide to travel, Flexicover Direct, the travel insurance specialist, is committed to providing the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when away.
If you are travelling soon, have a great trip!