🇱🇮🇦🇩🇲🇹🇲🇨🇸🇲🇻🇦Microstates in Europe – no need for change

The Story

It’s about smallness


More precisely, it’s about European microstates. 

Which are they?

There are six in Europe: Liechtenstein, Andorra, Malta, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City. 

What is a microstate?

A small independent state that deputes certain sovereignty attributes to larger powers in exchange for protecting their political and economic viability against their geographic or demographic constraints. 

What is so interesting about micro-states? 

The political system. Four of these states are monarchies: Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco and the papacy Vatican City.

Why do some microstates have such an outdated political system?

Maybe there was no need for change. 


Most European small territories vanished over time. For instance, the Republic of Lucca (in Italy), the Republic of Paulava (Lithuania), and many more. Few survived. Those who did, are rich today. For instance, Liechtenstein, sandwiched between Switzerland and Austria, has a successful economy specialising in tourism and banking. Or think of Monaco, its economic performance in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) is four times as high as Germany’s. Or Luxembourg, which has the world’s second-highest GDP per capita after Qatar. 

Where there is wealth, there is no urge for reforms.

Aside from that: A ruler of a small state, surrounded by large states, would hardly have the possibility of staying in power against the people’s will. People could opt out by voting with their feet and leave the country. The monarchies are tamed by the democracies that surround them. So high prosperity and rulers who cannot turn against the people seem to be the mix of why old forms of government are retained.

The Upside

European integration (for instance, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican City use the euro) and the exploitation of niche markets (banking, tax haven, tourism, gambling) have provided these very small states with great opportunities.









This post is part of the mailing European Traveller – a daily comprehensible five-minute reading for a better understanding of a diverse continent. Subscribe here for free to get your daily mailing every morning in your inbox.

3 thoughts on “🇱🇮🇦🇩🇲🇹🇲🇨🇸🇲🇻🇦Microstates in Europe – no need for change

  1. I was just on vacation in 4 of these states, fascinating adventure for sure – and of course I also took opportunity of the duty free shopping :)
    Andorra, however, is only a monarchy on paper. On of their two princes is always the French president, so Emanuel Macron, currently. He only wields symbolic power.

    Liked by 1 person

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