Jul 21, 2011

The Five Little Countries of Europe

Scenes from the View-Master packet The Five Little Countries of Europe (B149) from the Nations of the World Series.


View-Master The Five Little Countries of Europe (B149), Packet Cover

Packet cover


View-Master The Five Little Countries of Europe (B149), Booklet Cover

Booklet cover


From the 16-page booklet:


Five little countries—Luxembourg, Monaco, Andorra, San Marino, and Liechtenstein—are all that remain of medieval Europe’s hundreds of small, independent states. Once, these duchies, principalities, and city states made up the continent. But as modern Europe developed, they disappeared, swallowed up by the emerging great nations.

The surviving five little countries have many things in common. Except for Luxembourg, which is rolling land, all are very mountainous; all are intensely Roman Catholic; most rely on the issuance and sale of postage stamps, primarily to collectors, for at least part of their income; all lean on larger neighbors for their safety.

Their total area is 1289 square miles, which is about the size of Rhode Island. Their population is 400,000, and there is no effort to make it larger. In fact, one nation, Andorra, must export some of its people each year to allow its ancient, feudal inheritance law to work.


Scene 1

Luxembourg City

View-Master The Five Little Countries of Europe (B149), Scene 1: Luxembourg City

Luxembourg was once a Roman fortress


From the 16-page booklet:


The capital city, Luxembourg, (pop. 60,000) was founded in 963 A.D. on the site of an ancient Roman fortress. Over the years, its fortifications were developed until the city was the greatest fortress in all of Europe. Today it bristles with church spires instead of guns. But windows and casemates tunneled in in the rock can be seen in the gorge beyond the arched railroad bridge.


Luxembourg's motto is, “We wish to remain as we are.” The wish has not been easy to realize.

Luxembourg contains 999 square miles, all of which lie on the historic path of invasions. The nation’s population (311,000) has endured countless armies treading across its soil, from feudal knights to modern Blitzkriegs. In 1866, Luxembourg’s neighbors swore to respect the nation's neutrality; but in 1914 and again in 1939, German troops swept through, bringing war and devastation.


Scene 7


View-Master The Five Little Countries of Europe (B149), Scene 7: Monaco

Monaco headland gleams against Mediterranean


From the 16-page booklet:


Monaco (area: 375 acres) is half the size of New York’s Central Park. Its history reaches into antiquity when prehistoric man lived in its famous grotto. Then, in the 5th century, A.D., a tribe called Monoikos lived in the area. Some authorities believe that Monaco took its name from the Monoikos, In 1300, the Grimaldi family took possession and, except for a brief period, has ruled since.


Monaco’s famous rock juts into the Mediterranean, a final extension of the Maritime Alps that crowd the principality against the sea. The rock contains several public buildings, including the Oceanographic Museum, built in 1910 by Prince Albert I, father of oceanography.

Protected from winter by the Alps, Monaco’s moderate climate lures pleasure seekers from around the world.


Scene 14

Andorra—Mountain Village

View-Master The Five Little Countries of Europe (B149), Scene 14: Andorra

Andorran villages lie in shelter of high mountains


From the 16-page booklet:


Andorra’s villages nestle in sheltered valleys, safe from the savage winters of the Pyrenees Mountains. Here, in the villages, live the herdsmen—those who graze large herds of cattle, mules, and sheep on the rich, upland meadows. The villages also are bases for another of Andorra’s industries—smuggling. Because of its favored customs and tax position relative to France and Spain, Andorra has for centuries slipped contraband into the two countries. Each night, local youths hike along the secret trails, carrying illicit and profitable goods—cigarettes, silks, perfumes, radio tubes, just about any luxury denied the citizens of Andorra’s neighbors.


There is an old Andorran saying, “The fish opens his mouth once too often, and he dies.” In a country where smuggling is a way of life, this proverb offers valuable advice; and Andorrans learn it from the cradle. They are quiet and reserved with strangers. Only after long acquaintance do they speak freely in their soft Catalan tongue.

Andorrans claim descent from Charlemagne and gladly show the visitor the rings where he tied his mare and the place where he signed Andorra’s Foundation Charter.

The government was established in 1278 when two “co-princes” were named, one French, the other, Spanish. Today, the French president and Spanish Bishop of Urgel share power and govern through the Councils General. The Councils are elected by the head of Andorra’s families—the cap de casas, who are the only voters. Each cap de casa controls his family absolutely and is free to name his heir, who receives most of the land. Because ownership of land is so basic a part of Andorran tradition, the other members of the family turn over their tiny shares to the major heir, then usually emigrate to make a living. This accounts for Andorra’s static population which for centuries has stayed at about 6000 people.


Scene 16

San Marino—Mt. Titano

View-Master The Five Little Countries of Europe (B149), Scene 16: San Marino-Mt. Titano

San Marino perches atop 2,700-foot Mt. Titano


From the 16-page booklet:


From any place atop their mountain, San Marinese can see more of Italy, which completely surrounds them, than they can of their own tiny country. The 900-year-old prison tower in the picture rarely is used.


San Marino, the world’s smallest and oldest republic, perches 2,700 feet above Italy on Mount Titano. Its 38 square mile area is about one-tenth the size of New York city. Its 14,000 people, Italian in appearance and speech, are devoutly Roman Catholic in religion and equally intense in their devotion to national freedom and identity.

San Marino dates its founding from 301 A.D. when one Marino, a devout stonecutter, climbed Mount Titano to escape the anti-Christian wrath of the Roman emperor, Diocletian.


Scene 19


View-Master The Five Little Countries of Europe (B149), Scene 19: Liechtenstein-Vaduz

Prince’s castle overlooks Liechtenstein’s capital city


From the 16-page booklet:


The Rhine river forms the western border of Liechtenstein, and in its valley lies Vaduz (pop. 3,092), the nation’s capital. The Alps form a dramatic backdrop for the town, watched over by the castle of the reigning prince, Franz-Josef II, who rules the German-speaking population of 15,000 through a legislature elected by universal suffrage, Franz-Josef is one of Europe’s richest men, with vast holdings, including one of the world’s greatest privately owned art collections.


History has marched, often heavily, across Liechtenstein. Tucked into the Alps between Austria and Switzerland, the 61-square-mile principality has been an invasion route for centuries. Such notables as Augustus, Attila the Hun, Charlemagne, Napoleon, and a legion of lesser conquerors have tramped through its lush, green valley. In spite of all, the country has maintained its independence for 250 years, and its royal family for 600.

In addition to postage stamps and dairy products, Liechtenstein earns much of its budget from taxes paid by companies that use the country’s favorable incorporation laws.

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