Four tiny countries, four tiny entries. Today we turn our focus to the four smallest states in Europe (minus Vatican City and the Holy See, which will be covered in a separate entry) and implicitly consider the question: does size impact pizzazz? There is something to be said for the argument that more diminutive nations can prosper in obscurity (see our entry on the Republic of the Congo for an in-depth treatment of this theme); however, it goes without saying that a small population and limited global influence can just as easily curtail a country’s ability to demonstrate its pizzazz to international observers. The pizzazz rankings of the following countries bear out this dichotomy: we see some strong performers, but just as many underachievers. Without further ado…
Capital: Andorra La Vella
Nestled in between Spain and France, the Principality of the Valleys of Andorra, as it is sometimes known (names that mention descriptive geographic features are always a plus), is a strong performer in the tumultuous pizzazz markets of Western Europe. Lacking airports or a railway, Andorra maintains an air of exclusivity that befits its alpine location. Technically a co-principality, with the Bishop of Urgell sharing power with the French president, Andorra’s unique political structure displays a humility which defies expectations.
Andorra’s policy decisions tend towards pizzazz-by-contradiction: during the first World War, the principality declared war on Germany, despite having an non-combat army whose major function is to ceremonially raise the flag. Due to an oversight, Andorra and Germany remained technically at war until 1957, 39 years after the initial hostilities ended.
Perhaps the only real negative thing that can be said about Andorra is that its main industry is tourism.
Liechtenstein maintains no standing army and has an official policy of neutrality which leads to comedies of error like its accidental invasion by Switzerland in 2007. For neutral Liechtenstein, a neutral score of 4.9. Also, the principality’s largest city is called Schaan (pop. 5608). That’s gotta be worth a few points.
Monaco as we know it today was founded by the House of Grimaldi (pretty good name, but it’s no Schaan) in 1297, when “Il Malizia” captured the town while disguised as a Franciscan Monk. Unfortunately, the area was already known as Monaco (‘Monk’ in Italian), so any pizzazz accruing from this coincidence has to be considered stumbled-upon rather than rightfully earned. Typical Monaco nonsense.
What else? Unlike the rest of the countries in this entry, Monaco is not landlocked or on top of a mountain. No income tax (the unduly wealthy rarely have pizzazz). Hosts the Monaco Grand Prix. (Formula 1 has the least pizzazz of all the motorsports. The most? Those races that are over in like thirty seconds, where the cars have parachutes.) Easily misspelled as “Monica.”
On the plus side, Prince Albert II looks like he has a good deal of pizzazz (though typically only democratically-elected leaders are eligible for inclusion in the WLPR).
San Marino 7.0
Capital: San Marino
San Marino, good, let’s wrap this entry up on a high note: Founded by and named for a stonemason known as Marinus of Rab. Check. Made Abraham Lincoln an honorary citizen. Check. Demonym: Sammarinese (makes you think of a sandwich). Check. In 2007, elected a guy in a wheelchair. Check. Crossbow Corps? You betcha.
Expect big things from San Marino in the future. Currently being held back by Umberto Eco’s ongoing effort to create a “university without physical structures.” Also, not technically a principality.