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In central Europe, one of the smallest countries in the world. It lies on the border between Austria and Switzerland, to the south of Lake Constance.


The western section of Liechtenstein occupies part of the floodplain of the upper Rhine, while to the east it extends up the forested and then snow‐covered slopes of the Rätikon Massif, part of the central Alps. Its mild climate is significantly affected by the warm Föhn wind from the south.


The economy is based on manufacturing industry; tourism and agriculture play a role, and the registration of foreign holding companies provides a source of tax income and stimulus to financial activity. The main exports are machinery and metal and chemical products. There is a customs and monetary union with Switzerland.


The principality of Liechtenstein was founded in 1719 when the two independent lordships of Schellenberg and Vaduz were united within the Holy Roman Empire. Liechtenstein remained part of the Empire until 1806, when it became part of the Rhine Federation. It joined the German Confederation in 1815 and became independent in 1866. A unicameral parliament was established by the 1921 constitution but the country has remained a monarchy, headed by the Prince. Any 900 persons or three communes may initiate legislation in the Diet (parliament). In 1989 Prince Hans‐Adam II (1945– ) succeeded his father, Prince Franz Joseph II (1906–89). Liechtenstein became industralized after World War II. Women were given the right to vote on national, but not local, issues in 1984. In 1992 a referendum approved Liechtenstein's entry into the European Economic Area. A constitutional row began to develop in 1996 following the stated intention of the government to remove certain powers from Prince Hans‐Adam II, who announced that he would abandon the country unless he retained his full rights. In 2003 the Prince's powers were increased.

Source: MAPS IN MINUTES™ © RH Publications (1997)




160 sq km (61.6 sq miles)


34,800 (2005)


1 Swiss franc = 100 rappen (or centimes)


Roman Catholic 80.0%; Protestant 7.5%; Muslim 3.3%

Ethnic Groups:

Liechtensteiner 63.9%; Swiss 15.7%; Austrian 7.7%; German 3.7%


German (official); Italian; French

International Organizations:

OSCE; EFTA; Council of Europe; WTO

Subjects: World History.

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