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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Principality of Liechtenstein
Fürstentum Liechtenstein  (German)
Motto: "Für Gott, Fürst und Vaterland"
"For God, Prince, and Fatherland"
Anthem: 
Oben am jungen Rhein
(English: "High on the Young Rhine")
Location of  Liechtenstein  (green) in Europe  (dark grey)  –  [Legend]
Location of  Liechtenstein  (green)

in Europe  (dark grey)  –  [Legend]

Location of Liechtenstein
Capital Vaduz
Largest municipality Schaan
47°10′00″N 9°30′35″E / 47.16667°N 9.50972°E / 47.16667; 9.50972
Official languages German
Religion Roman Catholicism
Demonym Liechtensteiner
Government Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
• Prince
Hans-Adam II
• Regent
Alois
Adrian Hasler
Legislature Landtag
Independence as principality
• Union between
Vaduz and
Schellenberg
23 January 1718
12 July 1806
• Separation from
German Confederation
24 August 1866
Area 
• Total
160 km2 (62 sq mi) (191st)
• Water (%)
2.7[1]
Population
• 2017 estimate
38,111[2] (190th)
• Density
227/km2 (587.9/sq mi) (57th)
GDP (PPP) 2013 estimate
• Total
$5.3 billion [3] (149th)
• Per capita
$98,432[2][4][5] (2nd)
GDP (nominal) 2010 estimate
• Total
$5.155 billion[4][5] (147th)
• Per capita
$143,151[2][4][5] (2nd)
HDI (2017) Increase 0.916[6]
very high · 17th
Currency Swiss franc (CHF)
Time zone UTC+1 (CET)
• Summer (DST)
UTC+2 (CEST)
Driving side right
Calling code +423
ISO 3166 code LI
Internet TLD .li

Liechtenstein (/ˈlɪktənstn/ (About this sound listen) LIK-tən-styne; German: [ˈlɪçtn̩ʃtaɪn]), officially the Principality of Liechtenstein (German: Fürstentum Liechtenstein),[7] is a doubly landlocked German-speaking microstate in Central Europe.[8] The principality is a constitutional monarchy headed by the Prince of Liechtenstein.

Liechtenstein is bordered by Switzerland to the west and south and Austria to the east and north. It has an area of just over 160 square kilometres (62 square miles), the fourth smallest country in Europe and has a population of 37,877.[9] Divided into 11 municipalities, its capital is Vaduz, and its largest municipality is Schaan. It is also the smallest country to border two countries.[10]

Economically, Liechtenstein has one of the highest gross domestic products per person in the world when adjusted for purchasing power parity,[11] and the highest when not adjusted by purchasing power parity. The unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the world at 1.5%. Liechtenstein has been known in the past as a billionaire tax haven; however, it is no longer on any blacklists of uncooperative tax haven countries (see taxation section).

An Alpine country, Liechtenstein is mainly mountainous, making it a winter sport destination. Many cultivated fields and small farms are found both in the south (Oberland, upper land) and north (Unterland, lower land). The country has a strong financial sector centered in Vaduz. Liechtenstein is a member of the United Nations, the European Free Trade Association, and the Council of Europe, and although not a member of the European Union, the country participates in both the Schengen Area and the European Economic Area. It also has a customs union and a monetary union with Switzerland.

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  • Geography Now! LIECHTENSTEIN
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Transcription

Guys, it's here. Some of you have been waiting for this episode for years. Sure, everybody knows about China, Brazil, Germany and Australia but how many of you know anything about little Liechtenstein! ♫ It's time to learn Geography Now! ♫ Everybody I'm Host Barb's. Okay, I actually had the incredible honour to not only go to this country with my mum last year And we also got passport stamps, which by the way Swiss geogra-peeps Hermann and Fabianne thank you for driving and hosting us, but I also had the incredible honour of meeting one of the incredibly rare and few native-born Liechtensteiner Geogra-peeps, Pascal. Dude, a real Liechtensteiner watches Geography Now. That's amazing! Meeting an actual native of Liechtenstein is like finding a unicorn, in a haystack, in the Saharan desert. And the desert is made of haystacks, Sorry I'm just kind of gushing because come on we're doing little Lichtenstein today. Let's begin Now if you don't know anything about Liechtenstein, the first thing you might need to know is that it is incredibly small. Like this sixth smallest country in the world. And it's also rather difficult to get into in contrast to other European countries. First of all, Classified as a Microstate, the nation of Liechtenstein is located between Austria and Switzerland taking up only a hundred and sixty-two square kilometres, being only 25 kilometers long and and 9.4 Kilometers wide. It is also one of the only two doubly landlocked nations in the world meaning that it's landlocked within other landlocked nations, the other one being Uzbekistan. The country is divided into 11 different municipalities with their own exclaves with the capital of Vaduz that has only about 5,200 people located in the center of the country. Vaduz is actually the second largest town in the country, the first being Schaan with about 500 more people. The country has no airports or seaports, but they do have a heliport at Balzers but that's just like for tourist rides into the mountains. And they do have four train stations operated by an Austrian Federal Railway system and the stations are only serviced on weekday peak hours. So getting in, you're much better off either taking a bus or car. To drive in, you can take various bridge crossings from Switzerland or you can come in from Feldkirch, Austria. There isn't any border patrol or passport checks. It's really easy. However if you do want a passport stamp, you can get one at the Tourism/ Post Office in Vaduz for about 3 Euros. Worth it! The main number 28 road pretty much crosses the entire country north to south as almost the entire country lives on the west side due to the high mountainous border to the east. The funny thing is: After World War 2, Liechtenstein actually had a little land dispute with what is now Czechia over the castles and forests and agricultural land plots that were hereditary lands that belonged to the former monarchs. These lands altogether made up a land area over ten times the size of the Liechtenstein. However when they brought it up, Czechia was like: "Hmm, so you want your old lands back, eh? Well, how about I give you the castles, but not the surrounding land areas." to which Liechtenstein was like: Finally in 2009, they decided to drop the case and just let it go. But I mean whatever, they have like 7 other palaces in Austria and one in Italy. Otherwise some places of interest might include: The prince's Castle in Vaduz Malbun, which has a ski resort The Main Square, the National Museum The Postage stamp Museum, The Schatzkammer treasure chamber The Kunstmuseum, The Landtag or "Parliament building" and Balzer's gothic castle. All right. Now let's take a look at those pristine Alps, shall we? For such a small country, Liechtenstein actually has a lot going on in terms of landscape. For one, the country is located on the Upper Rhine Valley in the European Alps along the longest river, the Rhine that borders with Switzerland. The entire eastern side of Liechtenstein is mountainous with the highest peak, Grauspitz located on the southern border with Switzerland as well. Just up north, the largest and pretty much only real lake in the country, Gampriner Seele can be found although it should be classified as a pond, but eh. When it comes to resources, Liechtenstein isn't exactly top dog. I mean there's a few cultivated fields in the south but overall, not too many things to extract. Nonetheless, they do actually have some industries like textiles, pharmaceuticals, power tools like the company "Hilti". Other companies are in the country like "Neutrik", "ThyssenKrupp", "Hoval", "Hilcona" and also Liechtenstein is the world's largest provider of false teeth. Thanks to the company, "ivoclar vivadent" accounting for 20% of sales worldwide producing 60 million sets a year. It has something to do with the close relationship with Bollywood? Eh whatever, just look it up. It's funny though. Because there's actually more registered companies and jobs in Liechtenstein than there are people. Which is why over half the workforce has to travel into Liechtenstein from Switzerland or Austria. This means the country has the most exports per capita at around 122,000 dollars per person. It wasn't always like this though. Before the 17th century, Liechtenstein was known for being "the Witch country" with boring farmers. It wasn't until the beginning of the 20th century that Liechtenstein decided to change up fiscal policies and become a huge tax haven especially for billionaires, but it's not like one of those blacklisted havens. It's a good one, Okay? They do things right. St. Kitts & Nevis: "Hey, we're just hustling, okay? Don't act like you don't too!" Out of all the seven-ish trillion shelter dollars worth in tax havens worldwide, Liechtenstein manages about 180 billion. In addition, They host nearly seventy four thousand 'letterbox companies' which don't even really do anything but they still get paid for. So that means the system kind of keeps Liechtensteiners abundantly employed with about five million dollars and two companies to look after per citizen. Yeah, kids. If you really want to get rich, don't seek after fame study Business and Finance with minors and accounting. Trust me. I'm a Youtuber. I know exactly what NOT to do. Oh, yeah. The national animal is the Kestrel. they even have a falconry center in Malbun. And some of the top notable dishes of Liechtenstein might include: "Käsknöpfle" which is like a variation of "Kaesespaetzle", "Riobol", "Sura käs", Liechtenstein wine and those crown shaped chocolate things called... Oh geez, how do you pronounce this? "Fürstenhütchen" All right. Now, let's move on to the ones that make those dishes. The people of this country. Once upon a time, there was this thing called the Holy Roman Empire. It was basically made up of like 1800 territories that eventually meshed and melded into what is now parts of like twelve different countries in Europe. Liechtenstein is basically the last surviving territory of the Holy Roman Empire that never really coalesced into any other state. Partially because nobody really cared about it and it was too small to bother with. BUT WHO'S LAUGHING NOW?! First of all, the country is nearly 38,000 people and is almost always ranked in the top three highest GDP per capita states in the world at nearly 180k per capita. The country is only about 1/3 Native Liechtensteiner whereas the remaining populous is made up of foreigners mostly Germans Austrians, Swiss and Italians They use the Swiss Franc as their currency, they use the type J plug outlet and they drive on the right side of the road. Which by the way, I hate the J plug outlet because half the time, the sockets are sunk into these weird hexagon shaped divots. Half the time, I couldn't even fit my type C adapter plug when I was in Switzerland. Why? why do you guys do that? That's like borderline statistic in Switzerland in Liechtenstein; that and your prices, for everything. Otherwise, I'd love everything else about you guys. :D Now here's the thing: Liechtenstein is one of four countries in Europe that speaks German, however, they speak with their own distinct dialect very similar to the Swiss and Austrians. Obviously, it's a little different from Hochdeutsch which is spoken up North in Germany. From what I was told, Liechtenshiners are known for saying "Hoi" for hello and "Tschau" for bye. Instead of "Kuh" for cow, they say "Buschla". Instead of "Hügel" for Hill, they say "Böhel". This is what you guys told me so yeah. Also I was told that this is how you can tell all the Germanic speaking countries apart. Let's say that you gained weight. This is how a friend from each country would respond: Hmm, so how are you doing? Ahh! I see you're enjoying your schnitzel eh? You got fat! Now like the Swiss, Liechtenstein has always kind of kept to themselves and stayed out of affairs. There's a legend that says that when they fought in the Austro-Prussian war, they came back with negative casualties, as in, the army of 80 men came back with a friend. After that the military was disbanded and today, all military affairs are handled by the Swiss army even though they accidentally fired a shell and burned off a patch of their forest in the 80s and accidentally invaded in 2007 and Bah *I'm a sheep* You know, they laughed over it with glasses of wine. Now Liechtenstein is generally seen as being more conservative than other countries and more religious, mostly adhering to Catholicism with very strict stances on social issues like gay marriage abortion and immigration. In fact, less than 60 resident permits are issued every year for EEA citizens that work in Liechtenstein, half by lottery and half by government. Oh yeah, and the country is a monarchy, a principality to be exact. Essentially the Von Liechtenstein Family where the country gets its name from, are descended from Austrian noblemen related to the Hapsburgs. And even though they get little publicity, They are literally the richest Royals in Europe with a net worth of over 7.5 Billion dollars. The current Prince Hans-Adam II being the owner of LGT bank alone having a personal fortune of about four billion dollars. Yeah. By contrast, Queen Elizabeth has only about 500 million. The prince has four children and 15 Grandchildren. Alois being the next in line to the throne. Oh and his brother Maximilian married Angela Gisela Brown from Panama who was the first person of known African ancestry to have married into a reigning European dynasty. The royal family is actually quite popular and loved by the people. They're very down-to-earth and they eat at cafes downtown in Vaduz regularly talking to the everyday citizens. Once a year, they even hold a party which everyone is allowed to come to the castle and share a beer. There is a bit of controversy though because today, they are the only monarchy in Europe in which the monarch has influence on every level of government. The prince can veto anything. In 2012, they held a vote which kind of went like this: The people: "We want to take away your powers of Exercising the option to veto bills." The Royal Family: "Hmm, I mean if you really don't want me around, I can totally just leave and let you guys handle everything." The people: "Really??" The Royal Family: "Yeah, I'll just take my 7.6 billion dollars corporate interest and revenue deals outside of the state, but you know, you can sell postcards to... tourists." The people: "Wait, COME BACK!!" Annnnd, over three quarters of the population voted to let him remain with his original duties. Speaking of monarchy, History. We don't have a lot of time to go too far into it, but the quickest way I can summarize it: Two small Holy roman empire earldoms of Vaduz and Schellenberg, 1699 this guy comes along, 1712, He purchases both Vaduz and Schellenberg hence joining the two together making the country complete, The Napoleon years but the prince is like a respected military leader so they remain independent, 19th century joins German Confederation although Austria gets left out which geographically separates Liechtenstein from Germany, World War I, breaks ties with Austria-Hungary, 1938 Prince moves back in from Vienna, World War II after Austria's annexed, they are literally on the Nazi border But Hitler was like: "Meh, not worth it" and left them alone, They stay neutral and independent Post-World War II, economic boom, all the bank's fiduciaries and engineers come in Czechia dispute, 1984, women are allowed to vote, the last European country to do so, 1995 they joined the EEA and here we are today. Oh and Liechtenstein has like one of the lowest crime rates in the world. Prisons are often empty and anyone with a sentence over 2 years is actually sent to Austria. It's been said that people typically don't even lock their front doors. For such a small population, everyone kind of knows everyone and has a close tie. Nonetheless, they still reach out and make friends abroad. Which brings us to... Now it doesn't really matter how small your country is. If you're able to handle your country's overall economic output with a content populace, holding on to sovereignty is a breeze, and so is making friends. Today, They have six embassy missions abroad in Austria, Belgium, Germany Switzerland and the Vatican and the United States. However Switzerland is authorized to represent Liechtenstein in other diplomatic situations unless they decide to send their own delegates. Liechtenstein is interesting because they don't host any embassies in their territory, but rather 32 honorary councils, surprisingly three of which are the African states of Chad, Senegal and the Central African Republic whom have reached out and made close ties for decades. They are not part of the European Union but rather part of the Schengen area, which means they have open borders and visa policies with the EU. And also as a member of the EEA, they have free movement of goods and persons and services as well, but yeah, not part of the EU. Austria and Germany have always been close friends especially the Southern Bavarian and Baden Württemberg states of Germany. These two make up some of the largest business partners and foreign population living in Liechtenstein, which is barely even much of a distinction since they are all germanic brothers to begin with. In earlier years, most of the monarchs actually chose to live in Austria rather than their own country until 1938 when Franz Joseph was like: "We're moving back in folks!" When it comes to their best friends however, most Liechtensteiners might say the Swiss. They share everything. A customs union, a monetary union, military coverage, diplomatic delegates. They even speak relatively the same dialect and have similar mannerisms and culture cues. It's often said that Switzerland sees Liechtenstein as its little yet surprisingly richer brother. I mean, they literally were totally cool with it when they got accidentally attacked. What more do you need to know? In conclusion, Liechtenstein is kind of like a high capacity storage microchip. Small yet absolutely flooding with abundance neatly tucked away in a small space hidden away from the public eye. Stay tuned, the second creepy Baltic twin, Lithuania, is coming up next.

Contents

History

Gutenberg Castle, Balzers, Liechtenstein
Gutenberg Castle, Balzers, Liechtenstein
Vaduz Castle, overlooking the capital, is home to the Prince of Liechtenstein.
Vaduz Castle, overlooking the capital, is home to the Prince of Liechtenstein.
Johann I Joseph, Prince of Liechtenstein from 1805 to 1806 and 1814 to 1836
Johann I Joseph, Prince of Liechtenstein from 1805 to 1806 and 1814 to 1836

Early history

The oldest traces of human existence in Liechtenstein date back to the Middle Paleolithic era.[12] Neolithic farming settlements were initially founded in the valleys around 5300 BCE.

The Hallstatt and La Tène cultures flourished during the late Iron Age, from around 450 BCE—possibly under some influence of both the Greek and Etruscan civilisations. One of the most important tribal groups in the Alpine region were the Helvetii. In 58 BCE, at the Battle of Bibracte, Julius Caesar defeated the Alpine tribes, therefore bringing the region under close control of the Roman Republic. By 15 BCE, Tiberius—destined to be the second Roman emperor—with his brother, Drusus, conquered the entirety of the Alpine area. Liechtenstein was then integrated into the Roman province of Raetia. The area was maintained by the Roman military, who also maintained large legionary camps at Brigantium (Austria), near Lake Constance, and at Magia (Swiss). A Roman road which ran through the territory was also created and maintained by these groups. In 259/60 Brigantium was destroyed by the Alemanni, a Germanic people who settled in the area in around 450 CE.

In the Early Middle Ages, the Alemanni settled the eastern Swiss plateau by the 5th century and the valleys of the Alps by the end of the 8th century, with Liechtenstein located at the eastern edge of Alemannia. In the 6th century, the entire region became part of the Frankish Empire following Clovis I's victory over the Alemanni at Tolbiac in 504.[13][14]

The area that later became Liechtenstein remained under Frankish hegemony (Merovingian and Carolingian dynasties), until the empire was divided by the Treaty of Verdun in 843 CE, following the death of Charlemagne.[12] The territory of present-day Liechtenstein was under the possession of East Francia. It would later be reunified with Middle Francia under the Holy Roman Empire, around 1000 CE.[12] Until about 1100, the predominant language of the area was Romansch, but thereafter German began to gain ground in the territory. In 1300, an Alemannic population—the Walsers, who originated in Valais—entered the region and settled. The mountain village of Triesenberg still preserves features of Walser dialect into the present century.[15]

Foundation of a dynasty

By 1200, dominions across the Alpine plateau were controlled by the Houses of Savoy, Zähringer, Habsburg, and Kyburg. Other regions were accorded the Imperial immediacy that granted the empire direct control over the mountain passes. When the Kyburg dynasty fell in 1264, the Habsburgs under King Rudolph I (Holy Roman Emperor in 1273) extended their territory to the eastern Alpine plateau that included the territory of Liechtenstein.[13] This region was enfeoffed to the Counts of Hohenems until the sale to the Liechtenstein dynasty in 1699.

In 1396 Vaduz (the southern region of Liechtenstein) was raised to the status of "imperial immediacy" and as such made subject to the Holy Roman Emperor alone.[16]

The family, from which the principality takes its name, originally came from Liechtenstein Castle in Lower Austria which they had possessed from at least 1140 until the 13th century (and again from 1807 onwards). The Liechtensteins acquired land, predominantly in Moravia, Lower Austria, Silesia, and Styria. As these territories were all held in feudal tenure from more senior feudal lords, particularly various branches of the Habsburgs, the Liechtenstein dynasty was unable to meet a primary requirement to qualify for a seat in the Imperial diet (parliament), the Reichstag. Even though several Liechtenstein princes served several Habsburg rulers as close advisers, without any territory held directly from the Imperial throne, they held little power in the Holy Roman Empire.

For this reason, the family sought to acquire lands that would be classed as unmittelbar (immediate) or held without any intermediate feudal tenure, directly from the Holy Roman Emperor. During the early 17th century Karl I of Liechtenstein was made a Fürst (prince) by the Holy Roman Emperor Matthias after siding with him in a political battle. Hans-Adam I was allowed to purchase the minuscule Herrschaft ("Lordship") of Schellenberg and county of Vaduz (in 1699 and 1712 respectively) from the Hohenems. Tiny Schellenberg and Vaduz had exactly the political status required: no feudal lord other than their comital sovereign and the suzerain Emperor.

Principality

On 23 January 1719[17], after the lands had been purchased, Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, decreed that Vaduz and Schellenberg were united and elevated the newly formed territory to the dignity of Fürstentum (principality) with the name "Liechtenstein" in honour of "[his] true servant, Anton Florian of Liechtenstein". It was on this date that Liechtenstein became a sovereign member state of the Holy Roman Empire. It is a testament to the pure political expediency of the purchase that the Princes of Liechtenstein never visited their new principality for almost 100 years.

By the early 19th century, as a result of the Napoleonic Wars in Europe, the Holy Roman Empire came under the effective control of France, following the crushing defeat at Austerlitz by Napoleon in 1805. Emperor Francis II abdicated, ending more than 960 years of feudal government. Napoleon reorganized much of the Empire into the Confederation of the Rhine. This political restructuring had broad consequences for Liechtenstein: the historical imperial, legal, and political institutions had been dissolved. The state ceased to owe an obligation to any feudal lord beyond its borders.[18]

Modern publications generally attribute Liechtenstein's sovereignty to these events. Its prince ceased to owe an obligation to any suzerain. From 25 July 1806, when the Confederation of the Rhine was founded, the Prince of Liechtenstein was a member, in fact, a vassal, of its hegemon, styled protector, the French Emperor Napoleon I, until the dissolution of the confederation on 19 October 1813.

Soon afterward, Liechtenstein joined the German Confederation (20 June 1815 – 24 August 1866), which was presided over by the Emperor of Austria.

In 1818, Prince Johann I granted the territory a limited constitution. In that same year Prince Aloys became the first member of the House of Liechtenstein to set foot in the principality that bore their name. The next visit would not occur until 1842.

Developments during the 19th century included:

  • 1836, the first factory, for making ceramics, was opened.
  • 1861, the Savings and Loans Bank was founded along with the first cotton-weaving mill.
  • 1868, the Liechtenstein Army was disbanded for financial reasons.
  • 1872, a railway line between Switzerland and the Austro-Hungarian Empire was constructed through Liechtenstein.
  • 1886, two bridges over the Rhine to Switzerland were built.

20th century

Until the end of World War I, Liechtenstein was closely tied first to the Austrian Empire and later to Austria-Hungary; the ruling princes continued to derive much of their wealth from estates in the Habsburg territories, and they spent much of their time at their two palaces in Vienna. The economic devastation caused by this war forced the country to conclude a customs and monetary union with its other neighbour, Switzerland.

At the time of the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it was argued that Liechtenstein, as a fief of the Holy Roman Empire, was no longer bound to the emerging independent state of Austria, since the latter did not consider itself as the legal successor to the empire. This is partly contradicted[original research?] by the Liechtenstein perception that the dethroned Austro-Hungarian Emperor still maintained an abstract heritage of the Holy Roman Empire.

In 1929, 75-year-old Prince Franz I succeeded to the throne. Franz had just married Elisabeth von Gutmann, a wealthy woman from Vienna whose father was a Jewish businessman from Moravia. Although Liechtenstein had no official Nazi party, a Nazi sympathy movement arose within its National Union party. Local Liechtenstein Nazis identified Elisabeth as their Jewish "problem".[19]

In March 1938, just after the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany, Prince Franz named as regent his 31-year-old grandnephew and heir-presumptive, Prince Franz Joseph. Franz died in July that year, and Franz Joseph succeeded to the throne. Franz Joseph II first moved to Liechtenstein in 1938, a few days after Austria's annexation.[16]

During World War II, Liechtenstein remained officially neutral, looking to neighbouring Switzerland for assistance and guidance, while family treasures from dynastic lands and possessions in Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia were taken to Liechtenstein for safekeeping. At the close of the conflict, Czechoslovakia and Poland, acting to seize what they considered to be German possessions, expropriated the entirety of the Liechtenstein dynasty's properties in those three regions. The expropriations (subject to modern legal dispute at the International Court of Justice) included over 1,600 km2 (618 sq mi) of agricultural and forest land (most notably the UNESCO listed Lednice–Valtice Cultural Landscape), and several family castles and palaces.

In 2005 it was revealed that Jewish labourers from the Strasshof concentration camp, provided by the SS, had worked on estates in Austria owned by Liechtenstein's Princely House.[20]

Citizens of Liechtenstein were forbidden to enter Czechoslovakia during the Cold War. More recently the diplomatic conflict revolving around the controversial post-war Beneš decrees resulted in Liechtenstein not sharing international relations with the Czech Republic or Slovakia. Diplomatic relations were established between Liechtenstein and the Czech Republic on 13 July 2009,[21][22][23] and with Slovakia on 9 December 2009.[24]

Financial centre

Liechtenstein was in dire financial straits following the end of the war in Europe. The Liechtenstein dynasty often resorted to selling family artistic treasures, including the portrait Ginevra de' Benci by Leonardo da Vinci, which was purchased by the National Gallery of Art of the United States in 1967 for US$5 million ($37 million in 2017 dollars), then a record price for a painting.

However, by the late 1970s, it used its low corporate tax rates to draw many companies to the country, becoming one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

As of September 2008 the Prince of Liechtenstein is the world's eighth wealthiest monarch with an estimated wealth of US$3.5 billion.[25] The country's population enjoys one of the world's highest standards of living.

Government

Administrative divisions of Liechtenstein
Administrative divisions of Liechtenstein
The centre of government in Vaduz.
The centre of government in Vaduz.

Liechtenstein has a constitutional monarch as Head of State, and an elected parliament which enacts the law. It is also a direct democracy, where voters can propose and enact constitutional amendments and legislation independent of the legislature. The Constitution of Liechtenstein was adopted in March 2003, replacing the previous 1921 constitution which had established Liechtenstein as a constitutional monarchy headed by the reigning prince of the Princely House of Liechtenstein. A parliamentary system had been established, although the reigning Prince retained substantial political authority.

The reigning Prince is the head of state and represents Liechtenstein in its international relations (although Switzerland has taken responsibility for much of Liechtenstein's diplomatic relations). The Prince may veto laws adopted by parliament. The Prince can call referenda, propose new legislation, and dissolve parliament, although dissolution of parliament may be subject to a referendum.[26]

Executive authority is vested in a collegiate government comprising the head of government (prime minister) and four government councilors (ministers). The head of government and the other ministers are appointed by the Prince upon the proposal and concurrence of parliament, thus reflecting the partisan balance of parliament. The constitution stipulates that at least two members of the government be chosen from each of the two regions.[27] The members of the government are collectively and individually responsible to parliament; parliament may ask the Prince to remove an individual minister or the entire government.

Legislative authority is vested in the unicameral Landtag made up of 25 members elected for maximum four-year terms according to a proportional representation formula. Fifteen members are elected from the "Oberland" (Upper Country or region) and ten members are elected from the "Unterland" (Lower Country or region).[28] Parties must receive at least 8% of the national vote to win seats in parliament, i.e. enough for 2 seats in the 25-seat legislature. Parliament proposes and approves a government, which is formally appointed by the Prince. Parliament may also pass votes of no confidence in the entire government or individual members.

Parliament elects from among its members a "Landesausschuss" (National Committee) made up of the president of the parliament and four additional members. The National Committee is charged with performing parliamentary oversight functions. Parliament can call for referenda on proposed legislation. Parliament shares the authority to propose new legislation with the Prince and with the number of citizens required for an initiative referendum.[29]

Judicial authority is vested in the Regional Court at Vaduz, the Princely High Court of Appeal at Vaduz, the Princely Supreme Court, the Administrative Court, and the State Court. The State Court rules on the conformity of laws with the constitution and has five members elected by parliament.

On 1 July 1984, Liechtenstein became the last country in Europe to grant women the right to vote. The referendum on women's suffrage, in which only men were allowed to participate, passed with 51.3% in favour.[30]

New constitution

In a national referendum in March 2003, nearly two-thirds of the electorate voted in support of Hans-Adam II's proposed new constitution to replace the 1921 version. The proposed constitution was criticised by many, including the Council of Europe, as expanding the powers of the monarchy (continuing the power to veto any law, and allowing the Prince to dismiss the government or any minister). The Prince threatened that if the constitution failed, he would, among other things, convert some of the royal property for commercial use and move to Austria.[31] The princely family and the Prince enjoy tremendous public support inside the nation, and the resolution passed with about 64% in favour.[32] A proposal to revoke the Prince's veto powers was rejected by 76% of voters in a 2012 referendum.[33]

Few national constitutions provide a right of secession, but municipalities in Liechtenstein are entitled to secede from the union by majority vote.[34]

International awards

In the year 2013, Liechtenstein won for the first time a SolarSuperState Prize in the category Solar recognizing the achieved level of the usage of photovoltaics per population within the state territory.[35] The SolarSuperState Association justified this prize with the cumulative installed photovoltaic power of some 290 Watt per capita at the end of 2012. This level placed Liechtenstein second in the world after Germany. Also in the year 2014, the SolarSuperState Association awarded the 2. SolarSuperState Prize in the category Solar to Liechtenstein.[36] In the years 2015 and 2016, Liechtenstein was honored with the 1. SolarSuperState Prize in the category Solar because the state had the world's biggest cumulative installed photovoltaic power per population.[37][38]

Geography

The Rhine: border between Liechtenstein and Switzerland (view towards the Swiss Alps)
The Rhine: border between Liechtenstein and Switzerland (view towards the Swiss Alps)

Liechtenstein is situated in the Upper Rhine valley of the European Alps and is bordered to the east by Austria, and to the south and west by Switzerland. The entire western border of Liechtenstein is formed by the Rhine. Measured south to north the country is about 24 km (15 mi) long. Its highest point, the Grauspitz, is 2,599 m (8,527 ft). Despite its Alpine location, prevailing southerly winds make the climate of Liechtenstein comparatively mild. In winter, the mountain slopes are well suited to winter sports.

New surveys using more accurate measurements of the country's borders in 2006 have set its area at 160 km2 (61.776 sq mi), with borders of 77.9 km (48.4 mi).[39] Thus, it was discovered in 2006 that Liechtenstein's borders are 1.9 km (1.2 mi) longer than previously thought.[40]

Liechtenstein is one of only two doubly landlocked countries in the world[41]—being a landlocked country wholly surrounded by other landlocked countries (the other is Uzbekistan). Liechtenstein is the sixth-smallest independent nation in the world by land area.

The principality of Liechtenstein is divided into 11 communes called Gemeinden (singular Gemeinde). The Gemeinden mostly consist of only a single town or village. Five of them (Eschen, Gamprin, Mauren, Ruggell, and Schellenberg) fall within the electoral district Unterland (the lower county), and the remainder (Balzers, Planken, Schaan, Triesen, Triesenberg, and Vaduz) within Oberland (the upper county).

Economy

Looking southward at Vaduz city centre
Looking southward at Vaduz city centre

Despite its limited natural resources, Liechtenstein is one of the few countries in the world with more registered companies than citizens; it has developed a prosperous, highly industrialized free-enterprise economy and boasts a financial service sector as well as a living standard that compares favourably with those of the urban areas of Liechtenstein's much larger European neighbours.

Liechtenstein participates in a customs union with Switzerland and employs the Swiss franc as the national currency. The country imports about 85% of its energy. Liechtenstein has been a member of the European Economic Area (an organization serving as a bridge between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the European Union) since May 1995. The government is working to harmonize its economic policies with those of an integrated Europe. In 2008, the unemployment rate stood at 1.5%. Currently, there is only one hospital in Liechtenstein, the Liechtensteinisches Landesspital in Vaduz. As of 2014 the CIA World Factbook estimated the gross domestic product (GDP) on a purchasing power parity basis to be $4.978 billion. As of 2009 the estimate per capita was $139,100, which is the highest listed for the world.[41]

Industries include electronics, textiles, precision instruments, metal manufacturing, power tools, anchor bolts, calculators, pharmaceuticals, and food products. Its most recognizable international company and largest employer is Hilti, a manufacturer of direct fastening systems and other high-end power tools. Liechtenstein produces wheat, barley, corn, potatoes, dairy products, livestock, and wine. Tourism accounts for a large portion of the country's economy.

Taxation

Since 1923, there has been no border control between Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
Since 1923, there has been no border control between Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

The government of Liechtenstein taxes personal, business income, and principal (wealth). The basic rate of personal income tax is 1.2%. When combined with the additional income tax imposed by the communes, the combined income tax rate is 17.82%.[42] An additional income tax of 4.3% is levied on all employees under the country's social security programme. This rate is higher for the self-employed, up to a maximum of 11%, making the maximum income tax rate about 29% in total. The basic tax rate on wealth is 0.06% per annum, and the combined total rate is 0.89%. The tax rate on corporate profits is 12.5%.[41]

Liechtenstein's gift and estate taxes vary depending on the relationship the recipient has to the giver and the amount of the inheritance. The tax ranges between 0.5% and 0.75% for spouses and children and 18% to 27% for non-related recipients. The estate tax is progressive.

Liechtenstein has previously received significant revenues from Stiftungen ("foundations"), which are financial entities created to hide the true owner of nonresident foreigners' financial holdings. The foundation is registered in the name of a Liechtensteiner, often a lawyer. This set of laws used to make Liechtenstein a popular tax haven for extremely wealthy individuals and businesses attempting to avoid or evade taxes in their home countries.[43] In recent years, Liechtenstein has displayed a stronger determination to prosecute international money-launderers and has worked to promote the country's image as a legitimate finance center. In February 2008, the country's LGT Bank was implicated in a tax-fraud scandal in Germany, which strained the ruling family's relationship with the German government. Crown Prince Alois has accused the German government of trafficking in stolen goods, referring to its $7.3 million purchase of private banking information offered by a former employee of LGT Group.[44][45] However, the United States Senate's subcommittee on tax haven banks said that the LGT bank, owned by the princely family, and on whose board they serve, "is a willing partner, and an aider and abettor to clients trying to evade taxes, dodge creditors or defy court orders".[46]

The 2008 Liechtenstein tax affair is a series of tax investigations in numerous countries whose governments suspect that some of their citizens have evaded tax obligations by using banks and trusts in Liechtenstein; the affair broke open with the biggest complex of investigations ever initiated for tax evasion in the Federal Republic of Germany.[47] It was also seen as an attempt to put pressure on Liechtenstein, then one of the remaining uncooperative tax havens—along with Andorra and Monaco—as identified by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 2007.[48] On 27 May 2009 the OECD removed Liechtenstein from the blacklist of uncooperative countries.[49]

In August 2009, the British government department HM Revenue & Customs agreed with Liechtenstein to start exchanging information. It is believed that up to 5,000 British investors have roughly £3 billion deposited in accounts and trusts in the country.[50]

In October 2015, the European Union and Liechtenstein signed a tax agreement to ensure the automatic exchange of financial information in case of tax disputes. The collection of data started in 2016, and is another step to bring the principality in line with other European countries with regard to its taxation of private individuals and corporate assets.[51]

Demographics

Population-wise, Liechtenstein is the fourth smallest country of Europe; only Vatican City, San Marino, and Monaco have fewer residents. Its population is primarily Alemannic-speaking, although one third is foreign-born, primarily German speakers from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, along with other Swiss, Italians, and Turks. Foreign-born people make up two-thirds of the country's workforce.[52]

Liechtensteiners have an average life expectancy at birth of 80.31 years, subdividing as male: 76.86 years, female: 83.77 years (2011 est.). The infant mortality rate is 4.64 deaths per 1,000 live births, according to recent estimates.

Languages

The official language is German; most speak an Alemannic dialect of German that is highly divergent from Standard German but closely related to those dialects spoken in neighbouring regions such as Switzerland and Vorarlberg, Austria. In Triesenberg, a dialect promoted by the municipality is spoken. However, Swiss Standard German is understood and spoken by most people within the country.

Religion

Religion in Liechtenstein in 2010[53]

  Roman Catholic (75.9%)
  Protestant (8.5%)
  Other Christian (1.4%)
  Muslim (5.4%)
  Other religion (0.8%)
  Undeclared (2.6%)
  Irreligion (5.4%)

According to the Constitution of Liechtenstein, Catholicism is the official state religion of Liechtenstein:

The Catholic Church is the State Church and as such shall enjoy the full protection of the State

Liechtenstein offers protection to adherents of all religious beliefs, and considers the "religious interests of the people" a priority of the government.[54] In Liechtenstein schools, although exceptions are allowed, religious education in Roman Catholicism or Protestantism (either Reformed or Lutheran, or both) is legally required.[55] Tax exemption is granted by the government to religious organizations.[55] According to the Pew Research Center, social conflict caused by religious hostilities is ranked low in Liechtenstein, and so is the amount of government restriction on the practice of religion.[56]

According to the 2010 census, 85.8% of total population is Christian, of whom 75.9% adhere to the Roman Catholic faith, forming the exempt Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vaduz, while 9.6% are either Protestant, mainly organized in the Evangelical Church in Liechtenstein (a United church, Lutheran & Reformed) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Liechtenstein, or Orthodox, mainly organized in the Christian-Orthodox Church. The largest minority religion is Islam (5.4% of total population). Roman Catholicism is, by far, the predominant religion of people with Liechtenstein citizenship (87.0%).[53]

Religion[57] 2010 2000 1990
Catholics 75.9% 78.4% 84.9%
Protestants 8.5% 8.3% 9.2%
Christian-Orthodox Churches 1.1% 1.1% 0.7%
Other Christian Churches 0.3% 0.1% 0.2%
Muslims 5.4% 4.8% 2.4%
Other religions 0.8% 0.3% 0.2%
No religion 5.4% 2.8% 1.5%
Undeclared 2.6% 4.1% 0.9%

Education

The literacy rate of Liechtenstein is 100%.[41] In 2006 Programme for International Student Assessment report, coordinated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, ranked Liechtenstein's education as the 10th best in the world.[58] In 2012, Liechtenstein had the highest PISA-scores of any European country.[59]

Within Liechtenstein, there are four main centres for higher education:

There are nine public high schools in the country. These include:

Transport

There are about 250 kilometres (155 miles) of paved roadway within Liechtenstein, with 90 km (56 miles) of marked bicycle paths.

A 9.5 km (5.9 mi) railway connects Austria and Switzerland through Liechtenstein. The country's railways are administered by the Austrian Federal Railways as part of the route between Feldkirch, Austria, and Buchs, Switzerland. Liechtenstein is nominally within the Austrian Verkehrsverbund Vorarlberg[61] tariff region.

There are four stations in Liechtenstein, namely Schaan-Vaduz, Forst Hilti, and Nendeln and Schaanwald, served by an irregularly stopping train service between Feldkirch and Buchs provided by Austrian Federal Railways. While EuroCity and other long-distance international trains also travel along the route, they do not normally call at the stations within the borders of Liechtenstein.

Liechtenstein Bus is a subsidiary of the Swiss Postbus system, but separately run, and connects to the Swiss bus network at Buchs and at Sargans. Buses also run to the Austrian town of Feldkirch.

Liechtenstein has no airport. The nearest large airport is Zürich Airport near Zürich, Switzerland (130 km/80 mi by road). The nearest small airport is St. Gallen Airport (50 km/30 mi). Friedrichshafen Airport also provides access to Liechtenstein, as it is 85 km away. Balzers Heliport is[62][63] available for chartered helicopter flights.

Culture

City-centre with Kunstmuseum (Liechtenstein Art Museum)
City-centre with Kunstmuseum (Liechtenstein Art Museum)

As a result of its small size, Liechtenstein has been strongly affected by external cultural influences, most notably those originating in the southern German-speaking areas of Europe, including Austria, Baden-Wurttemberg, Bavaria, Switzerland, and specifically Tirol and Vorarlberg. The "Historical Society of the Principality of Liechtenstein" plays a role in preserving the culture and history of the country.

The largest museum is the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, an international museum of modern and contemporary art with an important international art collection. The building by the Swiss architects Morger, Degelo, and Kerez is a landmark in Vaduz. It was completed in November 2000 and forms a "black box" of tinted concrete and black basalt stone. The museum collection is also the national art collection of Liechtenstein.

The other important museum is the Liechtenstein National Museum (Liechtensteinisches Landesmuseum) showing permanent exhibition on the cultural and natural history of Liechtenstein as well as special exhibitions. There is also a stamp museum, ski museum, and a 500-year-old Rural Lifestyle Museum.

The Liechtenstein State Library is the library that has legal deposit for all books published in the country.

The most famous historical sites are Vaduz Castle, Gutenberg Castle, the Red House and the ruins of Schellenberg.

The Private Art Collection of the Prince of Liechtenstein, one of the world's leading private art collections, is shown at the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna.

On the country's national holiday all subjects are invited to the castle of the head of state. A significant portion of the population attends the national celebration at the castle where speeches are made and complimentary beer is served.[64]

Music and theatre are an important part of the culture. There are numerous music organizations such as the Liechtenstein Musical Company, the annual Guitar Days, and the International Josef Gabriel Rheinberger Society, which play in two main theatres.

Media

The primary internet service provider and mobile network operator of Liechtenstein is Telecom Liechtenstein, located in Schaan. There is only one television channel in the country, the private channel 1FLTV created in 2008. At the moment, 1FLTV is not a member of the European Broadcasting Union. L-Radio, which was established in 2004, serves as Liechtenstein's radio station and is based in Triesen. L-Radio has a listener base of 50,000 and began as "air Radio Liechtenstein" on 15 October 1938. Liechtenstein also has two major newspapers; Liechtensteiner Volksblatt and Liechtensteiner Vaterland. The primary multimedia company in Liechtenstein is ManaMedia, located in Vaduz.

Amateur radio is a hobby of some nationals and visitors. However, unlike virtually every other sovereign nation, Liechtenstein does not have its own ITU prefix. It uses Switzerland's callsign prefixes (typically "HB") followed by a zero.

Sports

Marco Büchel, the first Liechtensteiner alpine skier to compete at six Winter Olympics
Marco Büchel, the first Liechtensteiner alpine skier to compete at six Winter Olympics

Liechtenstein football teams play in the Swiss football leagues. The Liechtenstein Football Cup allows access for one Liechtenstein team each year to the UEFA Europa League; FC Vaduz, a team playing in the Swiss Challenge League, the second division in Swiss football, is the most successful team in the Cup, and scored their greatest success in the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1996 when they drew with and defeated the Latvian team FC Universitate Riga by 1–1 and 4–2, to go on to a lucrative fixture against Paris Saint-Germain F.C., which they lost 0–3 and 0–4.

The Liechtenstein national football team is regarded as an easy target for any team drawn against them; this was the basis for a book about Liechtenstein's unsuccessful qualifying campaign for the 2002 World Cup by British author, Charlie Connelly. In one surprising week during autumn 2004, however, the team managed a 2–2 draw with Portugal, who only a few months earlier had been the losing finalists in the European Championships. Four days later, the Liechtenstein team traveled to Luxembourg, where they defeated the home team 4–0 in a 2006 World Cup qualifying match. In the qualification stage of the European Championship 2008, Liechtenstein beat Latvia 1–0, a result which prompted the resignation of the Latvian coach. They went on to beat Iceland 3–0 on 17 October 2007, which is considered one of the most dramatic losses of the Icelandic national football team. On 7 September 2010, they came within seconds of a 1–1 draw against Scotland in Glasgow, having led 1–0 earlier in the second half, but Liechtenstein lost 2–1 thanks to a goal by Stephen McManus in the 97th minute. On 3 June 2011, Liechtenstein defeated Lithuania 2–0. On 15 November 2014, Liechtenstein defeated Moldova 0–1 with Franz Burgmeier's late free kick goal in Chișinău.

As an alpine country, the main sporting opportunity for Liechtensteiners to excel is in winter sports such as downhill skiing: the country's single ski area is Malbun. Hanni Wenzel won two gold medals and one silver medal in the 1980 Winter Olympics (she won bronze in 1976), her brother Andreas won one silver medal in 1980 and one bronze medal in 1984 in the giant slalom event, and her daughter Tina Weirather won a bronze medal in 2018 in the Super-G. With ten medals overall (all in alpine skiing), Liechtenstein has won more Olympic medals per capita than any other nation.[65] It is the smallest nation to win a medal in any Olympics, Winter or Summer, and the only nation to win a medal in the Winter Games but not in the Summer Games. Other notable skiers from Liechtenstein are Marco Büchel, Willi Frommelt, Paul Frommelt and Ursula Konzett. Liechtenstein is also the home country of Stephanie Vogt, a professional women's tennis player.

Youth

Liechtenstein competes in the Switzerland U16 Cup Tournament, which offers young players an opportunity to play against top football clubs.

Security and defence

The Liechtenstein National Police is responsible for keeping order within the country. It consists of 87 field officers and 38 civilian staff, totaling 125 employees. All officers are equipped with small arms. The country has one of the world's lowest crime rates. Liechtenstein's prison holds few, if any, inmates, and those with sentences over two years are transferred to Austrian jurisdiction. The Liechtenstein National Police maintains a trilateral treaty with Austria and Switzerland that enables close cross-border cooperation among the police forces of the three countries.[66]

Liechtenstein follows a policy of neutrality and is one of the few countries in the world that maintain no military. The army was abolished soon after the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, in which Liechtenstein fielded an army of 80 men, although they were not involved in any fighting. The demise of the German Confederation in that war freed Liechtenstein from its international obligation to maintain an army, and parliament seized this opportunity and refused to provide funding for one. The Prince objected, as such a move would leave the country defenceless, but relented on 12 February 1868 and disbanded the force. The last soldier to serve under the colors of Liechtenstein died in 1939 at age 95.[67]

During the 1980s the Swiss army fired off shells during an exercise and mistakenly burned a patch of forest inside Liechtenstein. The incident was said to have been resolved "over a case of white wine".[64]

In March 2007, a 170-person Swiss infantry unit got lost during a training exercise and inadvertently crossed 1.5 km (0.9 miles) into Liechtenstein. The accidental invasion ended when the unit realized their mistake and turned back.[68] The Swiss army later informed Liechtenstein of the incursion and offered official apologies,[69] to which an internal ministry spokesperson responded, "No problem, these things happen."[70]

See also

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