|THE LICHTENSTEIN COAT OF ARMS|
Location of Liechtenstein within the continent of Europe
Map of Liechtenstein
Flag Description of Liechtenstein:two equal horizontal bands of blue (top) and red with a gold crown on the hoist side of the blue band; the colors may derive from the blue and red livery design used in the principality's household in the 18th century; the prince's crown was introduced in 1937 to distinguish the flag from that of Haiti.
Official name Fürstentum Liechtenstein (Principality of Liechtenstein)
Form of government constitutional monarchy with one legislative house (Diet )
Head of state Prince: Hans Adam II1
Head of government Head of the Government: Adrian Hasler
Official language German
Official religion See footnote 2.
Monetary unit Swiss franc (CHF)
Population (2013 est.) 37,000COLLAPSE
Total area (sq mi) 62
Total area (sq km) 160
- Urban: (2011) 13.9%
- Rural: (2011) 86.1%
Life expectancy at birth
- Male: (2011) 79.5 years
- Female: (2011) 84.2 years
Literacy: percentage of population age 15 and over literate
- Male: (2010) 100%
- Female: (2010) 100%
GNI per capita (U.S.$) (2009) 137,070
1In August 2004 the prince turned over most official day-to-day responsibilities to his son but did not rescind the role of head of state.
2The designation of “state church” for Roman Catholicism per article 37 of the constitution was under review in 2013.
Background of Liechtenstein
The Principality of Liechtenstein was established within the Holy Roman Empire in 1719. Occupied by both French and Russian troops during the Napoleonic Wars, it became a sovereign state in 1806 and joined the Germanic Confederation in 1815. Liechtenstein became fully independent in 1866 when the Confederation dissolved. Until the end of World War I, it was closely tied to Austria, but the economic devastation caused by that conflict forced Liechtenstein to enter into a customs and monetary union with Switzerland. Since World War II (in which Liechtenstein remained neutral), the country's low taxes have spurred outstanding economic growth. In 2000, shortcomings in banking regulatory oversight resulted in concerns about the use of financial institutions for money laundering. However, Liechtenstein implemented anti-money laundering legislation and a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the US that went into effect in 2003.
Geography of Liechtenstein
he eastern two-thirds of the country is composed of the rugged foothills of the Rhätikon Mountains, part of the central Alps. The highest peak is Grauspitz, which rises to 8,527 feet (2,599 metres), and much of the principality is at an elevation above 6,000 feet (1,800 metres). The lower slopes of the mountains are covered by evergreen forests and alpine flowers, while their bare peaks are blanketed by snow. The mountains contain three major valleys and are drained by the Samina River. The western section of the principality is occupied by the Rhine River floodplain, which, together with the valley of the Ill River, forms a triangular lowland widening northward. The river valley was once marshy, but a drainage channel built in the 1930s has made its rich soils highly suitable for agriculture.
The climate of Liechtenstein is mild and is greatly affected by the warm southerly wind known as the foehn. Annual precipitation ranges, according to location, from about 35 to 47 inches (900 to 1,200 mm), though some areas in the mountains can receive as much as 75 inches (1,900 mm). In winter the temperature rarely falls below 5 °F (−15 °C), while in summer the average daily maximum temperature varies from the high 60s to the low 80s F (about 20 to 28 °C). These conditions allow for the cultivation of grapes and corn (maize), which is unusual in a mountainous area.
Liechtenstein has a remarkable variety of vegetation. Water milfoil and mare’s-tail as well as reeds, bulrush, bird’s eye primrose, and orchids can be found. The forests comprise a mixed woodland with copper beeches, common and Norway maple, sycamore, linden, elm, and ash. Liechtenstein is also rich in wildlife, including red deer, roe deer, chamois, hares, marmots, blackcocks, pheasants, hazel grouse, partridges, foxes, badgers, martens, polecats, stoats, and weasels.
Liechtenstein is a constitutional monarchy. Its head of state is the prince, who succeeds to the throne by heredity through the male line as determined by the regulations of the princely house. The constitution of 1921 provides for a unicameral Landtag (Diet), which consists of 25 members elected to four-year terms. The traditional regions of Vaduz and Schellenberg are still recognized as unique regions—the Upper Country (Oberland) and the Lower Country (Unterland), respectively—and they form separate electoral districts. All citizens age 18 or older who live in the principality are eligible to vote in national elections.
The government consists of a prime minister and four other cabinet officials (with at least two officials from each of the two electoral districts), who are appointed by the prince on the recommendation of the Landtag. The 11 Gemeinden (communes) are governed autonomously—but under government supervision—by mayors and city councils, elected every three years. To the south, the more industrial Upper Country contains the communes of Vaduz, Balzers, Triesen, Triesenberg, Schaan, and Planken. The Lower Country, to the north, is divided into the communes of Eschen, Mauren, Gamprin, Ruggell, and Schellenberg. The government maintains a nominal police force, but the standing army was abolished and neutrality proclaimed in 1868 (defense of the principality is the responsibility of Switzerland).
Liechtenstein has no natural resources of commercial value, and virtually all raw materials, including wood, have to be imported. All of the principality’s forested areas are protected in order to maintain the ecology of the mountain slopes and to guard against erosion. There is no heavy industry, but small manufacturing concerns are spread throughout the principality. Production includes metalworking, pharmaceuticals, precision instruments, electronic equipment, food processing, and the manufacture of consumer goods. In 1921 Liechtenstein adopted the Swiss franc as its currency, and in 1923 it joined a customs union with Switzerland.
Few workers are employed in agriculture, but the average farming unit is fairly large, and the biggest concerns concentrate on livestock and dairying. Crops include corn, potatoes, and cereals. Vineyards are few and are split into small units. The Alpine slopes are used for grazing during the summer.
Tourism is a leading sector of Liechtenstein’s economy and is sponsored by the government. Most visitors come from the surrounding European countries and centre their activities on Vaduz. The registration of tens of thousands of foreign firms in Liechtenstein provides a source of tax income. The principality has also become a centre of banking because of its stable political situation and its laws providing absolute bank secrecy. In the late 20th century, however, Liechtenstein became a centre for money laundering, and its laws were subsequently altered to prohibit the opening of accounts anonymously.
There is a network of excellent roads connecting Liechtenstein with its neighbours. The railway, part of the Paris-Vienna express route, passes through the northern sections of the country. There is no airport.
Ethnic Liechtensteiners, who comprise about two-thirds of the population, are descended from the Alemanni tribe that came into the region after ad 500. Although the official language is German, most of the population still speaks an Alemanni dialect containing local variations in pronunciation and vocabulary. Walsers, descendants of immigrants from the Swiss canton of Valais, settled in Triesenberg at the end of the 13th century and continue to speak a particularly distinctive form of the language. About four-fifths of the population are Christians (with about three-fourths of that total being Roman Catholics).
Post-World War II industrialization resulted in a shift of people to the larger communes. The most populous communes are Vaduz, the administrative and commercial centre, and Schaan, the principal industrial community. Nevertheless, only about one-fifth of the population is classified as urban.
Matters of public health are the responsibility of a committee of public health, which is headed by a state medical officer. Liechtenstein’s small medical institutions are supplemented by the excellent neighbouring Swiss facilities, to which the principality contributes support. Social security is sustained by a variety of compulsory insurance schemes; the financing of these comprehensive plans is shared by employers, employees, and the government.
Education is supervised by the National Board of Education and is compulsory beginning at age 7. The school system consists of primary schools, secondary schools, a vocational school, grammar school, commercial high school, music school, and a technical college. There is no university in the principality.
The world-famous art collections of the princes of Liechtenstein, exhibited in the Engländerhaus in the centre of Vaduz, include outstanding works of many 17th-century Dutch and Flemish painters. There is also a State Art Collection (1969). The Liechtenstein Postal Museum (founded in 1930) exhibits a large stock of stamps, including national issues since 1912. The Liechtenstein National Museum in Vaduz houses primarily early and Roman artifacts. The Liechtenstein National Library was established in 1961 as a public foundation. A large personal art collection of the Liechtenstein family also is displayed at the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna (which reopened in 2004 after having been closed since 1938). The Liechtenstein Institute conducts research on topics relating to the country, especially in the sciences, economics, and history.
Land, People, Economy, and Government of Liechtenstein
The country is mainly mountainous, with the Rhine valley in its western third. The population is largely Roman Catholic, with a Protestant minority. German is the national language; Alemannic, a High German dialect, is also spoken. There is a large component of foreign workers.
Historically agricultural, Liechtenstein has been increasingly industrialized, with industry and services now employing most of the workforce. Only a small fraction of the population still engages in agriculture, producing wheat, barley, corn, potatoes, livestock, and dairy products. The leading manufactures include electronics, metals, dental products, ceramics, pharmaceuticals, and precision and optical instruments. A large part of the production is exported. Tourism is an increasingly important industry. About a third of state revenues are derived from the many international corporations that are headquartered in Liechtenstein because of the low business taxes. The stable political environment and the secrecy of its financial institutions contributed to Liechtenstein's development as a banking center and tax haven, but that secrecy has been diminished in the 21st cent. under pressure from foreign governments. Agricultural products, raw materials, fuels, machinery, metal goods, foodstuffs, textiles, and motor vehicles are imported. The main trading partners are the European Union countries and Switzerland.
Liechtenstein is a constitutional monarchy governed under the constitution of 1921 as amended. The hereditary monarch is the head of state and has significant executive power. The head of government is appointed by the monarch, and the cabinet is elected by the legislature. Members of the 25-seat unicameral Parliament or Landtag are elected by popular vote for four-year terms. Liechtenstein uses Swiss currency and is represented abroad through Switzerland. Administratively, Liechtenstein is divided into 11 communes.
Government and politics
Liechtenstein's constitution, adopted in October 1921, established in Liechtenstein a constitutional monarchy ruled by the reigning prince of the House of Liechtenstein. It also established a parliamentary system, although the reigning prince retained substantial political authority. A referendum in 2003 showed that nearly two-thirds of Liechtenstein's electorate backed a revised constitution.
The reigning prince of the House of Liechtenstein is the head of state and, as such, 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 the parliament, can call referendums, propose new legislation, and dissolve the parliament, although dissolution of parliament may be subjected to a referendum.
Executive authority is vested in a collegial government comprising the prime minister (head of government) and four government ministers. The prime minister and the other ministers are proposed by the parliament and appointed by the prince. The constitution stipulates that at least two members of the government be chosen from each of the two regions.
Legislative authority is vested in the unicameral "Landtag" (parliament) 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 10 members are elected from the "Unterland" (Lower Country or region). Parties must receive at least eight percent of the national vote to win seats in the parliament. The parliament proposes and approves a government, which is formally appointed by the prince. The parliament may also pass votes of no confidence against the entire government or against individual members. Additionally, the parliament elects from among its members a "Landesausschuss" (National Committee) made up of the president of the parliament and four additional members, to supervise parliament. Suffrage is universal to all aged 18 years and over.
From 1938 to 1997, Liechtenstein had a coalition government. Until a few years ago there were only two parties in Parliament, the Fatherland Union and the Progressive Citizens' Party. The Fatherland Union took sole responsibility for the government during the 1997 to 2001 parliament. Since 2001 it has been the Progressive Citizen's Party.
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. The State Court has five members elected by the parliament. Civil and penal codes are based on civil law system. Liechtenstein accepts compulsory International Court of Justice jurisdiction with reservations.
The principality of Liechtenstein is divided into 11 municipalities called gemeinden (singular gemeinde). The gemeinden mostly consist only of a single town. Five of them fall within the electoral district Unterland (the lower county), and the remainder within Oberland (the upper county). Defense is the responsibility of Switzerland.
History of Liechtenstein
History The Rhine plain has always been the focus of settlement. For centuries the valley was occupied by two independent lordships of the Holy Roman Empire, Vaduz and Schellenberg. The principality of Liechtenstein, consisting of these two lordships, was founded in 1719 and remained part of the Holy Roman Empire. It was included in the Confederation of the Rhine from 1806 to 1815 and in the German Confederation from 1815 to 1866. In 1866 Liechtenstein became independent. Throughout most of its history, Liechtenstein was a quiet, rural corner of the world that was largely unaffected by its European neighbours, maintaining its neutrality in both World Wars I and II. After World War II, however, the country underwent a remarkably rapid period of industrialization, led by Francis Joseph II, who served as prince from 1938 until his death in 1989. Francis Joseph II was succeeded by his son Hans Adam II, under whom Liechtenstein joined the United Nations (1990), the European Free Trade Association (1991), the European Economic Area (1995), and the World Trade Organization (1995). Relations between the Landtag and the prince were often tense. The prince offered several constitutional amendments that would strengthen his role, and he frequently threatened to relocate to Austria if his wishes were not granted. In a constitutional referendum in 2003, voters endorsed wider powers for the prince, including the right to veto legislation and the ability to implement emergency powers and to dismiss the government (even if it retained majority support in the Landtag); the referendum also gave citizens the right to call a vote of confidence in the prince, which could result in his removal. In 2004 Hans Adam’s son, Crown Prince Alois, assumed the day-to-day responsibilities of royal governance, though his father officially remained head of state. In 2006 the principality celebrated its 200th anniversary.
Liechtenstein Area: 160 sq km (62 sq mi) Population (2004 est.): 34,500 Capital: Vaduz Chief of state: Prince Hans Adam II Head of government: Otmar Hasler On Aug. 15, 2004, Prince Hans Adam II, age ...>>>Read On<<<
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