Liechtenstein Country Overview

According to, the Principality of Liechtenstein is a small German-speaking Alpine country doubly nestled by Switzerland and Austria. It is the last remnant of the Holy Roman Empire and an independent nation with very close ties to Switzerland. It enjoys a very high standard of living and is home to some incredibly beautiful mountain scenery. The capital of the principality, Vaduz, is primarily a modern city and an important center of international commerce and banking.

Geographic location

State of 160 km 2, located in central Europe. It is bordered to the north and east by Austria, to the west and south by Switzerland.


The territory was dominated by the Romans and belonged to the Carolingian Empire. In the 10th century, the Duchies of Schellenberg and Vaduz were integrated into the Holy Roman Empire. In 1434, the union of both duchies, already converted into manors, established the current borders of the country. In 1699, the House of Liechtenstein acquired the country. Carlos VI elevated it to the category of principality in 1719 in order to maintain a representation with its own vote in the Diet of the Holy Roman Empire.

In 1806 it became part of the Confederation of the Rhine. Nine years later it would enter the Germanic Confederation. In 1851 the link with Austria began, both through the Customs Union and the Monetary Union.

Full independence, achieved in 1866, did not prevent the principality from remaining closely united with the Austro-Hungarian Empire, whose ties were not severed until 1921, after the First World War ended.

Liechtenstein drew up its own Constitution and economically integrated into Switzerland through the Monetary Union, also giving its neighboring country representation in international relations. In 1923 they signed the Customs Union. During World War II, Liechtenstein, which had seen Francis Joseph II ascend to the throne in 1938, remained neutral.

The biggest political change in the country took place in 1970, when the Patriotic Union came to power after 42 years of government by the Progressive Party. In these elections, women did not vote, whose right to vote continued to be rejected in two successive referendums, in 1971 and 1973. Three years later, King Francisco José II issued a decree that allowed each commune to decide the right to vote for women.

The commune of Vaduz allowed women to vote. Gamprin’s followed the same path in 1980, while Schaan’s rejected it in 1982. In 1984, women acceded by referendum to the right to vote in matters of national scope, although with regard to issues of local interest, three of the 11 communes of Liechtenstein continued to deny them.

The first time women were able to vote across the country was in 1986, on the occasion of a referendum on a new hunting law. A year earlier, a large majority had rejected in a referendum the proposal for a new section of the Constitution based on the principle of equality between men and women.

In 1978, the country was admitted to the Council of Europe. In 1984, Francisco José II handed over power to his son Hans Adam. In November of 1989 the political life of the country was convulsed to be ousted Christian Norgen from their positions as financial advisor to the royal family and president of the Bank of Liechtenstein, after being accused of embezzlement. 1990, he joined the UN (EFTA, 1991).



Two-thirds of the territory of Liechtenstein lies on the north-western slopes of the Rátikon chain, which is part of the central Alps.

Its mountains reach altitudes ranging from 1,800 to 2,623 m. The lower slopes are covered by forests of evergreen trees and alpine flora, while on the highest peaks there are perpetual snows and therefore lack vegetation.

The mountains shelter three main valleys, watered by the Samina River. The remaining third of the territory is made up of the alluvial plain of the Rhine. To the north are the valleys of the lli river, in a land that was barren until the construction of a cane in 1930, made it suitable for agriculture.


The climate is moderate thanks to the effect of the foehn, a warm wind that comes from the south. The annual average of precipitations vary, according to the altitude, from 914 to 1,143 mm.

In winter, temperatures drop to -15 ° C, while in summer highs of between 20 and 28 ° C are recorded. These atmospheric conditions favor the cultivation of grapes and corn, both unusual in mountainous areas.


The varied vegetation of Liechtenstein is remarkable. There are water lilies, reeds, cattails and orchids ; forests abound with red beech, maples, sycamores, linden, elm and ash trees.


Deer, alpine goats, hares, marmots, black geese, pheasants, foxes and martens, among other animal species, live in these places.


  • Vaduz
  • Balzers
  • Malbun
  • Schaan
  • Triesen
  • Triesenberg
  • Ruggell
  • Bendern
  • Nendeln
  • Schellenberg


The people of Liechtenstein are descended from Germanic tribes, who arrived in the region around the year 500. Although German is the official language, the population speaks a dialect that contains local variations, both in lexicon and in pronunciation. The Walser, descendants of immigrants from the Swiss canton of Valais, settled in Triesenberg at the end of the 13th century.

Economic development

Most of the residents make up the country’s active population, which is mainly dedicated to industry and the trade and services sector. The importance of agriculture decreased after the Second World War. Cattle and cattle and agricultural farms still have some importance. The main crops are corn and potatoes.

The main activities are focused on the production of metal, machinery and precision instruments. The chemical sector and the production of furniture and ceramics are also relevant.

The banking sector has an enormous importance in the economy of the country. During the eighties, the Prince of Liechtenstein Foundation (financial entity that owns the majority of the shares of the Bank of Liechtenstein) initiated an international expansion policy based on the creation of offices in foreign countries and the development of companies dedicated to management and investment advice.

Other important sectors for the economy are construction and hospitality. Since the domestic market is very limited, the industry is clearly export oriented.

In 1988, export earnings brought the country 1,876 million Swiss francs. Among the products destined for export, metals, machinery, chemical products and precision articles stand out, with special relevance in the case of those destined for dentistry.

In 1988, Liechtenstein had a budget surplus of 64 million Swiss francs, while inflation remains at a low level. Almost a third of the population is made up of resident foreigners who work in the principality’s industry.

Liechtenstein’s economic relations with neighboring Switzerland are very close, as in addition to using the Swiss franc as currency, the principality belongs to the Swiss customs union.

Social development


The standard of living of the people of Liechtenstein is high. Since 1910, accident insurance has been compulsory for workers. In 1954, social security already included a retirement benefit, while family and unemployment benefits were incorporated in 1957 and 1970 respectively. Since 1971 sickness insurance has been compulsory.

This social security system is controlled by a public health committee. The modest medical facilities in Liech-tsenstein are complemented by the excellent services in Switzerland, which the principality assists in maintaining.


Education is compulsory from the age of seven. Primary instruction lasts five years, after which the student must choose between secondary school (realschule), a cycle that lasts four years, and the Liechtensteinisches gymnasium Institute, for a period of eight years.

Since there is no university in the country, many students attend those in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. There are technical and musical schools, a school for mentally handicapped children and three special education schools for retarded children.


It is the residence center of the prince, whose castle dominates the city. This is already mentioned in documents dated 1322, but it was destroyed in the Swabian wars, rebuilt in later centuries and restored in 1905 in a style faithful to that of the 16th century.

It has been owned by the royal house since 1712, but it did not become the official residence of the monarch until Francisco José II decided to settle there in 1938. The internationally renowned collection of princes’ art can be seen at the Fürst Liechtensteinische Gemáldegalerie. There is also an important collection of contemporary painting in the State Art Collection, as well as a postal museum in which a valuable philatelic collection is exhibited.


The existence of capital punishment dates, at least, from the Iron Age (this seems to be demonstrated by the discovery of the man from Tollunden Denmark and its abolition in most countries of the world partially redeems the history of mankind. The first country in the world where the death penalty was de facto abolished was Liechtenstein, which took this initiative in 1798.

Liechtenstein Country Overview