Principality of Liechtenstein
CAPITAL : Vaduz
FLAG : The national flag is divided into two horizontal rectangles, blue above red. On the blue rectangle, near the hoist, is the princely crown in gold.
ANTHEM : Oben am jungen Rhein (On the Banks of the Young Rhine).
MONETARY UNIT : The Swiss franc (SwFr) of 100 centimes, or rappen, has been in use since February 1921. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 centimes and 1, 2, and 5 francs, and notes of 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000 francs. SwFr1 = $0.7633 (or $1 = SwFr1.31) as of May 2003.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES : The metric system is the legal standard.
HOLIDAYS : New Year's Day, 1 January; Epiphany, 6 January; Candlemas, 2 February; St. Joseph's Day, 19 March; Labor Day, 1 May; Assumption, 15 August; Nativity of Our Lady, 8 September; All Saints' Day, 1 November; Immaculate Conception, 8 December; Christmas, 25 December; St. Stephen's Day, 26 December. Movable religious holidays include Good Friday, Easter Monday, Ascension, Whitmonday, and Corpus Christi.
TIME : 1 PM = noon GMT.
Liechtenstein is divided into a comparatively narrow area of level land bordering the right bank of the Rhine River and an upland and mountainous region occupying the remainder of the country; the level land occupies about two-fifths of the total surface area. The greatest elevation, Grauspitz (2,599 m/8,527 ft), is in the south, in a spur of the Rhaetian Alps.
The indigenous population, accounting for 87.5% of the 1998 total, is described as being chiefly of Alemannic stock, descendants of the German-speaking tribes that settled between the Main and Danube rivers. Italian, Turkish, and various other groups account for the remaining 12.5%.
German is the official language. The population speaks an Alemannic dialect.
The 11 communes (Gemeinden) are fully independent administrative bodies within the laws of the principality. They levy their own taxes. Liechtenstein is divided into two districts— the Upper Land (Vaduz) and the Lower Land (Schellenberg)—for purposes of national elections.
Since 1868, no military forces have been maintained in Liechtenstein, but there is obligatory military service for able-bodied men up to 60 years of age in case of emergency.
Liechtenstein belongs to the Council of Europe, EBRD, ECE, EFTA, IAEA, ICRM, ITU, OSE, UNCTAD, UPU, WIPO, and the WTO. It became a member of the UN in 1990 and is a signatory of the Law of the Sea treaty. The principality joined the European Economic Area in 1995. Liechtenstein now has diplomatic relations with nearly 50 countries.
Liechtenstein has only 912 ha (2,254 acres) of arable land. Until the end of World War II (1939–45), the economy was primarily focused on agriculture. In the Rhine Valley, the most productive area, the chief vegetables are corn, potatoes, and garden produce. On gradual mountain slopes, a variety of grapes and orchard fruits are grown.
Alpine pasture, particularly well suited for cattle grazing, covers over 35% of the total land area.
In 2001, cattle numbered about 6,000; hogs, 3,000; and sheep, 3,000.
There is no commercial fishing in Liechtenstein. Rivers and brooks are stocked for sport fishing.
The forests of Liechtenstein not only supply wood but also have an important function in preventing erosion, landslides, and floods. Forests cover about 7,000 ha (17,200 acres).
More than 90% of all forestland is publicly owned; of the 474 ha (1,171 acres) of private forest, 158 ha (390 acres) are the property of the prince. The most common trees are spruce, fir, beech, and pine.
There was no mining of commercial importance.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 1996 the purchasing power parity of Liechtenstein's exports was $2.47 billion while imports totaled $917.3 million resulting in a trade surplus of $1.5527 billion.
Insurance activities in Liechtenstein are variously conducted by the government (old age and survivors' insurance), by private companies under government regulation (e.g., life, accident, health, and fire), and by farmers' associations. In 1996, a new insurance law came into force, focusing on attracting insurance business from abroad, as Liechtenstein is now a member of the European Economic Area.
There have been no customs between Switzerland and Liechtenstein since a customs treaty was ratified in 1924. On the Austrian border, Switzerland collects the customs at its own rates. Liechtenstein's part of the duties is calculated on the basis of population and the principality pays an annual indemnification to Switzerland for customs and administration.
The Prince of Liechtenstein Foundation has established a number of ventures abroad, mainly in the field of investment management and counseling.
Several thousand foreign companies have established offices in Liechtenstein because taxes are very low, banking operates in strict secrecy, and the principality is politically stable. Some industrial establishments are owned and managed by Swiss interests.
Houses in the countryside are similar to those found in the mountainous areas of Austria and Switzerland. Liechtenstein does not have a significant housing problem. About 82% of all dwellings have central heating, 89% have a kitchen, 91% have a private bath, 95% have hot water, and 88% have a common sewage system.
Liechtenstein has no territories or colonies.
Duursma, Jorri. Self-Determination, Statehood, and International Relations of Micro-States: The Cases of Liechtenstein, San Marino, Monaco, Andorra, and the Vatican City. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Meier, Regula A. Liechtenstein. Santa Barbara, CA: Clio Press, 1993.
Statistisches Jahrbuch Fürstentum Liechtenstein. Vaduz: Amt für Volkswirkschaft (annual).