Liechtenstein - Economy

Despite its small size and limited national resources, Liechtenstein is one of the richest countries in the world on a per capita GDP basis. It has developed since the 1940s from a mainly agricultural to an industrialized country and a prosperous center of trade and tourism. Factories produce a wide range of high-technology manufactures, especially precision instruments. Liechtenstein is also a world leader in specialized dental products. Industrial products are manufactured almost exclusively for export.

Special economic advantages enjoyed by very small nations of Europe (e.g., the issuance of new postage stamps, free exchange of currencies, and liberal laws that provide incentives for the establishment of bank deposits and of nominal foreign business headquarters) also play a part in this prosperity.

In 1999 Liechtenstein became the subject of an international investigation into money laundering. Although Liechtenstein subsequently drafted legislation to combat money laundering, the Finance Action Task Force placed the principality on the international "black list" for failing to cooperate with international authorities on the matter.

About 35% of the people employed in Liechtenstein commute from Switzerland and Austria. Liechtenstein remains a well-known tax haven, and a location for holding companies to establish nominal offices; these provide for 30% of state revenues. The country has no central bank and does not print its own currency, but uses the Swiss franc instead. Liechtenstein is engaged in harmonizing its economic policies with those of the EU.

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