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State

Capital

Liechtenstein

Vaduz

Currency unit

Swiss franc

Connections

EFTA

Habsburgs

Switzerland

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

History

One of the ministates of Europe (pop. 30,000). Is it sovereign? For monetary and foreign policies it is linked with Switzerland.

It is the last remaining ministate (Kleinstaat) of the Holy Roman Empire of a type which until the Napoleonic wars was very common. As that empire weakened, many of its components became functionally independent even if they were smaller than a county. This one is an example of the smallest size, the princely estate. Before 1939 the princely family tended to live in Bohemia in Czechoslovakia and only visited the "country" first in 1842. It has survived by becoming attached to Switzerland, though without full membership of the Confederation.

In recent years it has joined the UN, the Council of Europe, and the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe. In April 1995 the Prince achieved membership of the EEA despite the elected government's reluctance to move without Switzerland.

Languages

German

 History

 Economics

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Politics

There is an elected council, but the Prince has considerable power, including the right to dissolve parliament. He was reported (Mar 2003) as wanting more power, amounting to absolute monarchy. He threatened to leave the state to live in Wien (Vienna) if the voters didn't give him extra powers. A majority voted to give him a veto on all laws, the appointment of judges and the power to dismiss the government.

The people feared that he would move his businesses - the biggest employer - with him. This has some similarity with another micro-state, Sark in the Channel Islands where one landowner dominates the economy.

The state seems to have moved back in time to being the private estate of the Prince. Will the Council of Europe's Court of Human Rights accept this?

In July 2004 the ruling prince Hans Adam handed over power to his son Prince Alois.

A rare article about Liechtenstein politics.

 History

 Politics

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Economics

Liechtenstein is a base for tax avoidance, which apart from a denture factory is the main business. Many large companies like to be owned by a postbox company in Liechtenstein in order to keep their affairs secret. Banking secrecy is similar to that of Switzerland with which it is linked economically.

In the current financial situation (2009) secrecy for tax dodging is going to come under pressure from the United States and the EU.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

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Green/Ecology

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Human Rights

Last revised 2/07/12


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