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Principality of Lichtenstein

Lichtenstein is a small country in Europe, situated on the foothills of the Alps in the Rhine valley. Its immediate neighbors are Switzerland (common border of 41.2 km) with whom Lichtenstein is narrowly linked economically and politically and Austria (common border of 36.7 km). Liechtenstein is a principality, not a duchy. With a population of 34,761 (July 2009 est.), Liechtenstein is the smallest German-speaking country in the world. Lichtenstein’s constitution from 1921 designates Lichtenstein as a hereditary monarchy based on democratic and parliamentary fundaments. The present Duke is Hans Adam II, reigning from 1989. The Lichtensteins had lived primarily in Moravia (the Czech Republic) and in Vienna Austria, which they left ahead of the Nazis in 1938, when the duchy became their permanent home.

Liechtenstein abolished its military in 1868 and stayed neutral in the First and Second World Wars. While Liechtenstein has no military forces, it is interested in European security policy and is an active member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Liechtenstein pursues an independent and active foreign policy. The country maintains close bilateral relations with many States and engages in multilateral cooperation at the regional and global levels, especially through its membership in international organizations.

The main responsibilities of Liechtenstein foreign policy are the defense of the independence and security of the country and the conduct of its relations under international law. The focus is on the cultivation of bilateral relations with other States and multilateral cooperation in international organizations. The guideposts of international cooperation are the representation of the country’s own interests, the protection of Liechtenstein citizens, and solidarity with the international community. Liechtenstein is therefore particularly engaged in human rights policy, the progressive development of international law, development cooperation, international humanitarian assistance including disaster assistance and assistance, and specific areas of international environmental policy.

The GDP in market values is (2005) 80800 € per resident which is among the highest in the world. The GDP is generated by industry and product manufacturing (39%), services, (25%), financial services (29%) and agriculture (7%). Overall, Lichtenstein’s economy employs total of 30,170 persons, of which 20,035 are foreigners who came to work in Lichtenstein, principally from Austria and Switzerland. Lichtenstein’s economy is export oriented for the European economic area (44%), Switzerland (12%), USA / Canada (18%) Asia (24%), and others (2%).

Lichtenstein’s foreign trade balance is strongly active. The often mentioned banking represents more than a quarter of its GDP and consists of banking houses, employing more than 1700 employees. The banks manage clients’ assets exceeding 155 billion Euros. Further, there are 163 investment companies with assets of approx. 21 billion Swiss Francs and 31 insurance companies.

The history of Liechtenstein as the Principality of Liechtenstein began in 1719, when Emperor Charles VI unified the Lordship of Schellenberg and the County of Vaduz and elevated them to an Imperial Principality by the name of Liechtenstein. In 1806, Liechtenstein became a member of the Confederation of the Rhine and obtained sovereignty, which it has maintained until today. In 2006, Liechtenstein celebrated 200 Years of Sovereignty of the Principality of Liechtenstein. The history of the House of Liechtenstein extends far back into the Middle Ages. The Family of Liechtenstein is one of the oldest Austrian noble families. In 1136, Hugo of Liechtenstein was the first bearer of the name to be mentioned in documents.

The country has a strong financial sector and has been identified as a tax haven. It is a member of the European Free Trade Agreement. Liechtenstein is not part of the European Union and has shown no interest in joining.

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