Liechtenstein, or Principality of Liechtenstein, a country in central Europe. It lies between Switzerland and Austria where the Rhine River emerges from the Alps. Liechtenstein is about 15 miles (24 km) long and up to 6 miles (10 km) wide. It has an area of nearly 61 square miles (160 km 2 ). There are two sections: the Rhine Valley and an Alpine part, with mountain peaks rising to about 8,400 feet (2,560 m) above sea level. Summers are warm to cool, depending on elevation; winters are rather cold and snowy.
The economy of Liechtenstein is linked with that of Switzerland and is based mainly on light manufacturing, trade, tourism, the issuing of finely engraved postage stamps (largely for collectors), and farming. Farmers produce grain, fruits, vegetables, and dairy and beef cattle. Also important are revenues from foreign firms that have nominal headquarters here to take advantage of banking and tax laws advantageous to business. Roads link all the cities and towns and form the chief arteries of transportation.
A prince and a parliament, called the Landtag, of 25 elected members rule the country. Their Prime minister heads a five-member collegial board that operates the government.
German is the official language; the local dialect is Alemannic. Elementary education is free and compulsory. There is no university in Liechtenstein.
Liechtenstein became an independent principality within the Holy Roman Empire in 1719. It became a member of the Confederation of the Rhine in 1806 during the Napoleonic era and later a part of the German confederation, which was dissolved in 1866. Close ties with Austria were maintained from 1852 until 1918; a much closer affiliation with Switzerland began with a customs union treaty in 1923. Liechtenstein remained neutral during both World Wars. During the 1990's, conflict between the monarchy and the legislature arose over several issues, one of which (Prince Hans-Adam's refusal to reappoint a judge as directed by the legislature) resulted in the filing of a formal complaint against the reigning prince with the European Commission of Human Rights.
|Facts in brief about Liechtenstein|
|Official language: German.|
|Area: 62 mi2 (160 km2). Greatest length—17.4 mi (28 km). Greatest width—7 mi. (11 km).|
|Elevation: Highest—8,527 ft (2,599 m). Lowest—1,411 ft (430 m).|
|Population: Current estimate—36,000; density, 581 persons per mi2 (225 per km2); distribution, 79 percent rural, 21 percent urban. 2004 official government estimate—34,600.|
|Chief products: Agriculture—beef and dairy cattle, fruits and vegetables, wheat. Manufacturing—ceramics, electronic equipment, fabricated metal products, food products, pharmaceutical products.|
|Flag: Liechtenstein's flag has two horizontal stripes, the upper one blue (for the sky), and the lower one red (for the glow of evening fires). A crown representing the prince appears in the upper-left corner.|
|Money: Basic unit—Swiss franc. One hundred centimes equal one franc.|