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The Principality of Liechtenstein is a small landlocked country in central Europe, enclosed by Switzerland in the west and Austria in the east. Being mountainous, it is a winter sports resort. It is also known as a tax-haven[?].
|National motto: None|
|Head of Government||Otmar Hasler[?]|
- % water
|Ranked 189th |
- Total (2000)
|Time zone||UTC +1|
|National anthem||Oben am jungen Rhein|
In 1699, Prince Johann Adam of Liechtenstein[?] bought the domain of Schellenberg[?] and in 1712, the county of Vaduz. By acquiring these two counties he was striving for a seat in the government of the Holy Roman Empire. On January 23, 1719, emperor Charles VI decreed that the counties of Vaduz and Schellenberg be promoted to a principality with the name Liechtenstein for his true servant Anton Florian of Liechtenstein[?].
Liechtenstein became a sovereign state in 1806. Until the end of World War I, it was closely tied to Austria, but the economic devastation caused by that conflict forced the country to conclude a customs and monetary union with Switzerland. Since World War II - in which Liechtenstein remained neutral - the country's low taxes have spurred outstanding economic growth.
The parliament of Liechtenstein, the Landtag, consists of 25 representatives chosen by the people. A government of 5 is responsible for taking care of daily political matters.
Liechtenstein is divided into eleven communities (Gemeinden - singular Gemeinde), most consisting of only a single town. These are:
Geography Main article: Geography of Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein is situated in the Rhine valley in the Alps. The entire western border of Liechtenstein is formed by this river. The eastern part of the country is located at higher altitude, the highest point being the Grauspitze[?], at 2,599 m.
In spite of the alpine location, the climate of Liechtenstein is rather mild, due to southern winds. In the winter, the mountain slopes are well suited for winter sports.
Despite its small size and limited natural resources, Liechtenstein has developed into a prosperous, highly industrialised, free-enterprise economy with a vital financial service sector and living standards on a par with the urban areas of its large European neighbours. Low business taxes - the maximum tax rate is 18% - and easy incorporation rules have induced about 73,700 holding or so-called letter box companies to establish nominal offices in Liechtenstein, providing 30% of state revenues.
The country participates in a customs union with Switzerland and uses the Swiss franc as its national currency. It imports more than 90% of its energy requirements. Liechtenstein has been a member of the European Economic Area (an organisation serving as a bridge between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the European Union) since May 1995. The government is working to harmonise its economic policies with those of an integrated Europe.
Main article: Demographics of Liechtenstein