Photos of Liechtenstein

Introduction

Background

The Principality of Liechtenstein was established within the Holy Roman Empire in 1719. Occupied by both French and Russian troops during the Napoleonic Wars, it became a sovereign state in 1806 and joined the German Confederation in 1815. Liechtenstein became fully independent in 1866 when the Confederation dissolved. Until the end of World War I, it was closely tied to Austria, but the economic devastation caused by that conflict forced Liechtenstein to enter into 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. In 2000, shortcomings in banking regulatory oversight resulted in concerns about the use of financial institutions for money laundering. However, Liechtenstein implemented anti-money laundering legislation and a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the US that went into effect in 2003.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Central Europe, between Austria and Switzerland

Geographic coordinates

47 16 N, 9 32 E

Area

total: 160 sq km

land: 160 sq km

water: 0 sq km

country comparison to the world: 218

Area - comparative

about 0.9 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

total: 75 km

border countries (2): Austria 34 km, Switzerland 41 km

Coastline

0 km (doubly landlocked)

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)

Climate

continental; cold, cloudy winters with frequent snow or rain; cool to moderately warm, cloudy, humid summers

Terrain

mostly mountainous (Alps) with Rhine Valley in western third

Elevation

lowest point: Ruggeller Riet 430 m

highest point: Vorder-Grauspitz 2,599 m

Natural resources

hydroelectric potential, arable land

Land use

agricultural land: 37.6% (2018 est.)

arable land: 18.8% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 18.8% (2018 est.)

forest: 43.1% (2018 est.)

other: 19.3% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

0 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

most of the population is found in the western half of the country along the Rhine River

Natural hazards

avalanches, landslides

Environment - current issues

some air pollution generated locally, some transfered from surrounding countries

Environment - international agreements

party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

Geography - note

along with Uzbekistan, one of only two doubly landlocked countries in the world; variety of microclimatic variations based on elevation

People and Society

Population

39,425 (July 2021 est.)

note: immigrants make up 67% of the total population, according to UN data (2019)

country comparison to the world: 212

Nationality

noun: Liechtensteiner(s)

adjective: Liechtenstein

Ethnic groups

Liechtensteiner 66%, Swiss 9.6%, Austrian 5.8%, German 4.3%, Italian 3.1%, other 11.2% (2017 est.)

note: data represent population by nationality

Languages

German 91.5% (official) (Alemannic is the main dialect), Italian 1.5%, Turkish 1.3%, Portuguese 1.1%, other 4.6% (2015 est.)

Religions

Roman Catholic (official) 73.4%, Protestant Reformed 6.3%, Muslim 5.9%,  Christian Orthodox 1.3%, Lutheran 1.2%, other Protestant .7%, other Christian .3%, other .8%, none 7%, unspecified 3.3% (2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 15.2% (male 3,259/female 2,688)

15-24 years: 11.29% (male 2,238/female 2,181)

25-54 years: 40.22% (male 7,869/female 7,872)

55-64 years: 14.41% (male 2,711/female 2,930)

65 years and over: 18.88% (male 3,403/female 3,986) (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 43.7 years

male: 42 years

female: 45.3 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 22

Birth rate

10.35 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 187

Death rate

7.89 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 93

Net migration rate

4.84 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 23

Population distribution

most of the population is found in the western half of the country along the Rhine River

Urbanization

urban population: 14.4% of total population (2020)

rate of urbanization: 0.81% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

Major urban areas - population

5,000 VADUZ (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.26 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.21 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.03 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.85 male(s)/female

total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 4.12 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 4.49 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 3.66 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 189

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 82.36 years

male: 80.11 years

female: 85.19 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 21

Drinking water source

improved: total: 100% of population

unimproved: total: 0% of population (2017 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved: total: 98% of population

unimproved: total: 0% of population (2017)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 15 years

male: 16 years

female: 14 years (2018)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Principality of Liechtenstein

conventional short form: Liechtenstein

local long form: Fuerstentum Liechtenstein

local short form: Liechtenstein

etymology: named after the Liechtenstein dynasty that purchased and united the counties of Schellenburg and Vaduz and that was allowed by the Holy Roman Emperor in 1719 to rename the new property after their family; the name in German means "light (bright) stone"

Government type

constitutional monarchy

Capital

name: Vaduz

geographic coordinates: 47 08 N, 9 31 E

time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

etymology: may be a conflation from the Latin "vallis" (valley) and the High German "diutisk" (meaning "German") to produce "Valdutsch" (German valley), which over time simplified and came to refer specifically to Vaduz, the town

Administrative divisions

11 communes (Gemeinden, singular - Gemeinde); Balzers, Eschen, Gamprin, Mauren, Planken, Ruggell, Schaan, Schellenberg, Triesen, Triesenberg, Vaduz

Independence

23 January 1719 (Principality of Liechtenstein established); 12 July 1806 (independence from the Holy Roman Empire); 24 August 1866 (independence from the German Confederation)

National holiday

National Day, 15 August (1940); note - a National Day was originally established in 1940 to combine celebrations for the Feast of the Assumption (15 August) with those honoring the birthday of former Prince FRANZ JOSEF II (1906-1989) whose birth fell on 16 August; after the prince's death, National Day became the official national holiday by law in 1990

Constitution

history: previous 1862; latest adopted 5 October 1921

amendments: proposed by Parliament, by the reigning prince (in the form of "Government" proposals), by petition of at least 1,500 qualified voters, or by at least four communes; passage requires unanimous approval of Parliament members in one sitting or three-quarters majority vote in two successive sittings; referendum required only if petitioned by at least 1,500 voters or by at least four communes; passage by referendum requires absolute majority of votes cast; amended many times, last in 2018(2019)

Legal system

civil law system influenced by Swiss, Austrian, and German law

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: the father must be a citizen of Liechtenstein; in the case of a child born out of wedlock, the mother must be a citizen

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Prince HANS-ADAM II (since 13 November 1989, assumed executive powers on 26 August 1984); Heir Apparent and Regent of Liechtenstein Prince ALOIS (son of the monarch, born 11 June 1968); note - 15 August 2004, HANS-ADAM II transferred the official duties of the ruling prince to ALOIS, but HANS-ADAM II retains status of chief of state

head of government: Prime Minister Adrian HASLER (since 27 March 2013)

cabinet: Cabinet elected by the Parliament, confirmed by the monarch

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party in the Parliament usually appointed the head of government by the monarch, and the leader of the largest minority party in the Landtag usually appointed the deputy head of government by the monarch if there is a coalition government

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Parliament or Landtag (25 seats; members directly elected in 2 multi-seat constituencies by open-list proportional representation vote to serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held on 7 February 2021 (next to be held in February 2025)

election results: percent of vote by party - FBP 35.9%, VU 35.9%, FL 12.9%, DpL 11.1%, independent 4.2%; seats by party - FBP 10, VU 10, FL 3, DpL 2; composition - men 18, women 7, percent of women 28%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court or Oberster Gerichtshof (consists of 5 judges); Constitutional Court or Verfassungsgericht (consists of 5 judges and 5 alternates)

judge selection and term of office: judges of both courts elected by the Landtag and appointed by the monarch; Supreme Court judges serve 4-year renewable terms; Constitutional Court judges appointed for renewable 5-year terms

subordinate courts: Court of Appeal or Obergericht (second instance), Court of Justice (first instance), Administrative Court, county courts

Political parties and leaders

Fatherland Union (Vaterlaendische Union) or VU [Guenther FRITZ]
Progressive Citizens' Party (Fortschrittliche Buergerpartei) or FBP [Thomas BANZER]
The Free List (Die Freie Liste) or FL [Pepo FRICK and Conny BUECHEL BRUEHWILER]
The Independents (Die Unabhaengigen) or DU [Harry QUADERER]

International organization participation

CD, CE, EBRD, EFTA, IAEA, ICCt, ICRM, IFRCS, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), OAS (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, Schengen Convention, UN, UNCTAD, UPU, WIPO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Kurt JAEGER (since 16 September 2016)

chancery: 2900 K Street NW, Suite 602B, Washington, DC 20007

telephone: [1] (202) 331-0590

FAX: [1] (202) 331-3221

Diplomatic representation from the US

embassy: the US does not have an embassy in Liechtenstein; the US Ambassador to Switzerland is accredited to Liechtenstein

Flag description

two equal horizontal bands of blue (top) and red with a gold crown on the hoist side of the blue band; the colors may derive from the blue and red livery design used in the principality's household in the 18th century; the prince's crown was introduced in 1937 to distinguish the flag from that of Haiti

National symbol(s)

princely hat (crown); national colors: blue, red

National anthem

name: "Oben am jungen Rhein" (High Above the Young Rhine)

lyrics/music: Jakob Joseph JAUCH/Josef FROMMELT

note: adopted 1850, revised 1963; uses the tune of "God Save the Queen"

Economy

Economic overview

Despite its small size and lack of natural resources, Liechtenstein has developed into a prosperous, highly industrialized, free-enterprise economy with a vital financial services sector and one of the highest per capita income levels in the world. The Liechtenstein economy is widely diversified with a large number of small and medium-sized businesses, particularly in the services sector. Low business taxes - a flat tax of 12.5% on income is applied - and easy incorporation rules have induced many holding 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 organization serving as a bridge between the European Free Trade Association and the EU) since May 1995. The government is working to harmonize its economic policies with those of an integrated EU. As of 2015, 54% of Liechtenstein’s workforce consisted of cross-border commuters, largely from Austria, Germany, and Switzerland.

Since 2008, Liechtenstein has faced renewed international pressure - particularly from Germany and the US - to improve transparency in its banking and tax systems. In December 2008, Liechtenstein signed a Tax Information Exchange Agreement with the US. Upon Liechtenstein's conclusion of 12 bilateral information-sharing agreements, the OECD in October 2009 removed the principality from its "grey list" of countries that had yet to implement the organization's Model Tax Convention. By the end of 2010, Liechtenstein had signed 25 Tax Information Exchange Agreements or Double Tax Agreements. In 2011, Liechtenstein joined the Schengen area, which allows passport-free travel across 26 European countries. In 2015, Liechtenstein and the EU agreed to clamp down on tax fraud and evasion and in 2018 will start automatically exchanging information on the bank accounts of each other’s residents.

Real GDP growth rate

1.8% (2012 est.)

-0.5% (2011 est.)

3.1% (2007 est.)

country comparison to the world: 147

Credit ratings

Standard & Poors rating: AAA (1996)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$4.978 billion (2014 est.)

$3.2 billion (2009 est.)

$3.216 billion (2008 est.)

country comparison to the world: 179

GDP (official exchange rate)

$6.672 billion (2014 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$139,100 (2009 est.)

$90,100 (2008 est.)

$91,300 (2007 est.)

country comparison to the world: 1

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 7% (2014)

industry: 41% (2014)

services: 52% (2014)

Agricultural products

wheat, barley, corn, potatoes; livestock, dairy products

Industries

electronics, metal manufacturing, dental products, ceramics, pharmaceuticals, food products, precision instruments, tourism, optical instruments

Labor force

38,520 (2012) (2015 est.)

note: 51% of the labor force in Liechtenstein commute daily from Austria, Switzerland, and Germany

country comparison to the world: 198

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 0.8%

industry: 36.9%

services: 62.3% (2015)

Budget

revenues: 995.3 million (2012 est.)

expenditures: 890.4 million (2011 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Exports

$3.217 billion (2015 est.)

$3.774 billion (2014 est.)

note: trade data exclude trade with Switzerland

country comparison to the world: 132

Exports - commodities

small specialty machinery, connectors for audio and video, parts for motor vehicles, dental products, hardware, prepared foodstuffs, electronic equipment, optical products

Imports

$2.23 billion (2014 est.)

note: trade data exclude trade with Switzerland

country comparison to the world: 168

Imports - commodities

agricultural products, raw materials, energy products, machinery, metal goods, textiles, foodstuffs, motor vehicles

Debt - external

$0 (2015 est.)

note: public external debt only; private external debt unavailable

country comparison to the world: 206

Exchange rates

Swiss francs (CHF) per US dollar -

0.9875 (2017 est.)

0.9852 (2016 est.)

0.9852 (2015 est.)

0.9627 (2014 est.)

0.9152 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2020)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 14,337

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 36.91 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 185

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 49,355

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 127.06 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 206

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: automatic telephone system; 44 Internet service providers in Liechtenstein and Switzerland combined; FttP (fiber to the home) penetration marketed 3rd highest in EU; fiber network reaches 3/4 of the population (2020)

domestic: fixed-line 37 per 100 and mobile-cellular services 127 per 100 (2019)

international: country code - 423; linked to Swiss networks by cable and microwave radio relay

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

Broadcast media

relies on foreign terrestrial and satellite broadcasters for most broadcast media services; first Liechtenstein-based TV station established August 2008; Radio Liechtenstein operates multiple radio stations; a Swiss-based broadcaster operates one radio station in Liechtenstein

Internet users

total: 37,815

percent of population: 98.1% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 202

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 16,712

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 43 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 158

Transportation

Pipelines

434.5 km gas (2018)

Railways

total: 9 km (2018)

standard gauge: 9 km 1.435-m gauge (electrified) (2018)

note: belongs to the Austrian Railway System connecting Austria and Switzerland

country comparison to the world: 136

Merchant marine

total: 28

by type: bulk carrier 21, general cargo 3, oil tanker 1, other 3 (includes Switzerland) (2020)

country comparison to the world: 137

Military and Security

Military and security forces

no regular military forces; National Police maintain close relations with neighboring forces (2019)

Transnational Issues

Illicit drugs

has strengthened money laundering controls, but money laundering remains a concern due to Liechtenstein's sophisticated offshore financial services sector