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The Principality of Liechtenstein, generally called simply Liechtenstein. It is a very small German-speaking principality which is a constitutional monarchy ruled by the Prince of Liechtenstein. With an area of merely 62 square miles, it shares borders with Switzerland to the west and the south, and Austria to the east as well as to the north. It is a "doubly-landlocked" country, meaning that it is landlocked, and every country which borders it is landlocked as well. It has the city of Vaduz as its capital and is divided into eleven municipalities, the largest one being Schaan. It is an alpine country and the official religion is Roman Catholicism. The median age for the population is 40.1 years, and the life expectancy of a male is 76.2 years while the life expectancy of a female is 83.4.

Located in the Rhine Valley in the Alps, it was the geographic link between Italy and the Alps where a Roman road crossed the Alps by the Spl├╝gen Pass.

The House of Liechtenstein, which is where the Principality of Liechtenstein gets its name, reigns by hereditary right and constitutional mandate. Only members of the dynasty may inherit the throne, and only members of the family are eligible to vote on changes of their membership, responsibilities and rights. Neither the parliament nor the government may alter those items in any way.

The family hails from Castle Liechtenstein, which was built in Lower Austria during the twelfth century. It was razed by the Ottomans in the 1529 Siege of Vienna and again in the 1683 Battle of Vienna. After the Battle of Vienna, the castle remained in ruins until it was rebuilt in 1884. The family again took possession of it in 1807, and has remained in possession of the castle.

During the fifth century, Liechtenstein suffered the plague, three wars, and a witch hunt which saw more than one hundred of its citizens executed.

In 1719, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI made Liechtenstein a member state of the Holy Roman Empire as well as establishing it as a principality. In 1806, upon the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, Liechtenstein became a sovereign state when it became part of the Confederation of the Rhine, which was established by Napoleon. In 1815, it joined the German Confederation, which was led by the Emperor of Austria. His membership in that confederation confirmed his sovereignty.

The nation's first factory, which made ceramics, opened in 1836. The first cotton weaving mill and the first savings and loan were both founded in 1861.

The Austro-Prussian War lasted for seven weeks in the summer of 1866. It began June 14 and ended July 26. The end of the war brought about the dissolution of the German Confederation. Liechtenstein declared its independence. Liechtenstein disbanded its 80-man army and declared neutrality in perpetuity.

In 1938, 84-year-old Prince Franz I abdicated the throne and naming his third cousin, 31-year-old Franz Joseph as his successor. Franz Joseph II was the first Prince to ever permanent residence in Liechtenstein.

During the war, Liechtenstein was one of two locales to which people in war zones brought their family treasures for safe keeping. After the war was over, both Poland and Czechoslovakia attempted to seize what they reckoned were German possessions. When they could not get those items, they expropriated all of the House of Liechtenstein's lands and possessions in Silesia, Moravia, and Bohemia. The lands added up to 600 square miles of forest and agricultural land as well as several family palaces and castles.

More than 500 Russian National Army soldiers who fought with the Wehrmacht asked for and were granted asylum as the war ended.

Throughout its history and until after World War II, Liechtenstein was an idyllic, rural nation which went unaffected by the goings-on in the rest of the world. But after World War II, there was a rapid change to industrialization due to Franz Joseph II.



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