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With an area of 160 km², the Principality of
Liechtenstein is the fourth smallest country in Europe ,
but it is one of the richest countries in the world. The
country lies in the border area between Austria in the
east and north (Vorarlberg) and Switzerland in the west
and south (cantons of St. Gallen and Graub®Ļnden).
The landscape is characterized by foothills of the
Northern Limestone Alps (Rätikon with the upper
Saminatal and the secondary valleys Malbun and Valorsch)
and the eastern valley floor of the Alpine Rhine. A
total of around two thirds of the country's area is
taken up by mountains, the highest mountain is the
Vorder-Grauspitz with 2599 m. The valley floor of the
Alpine Rhine, which represents the country's western
border, lies at an altitude of approximately 450 m above
sea level. Here are individual mountains such as the
Schellenberg (also Eschener Berg, around 700 m).
The climate in Liechtenstein is cool and temperate.
In the state capital Vaduz, the mean January
temperatures are around -1 °„ C, in summer 17.5 °„ C are
reached on average. The temperatures in the valley level
of the Alpine Rhine are somewhat higher. A typical
climatic phenomenon in Liechtenstein is the warm blow
dryer winds, which can sometimes reach storm levels.
While the average precipitation values in the valley
are around 850 mm per year, up to 2,400 mm are reached
in the ridges of the mountains.
Flora and fauna
The formerly forested valley plain (originally
floodplain forest) was cleared in favor of agricultural
land. Around 35% of the country is still forested. In
the high valleys and on the mountain slopes, mixed
deciduous forest prevails up to a height of approx.
1,300 m, followed by coniferous forest. The tree line is
around 1,800 m. Mountain pines, dwarf shrubs and alpine
mats are found above.
The animal world of Liechtenstein corresponds to that
of Central Europe. Marmots, chamois, alpine bats,
capercaillie and golden eagles are found in the high
mountain regions. Deer, foxes, hares, polecats, pine
martens and badgers and various bird species live in the
mountain forests and in the valley.
Liechtenstein has around 35,000 residents. About half
of the residents live in rural areas in smaller
settlements, especially the valley level and the
Saminatal are more densely populated. The cities of
Schaan and Vaduz (capital), which are only 3 km apart,
are the largest cities in the country with 5,600 and
5,000 residents respectively.
In addition to the 61.6% Liechtensteiners, about
15.5% Swiss, a good 7% Austrian and 3.5% German live in
the country whose official language is German. The
Liechtensteiners speak an Alemannic dialect. Since the
late 1960s, the population has increased by around 50%
due to immigration from neighboring countries. The
majority of the country's citizens belong to the
Christian faith, predominantly the Roman Catholic Church
Living standards and educational levels are very high
in Liechtenstein as one of the richest countries in the
world. The life expectancy of women is 83 years, for men
it is 76 years. According to COUNTRYAAH,
the population growth of 0.8% is mainly
due to the immigration of foreigners.
The Principality of Liechtenstein is a constitutional
hereditary monarchy on a parliamentary-democratic basis.
The basis is the constitution of 1921 with later
changes. The head of state is the Prince (since August
2004, Hereditary Prince Alois Philipp Maria as Deputy of
Prince Hans-Adam II, who remains Prince), who appoints
the government on the recommendation of the 25 members
of the Landtag. Head of government has been Adrian
Hasler since March 2013. The prince can dissolve the
state parliament and signs off all laws before they can
come into force. The members of the Landtag are elected
every four years.
The two main parties are the Progressive Citizens'
Party (FBP) and the Patriotic Union (VU).
The legal system is based on Swiss law. In terms of
foreign policy, the country is mostly represented by
Liechtenstein is divided into eleven municipalities.
Liechtenstein's economy has been closely linked to
Switzerland since the currency and customs union of
1923/24. The Swiss money, credit and currency laws have
been in force since 1981 (currency contract) (the common
currency is the Swiss franc). In contrast to
Switzerland, Liechtenstein has also been a member of the
European Economic Area (EEA) since 1995.
Liechtenstein is one of the most important
international banking and financial centers. The high
proportion of the service sector with more than half of
the gross domestic product (GDP) results largely from
financial services. Economic growth in 2012 was 1.4%.
Today, agriculture accounts for just under 1% of all
employed people. The share of GDP is correspondingly low
(7%). The areas under cultivation for potatoes, wheat,
corn and fruit are mainly in the fertile valley plain
and in the low mountain ranges. In the higher areas,
cattle breeding and dairy farming are carried out.
Liechtenstein's transformation from an agricultural
to an industrial country began at the end of the Second
World War. The domestic industry benefited from the
capital of foreign investors who were attracted by tax
breaks. Around 40% of all workers are employed in the
industrial sector, which also generates 40% of GDP. The
most important areas are mechanical engineering and the
electrical industry, whose products are also among the
main export goods. The chemical industry is also
important. Since the small country has virtually no raw
material deposits, raw materials and around two thirds
of the energy required must be imported.
The most important trading partners are the EU
countries (especially Germany and Austria) and the USA.