Liechtenstein country profile
- 5 March 2016
- From the section Europe
The Principality of Liechtenstein is a tiny, doubly-landlocked country tucked away between Switzerland and Austria and with mountain slopes rising above the Rhine valley.
It owes much of its wealth to its traditional status as a tax haven, though it has in recent years taken steps to shake off its image as a tax haven and to reposition itself as a legitimate financial centre.
The country has come through a lengthy political wrangle over the role and power of the hereditary monarchy.
After an often bitter campaign, the people voted in March 2003 in a constitutional referendum to give Prince Hans-Adam sweeping new political powers. The following year he handed over practical power to his son, Crown Prince Alois.
- Read full overview
Head of state: Prince Hans-Adam II
Regent and crown prince: Alois
Prince Hans-Adam, a successful banker, became head of state following the death of his father, Prince Franz Josef, in 1989. In August 2004 he handed over the day-to-day running of the principality to his son, Crown Prince Alois, while remaining titular head of state.
In 2003 the royals won sweeping new powers in a constitutional referendum, which gave them the power to veto parliamentary decisions and to sack the government.
Prime minister: Adrian Hasler
Adrian Hasler of the centre-right Progressive Citizens Party (PCP) took office in March 2013, after his party came first in the February general election, winning 10 seats in the 25-seat parliament.
He has vowed to reduce the country's budget deficit by cutting back on public spending.
- Read full profiles
Liechtenstein has a very sparse media scene, with the circulation figures of its newspapers at around 10,000 or less.
Its citizens rely on foreign and satellite broadcasters for most TV and radio services.
- Liechtensteiner Vaterland
- Liechtensteiner Volksblatt
Some key dates in the history of Liechtenstein:
1719 - Liechtenstein acquires its present name and becomes an independent principality of the Holy Roman Empire.
1815 - Liechtenstein becomes a member of the German Confederation until 1866.
1866 - Liechtenstein becomes fully independent.
1919 - The Hapsburg monarchy of Austria is abolished. Switzerland replaces Austria as the representative of Liechtenstein's interests abroad.
1921 - Liechtenstein adopts Swiss currency.
1923 - Liechtenstein enters customs union with Switzerland.
1938 - Prince Franz Josef II ascends to the throne.
1939 - Outbreak of World War II. Liechtenstein remains neutral.
1984 - Prince Franz Josef II hands over executive power to his son, Crown Prince Hans-Adam II. 1989 - Prince Franz Josef II dies. He is succeeded by Hans-Adam II.
1990 - Liechtenstein joins the United Nations.
2003 - People vote in referendum to give sweeping new political powers to Crown Prince Hans-Adam.
2004 - Prince Hans-Adam hands over day-to-day running of Liechtenstein to his son Prince Alois while remaining head of state.
2009 - Signs agreements on the sharing of financial information with a number of countries including the US, UK and Germany. OECD removes Liechtenstein from a blacklist of countries uncooperative on tax matters.
- Read full timeline