Monday, January 23, 2006

Country Focus: Liechtenstein

Background: The Principality of Liechtenstein was established within the Holy Roman Empire in 1719; it 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 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.

Location: Central Europe, between Austria and Switzerland

Population: 33,717 (July 2005 est.)

Total Area: 160 sq km - about 0.9 times the size of Washington, DC

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

Natural resources: hydroelectric potential, arable land

Environment - current issues: NA

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.

National holiday: Assumption Day, 15 August

Economy - brief overview: Despite its small size and limited natural resources, Liechtenstein has developed into a prosperous, highly industrialized, free-enterprise economy with a vital financial service sector and living standards on a par with its large European neighbors. The Liechtenstein economy is widely diversified with a large number of small businesses. Low business taxes - the maximum tax rate is 20% - and easy incorporation rules have induced many holding or so-called letter box companies to establish nominal offices in Liechtenstein, providing 30% of state revenues.

Budget: revenues: $424.2 million: expenditures: expenditures: $414.1 million, including capital expenditures of NA

Labor force: 29,000 of whom 19,000 are foreigners; 13,000 commute from Austria, Switzerland, and Germany to work each day (31 December 2001)

Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 1.3%, industry 47.4%, services 51.3% (31 December 2001 est.)

Agriculture - products: wheat, barley, corn, potatoes; livestock, dairy products

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

Oil - production: NA

Oil - imports: NA

Oil - exports: NA

Exports: $2.47 billion

Exports - partners: EU 62.6% (Germany 24.3%, Austria 9.5%, France 8.9%, Italy 6.6%, UK 4.6%), US 18.9%, Switzerland 15.7% (2004)

Imports: $917.3 million

Imports - partners: EU, Switzerland

Government departments
F├╝rstenhaus Liechtenstein (Princely House of Liechtenstein)
Landtag (Parliament)

Media
Liechtenstein News

Travel Information
Liechtenstein Tourismus

Other useful links
Liechtenstein: Business & more
GUIDE TO LAW ONLINE: Liechtenstein
The EU's relations with Liechtenstein - Overview

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