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History of Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein's history is relatively short considering for much of time it was just a mountain valley occupied by various foreign powers. The modern-day region was united in 1712 by the Liechtenstein family, who rules it to this day, but they didn't gain independence immediately. It was named a principality under the Holy Roman Empire beginning in 1719. From this point on, Liechtenstein maintained close relations to the Hapsburgs and the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.

After Napoleon's conquest, Liechtenstein joined the Confederation of the Rhine in 1806 and a couple years later it joined the German Confederation. Liechtenstein gained full independence from this confederation in 1866.

After World War I, when Austria was devastated, Liechtenstein moved more west, adopting Switzerland's currency and creating a single customs zone. World War II also brought havoc as the Prince's wife was Jewish and many of the country's people had a strong Nazi sympathy, encouraging the Prince to abdicate and pass power to another relative. However, this was the greatest damage done to the country as they remained neutral during the war.

Today Liechtenstein focuses less on international politics and more on international economics as it has become a tax haven for foreigners and locals alike. Unlike many European powers, Liechtenstein remains a true principality and the government is run by the Prince, who can do as he pleases, but still listens to the people in the form of referendums and an elected governmental body.

This page was last updated: March, 2013