Liechtenstein, of its complete name the Principality of Liechtenstein (in German Fürstentum Liechtenstein), is an alpine country, lined by Switzerland on the West and by Austria in the East and in the North. Its surface is 160 km2, with a population estimated at 36 000 inhabitants. Its capital is Vaduz, and its most big city Schaan. Liechtenstein possesses the highest GDP (GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT) per capita in 2008 and one of the lowest unemployment rates to the world. Liechtenstein is the smallest and richest in German-speaking countries. Politically, it is organized in the form of a principality and of a constitutional monarchy, and the head of state is a prince.
The current territory of Liechtenstein constituted formerly a small part of the Roman province of Rhétie. During centuries, this land remained geographically distant from European strategic interests. Before the succession of the current dynasty, the region was enfeoffed in a branch of the family of the Hapsburg. The dynasty of Liechtenstein take its name of the castle of Liechtenstein, a building situated farther in Austria and having belonged to the family of the year 1140 in the XIIIth century, before returning to them definitively in 1807. The family, avid to increase its power by the obtaining of a seat in the Diet, made every effort to acquire immediate said lands, that is without other suzerain than the emperor himself. The Liechtenstein, after long negotiations, were authorized to buy two tiny counties of Schellenberg and Vaduz in Hapsburg, respectively in 1699 and 1712. In 1719, Liechtenstein became a sovereign State within the framework of the Saint empire, after emperor Charles VI raised it to the rank of principality, which was baptized Liechtenstein in honor of his new prince, Antoine-Florian of Liechtenstein.
Liechtestein since realized a customs and monetary union with Switzerland and constitues a tax haven. The principality, which remains a small country, possesses some museums: Kunstmuseum of Liechtenstein, built by the Swiss architects Morger, Degelo and Kerez, Landesmuseum, and the museum of the post office.
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