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Thread: Liechtenstein, Tiny Alpine Principality Between Austria and Switzerland

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    Liechtenstein, Tiny Alpine Principality Between Austria and Switzerland

    Dead serious but I couldn't help smiling...

    Liechtenstein redraws Europe map


    Liechtenstein, the tiny principality wedged between Austria and Switzerland, has had its borders lengthened.

    Modern measuring methods proved that Liechtenstein's borders are 1.9km (1.2 miles) longer than previously thought.

    The border has been changed in some of the more remote corners of the mainly mountainous state, which has now grown in size by 0.5sq km (123 acres).

    Liechtenstein, population 35,000, now boasts 77.9km (48.3 miles) of borders, an area of 160 sq km (62 sq miles).

    The newly-discovered territory is equivalent to about the size of 50 football pitches.

    Sixth smallest

    Announcing its territorial expansion, the government of Liechtenstein said that some areas of the Alpine nation had never been properly measured until now.


    Famous mainly for its sheer lack of size and some generous banking laws, the principality is a German-speaking territory that has maintained its independence since 1719.

    Liechtenstein's royal family kept the principality neutral during both world wars, and then developed a reputation as a tax haven in the decades afterwards.

    The current ruler, Prince Hans-Adam II, has a vast personal fortune and is said to be one of the richest heads of state in the world.

    Despite its new-found territory, Liechtenstein is the sixth smallest independent state in the world, larger than only the Vatican City, Monaco, San Marino, and the Pacific island nations of Tuvalu and Nauru.

    The next largest nation, the Marshall Islands, is some 20sq km bigger than Liechtenstein, and appears in little danger of being overtaken any time soon.

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    -Die alte Seele trauernd und verlassen / Verblassend in einer erklärbaren Welt / Schwebend in einem Dunst der Wehmut / Ein Schrei der nur unmerklich gellt-
    -Auch ich verspüre Demut / Vor dem alten Geiste der Ahnen / Wird es mir vergönnt sein / Gen Walhalla aufzufahren?-

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    Liechtenstein redraws Europe map

    Liechtenstein, the tiny principality wedged between Austria and Switzerland, has had its borders lengthened.

    Modern measuring methods proved that Liechtenstein's borders are 1.9km (1.2 miles) longer than previously thought.

    The border has been changed in some of the more remote corners of the mainly mountainous state, which has now grown in size by 0.5sq km (123 acres).

    Liechtenstein, population 35,000, now boasts 77.9km (48.3 miles) of borders, an area of 160 sq km (62 sq miles).

    The newly-discovered territory is equivalent to about the size of 50 football pitches.

    Sixth smallest

    Announcing its territorial expansion, the government of Liechtenstein said that some areas of the Alpine nation had never been properly measured until now.


    Famous mainly for its sheer lack of size and some generous banking laws, the principality is a German-speaking territory that has maintained its independence since 1719.
    Liechtenstein's royal family kept the principality neutral during both world wars, and then developed a reputation as a tax haven in the decades afterwards.

    The current ruler, Prince Hans-Adam II, has a vast personal fortune and is said to be one of the richest heads of state in the world.

    Despite its new-found territory, Liechtenstein is the sixth smallest independent state in the world, larger than only the Vatican City, Monaco, San Marino, and the Pacific island nations of Tuvalu and Nauru.

    The next largest nation, the Marshall Islands, is some 20sq km bigger than Liechtenstein, and appears in little danger of being overtaken any time soon.

    Story from BBC NEWS

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    Liechtenstein, Smallest German-Speaking Country in the World



    The tiny, obscure alpine principality of Liechtenstein seems to exist as mainly a repository of arcane distinctions:
    • At 160.4 sq. km (62 sq. mi), Liechtenstein is one of the smallest independent countries in the world (#189 out of 194 according to Nationmaster).
    • In Europe, however, it is one of the bigger mini-states; San Marino, Monaco and Vatican City are smaller.
    • But Liechtenstein is the smallest German-speaking country in the world, in population as well as size (there are only about 35,000 Liechtensteiners). It is also the only German-speaking country not to recognise officially any other language next to German (1).
    • It is also the smallest country bordering more than one other country; Liechtenstein is hemmed in by Switzerland to the west, and Austria to the east.
    • The country took its name from the dynasty that ruled it (usually it’s the other way round). The dynasty got its name from somewhere, of course, i.c. faraway Castle Liechtenstein (“bright stone”) at the edge of the Wienerwald, south of Vienna.
    • By disbanding its 80-man strong army in 1868, Liechtenstein may have been the first country in the (modern) world without an organised military force.
    • Prince Franz I (born 1853, ruled 1929-1938) was married to a Viennese noblewoman of Jewish descent – probably the only Jewish crowned head in Europe, an especially poignant position in those especially anti-semitic times. Franz I abdicated in 1938 because he couldn’t bear the thought of the Nazis invading while he was on the throne. As it happened, they respected the principality’s neutrality (although the local Nazi sympathisers agitated against Franz I’s wife).
    • After World War II, Liechtenstein offered asylum to 500 Russian soldiers who fought on the German side – a staggeringly high number, considering the small population had difficulties feeding itself. Argentina eventually agreed to take them in.
    • During the Cold War, all Liechtensteiners were forbidden entry into Czechoslovakia, which had nationalised huge tracts of land formerly held by the Liechtenstein dynasty.
    • Although landlocked, Liechtenstein’s lenient banking regulations have made it such a fiscal paradise that it is often included in the top lists of ‘offshore’ tax havens.
    • In 2003, the ruling prince Hans-Adam threatened to leave the country if he lost a referendum on expanding his powers. He won, making Liechtenstein the only European country in modern history where the monarchy’s power increased. The prince can now veto laws and dismiss governments – making the principality the closest thing present-day Europe has to an absolutist monarchy.
    Another distinction is visible only when seeing a map of the borders of Liechtenstein’s Gemeinden (communes) such as this one. Liechtenstein as a whole has an unremarkable teardrop shape, but the subnational entities are fragmented to such an extent that, internally, Liechtenstein looks like a crazy patchwork quilt. It must be the most exclave-rich country in the world, at least relative to the rather small number of subnational entities.
    I use the word ‘exclave’ instead of the more currently used term ‘enclave’. The meanings of these terms overlap, but only partially (2). And the distinction is particularly clear in these cases.
    While many of these Liechtensteinian fragments might be considered exclaves, most also border more than one other territory, and consequently only three can be considered enclaves (which are totally surrounded by only one other territory): the communes of Schaan and Planken each contain an enclave of each other within their main territory (each enclave in this case naturally also being an exclave), Schaan also containing an enclave of Vaduz (which, from the point of view of Vaduz, is an exclave, of course).
    • Vaduz, the capital of the country, is the most fragmented of Liechtenstein’s 11 communes. It consists of 6 distinct territorial units, one of which is a true enclave within the commune of Schaan. The name Vaduz might derive from aquaeductus (‘aqueduct’) or from vallis thiudisk (‘valley of the [German] people’), its either/or origin reflecting that, linguistically, Liechtenstein was in a contact zone between romance and germanic cultures.
    • the commune of Balzers consists of three incontiguous areas.
    • Triesenberg, consisting of two separate parts, is the largest commune of the principality.
    • Schaan, the most populous commune, is all over the place, with three large chunks of territory in the north, centre and south of the principality – plus two exclaves in Planken.
    • Planken, which counts less than 400 inhabitants, is the least populous of Liechtenstein’s communes. It consists of two larger bits of territory, and two smaller exclaves, one of which is also an enclave in Schaan.
    • Eschen, in the north, is made up of a large, medium and small portion. Its neighbour Gamprin is made up of two parts.
    • The communes of Ruggell, Schellenberg, Mauren and Triesen consist of (only) one part each.
    This map found in the Atlas of Liechtenstein at Wikimedia Commons.
    PS – the map looks a bit iffy just above where the name PLANKEN is printed. I assumed the corridor linking what looks like a second exclave of Schaan to that commune’s main territory is part of Schaan itself, making that exclave contiguous (and therefore not an exclave). This was consistent with the information I have on the number and location of communal enclaves. Two comments convinced me that the Schaan corridor is in fact a Vaduz exclave. Any more info, please send.
    (1) See comments for more on official languages in Germany other than German.
    (2) Map nerd alert: When the distinction between enclave and exclave is less important or not relevant, imprecision can be avoided by syncopating either term to ‘clave.
    http://strangemaps.wordpress.com/200...liechtenstein/

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    We´re driving trough Liechtenstein regularly to reach the Kanton Graubünden in Switzerland. We go skiing there nearly every winter.

    Liechtenstein is definitely worth a visit. By the way, the Rhine river wears the name "Deutscher Rhein" there and there´s a hotel named "Hotel Deutscher Rhein" directly at the ramp of the highway towards Chur in Switzerland.

    "Judge of your natural character by what you do in your dreams" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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    The curious case of Liechtenstein: A country caught between a prince and democracy

    On 5 February, voters in the Principality of Liechtenstein will head to the polls to elect a new parliament. As in other western democracies, populism has gained a foothold in this tiny Alpine country: the anti-establishment grouping Die Unabhängigen (‘the Independents’) hope to extend their current share of 4 out of 25 parliamentary seats, thereby further eroding the power of the two traditional parties that together have governed Liechtenstein since the Second World War.

    But while the rise of populism in the microstate is in line with regional trends, beyond this there are few similarities with the politics of neighbouring countries. Mainly due to the country’s extremely small size (37,000 inhabitants), politics in Liechtenstein is, in fact, quite different from that of larger European democracies. A lot of this has to do with the role of the unelected Prince of Liechtenstein, who is one of the most politically powerful monarchs on the European continent.

    The political system of Liechtenstein can be described as dualistic, in the sense that power is constitutionally shared between the Prince and the people. Citizens are represented by an elected parliament (the Landtag) and government, but there are also a wide variety of direct democracy instruments in place. As the ruling Prince, Hans-Adam II, proudly asserts in his book, the Principality is therefore the only country in the world that combines the three institutions of monarchy, representative democracy, and direct democracy.

    Within this system, the Prince plays a much more powerful role than his counterparts in other (constitutional) monarchies in Europe: he can dismiss the government, dissolve parliament, veto the outcomes of popular votes, and has an important role in the appointment of judges. It is no wonder, therefore, that the role of powerful monarchical leadership in Liechtenstein has been criticised repeatedly by international organisations, most notably the Council of Europe.

    Yet while outside observers recurrently express their disapproval of Liechtenstein’s powerful monarchy, the outcome of various referendums and popular votes reveals that between two-thirds and three quarters of the Liechtenstein electorate support the constitutional position of the Prince. After conflicts between Hans-Adam II and elected politicians had sparked a constitutional crisis in the 1990s, close to 65 per cent of voters endorsed the Prince’s reform proposals in a 2003 constitutional referendum, thereby extending the power of the monarchy.

    The situation raises complex questions regarding the nature of Liechtenstein’s regime: can a country be considered a democracy when a majority of voters voluntarily concede significant powers to an unelected ruler? Questions of this sort became acutely pertinent in 2011, when the Prince, in advance of a referendum on the liberalisation of abortion laws, declared that he would veto a ‘yes’-outcome, thereby essentially nullifying the entire referendum. But in a subsequent 2012 vote organised by pro-democracy activists, over 75% of voters rejected a proposal to limit the veto powers of the Prince.

    Reflecting broad popular support for the monarchy, Liechtenstein’s main political parties are generally supportive of the role of the Prince, even if that curtails their own political authority. Since World War II, Liechtenstein has been ruled by coalitions between the Progressive Citizens’ Party (FBP; ‘the blacks’) and the Fatherland Union (VU; ‘the reds’), two conservative, economically liberal, and pro-monarchy parties that essentially have a similar political platform.

    Reflecting the small size of Liechtenstein, support for these parties was traditionally determined by family linkages, and the two parties always supported their own constituents with jobs and other material benefits. In the 1990s, a new ecologist, pro-democracy, and social-democratic party – the Free List (FL; ‘the whites’) – emerged, but this party never gained more than 15% of the vote and was never part of the government. Given Liechtenstein’s long-lasting political stability, the 2013 elections could be regarded as a shock, as the populist, anti-elitist, and occasionally xenophobic Independents obtained 15% of the votes.

    Despite the remarkable performance of the Independents at the 2013 polls, the FBP and VU still garnered close to 75% of votes, and, as in previous decades, formed the government together. On the surface, politics in Liechtenstein thus appears to be characterised by remarkable stability and consensus. However, such a conclusion would overlook the fact that the Principality’s population has been extremely divided over the role of the monarchy, which is an issue that plays a much greater role in society than in parliament.

    Fierce and emotional debates on this issue have set families, friends, neighbours, and colleagues apart, and people who voice criticism of the Prince face social exclusion and are frequently discarded as outsiders. Similar to other small countries, Liechtenstein has a close-knit and highly cohesive society which is not always tolerant to individuals who express dissenting views and opinions. The monarchy is seen as a defining element of Liechtenstein’s identity and criticism of it is usually strongly repudiated.

    Hans-Adam II, who is widely known for his confrontational style, has skilfully exploited these sentiments by referring to his opponents as ‘enemies’. Making use of populist rhetoric, the Prince calls elected politicians ‘the oligarchy’, and advocates the limitation of their powers so that he can rule together with the people. Playing on popular sentiments about politicians, the Prince asserts that members of parliament and government only think in the short-term, always seek to extend their powers, and are inclined toward corruption. The Prince has repeatedly threatened to leave the country if his powers become limited, and since the Principality carries his name, this could have dramatic consequences for Liechtenstein’s future as a sovereign state.

    Nevertheless, most people in Liechtenstein still support the Prince, and the Free List is the only party that is currently voicing criticism of the monarchy and calling for a more democratic system. The rise of the Independents represents a degree of disenchantment with partisan elites, but certainly not with the Prince: in fact, opinion polling indicates that supporters of this new party are highly supportive of the monarchy. As a result, while the upcoming election could cause a shift in the support for different political parties, the largest issue in Liechtenstein’s politics – the role of the Principality’s monarchy – is unlikely to be affected.
    https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2...liechtenstein/

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