A developed manufacturing sector, together with the solidity of the financial sector, which grew thanks also to favorable banking and tax legislation, make Liechtenstein a country with a thriving economy (in 2007, the GDP was 4,160 million Swiss francs). Agriculture is of little importance now, involving 1.1% of the active population (2007): the main crops are cereals (corn), potatoes and vegetables. The presence of vast expanses of grass and permanent pasture, equal to approx. a third of the territory has allowed a moderate development of the breeding (the bovine one feeds a rational dairy industry). Instead, it is manufacturing and tertiary activities that ensure the country its great prosperity. According to allcountrylist, the industry, which provides employment to approx. half of the workforce (43.5%) is essentially based on precision engineering and high-tech productions, such as scientific instruments and electronic equipment, as well as on the food, chemical, pharmaceutical and textile sectors. A significant place, among exports, have prosthetics and products for the dental technician. In addition to the proceeds from the ever-flourishing tourism, as well as from the marketing of philatelic issues, Liechtenstein has benefited significantly from a banking system and a tax regime very well disposed towards foreign capital (so much so that in 2000 it received a censure from part of the OECD, as a casual “tax haven”). The set of financial activities, which through a centralized management of relations with the State contributes in an absolutely prevalent way to the formation of income, employs 55.4% of the active population. Given the characteristics of this activity, moreover, no congestion problems have occurred up to now: the required spaces are extremely limited and, although the capital Vaduz appears to be completely colonized by banking and financial offices, the communication and telecommunication infrastructures (those actually vital for the sector) are kept in a position to satisfy the intense demand. The principality, which has always had a strong international vocation, it maintains a dense series of economic relations and adheres to various international organizations and agreements. Main partner is the Switzerland, with which Liechtenstein is linked by a customs union established in 1924, but good relations are also established with the member countries of the European Union and the EFTA, of which Liechtenstein joined in 1991. The subsequent accession of the principality, in 1992, to the EEA, made a complete renegotiation of the customs union treaty with Switzerland indispensable, but this does not seem to have affected the conditions of competitiveness of local productions in the least, so much so that the trade balance has been constantly in active. As for the communication routes, the territory is crossed by adequate infrastructures that connect it with the Swiss and Austrian road networks.
The principality of Liechtenstein arose on 23 January 1719 when the emperor Charles VI granted that the two dominions of Vaduz and Schellenberg, acquired by the prince JAA Liechtenstein, became a single principality. From 1806 to 1814 Liechtenstein was part of the French Confederation of the Rhine and from 1815 to 1866 of the German Confederation. In 1852 he entered into a customs union and in 1856 a monetary union with Austria. Neutral during the two world wars, in 1921 John II revised the Constitution of 1816. John II himself promoted the country’s approach to Switzerland establishing a monetary union (1921) and customs union (1924) with the latter and entrusting it with the consular and political representation of Liechtenstein. In 1938 Francis Joseph II became reigning prince: in the period of his reign the country became part of the Council of Europe (1977). Franz Joseph II held executive power until 1984, when he passed it to his son Hans Adam II who, on his death, also succeeded him in the office of head of state (1989). In the 1990s Liechtenstein also joined the UN. At the end of the nineties, the Parliament, ruled since 1938 by a coalition formed by the two largest parties, the bourgeois party (center-right) and the Patriotic Union, saw for the first time after ca. sixty years of single government, the advent of an executive formed by a single majority party. In fact, in 1997, the Patriotic Union obtained the majority of votes in legislative elections and its leader Mario Frick, outgoing prime minister, was reconfirmed as head of the new single-color government. But the economic reforms promoted by the new government, which included a series of rules for the limitation of banking secrecy, aimed at rehabilitating the principality considered a world center of money laundering of suspicious capital, if in 1997 they had allowed Frick to obtain an absolute majority in Parliament, in the 2001 elections they decreed his defeat. The Patriotic Union, in fact, in 2001 obtained only 11 seats out of 25, while the Bourgeois Party won 13 seats and took the premiership with Otmar Hasler. In 2003, with a referendum, the constitutional amendment proposed by the reigning prince Hans Adam II was approved, giving him broad decision-making powers in legislative matters. In the elections of 2005, the Progressive Bourgeois Party (FBP) won, while in those of 2009, the Patriotic Union (VU), both center-right formations.