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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Klein

History of Liechtenstein

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Liechtenstein, officially known as the Principality of Liechtenstein, is a small landlocked country located in Central Europe. Liechtenstein has a lengthy history despite its small size and sparse population. Liechtenstein has created a distinctive position for itself on the international stage despite its modest size and population. The principality, which has a long history, has experienced considerable political, social, and economic changes to become a constitutional monarchy with a modernizing focus.

Liechtenstein is famous for its dedication to preserving its cultural heritage, democratic principles, and political stability. Given the long history of this location, we made an effort to group the majority of the events that took place here into the most pertinent historical periods.

Read on to discover the amazing History of Liechtenstein!

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🦜 What not to miss?


History of Liechtenstein

What not to miss?

Early history

Several Celtic tribes once lived in the region that is now Liechtenstein. Germanic people, specifically the Alemanni, colonized the area in the fifth century AD. In the ninth century, the Holy Roman Empire seized control of the region. The modern-day country of Liechtenstein was a component of the Roman province of Raetia. The territory was traversed by the Via Claudia Augusta, one of the highways constructed by the Romans to build colonies. In Liechtenstein, Roman artifacts have been discovered, demonstrating Roman influence and presence.

County of Vaduz and County of Schellenberg

In the 12th and 13th centuries, the counties of Vaduz and Schellenberg were distinct governmental units. Diverse noble families ruled these counties, which were a component of the Holy Roman Empire. The counties of Vaduz and Schellenberg, which would eventually become Liechtenstein, may be traced back to the Middle Ages. Schellenberg first appeared in historical records in 1073, whereas Vaduz was first mentioned in them in 1150. Over time, these lands were ruled by numerous aristocratic families

Acquisition by the Liechtenstein Dynasty

Prince Johann Adam Andreas of Liechtenstein purchased the counties of Vaduz and Schellenberg in 1699. The Liechtenstein dynasty took control of the region after this takeover. The Liechtenstein family received imperial prince rank from the Holy Roman Emperor in 1719, granting them more freedom. The Liechtenstein dynasty was able to acquire the titles of imperial prince in the Holy Roman Empire through the acquisition of Vaduz and Schellenberg. Emperor Charles VI bestowed upon them the title of "Princely House of Liechtenstein" in 1719, enhancing their standing and power.

Napoleonic Era and Confederation with the German Empire

In the early 19th century, during the Napoleonic Wars, Liechtenstein was occupied by French troops. Following the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Liechtenstein became a member of the German Confederation, a loose association of German-speaking states.

Constitutional Monarchy and Modernization

In 1921, Liechtenstein approved a constitution that created a constitutional monarchy. With a focus on banking and financial services, the nation underwent industrialization and modernization in the 20th century, and as a result, these sectors came to represent the bulk of Liechtenstein's economy.

World Wars and Neutrality

Liechtenstein maintained its neutrality during both World Wars. Although it was occupied by German forces during World War II, Liechtenstein's ruling prince, Franz Josef II, pursued a policy of appeasement and cooperation to preserve the country's independence.

During this early period, the territory of Liechtenstein had limited political significance. It was subject to various external powers and influenced by broader historical events. The acquisition of Vaduz and Schellenberg by the Liechtenstein family set the stage for their rise in prominence and the eventual formation of the modern Principality of Liechtenstein.

Modern Era

The modern era of Liechtenstein refers to the period from the mid-20th century to the present day, during which the principality has undergone significant transformations in various aspects of its society, economy, and international relations.


Liechtenstein's economy changed from being largely rural to being diverse and thriving. The nation concentrated on industrialisation and built a robust manufacturing sector, especially in textiles, electronics, ceramics, and precision instruments. In addition, Liechtenstein's financial services industry, which includes private banking and asset management, expanded significantly.


Liechtenstein embraced technological progress and innovation, which aided in the development of its economy. Companies in the nation have led the way in technological advancements in fields like machine tools, medical equipment, and dental technology. Liechtenstein has made investments in R&D, promoting an innovative and entrepreneurial environment.

Culture heritage

Liechtenstein has given conserving its cultural heritage a high priority. The principality is home to various historical landmarks, museums, and art galleries that showcase its extensive past and rich traditions. The arts have also received strong backing from Liechtenstein, with organizations like the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein being instrumental in promoting contemporary art.


Democratic changes have been implemented in Lichtenstein to increase political accountability and citizen participation. Constitutional changes have boosted the elected parliament's authority and given the representatives of the people more power. Citizens are now even more able to participate in decision-making processes thanks to the development of direct democracy tools like citizen initiatives and referendums.

Today, Liechtenstein is known for its political stability, prosperous economy, and high standard of living. It has successfully balanced its rich cultural heritage with modernization efforts, maintaining its status as a constitutional monarchy while embracing economic diversification and technological advancements.

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