Liechtenstein’s history begins with the creation of the Roman province of Rhaetia in the area. During the migration period Liechtenstein was populated by the Germanic tribe Alemanni, and eventually the area became part of the German-Roman Empire. The southern part of the country became independent in 1342, while the northern part joined in 1434. In 1719 the country was elevated to the principality by the German-Roman emperor Karl 6, named after the prince Liechtenstein. When the German-Roman Empire was dissolved in 1806, Liechtenstein became an independent state.
In ancient times, Liechtenstein formed part of the Roman province of Rhaetia, which was established in the year 15 BCE. One road later crossed Liechtenstein from south to north. Roman villas are excavated in Nendeln and Schaanwald, and in Schaan there are remains of a Roman fort, where Romans defended themselves against the Germanic tribe Alemanni. In the 400s, Alemans settled in the area, which eventually became part of the German-Roman Empire.
The Principality of Liechtenstein was formed in 1719, but has its roots back to 1342, when the southern part of the country, the county of Vaduz (Oberland), became independent. In 1434, the northern part, Schellenberg (Unterland), came under the same ruler. Prince Johann Adam Andreas of Liechtenstein purchased Schellenberg in 1699 and Vaduz in 1712, and in 1719 they were elevated to the principality of Emperor Charles 6, with the name after the prince Liechtenstein. See abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Liechtenstein.
After the dissolution of the German-Roman Empire in 1806, the Principality of Liechtenstein entered as a sovereign state into the Rhine Federation from 1806 to 1814, and to the German Confederation in 1815 to 1866. Liechtenstein was one of the few German states that did not become part of the German Empire when Germany was brought together in 1871. The army was abolished in 1868. In 1852-1919 Liechtenstein was in customs union with Austria, and from 1923 in customs union with Switzerland. Liechtenstein was neutral during both the first and second world war.
In 1938 Franz Josef became the first head of state and head of state, and in 1984 he left the government to his son Prince Hans Adam. Franz Josef 2 died in 1989, and Hans Adam became the country’s first. In 1990 Liechtenstein became a member of the UN, and in 1995 joined the EEA. In 1997, the country’s nearly 60-year-old government coalition exploded when Liechtenstein’s Progressive Citizens’ Party (FBPL) exited the coalition with the Federation Union (VU).
The country has faced international criticism for its unwillingness to combat money laundering, and following sanctions threats from the OECD, the legislation has been tightened. A referendum in 2003 gave the green light to a constitutional reform that made Liechtenstein Europe’s only absolute monarchy, with the prince personally appointing the government and judges, in addition to his power to dissolve the National Assembly. The scheme is disputed, and the Council of Europe has expressed concern over the democratic development of the country. In 2004, Hans Adam handed over the running to his son, Prince Alois, but retained his position as head of state.
A proposal to remove the prince’s veto power was rejected by 76 percent of the vote in a 2012 referendum.