Friday, September 25, 2009

Liechtenstein's history and odd survival. Vaduz, Planken and Money-Laundering?

Vaduz, Liechtenstein.
And Planken. A Nice Place to Live

Liechtenstein is a principality, governed by a "prince" and not a king or queen - that would make it a monarchy, and not a principality. The country is 62 square miles. 

It is landlocked, bordering on Switzerland and Austria, hardly noticeable on maps because its 16 mile (km? we forget) length is so tiny. Vaduz is the capital.  Planken is a desirable family residential community far up the mountainside, many switchbacks to get there.  Everybody seems to have a job here.

Signs from Liechtenstein: to the north,  point to Austria; or to Switzerland's bucolic Appenzell. Note that this is not Luxembourg, a pivotal area in World War II where General Patton and American troops are buried at a fine cemetery. See Luxembourg Road Ways.

What does it seem like, as a hasty travel-through: This is a community, of working and professional people, many banks, and a long history of staying alive despite aspirations of takeovers by others.

1.  Basic chronology, talking points:
  • In 814 AD, Liechtenstein was known as Lower Rhaetia. That was in Charlemagne's time. Vaduz, as a county and now the capital, was set up in 1342 when the area was part of the Holy Roman Empire.
  • Original or particularly influential early families: Schellenberg, Montfort, von Brandis, van Sulz and von Hohenem, according to :// (what is the difference between a von and a van?). Prince Johan Adam, Liechtenstein, progressively purchased territory from them, and by that time, had vast holdings in what is now Switzerland and Austria. The families get confusing: see the ties, twists and names at
Hugo of Liechtenstein - noted in 1136. See the site. The first family castle was south of Vienna. Names, places, but survival.

The current royal family is shown at ://  They live in the castle there.  Access is permitted to the gates at the courtyard, up the windy park-like road - it dominates the hillside near Vaduz.

Read at the nationsencyclopedia site about successors to successors, and arrive at the current ruler/ See a history at ://

Since 1989, the ruler has been Crown Prince Hans-Adam II.  The Royal family is probably the wealthiest in Europe. Consider that, Elizabeth.  His wife is Maria and they have four children.

2.  Invasions:
  • Austria: in 1618-1648. That was during the Thirty Years' War (familiar in Europe, not so much here)
  • Sweden: in 1647
  • France and Russia: in Napoleonic Wars, say 1809
3.  Politics

Final identity: in 1719 - a "fief" of the Crown of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles VI; and Prince Anton-Florian became "Prince von and zu Liechtenstein". Von and zy meaning by and for? In 1805, Liechtenstein became a sovereign state, as a principality,  and as part of something called the Confederation of the Rhine. See ://

After Napoleon, it became part of the German Federation.

Then Prussia beat Austria in a skirmish in 1866 (the "Seven Weeks War") and the Confederation was dissolved. Read about the extensive economic and other ties with both Austria and Switzerland after that.

Liechtenstein was "neutral" in WWII. What choice did it have, asks the pragmatist. Switzerland, who also chose neutrality, had more choice, given its mountains, but Liechtenstein's neutrality also depended upon Switzerland's. There was a bloc of sorts.

Liechtenstein became part of the European Union in 1995 or so. Use your Euros - the Swiss Franc is usable but at a cost in the exchange. Hans-Adam II now has near-absolute powers. Note there are 17,000 voters, and over 14,000 voted for that. His heir is Alois. Watch him.
4. Upshots

Huge prosperity, low taxes (so slide your account from Zurich to Vaduz?).

Wins - among the top 15 - in money laundering.

If you favor original documents and perusing to draw your own conclusions, see ://

For us, it appears to be a flash from the past, capitalizing on peoples' drives to hide their money. Why not? If the government of origin can't regulate their own citizens, why should Liechtenstein not cash in? Answer us that.

If you look at the coat of arms, you will see a lady, strangely revealing. See :// Who, pray tell? Prithee, please.

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