Liechtenstein - an Alpine history; a haven for financial criminals; or a success story in modern Europe? This book examines the reality behind the cliches.
Excluded from the League of Nations in 1920 because it was thought too small, Liechtenstein is now an active member of the United Nations, the Council of Europe and other international organisations. Its history has been dramatic and precarious; several times it was in danger of vanishing from the map, most recently in 1939. It has no natural resources, beyond a hard-working and entrepreneurial population and, since the 1940s, low taxes, liberal regulation and 'small government' have helped to transform it from an agrarian backwater into one of the most advanced high-technology industrial countries in Europe. Its manufacturing companies are important providers of employment to people from the surrounding region. Its flourishing financial services sector, although criticised in the past, is now better regulated than many others in Europe. Liechtenstein's constitution is a unique blend of strong monarchy, vigorous direct democracy and an active parliament.
There is a tradition of robust political debate but an underlying desire to reach consensus. The result is a high degree of political stability, one of the preconditions for the country's economic success, high standards of living and welfare and flourishing cultural life. The book analyses the reasons for Liechtenstein's political survival and economic success. It ends with a study of the prospects for this many-sided mini-state as Liechtenstein faces the challenges and opportunities of a changing Europe: a Europe that might even have some useful lessons to learn from Liechtenstein.