With a per capita income among the highest in the world, Liechtenstein, one of the smallest states on the continent, is a country with high human development. Independent Principality within the Holy Roman Empire, Liechtenstein has been able to preserve its national identity and independence over the centuries thanks to the wise political game and the alternating alliance with the two most powerful neighbors (Austria and Switzerland). During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the country maintained economic and military alliance relations with the Austrian Habsburg monarchy and then entered, in 1924, the Swiss customs system, which also ensured its diplomatic representation and military defense. After the Second World War, the economic expansion due to the growth of the manufacturing sector, but above all to that of the services sector, thanks also to the facilitations of the tax regime and the advantages of the banking system, guaranteed the irresistible economic rise of the small principality.
Extended on the northwestern side. Liechtenstein is a predominantly mountainous country of the Reticone (Rätikon) alpine chain, which separates the Austrian state of Vorarlberg from the Swiss canton of Grisons, and limited to the west by the Rhine, natural border with the Swiss canton of St. Gallen. However, we can distinguish a region of wider flat areas to the N, where the Rhine valley widens due to the presence of deposits accumulated by the river before entering Lake Constance., and an area with a more rugged relief to the South, where the Reticone reaches 2570 m in Mount Naafkopf and 2560 m in Mount Falknis. Hydrographically, the territory pays entirely to the Rhine, both directly and through the tributary Ill into which the Samina river enters, however, already in Austria, which, born from the Reticone, crosses eastern Liechtenstein from South to North. The country has an alpine-like climate, with harsh winters and cool summers, although mitigated especially to the North by the influence of the waters of Lake Constance. Precipitation, not excessive (on average 1000 mm per year is recorded on the northern plateau, and a maximum of 2000 mm on the more exposed southern hills), falls mainly in the summer months. The country is also frequently affected by the Föhn, the hot and dry wind that descends from the Alps when strong differences in atmospheric pressure are established between the two sides of the chain.
Originally inhabited by the Reti and later crystallized into a closed feudal economy for many centuries, Liechtenstein has only recently experienced a relative demographic increase, in close connection with the profound transformations that have taken place in the country’s economy. According to iamhigher, the population, estimated at 6,000 units at the beginning of the twentieth century, reached 11,000 residents. in 1939 and subsequently, according to an estimate of 2003, it more than tripled reaching 34,000 residents. Liechtenstein currently has a density of 221 residents / km², which is quite high for an Alpine country. Over a third of the population, however, is made up of foreigners (in particular Swiss, Austrians, Germans and Italians), attracted to the principality by the development of industrial and tertiary activities. There are also numerous commuters who, from neighboring countries, they go daily to work in the principality. The population, which apart from foreigners is mainly of Germanic stock with a small group of Valais, is concentrated in the capital, Vaduz, a pretty town dominated by the castle of the princes, and in a dozen villages (Balzers, Schaan, Triesen), located not in the valley or along the Rhine but on the hillside, on the cones of the foothills.
With an extension of almost 7000 ha, the forests cover almost 44% of the entire Liechtenstein area. Dense expanses of beech trees and, at higher altitudes, of conifers, cloak the southern reliefs, while grassland areas and cultivated fields predominate in the northern areas. The wildlife heritage includes marmots, chamois, wild boars, foxes and various bird species. Although it is not a country with a strong industrial concentration, Liechtenstein is affected by the phenomenon of acid rain which, originating in even distant places, seriously endangers the forest heritage. Environmental protection is the responsibility of the Office of Environmental Protection which, in collaboration with the Office of Forests, Nature and Land Management, manages the areas used as nature reserves (40.1% of the territory). Over time, the principality has shown itself to be careful in pursuing sustainable development policies by signing various international agreements on environmental matters (protection of the ozonosphere,