Despite its small size and limited natural resources, Liechtenstein has developed into a prosperous, highly industrialized, free-enterprise economy with a vital financial service sector and living standards on a par with the urban areas of its large European neighbors. The Liechtenstein economy is widely diversified with a large number of small businesses. Low business taxes--the maximum tax rate is 20%--and easy incorporation rules have induced a large number of holding or so-called letter box companies to establish nominal offices in Liechtenstein, providing 30% of state revenues.
The country participates in a customs union with Switzerland and uses the Swiss franc as its national currency. It imports more than 90% of its energy requirements. Liechtenstein has been, since May 1995, a member of the European Economic Area, an organization serving as a bridge between the EFTA and the EU. The government is working to harmonize its economic policies with those of an integrated Europe. Liechtenstein has one of the highest personal income rates GDP Per Capita in the world, with the base rate of income tax currently standing at just 1.2%.
Liechtenstein was the home of the Curta calculator.
The Principality of Liechtenstein was established within the Holy Roman Empire in 1719 and became a sovereign state in 1806. Until the end of World War I, it was closely tied to Austria, but the economic devastation caused by that conflict forced Liechtenstein to conclude a customs and monetary union with Switzerland. Since World War II in which Liechtenstein remained neutral, the country's low taxes have spurred outstanding economic growth.
Shortcomings in banking regulatory oversight have resulted in concerns about the use of the financial institutions for money laundering and tax evasion. However, the days of bringing suitcases of money into banks for deposit without questions asked is over. Liechtensteiners are also very proud of the fact that their nation has never been physically involved in a battle or military confrontation with an "enemy state" and see their flag as a banner of peace.
Liechtenstein is very mountainous and one of the world's two doubly-landlocked countries Meaning that the countries that border it are themselves landlocked too along with Uzbekistan. Most of Liechtenstein's population lives in the long and wide Rhine Valley in the western third. Roads are mainly laid out in a north-south pattern following the valley as well. To the north the main roads lead to the border with Austria, to the south they enter Switzerland, and to the west across the river the bridges also cross into Switzerland. Most of the eastern border with Austria is not passable and is only accessible by foot as it is very mountainous, though the north of the country is well connected by road to Feldkirch in Austria. The country's highest point is the Grauspitz, which stretches to 2,599m. Liechtenstein is 2.5 time bigger than San Marino and it is 81 times bigger than Monaco.