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Summary Article: VADUZ
from Capital Cities around the World: An Encyclopedia of Geography, History, and Culture

Vaduz is the capital and second-largest urban settlement, in the Principality of Liechtenstein, a tiny landlocked country in Central Europe that is bordered by Austria and Switzerland. It is located in the west of the country on the right (east) bank of the Rhine River, just south of Schaan, the largest settlement in the country (population 5,800). With only about 5,300 inhabitants (2009), Vaduz is, like Schaan, more of a town than a city. Liechtenstein itself has only about 36,000 inhabitants.

Historical Overview

Vaduz was probably founded in the 13th century by the counts of Werdenberg, at the time a county of the Holy Roman Empire that covered what is today Liechtenstein and adjoining parts of Austria and Switzerland. A castle existed there in 1322, which was sacked by the Swiss in 1499 during the Swabian War. Liechtenstein itself began with the Liechtenstein family of Austria which was able to purchase the land in 1699 and in 1712 in order to be eligible for a seat in the Diet, the Reichstag, that is, the general assembly of the Holy Roman Empire. On January 23, 1719, Charles VI, the Holy Roman Emperor, decreed that this purchased land (now 6.7 square miles; 17.3 sq km) shall henceforth be Liechtenstein, a sovereign state within the Empire. It took some 120 years after that date for any one of the Princes of Liechtenstein to set foot in their new principality.

Major Landmarks

The main landmark of Vaduz is the picturesque Vaduz Castle that sits high on a hill within the town limits and can be seen from almost anywhere within the town. Construction began in the 12th century and was incremental afterwards. It was purchased by the Liechtenstein family in 1712 and has been the home of the reigning prince of Liechtenstein and his family since 1938. Other family members have resided in the castle as well, perhaps accounting for the many additions that have been made to the structure over the centuries and renovations. Other landmarks in Vaduz are the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Florin constructed in 1874, the Government House, City Hall, The National Art Gallery, and the National Museum.

Culture and Society

Liechtenstein is a unitary parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy ruled by the Liechtenstein family. The national language is German, with most people speaking the Alemanni dialect. More than three-quarters of the population is Roman Catholic. The economy is based on foreign tourism and on financial services. Liechtenstein has very low business taxes that attract foreign companies that wish to have an official registration address in the principality. The country is quite prosperous, even by the high standards of Europe, and ranks first or second in the world GDP per capital. Increasingly, the workforce of Liechtenstein is made up of foreigners, including many workers from Turkey.

Vaduz Castle overlooking the city of Vaduz.


Further Reading
  • Beattie, David. Liechtenstein: A Modern History. I. B. Tauris London, 2004.
  • Eccardt, Thomas M. Secrets of the Seven Smallest States of Europe: Andorra, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City. Hippocrene Books New York, 2004.
  • Copyright 2013 by Roman Adrian Cybriwsky

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