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is named after the Liechtenstein family, which rules over the country. The family
name comes from the Liechtenstein Castle located in Lower Austria (near Vienna),
which the family ruled over in the 1100s and 1200s, then again has owned since the
1800s. Liechtenstein means "bright stone," which reflects the castle's
For much of history the mountain valley that Liechtenstein now occupies was just
a part of foreign countries. This long history led to a deeply engrained culture
that is rooted on Germanic culture, particularly with ties to the Germanic people
in Austria and Switzerland. In fact, even today these influences are strong as nearly
a third of the country's population is foreign-born and most come from the above
mentioned countries or Germany.
Being far from any political center, yet falling under foreign rule for much of
history, Liechtenstein was a nearly forgotten land. The people lived off the lands
and the lifestyle reflected the simple lives the people led. The culture though
was closely tied to their foreign powers as the people shared the German language,
foods, religion (Catholicism), clothing, and other cultural aspects with neighbors.
Liechtenstein eventually gained independence through the savvy political moves of
the Liechtenstein family. However, to maintain power, the country forged close relations
with Austria and later with Switzerland. Even today these relationships are vital
to independence and Liechtenstein shares a currency with Switzerland.
In more recent times, the country has encouraged immigration through favorable tax
laws, which has encouraged the growth of business as well as wealthy individuals
and families, again particularly from neighboring Germanic countries.
Today, the culture of Liechtenstein remains similar to what it has been in the past
as it is tied to Austria, Switzerland, and Germany. However, the lifestyle is ever-changing,
particularly given the fact that it is becoming a destination for people as the
focus shifts to economics and business development. The country's identity remains
steadfast in its attachment to being "Liechtensteiners," which is an identity
heavily based on being born and raised in Liechtenstein and is among the greatest
differences between the locals and foreigners.
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