/div>Principality, western Europe. It is located between Switzerland and Austria. Area: 62 sq mi (160 sq km). Population: (2009 est.) 35,700. Capital: Vaduz
. The Liechtensteiners are descended from the Alemanni tribe that came into the region after 500 CE. Languages: German (official), Alemanni dialect, Walser dialect. Religions: Christianity (predominantly Roman Catholic; also Protestant); also Islam. Currency: Swiss franc. The eastern two-thirds of Liechtenstein's small territory is composed of the foothills of the Rhätikon Massif, part of the central Alps
. The western section of the country is occupied by the Rhine River
floodplain. Liechtenstein has no natural resources of commercial value, and virtually all raw materials, including wood, have to be imported. Manufacturing includes metalworking, pharmaceuticals, optical lenses, electronics, and food processing. A tourist centre, Liechtenstein is also a centre of banking because of its stable political situation and its absolute bank secrecy. It is a constitutional monarchy with one legislative house; its head of state is the prince, and the head of government is the prime minister. The Rhine plain was occupied for centuries by two independent lordships of the Holy Roman Empire
, Vaduz and Schellenberg. The principality of Liechtenstein, consisting of these two lordships, was founded in 1719 and remained part of the Holy Roman Empire. It was included in the German Confederation
(1815–66). In 1866 it became independent, recognizing Vaduz and Schellenberg as unique regions forming separate electoral districts. In 1921 it adopted Swiss currency, and in 1923 it joined the Swiss customs union. A coalition that ruled Liechtenstein for almost 60 years dissolved in 1997. A referendum in 2003 approved wider powers for the prince.