The Industrial History of Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein was a poor agricultural economy until the end of the Second World War. Many of the brightest entrepreneurs in Liechtenstein benefited from studying and working in the post-war German economy which had massive investment, and great creativity.

Some companies, most notably Hilcona started before the war, but had close links with the main industry of the time - agriculture. Hilti was one of the main beneficiaries of this knowledge flow from Germany, and rather than remaining in Germany to run his business Martin Hilti returned home to his village of Schaan where he set up a small business in a small workshop in the village centre. His business legacy now spans the globe and Hilti have a large head office on the road from Schaan to Nendeln.

For such a small country, it is surprising that companies like Hilti and Presta, the metal pressing company, developed, as they both use huge amounts of raw materials that have to be imported. Nevertheless, they grew and flourished (and continue to do so). Another company, based in Balzers, and taking the name of the host village is involved in hi-tech manufacture, and their technology was used in the moon landing missions of the 1960's and 70's.

Banking also benefited from the links in the 20th Century with Switzerland. The Princes of Liechtenstein, with their wealth and interest in banking also set a precedence which helped Vaduz as a banking centre. More recent relaxation of the banking rules has seen a growth of a number of new banks and banking services.

Most people originally heard of Liechtenstein when they collected postage stamps. Liechtenstein realised early on that people collected stamps and they loved beautifully designed stamps. Liechtenstein have a large following for its stamps and a museum in Vaduz celebrates that fact.

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