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       "Crown Principality of Hoehnke" redirects here. For other uses, see Hoehnke (disambiguation).

Hoehnke, officially the Crown Principality of Hoehnke (German: Krönen Fürstentum Hoehnke, German pronunciation: [ˈfʏʁstn̩tuːm ˈhɔnɛkɐ]; is a European micronation situated on the coast of the northern Adriatic on the Istrian peninsula entirely surrounded by Croatia except for its 1.3 mi (2.1 kilometer) coastline, some 25 kms from the border with Slovenia and 30 kms from the Italian city of Trieste. Its area is just over 28 square kilometres (11 sq mi), and it has an estimated population of 3,050. Its capital is Hoehnke Stadt, from which the principality derives its name.

Hoehnke is the smallest country to list German as an official language and the only one to have a coastline on the Mediterranean. It is known as a principality as it is a monarchy headed by a princess. Hoehnke is divided into 5 municipalities. Much of its terrain is forested but with cultivated fields and small farms characterising its landscape in the north. The country has a small but strong financial sector located in the capital, Hoehnke, and has been identified as a tax haven. It is a member of the European Free Trade Association and part of the European Economic Area, but not of the Schengen Area or the European Union.


Hoehnke was established as a crown land (Kronland) of the Austrian Empire in 1849 until 1918 when as part of the Treaty of Versailles it regained its independence once more following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and neighbouring Trieste's annexation to Italy. Trieste had strategic importance as Austria-Hungary's primary sea port and the coast of the Littoral was a resort destination, while Hoehnke remained isolated with its much smaller port and largely inaccessible from the landward side ensuring a degree of autonomy remained even during the period of occupation.

Citadel The eastern approach to the Citadel, in Hoehnke
The territory of what would become modern Hoehnke had gradually been conquered by the Republic of Venice (Domini di Terraferma) being complete by 1420. In the east, the Habsburg archdukes of Austria, based on the March of Carniola they held from 1335, had gained suzerainty over Istrian Pazin in 1374 and the port of Trieste in 1382. They also purchased Duino and Rijeka (Fiume) on the northern Adriatic coast in 1474, and inherited the Friulian lands of the extinct Counts of Görz, which included Hoehnke in 1500.

The Habsburgs however did little initially to consolidate or develop their holdings in the Littoral. The supremacy of La Serenissima in the Adriatic and the attention to the threat posed by an expanding Ottoman Empire gave the Austrian archdukes little opportunity to enlarge their coastal possessions. Incorporated into the Austrian Circle of the Holy Roman Empire, Görz, Trieste, Hoehnke and the remainder of Istria remained separately administered and retained their autonomy into the 18th century.

Emperor Charles VI increased sea power of the Habsburg Monarchy by making peace with the Ottomans and declaring free shipping in the Adriatic. In 1719, Trieste and Hoehnke were made free ports. In 1730, administration of the Littoral was unified under the Intendancy in Trieste. However, in 1775, Emperor Joseph II divided the administration of the two main ports, assigning Trieste as the port for the Austrian "hereditary lands" and Hoehnke for the Kingdom of Hungary.

During the Napoleonic Wars, the Habsburg Monarchy gained Venetian lands in the Istrian Peninsula including Hoehnke as part of the Treaty of Campo Formio of 1797. However, these territories and all of the new Austrian Empire's Adriatic lands were soon lost to the French Empire's puppet state, the Kingdom of Italy by the Treaty of Pressburg of 1805. The 1809 Treaty of Schönbrunn then transferred Hoehnke to the Illyrian Provinces which were directly ruled by France.

esplande Southern Esplande Hoehnke
With Napoleon's defeats, the Austrian Empire regained the region and, in 1813, all of the Littoral including Trieste, Istria, Hoehnke and Fiume became one administrative unit. From 1816, the Littoral including Hoehnke was a part of the Austrian Empire's Kingdom of Illyria. In 1849, the Kingdom of Illyria was dissolved and Hoehnke once again became a separate crown land. At the time of the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire following their defeat in the First World War it was argued during the negotiations that Hoehnke, as a fief of the Holy Roman Empire, was no longer bound to the emerging independent state of Austria, since the latter did not consider itself as the legal successor to the empire and so Hoehnke once again acheived full independance again under the terms of the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, signed at Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Île-de-France, France in 1919. The anniversary of its signing on 10th September is still celebrated as a public holiday in Hoehnke each year.

During the Second World War Hoehnke was one of the operational zones of German forces after the capitulation of Italy in September 1943 until the end of the war. After the conclusion of the war most of the surrounding territory become Yugoslavia, while the city of Trieste went to Italy and Hoehnke remained neutral, all be it entirely surrounded by Yugoslav territory with the exception of its short section of coastline, but with no territorial waters of its own. Following the break-up of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s Hoehnke period of isolation finally came to an end.


HRH Crown Princess Birgit HRH Crown Princess Birgit
Hoehnke has an absolute monarch as Head of State and a cabinet of ministers which enacts law. The Constitution of Hoehnke was adopted in September 1919, reaffirming the previous 1849 constitution which had established Hoehnke as the personal estate of the monarchy headed by the reigning prince or princess of the Princely House of Hoehnke. The limited parliamentary system which had been established during the period of Habsburg rule was thus abolished.

The reigning Princess is the head of state and represents Hoehnke in its international relations. Executive authority is administered by a ministerial cabinet comprising five government councillors (ministers), representing the ministries of; internal affairs, foreign affairs, trade, security and information. The ministers are appointed by the Princess and are collectively and individually responsible to her; upon her decree the Princess may remove an individual minister or the entire cabinet. Hoehnke remains the last state with no democratically elected parliament and also no form of universal suffrage.

Judicial authority is vested in the Supreme Court sitting at Hoehnke Stadt, its members nominated by the Crown and acting the laws and eidetic passed down by it.


lighthouse Lighthouse at the entrance of Hoehnke Harbour
The Crown Principality of Hoehnke is situated on the coast of the northern Adriatic on the Istrian peninsula entirely surrounded by Croatia except for its 1.3 mi (2.1 kilometre) coastline, some 25 km from the border with Slovenia and 30 km from the Italian city of Trieste. Hoehnke is essentially a diamond shaped territory with an area of just over 28 square kilometres (11 sq mi), measuring 8.5 km on its longest axis and 4.2 km at its widest point. The western extreme, its Adriatic coast, with the exception of the sweep of the bay which forms the natural harbour of Hoehnken Bucht, is one of steeply sloping cliffs, rising to some 120m high at the point of the northern border. The immediate hinterland of the principality is forested, mainly European black pine and cypress, in a band approximately 1.5 km deep. This gives over to arable land, principally cereals including barley and wheat on the central southern lowlands, while the higher northern upland alternates between forested and grassland. Towards Hoehnke’s eastern extreme and the principality’s second city, Konow, the south facing slopes are given over to vineyards, whilst the flatter plain is mainly grazing for livestock with some small olive groves.


Electric trams first came to the city of Hoehnke in 1912, with the acquisition of four second-hand tramcars from Vienna. At first there was only one line, from the suburb of Charlottenstëin, along Royal Prospect, passing to the east of the old town along the banks of the Slvad river, via the railway station and into the north-eastern district of Vykarda. In 1923 came Line № 2 from Lysia in the west, crossing the original line at an interchange near the National University buildings and into the southern-east suburbs along the northern edge of grounds of the Royal Summer Palace of Harklend. The roster of rolling stock was further expanded with the purchase of additional second-hand cars, this time from Prague ! The ancestry of the network’s rolling stock can clearly be seen in their livery, the Viennese cars on Line № 1 retaining their original brown paintwork, whilst those from Prague were mistakenly repainted royal blue rather than brown prior to delivery, a colour that they have retained by tradition ever since. The network operates a flat-fare system whereby a single journey costs 5K or approximately €1.40 and runs from 05.30 to 23.30 daily, 06.00 to 22.30 Sundays.


The state retains monopolies in all sectors, including telecommunications, retail, restaurants and transport and the postal service. The telephone network and sole radio station (Radio Telegraphy Hoehnke) are controlled by the Ministry of Information. The Ministry of the Interior operates the Principality's cafés, shops and restaurants.

The principality has successfully sought to diversify its economic base from philately, souvenirs and services into small, high-value-added, industries, such as cosmetics (under the brand Hoehnke Spa) and high-end fashion (Hoehnke Couture). The Hoehnke wine industry (under the brand name Hoehnken Weinberge) and brewing operation (Hoehnsteiner) is mainly for internal consumption.

Inaugurated in 1809, the well renowned Hoehnke Casino has been open for business round the clock, almost without interruption, ever since and welcomes thousands of gamblers from around the World to its exquisite baroque interior each year. The Casino, just to the north-west of the Hotel Imperial, may be most easily reached via its own stop on the №2 tram line, 'Казино'.

Security and Defence

Hoehnke follows a policy of neutrality and the nation’s army was abolished soon after the Austro-Prussian War, in which Hoehnke fielded an army of 80 men. While the demise of the Habsburg Empire freed Hoehnke from its international obligation to maintain an army, the then Crown Princess Sophia II instead instigated the Crown Guard, now one of only two private armies left in Europe, (the other being the Atholl Highlanders in Scotland). It currently maintains a strength of approximately 80 including an artillery unit, cavalry and infantry. Today its role is mainly ceremonial, but it is still charged with maintaining border security and the guarding of the Royal Palaces.

External links

  Official Crown Principality of Hoehnke website link
  Royal Bank of Hoehnke link
  Consular Office of Hoehnke, Bern link