Switzerland Country Profile

A landlocked, mountainous country, Switzerland’s geographical position in central Europe and studied neutrality have given it the access and political stability to become one of the world’s wealthiest countries.

Switzerland has for centuries been a neutral state, which means that it cannot take part in armed conflict unless it is attacked. Its forces can only be used for self-defence and internal security.

It joined the United Nations only in 2002. Surrounded by the European Union, it has vacillated between seeking closer engagement with its powerful neighbour and other international organisations, and preferring a more isolationist course.

The people are given a direct say in their own affairs under Switzerland’s system of direct democracy, which has no parallel in any other country.

Switzerland Country Profile
Flag of Switzerland

Official Names

Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft (German)
Confederation Suisse (French)
Confederazione Svizzera (Italian)
Confoederatio Helvetica (CH – Latin)

Short form: Suisse, Schweiz, Svizzera
int’l long form: Swiss Confederation
int’l short form: Switzerland

Capital City: Bern (Berne)

ISO Country Code: ch, CHE

Country Calling Code: +41

Currency: Swiss Franc (CHF)

Time:
Time Zone: Central European Time
Local Time = UTC +1h
Daylight Saving Time (DST) March – October (UTC +2)
Berne (pop. 144,000)
The Municipality of Berne.


Major Cities:
Basel, Genève (Genf, Genève, Geneva), Luzern, Lausanne, Lugano, Zürich.


Government:

Type: Federal republic.
Independence: The first Swiss Confederation was founded in August 1291 as a defensive alliance among three cantons (Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden, known as the Waldstätte or Urschweiz). The Swiss Confederation established independence from the Holy Roman Empire in 1499.
Constitution: 1848; extensively amended in 1874; fully revised in 2000.
Federal Charter of 1291
Document of the Federal Charter.
National Day (Bundesfeier/fête nationale/festa nazionale): 1. August (Celebrates the Oath of 1291, which is considered the start of the Swiss Confederation).

Geography:

Location: Central Europe, south of Germany, east of France and north of Italy.
Area: 41,285 km² (15,941 sq. mi.)
Terrain: 60% mountains, the remainder hills and plateau. Switzerland straddles the central ranges of the Alps.


Climate: temperate in the north to Mediterranean in the south, varying with altitude and season.


People:

Nationality: Noun and adjective–Swiss.
Population: 8.6 million (2019)
Real GDP per capita: $68,628 (2019 est.)
Ethnic groups: Mixed European–German 65%, French 18%, Italian 10%, Romansch 1%, other.
Religions: Roman Catholic 35.9%, Protestant 23.8%, other Christian 5.9%, Muslim 5.4%, Jewish 0.3%, other 1.4%, none 26%, unspecified 1.4%.
Languages: German (Swiss German) 62.6%, French 22.9%, Italian 8.2%, and Romansh 0.5% are official languages, English 5.4%, other 9.4%.
Literacy: 100%.


Natural resources: Waterpower, timber, salt.

Agricultural Products: Dairy, livestock, grains, fruit and vegetables, potatoes, wine.

Industries: Machinery, chemicals, watchmaking, textiles, precision instruments, tourism, banking, insurance, pharmaceuticals.

Exports – commodities: machinery, chemicals, metals, watches, agricultural products. Switzerland is the top exporter of Gold, Base Metal Watches, and Precious Metal Watches.

Exports partners: Germany 16%, United States 14%, United Kingdom 8%, China 7%, France 6%, India 6%, Italy 5% (2019)

Imports – commodities: machinery, chemicals, vehicles, metals; agricultural products, textiles.

Imports partners: Germany 21%, Italy 8%, United States 6%, France 6%, United Kingdom 5%, United Arab Emirates 5% (2019)

Political System

Swiss politics is played out at three levels, the Confederation, the cantons and the communes. Each has the autonomy to decide on certain matters according to the principle of subsidiarity: a decision is made at a higher level only when it is beyond the powers of the lower level to do so. [1]

The Swiss Confederation is a federal republic made up of 26 cantons (member states). Each canton has its constitution, legislature (parliament), government and courts.

The federal government of Switzerland consists of the legislative power of a bicameral Federal Assembly (parliament) with the National Council (lower house) and the Council of States (upper house).
A seven-member executive Federal Council serves as the collective head of the government and the state. The position of President of the Swiss Confederation rotates among the seven councillors every year. The judiciary power is represented by the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland.

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