Switzerland (GPS: 47 00 N, 8 00 E) located in Central Europe, east of France, north of Italy. The country’s area measurements are total: 41,277 sq km; land: 39,997 sq km, water: 1,280 sq km. This sovereign state is slightly less than twice the size of New Jersey. The total irrigated land is 630 sq km (2012).
One of the essential features of Switzerland: Landlocked (enclosed or nearly enclosed by land). Crossroads of northern and southern Europe. Along with southeastern France, north of Italy and southwestern Austria have the highest elevations in the Alps.
It’s significant, and at the same time, the principal city, Bern’s GPS coordinates are 46 55 N 7 28 E. Bern’s local time is 6 hours ahead of Washington DC during Standard Time. The capital’s time difference: UTC+1, note; Daylight saving time: +1hr begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October.
The Swiss Confederation was founded in 1291 as a defensive alliance among three cantons. In succeeding years, other localities joined the original three. The Swiss Confederation secured its independence from the Holy Roman Empire in 1499. A constitution of 1848, subsequently modified in 1874 to allow voters to introduce referenda on proposed laws, replaced the confederation with a centralized federal government.
The major European powers have long honored Switzerland’s sovereignty and neutrality, and the country was not involved in either of the two world wars. The political and economic integration of Europe over the past half-century and Switzerland’s role in many UN and international organizations has strengthened Switzerland’s ties with its neighbors. However, the country did not officially become a UN member until 2002. Switzerland remains active in many UN and international organizations but retains a strong commitment to neutrality.
Switzerland’s names conventional long form: Swiss Confederation, traditional short way: Switzerland, local extended state: Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft (German); Confederation Suisse (French); Confederazione Svizzera (Italian); Confederaziun Svizra (Romansh), local short form: Schweiz (German); Suisse (French); Svizzera (Italian); Svizra (Romansh), etymology: name derives from the canton of Schwyz, one of the founding cantons of the Old Swiss Confederacy that formed in the 14th century. The name derives from Schwyz’s canton, one of the founding cantons of the Old Swiss Confederacy that began in the 14th century.
Switzerland’s terrain is typically mostly mountains (the Alps in the south, Jura in the northwest) with a central plateau of rolling hills, plains, and large lakes. The country’s mean elevation: 1,350 m, elevation extremes; lowest point: Lake Maggiore 195 m, highest point: Dufourspitze 4,634 m.
The country’s general climate is temperate but varies with altitude: cold, cloudy, rainy/snowy winters: cool to warm, cloudy, humid summers with occasional showers.
The total number of border countries is 5, Austria 158 km, France 525 km, Italy 698 km, Liechtenstein 41 km, Germany 348 km are the neighboring nations with the indicated border lengths. Switzerland’s coastline is 0 km (landlocked country), while its marital claims are: none. Waterways: 1,292 km (there is 1,227 km of waterways on lakes and rivers for public transport and 65 km on the Rhine River between Basel-Rheinfelden and Schaffhausen-Bodensee for commercial goods transport) (2010). Land use: agricultural land: 38.7%; arable land 10.2%; permanent crops 0.6%; permanent pasture 27.9%; forest: 31.5%; other: 29.8% (2011 estimate).
The population in Switzerland 8,292,809 (July 2018 estimate), urban population: 73.9% of total population (2015), major urban area’s population: Zurich 1.246 million; BERN (capital) 358,000 (2015), while Switzerland has population distribution corresponds to elevation with the northern and western areas far more heavily populated; the higher Alps of the south limit settlement. Their spoken languages are: German (official language) 63.5%, French (official language) 22.5%, Italian (official language) 8.1%, English 4.4%, Portuguese 3.4%, Albanian 3.1%, Serbo-Croatian 2.5%, Spanish 2.2%, Romansch (official language) 0.5%, other 6.6%.
Note: German, French, Italian, and Romansch are all national and official language languages; totals more than 100% because some respondents indicated more than one main language (2013 estimate). Main religions in Switzerland are Roman Catholic 38.2%, Protestant 26.9%, other Christian 5.6%, Muslim 5%, other 1.6%, none 21.4%, unspecified 1.3% (2013 estimate). The nation uses civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts, except for federal decrees of a general obligatory character. It was a(n) federal republic (formally a confederation), National holiday(s) Founding of the Swiss Confederation in 1291.
Economic overview for the country: Switzerland, a country that espouses neutrality, is a prosperous and modern market economy with low unemployment, a highly skilled labor force, and a per capita GDP among the highest in the world. Switzerland’s economy benefits from a highly developed service sector, led by financial services, and a manufacturing industry specializing in high-technology, knowledge-based production. Its economic and political stability, the transparent legal system, exceptional infrastructure, efficient capital markets, and low corporate tax rates also make Switzerland one of the world’s most competitive economies. The Swiss have brought their economic practices mostly into conformity with the EU’s to gain access to the Union’s Single Market and enhance the country’s international competitiveness. Some trade protectionism remains, however, particularly for its small agricultural sector.
The Swiss economy’s fate is tightly linked to its neighbors in the eurozone, which purchases half of the Swiss exports. The global financial crisis of 2008 and resulting economic downturn in 2009 stalled demand for Swiss exports and put Switzerland into a recession. During this period, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) implemented a zero-interest rate policy to boost the economy and prevent the franc’s appreciation. Switzerland’s economy began to recover in 2010. However, the sovereign debt crises unfolding in neighboring euro-zone countries and economic instability in Russia and other Eastern European economies drove up demand for the Swiss franc by investors seeking a safe-haven currency. In January 2015, the SNB abandoned the Swiss franc’s peg to the euro, roiling global currency markets and making active SNB intervention a necessary hallmark of present-day Swiss monetary policy.
The independent SNB has upheld its zero interest rate policy and conducted major market interventions to prevent further appreciation of the Swiss franc. Still, parliamentarians have urged it to do more to weaken the currency. The franc’s strength has made Swiss exports less competitive and cut the country’s growth outlook; GDP growth fell below 2% per year from 2011 through 2017. In recent years, Switzerland has responded to increasing pressure from neighboring countries and trading partners to reform its banking secrecy laws by agreeing to conform to OECD regulations on administrative assistance in tax matters, including tax evasion. The Swiss Government has also renegotiated its double taxation agreements with numerous countries, including the US, to incorporate OECD standards.
Natural resources of Switzerland: hydropower potential, timber, salt.
Main export partners for Switzerland, Europe are Germany 14.2%, US 10.6%, Hong Kong 8.7%, India 7.3%, China 6.9%, France 6.1%, Italy 5.4%, UK 4.8% (2015) for machinery, chemicals, metals, watches, agricultural products, while the main import partners for the country are: Germany 20.7%, UK 12.8%, US 8.1%, Italy 7.8%, France 6.7%, China 5.1% (2015) for machinery, chemicals, vehicles, metals; agricultural products, textiles.
When you visit this country in Europe, consider the natural hazards in Switzerland: Avalanches, landslides, flash floods, while infectious diseases are N/A. Also, note that Switzerland faces the following environmental issues: Air pollution from vehicle emissions, water pollution from agricultural fertilizers, Chemical contaminants, and erosion damage the soil and limit productivity, Loss of biodiversity.