Switzerland

Coordinates: 46°50′N 8°20′E / 46.833°N 8.333°E / 46.833; 8.333
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Swiss Confederation
Five official names
    • Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft (German)
    • Confédération suisse (French)
    • Confederazione Svizzera (Italian)
    • Confederaziun svizra (Romansh)
    • Confoederatio helvetica (Latin)
Motto: (unofficial)
"Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno"
"One for all, all for one"
Anthem: "Swiss Psalm"
Location of Switzerland (green) in Europe (green and dark grey)
Location of Switzerland (green)

in Europe (green and dark grey)

Capital

46°57′N 7°27′E / 46.950°N 7.450°E / 46.950; 7.450
Largest cityZürich
Official languages
Religion
(2022)[3]
  • 33.5%
    directorial republic
Viktor Rossi
LegislatureFederal Assembly
Council of States
National Council
History
• Founded
1 August 1291[b]
• Sovereignty recognised (Peace of Westphalia)
24 October 1648
7 August 1815
12 September 1848[c][6]
Area
• Total
41,285 km2 (15,940 sq mi) (132nd)
• Water (%)
4.34[7]
Population
• 2023 estimate
8,902,308[8] (99th)
• 2015 census
Neutral increase 8,327,126[9]
• Density
207/km2 (536.1/sq mi) (48th)
GDP (PPP)2024 estimate
• Total
Increase $816.456 billion[10] (35th)
• Per capita
Increase $91,932[10] (6th)
GDP (nominal)2024 estimate
• Total
Increase $938.458 billion[10] (20th)
• Per capita
Increase $105,669[10] (5th)
Gini (2022)Positive decrease 31.1[11]
medium
HDI (2022)Steady 0.967[12]
very high (1st)
CurrencySwiss franc (CHF)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
• Summer (DST)
UTC+2 (CEST)
Date formatdd.mm.yyyy (Anno Domini)
Driving sideright
Calling code+41
ISO 3166 codeCH
Internet TLD.ch, .swiss

Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a landlocked country located in west-central Europe.[d][13] It is bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. Switzerland is geographically divided among the Swiss Plateau, the Alps and the Jura; the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, whereas most of the country's population of 9 million are concentrated on the plateau, which hosts its largest cities and economic centres, including Zürich, Geneva, and Basel.[14]

Switzerland originates from the

peace building.[15]

Switzerland is the birthplace of the

international institutions, including the WTO, the WHO, the ILO, FIFA, and the UN. It is a founding member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), but not part of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area, or the eurozone; however, it participates in the European single market and the Schengen Area. Switzerland is a federal republic composed of 26 cantons, with federal authorities based in Bern.[a][2][1]

Switzerland is one of the world's most developed countries, with the highest nominal

democratic governance. Cities such as Zürich, Geneva and Basel rank among the highest in terms of quality of life,[19][20] albeit with some of the highest costs of living.[21]

It has four main linguistic and cultural regions: German, French, Italian and Romansh. Although most Swiss are German-speaking, national identity is fairly cohesive, being rooted in a common historical background, shared values such as federalism and direct democracy,[22][page needed] and Alpine symbolism.[23][24] Swiss identity transcends language, ethnicity, and religion, leading to Switzerland being described as a Willensnation ("nation of volition") rather than a nation state.[25] Due to its linguistic diversity, Switzerland is known by multiple native names: Schweiz [ˈʃvaɪts][e] (German);[f] Suisse [sɥis(ə)] (French); Svizzera [ˈzvittsera] (Italian); and Svizra [ˈʒviːtsrɐ, ˈʒviːtsʁɐ][g] (Romansh). On coins and stamps, the Latin name, Confoederatio Helvetica—frequently shortened to "Helvetia"—is used instead of the spoken languages.

Etymology

The English name Switzerland is a portmanteau of Switzer, an obsolete term for a

Confoederatio Helvetica
(Helvetic Confederation).

The toponym Schwyz itself was first attested in 972, as Old High German Suittes, perhaps related to swedan 'to burn' (cf. Old Norse svíða 'to singe, burn'), referring to the area of forest that was burned and cleared to build.[27] The name was extended to the area dominated by the canton, and after the Swabian War of 1499 gradually came to be used for the entire Confederation.[28][29] The Swiss German name of the country, Schwiiz, is homophonous to that of the canton and the settlement, but distinguished by the use of the definite article (d'Schwiiz for the Confederation,[30] but simply Schwyz for the canton and the town).[31] The long [iː] of Swiss German is historically and still often today spelled ⟨y⟩ rather than ⟨ii⟩, preserving the original identity of the two names even in writing.

The Latin name Confoederatio Helvetica was

Gaulish tribe living on the Swiss Plateau before the Roman era
.

Helvetia appeared as a national personification of the Swiss confederacy in the 17th century in a 1672 play by Johann Caspar Weissenbach.[33]

History

The state of Switzerland took its present form with the adoption of the Swiss Federal Constitution in 1848. Switzerland's precursors established a defensive alliance in 1291, forming a loose confederation that persisted for centuries.

Beginnings

The oldest traces of hominid existence in Switzerland date to about 150,000 years ago.[34] The oldest known farming settlements in Switzerland, which were found at Gächlingen, date to around 5300 BC.[34]

Founded in 44 BC by Lucius Munatius Plancus, Augusta Raurica (near Basel) was the first Roman settlement on the Rhine and is now among the most important archaeological sites in Switzerland.[35]

The earliest known tribes formed the

Gallia. Julius Caesar's armies pursued and defeated them at the Battle of Bibracte, in today's eastern France, forcing the tribe to move back to its homeland.[34] In 15 BC, Tiberius (later the second Roman emperor) and his brother Drusus conquered the Alps, integrating them into the Roman Empire. The area occupied by the Helvetii first became part of Rome's Gallia Belgica province and then of its Germania Superior province. The eastern portion of modern Switzerland was integrated into the Roman province of Raetia. Sometime around the start of the Common Era, the Romans maintained a large camp called Vindonissa, now a ruin at the confluence of the Aare and Reuss rivers, near the town of Windisch.[36]

The first and second century AD was an age of prosperity on the Swiss Plateau. Towns such as

Villae rusticae) were established in the countryside.[citation needed
]

Around 260 AD, the fall of the

]

In the

Tolbiac in 504 AD, and later Frankish domination of the Burgundians.[37][38]

Throughout the rest of the sixth, seventh and eighth centuries, Swiss regions continued under Frankish hegemony (

Frankish Empire was divided by the Treaty of Verdun in 843.[34] The territories of present-day Switzerland became divided into Middle Francia and East Francia until they were reunified under the Holy Roman Empire around 1000 AD.[34]

By 1200, the Swiss Plateau comprised the dominions of the houses of

King Rudolph I (Holy Roman Emperor in 1273) laid claim to the Kyburg lands and annexed them, extending their territory to the eastern Swiss Plateau.[37]

Old Swiss Confederacy

The Old Swiss Confederacy from 1291 (dark green) to the sixteenth century (light green) and its associates (blue). In the other colours shown are the subject territories.
The 1291 Bundesbrief (federal charter)

The Old Swiss Confederacy was an alliance among the valley communities of the central Alps. The Confederacy was governed by nobles and patricians of various cantons who facilitated management of common interests and ensured peace on mountain trade routes. The Federal Charter of 1291 is considered the confederacy's founding document, even though similar alliances likely existed decades earlier. The document was agreed among the rural communes of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden.[39][page needed][40]

By 1353, the three original

Jura mountains, and the University of Basel was founded (with a faculty of medicine) establishing a tradition of chemical and medical research. This increased after victories against the Habsburgs (Battle of Sempach, Battle of Näfels), over Charles the Bold of Burgundy during the 1470s, and the success of the Swiss mercenaries. The Swiss victory in the Swabian War against the Swabian League of Emperor Maximilian I in 1499 amounted to de facto independence within the Holy Roman Empire.[40] In 1501, Basel[41] and Schaffhausen joined the Old Swiss Confederacy.[42]

The Confederacy acquired a reputation of invincibility during these earlier wars, but

Zwingli's Reformation in some cantons led to inter-cantonal religious conflicts in 1529 and 1531 (Wars of Kappel). It was not until more than one hundred years after these internal wars that, in 1648, under the Peace of Westphalia, European countries recognised Switzerland's independence from the Holy Roman Empire and its neutrality.[37][38]

During the

Catholic and Protestant cantons persisted, erupting in further violence at the First War of Villmergen, in 1656, and the Toggenburg War (or Second War of Villmergen), in 1712.[40]

Napoleonic era

Ancien Régime
and a Republic.

In 1798, the revolutionary French government invaded Switzerland and imposed a new unified constitution.[40] This centralised the government of the country, effectively abolishing the cantons: moreover, Mülhausen left Switzerland and the Valtellina valley became part of the Cisalpine Republic. The new regime, known as the Helvetic Republic, was highly unpopular. An invading foreign army had imposed and destroyed centuries of tradition, making Switzerland nothing more than a French satellite state. The fierce French suppression of the Nidwalden Revolt in September 1798 was an example of the oppressive presence of the French Army and the local population's resistance to the occupation.[citation needed]

When war broke out between France and its rivals, Russian and

Napoleon organised a meeting of the leading Swiss politicians from both sides in Paris. The Act of Mediation was the result, which largely restored Swiss autonomy and introduced a Confederation of 19 cantons.[40] Henceforth, much of Swiss politics would concern balancing the cantons' tradition of self-rule with the need for a central government.[43]

In 1815 the

siege of Gaeta. The treaty allowed Switzerland to increase its territory, with the admission of the cantons of Valais, Neuchâtel and Geneva. Switzerland's borders saw only minor adjustments thereafter.[44]

Federal state

Federal Palace in Bern (1857). One of the three cantons presiding over the Tagsatzung (former legislative and executive council), Bern was chosen as the permanent seat of federal legislative and executive institutions in 1848, in part because of its closeness to the French-speaking area.[1]

The restoration of power to the patriciate was only temporary. After a period of unrest with repeated violent clashes, such as the

Sonderbundskrieg) broke out in 1847 when some Catholic cantons tried to set up a separate alliance (the Sonderbund).[40] The war lasted less than a month, causing fewer than 100 casualties, most of which were through friendly fire. The Sonderbundskrieg had a significant impact on the psychology and society of Switzerland.[citation needed][who?
]

The war convinced most Swiss of the need for unity and strength. Swiss from all strata of society, whether Catholic or Protestant, from the liberal or conservative current, realised that the cantons would profit more from merging their economic and religious interests.[citation needed]

Thus, while the rest of Europe saw

National Council, with representatives elected from across the country). Referendums were made mandatory for any amendments.[38] This new constitution ended the legal power of nobility in Switzerland.[45]

Gotthard rail tunnel
connecting the southern canton of Ticino, the longest in the world at the time

A single system of weights and measures was introduced, and in 1850 the

]

An important clause of the constitution was that it could be entirely rewritten, if necessary, thus enabling it to evolve as a whole rather than being modified one amendment at a time.[47][page needed]

This need soon proved itself when the rise in population and the Industrial Revolution that followed led to calls to modify the constitution accordingly. The population rejected an early draft in 1872, but modifications led to its acceptance in 1874.[40] It introduced the facultative referendum for laws at the federal level. It also established federal responsibility for defence, trade, and legal matters.

In 1891, the constitution was revised with uncommonly strong elements of direct democracy, which remain unique today.[40]

Modern history

General Ulrich Wille, appointed commander-in-chief of the Swiss Army for the duration of World War I

Switzerland was not invaded during either of the world wars. During World War I, Switzerland was home to the revolutionary and founder of the Soviet Union Vladimir Illych Ulyanov (Vladimir Lenin) who remained there until 1917.[48] Swiss neutrality was seriously questioned by the short-lived Grimm–Hoffmann affair in 1917. In 1920, Switzerland joined the League of Nations, which was based in Geneva, after it was exempted from military requirements.[49]

During

Axis and Allied powers.[52]

Switzerland's trade was blockaded by both the Allies and the Axis. Economic cooperation and extension of credit to

International Red Cross, based in Geneva. Strict immigration and asylum policies and the financial relationships with Nazi Germany raised controversy, only at the end of the 20th century.[54]
: 521 

During the war, the Swiss Air Force engaged aircraft of both sides, shooting down 11 intruding

Article of War, resulted from navigation errors, equipment failure, weather conditions, and pilot errors. The Swiss expressed fear and concern that the bombings were intended to put pressure on Switzerland to end economic cooperation and neutrality with Nazi Germany.[55] Court-martial proceedings took place in England. The US paid SFR 62M for reparations.[citation needed
]

Switzerland's attitude towards refugees was complicated and controversial; over the course of the war, it admitted as many as 300,000 refugees[53] while refusing tens of thousands more,[54]: 107  including Jews persecuted by the Nazis.[54]: 114 

After the war, the Swiss government exported credits through the charitable fund known as the Schweizerspende and donated to the Marshall Plan to help Europe's recovery, efforts that ultimately benefited the Swiss economy.[54]: 521 

During the

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968 was seen as a valid alternative. Plans for building nuclear weapons were dropped by 1988.[59] Switzerland joined the Council of Europe in 1963.[38]

In 2003, by granting the Swiss People's Party a second seat in the governing cabinet, the Parliament altered the coalition that had dominated Swiss politics since 1959.

Switzerland was the last Western republic (the

Principality of Liechtenstein followed in 1984) to grant women the right to vote. Some Swiss cantons approved this in 1959, while at the federal level, it was achieved in 1971[51][60][failed verification] and, after resistance, in the last canton Appenzell Innerrhoden (one of only two remaining Landsgemeinde, along with Glarus) in 1990. After obtaining suffrage at the federal level, women quickly rose in political significance. The first woman on the seven-member Federal Council executive was Elisabeth Kopp, who served from 1984 to 1989,[51] and the first female president was Ruth Dreifuss in 1999.[61]

In 1979 areas from the canton of Bern attained independence from the Bernese, forming the new canton of Jura. On 18 April 1999, the Swiss population and the cantons voted in favour of a completely revised federal constitution.[51]

In 2002 Switzerland became a full member of the United Nations, leaving

Schengen treaty, a result that EU commentators regarded as a sign of support.[38] In September 2020, a referendum calling for a vote to end the pact that allowed a free movement of people from the European Union was introduced by the Swiss People's Party (SVP).[62] However, voters rejected the attempt to retake control of immigration, defeating the motion by a roughly 63%–37% margin.[63]

On 9 February 2014, 50.3% of Swiss voters approved a ballot

restrict immigration. This initiative was mostly backed by rural (57.6% approval) and suburban groups (51.2% approval), and isolated towns (51.3% approval) as well as by a strong majority (69.2% approval) in Ticino, while metropolitan centres (58.5% rejection) and the French-speaking part (58.5% rejection) rejected it.[64] In December 2016, a political compromise with the EU was attained that eliminated quotas on EU citizens, but still allowed favourable treatment of Swiss-based job applicants.[65] On 27 September 2020, 62% of Swiss voters rejected the anti-free movement referendum by SVP.[66]

Geography

Physical map of Switzerland (in German)

Extending across the north and south side of the Alps in west-central Europe, Switzerland encompasses diverse landscapes and climates across its 41,285 square kilometres (15,940 sq mi).[67]

Switzerland lies between latitudes

Jura mountains on the west. The Alps are a mountain range running across the central and south of the country, constituting about 60% of the country's area. The majority of the population live on the Swiss Plateau. The Swiss Alps host many glaciers, covering 1,063 square kilometres (410 sq mi). From these originate the headwaters of several major rivers, such as the Rhine, Inn, Ticino and Rhône, which flow in the four cardinal directions, spreading across Europe. The hydrographic network includes several of the largest bodies of fresh water in Central and Western Europe, among which are Lake Geneva (Lac Léman in French), Lake Constance (Bodensee in German) and Lake Maggiore. Switzerland has more than 1500 lakes and contains 6% of Europe's freshwater stock. Lakes and glaciers cover about 6% of the national territory. Lake Geneva is the largest lake and is shared with France. The Rhône is both the main source and outflow of Lake Geneva. Lake Constance is the second largest and, like Lake Geneva, an intermediate step by the Rhine at the border with Austria and Germany. While the Rhône flows into the Mediterranean Sea at the French Camargue region and the Rhine flows into the North Sea at Rotterdam, about 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) apart, both springs are only about 22 kilometres (14 miles) apart in the Swiss Alps.[67][68]

Contrasted landscapes between the regions of the Matterhorn and Lake Lucerne

Forty-eight mountains are 4,000 metres (13,000 ft) or higher in height.

Bernina Alps is Piz Bernina (4,049 m or 13,284 ft).[67]

The Swiss Plateau has greater open and hilly landscapes, partly forested, partly open pastures, usually with grazing herds or vegetable and fruit fields, but it is still hilly. Large lakes and the biggest Swiss cities are found there.[67]

Switzerland contains two small

Büsingen belongs to Germany, while Campione d'Italia belongs to Italy.[69]
Switzerland has no exclaves.

Climate

Köppen–Geiger climate classification map for Switzerland

The Swiss climate is generally temperate, but can vary greatly across localities,[70] from glacial conditions on the mountaintops to the near-Mediterranean climate at Switzerland's southern tip. Some valley areas in the southern part of Switzerland offer cold-hardy palm trees. Summers tend to be warm and humid at times with periodic rainfall, ideal for pastures/grazing. The less humid winters in the mountains may see weeks-long intervals of stable conditions. At the same time, the lower lands tend to suffer from inversion during such periods, hiding the sun.[citation needed]

A weather phenomenon known as the

Graubünden remain drier than pre-alpine areas, and as in the main valley of the Valais, wine grapes are grown there.[71]

The wettest conditions persist in the high Alps and in the Ticino canton, which has much sun yet heavy bursts of rain from time to time.[71] Precipitation tends to be spread moderately throughout the year, with a peak in summer. Autumn is the driest season, winter receives less precipitation than summer, yet the weather patterns in Switzerland are not in a stable climate system. They can vary from year to year with no strict and predictable periods.[citation needed]

Environment

Switzerland contains two terrestrial ecoregions: Western European broadleaf forests and Alps conifer and mixed forests.[72]

Switzerland's many small valleys separated by high mountains often host unique ecologies. The mountainous regions themselves offer a rich range of plants not found at other altitudes. The climatic, geological and topographical conditions of the alpine region make for a fragile ecosystem that is particularly sensitive to

GHG emissions by 50% by 2030 compared to the level of 1990 and plans to reach zero emissions by 2050.[76]

However, access to biocapacity in Switzerland is far lower than the world average. In 2016, Switzerland had 1.0 hectares[77] of biocapacity per person within its territory, 40 per cent less than world average of 1.6. In contrast, in 2016, Swiss consumption required 4.6 hectares of biocapacity – their ecological footprint, 4.6 times as much as Swiss territory can support. The remainder comes from other countries and the shared resources (such as the atmosphere impacted by greenhouse gas emissions).[77] Switzerland had a 2019 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 3.53/10, ranking it 150th globally out of 172 countries.[78]

Urbanisation

Rhone Valley (outskirts of Sion
)

About 85% of the population live in urban areas.[79][80] Switzerland went from a largely rural country to an urban one from 1930 to 2000. After 1935 urban development claimed as much of the Swiss landscape as it did during the prior 2,000 years. Urban sprawl affects the plateau, the Jura and the Alpine foothills,[81] raising concerns about land use.[82] During the 21st century, population growth in urban areas is higher than in the countryside.[80]

Switzerland has a dense network of complementary large, medium and small towns.[80] The plateau is densely populated with about 400 people per km2 and the landscape shows uninterrupted signs of human presence.[83] The weight of the largest metropolitan areas – Zürich, Geneva–Lausanne, Basel and Bern – tend to increase.[80][clarification needed] The importance of these urban areas is greater than their population suggests.[80] These urban centers are recognised for their high quality of life.[84]

The average population density in 2019 was 215.2 inhabitants per square kilometre (557/sq mi).

Graubünden, lying entirely in the Alps, population density falls to 28.0 inhabitants per square kilometre (73/sq mi).[85]: 30  In the canton of Zürich, with its large urban capital, the density is 926.8 per square kilometre (2,400/sq mi).[85]
: 76 

Government and politics

Federal Council

The

Federal Council (executive) and the Federal Court
(judicial).

Parliament

The

Federal Assembly. Through referendums, citizens may challenge any law passed by parliament and, through initiatives, introduce amendments to the federal constitution, thus making Switzerland a direct democracy.[86]

Federal Council

The Federal Council directs the federal government, the federal administration, and serves as a collective head of state. It is a collegial body of seven members, elected for a four-year term by the Federal Assembly, which also oversees the council. The President of the Confederation is elected by the Assembly from among the seven members, traditionally in rotation and for a one-year term; the President chairs the government and executes representative functions. The president is a primus inter pares with no additional powers and remains the head of a department within the administration.[86]

The government has been a coalition of the four major political parties since 1959, each party having a number of seats that roughly reflects its share of the electorate and representation in the federal parliament. The classic distribution of two CVP/PDC, two SPS/PSS, two FDP/PRD and one SVP/UDC as it stood from 1959 to 2003 was known as the "magic formula". Following the 2015 Federal Council elections, the seven seats in the Federal Council were distributed as follows:

Supreme Court

The function of the Federal Supreme Court is to hear appeals against rulings of cantonal or federal courts. The judges are elected by the Federal Assembly for six-year terms.[89]

Direct democracy

The Landsgemeinde is an old form of direct democracy, still in practice in two cantons.

Direct democracy and federalism are hallmarks of the Swiss political system.[90] Swiss citizens are subject to three legal jurisdictions: the municipality, canton and federal levels. The 1848 and 1999 Swiss Constitutions define a system of direct democracy (sometimes called half-direct or representative direct democracy because it includes institutions of a representative democracy). The instruments of this system at the federal level, known as popular rights (German: Volksrechte, French: droits populaires, Italian: diritti popolari),[91] include the right to submit a federal initiative and a referendum, both of which may overturn parliamentary decisions.[86][92]

By calling a federal referendum, a group of citizens may challenge a law passed by parliament by gathering 50,000 signatures against the law within 100 days. If so, a national vote is scheduled where voters decide by a simple majority whether to accept or reject the law. Any eight cantons can also call a constitutional referendum on federal law.[86]

Similarly, the federal constitutional initiative allows citizens to put a constitutional amendment to a national vote, if 100,000 voters sign the proposed amendment within 18 months.[i] The Federal Council and the Federal Assembly can supplement the proposed amendment with a counterproposal. Then, voters must indicate a preference on the ballot if both proposals are accepted. Constitutional amendments, whether introduced by initiative or in parliament, must be accepted by a double majority of the national popular vote and the popular cantonal votes.[j][90]

Cantons

The Swiss Confederation consists of 26 cantons:[86][93]

Swiss cantons
Canton ID Capital Canton ID Capital
Aargau 19 Aarau *Nidwalden 7 Stans
*Appenzell Ausserrhoden 15 Herisau *Obwalden 6 Sarnen
*Appenzell Innerrhoden 16
Appenzell
Schaffhausen 14 Schaffhausen
*Basel-Landschaft 13 Liestal Schwyz 5 Schwyz
*Basel-Stadt 12 Basel Solothurn 11 Solothurn
Bern 2 Bern St. Gallen 17 St. Gallen
Fribourg 10 Fribourg Thurgau 20 Frauenfeld
Geneva 25 Geneva Ticino 21 Bellinzona
Glarus 8 Glarus Uri 4 Altdorf
Grisons 18 Chur Valais 23 Sion
Jura 26 Delémont Vaud 22 Lausanne
Lucerne 3 Lucerne Zug 9 Zug
Neuchâtel 24 Neuchâtel Zürich 1 Zürich

*These cantons are known as half-cantons.

The cantons are

Grisons
).

Municipalities

As of 2018 the cantons comprised 2,222 municipalities.

Federal City

Until 1848, the loosely coupled Confederation did not have a central political organisation. Issues thought to affect the whole Confederation were the subject of periodic meetings in various locations.[94]

Old City of Bern

In 1848, the federal constitution provided that details concerning federal institutions, such as their locations, should be addressed by the

SUVA (1912) and the Federal Insurance Court (1917).[1] Other federal institutions were subsequently attributed to Lausanne (Federal Supreme Court in 1872, and EPFL in 1969), Bellinzona (Federal Criminal Court, 2004), and St. Gallen (Federal Administrative Court and Federal Patent Court
, 2012).

The 1999 Constitution does not mention a Federal City and the Federal Council has yet to address the matter.[95] Thus no city in Switzerland has the official status either of capital or of Federal City. Nevertheless, Bern is commonly referred to as "Federal City" (German: Bundesstadt, French: ville fédérale, Italian: città federale).

Foreign relations and international institutions

Palace of Nations, the European headquarters of the United Nations
in Geneva

Traditionally, Switzerland avoids alliances that might entail military, political, or direct economic action and has been neutral since the end of its expansion in 1515. Its policy of neutrality was internationally recognised at the Congress of Vienna in 1815.[96][97] Swiss neutrality has been questioned at times.[98][99] In 2002 Switzerland became a full member of the United Nations.[96] It was the first state to join it by referendum. Switzerland maintains diplomatic relations with almost all countries and historically has served as an intermediary between other states.[96] Switzerland is not a member of the European Union; the Swiss people have consistently rejected membership since the early 1990s.[96] However, Switzerland does participate in the Schengen Area.[100]

The colour-reversed Swiss flag became the symbol of the Red Cross Movement,[60][failed verification] founded in 1863 by Henry Dunant.[101]

Many international institutions have headquarters in Switzerland, in part because of its policy of neutrality.

Palace of Nations in Geneva is the second biggest centre for the United Nations after the headquarters in New York. Switzerland was a founding member and hosted the League of Nations.[49]

Apart from the United Nations headquarters, the Swiss Confederation is host to many UN agencies, including the World Health Organization (

WHO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and about 200 other international organisations, including the World Trade Organization and the World Intellectual Property Organization.[96] The annual meetings of the World Economic Forum in Davos bring together business and political leaders from Switzerland and foreign countries to discuss important issues. The headquarters of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) moved to Basel in 1930.[citation needed
]

Many sports federations and organisations are located in the country, including the

International Basketball Federation in Geneva, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) in Nyon, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) and the International Ice Hockey Federation both in Zürich, the International Cycling Union in Aigle, and the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne.[102]

Switzerland is scheduled to become a member of the United Nations Security Council for the 2023–2024 period.[103]

Switzerland and the European Union

Although not a member, Switzerland maintains relationships with the EU and European countries through bilateral agreements. The Swiss have brought their economic practices largely into conformity with those of the EU, in an effort to compete internationally.

EU membership faces considerable negative popular sentiment. It is opposed by the conservative SVP party, the largest party in the National Council, and not advocated by several other political parties. The membership application was formally withdrawn in 2016. The western French-speaking areas and the urban regions of the rest of the country tend to be more pro-EU, but do not form a significant share of the population.[104][105]

Members of the European Free Trade Association (green) participate in the European single market and are part of the Schengen Area.

An Integration Office operates under the

Dublin Convention.[106]

In 2006, a referendum approved 1 billion francs of supportive investment in Southern and Central European countries in support of positive ties to the EU as a whole. A further referendum will be needed to approve 300 million francs to support Romania and Bulgaria and their recent admission.

The Swiss have faced EU and international pressure to reduce

Galileo, cooperating with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and certificates of origin for food products.[107][needs update
]

Switzerland is a member of the Schengen passport-free zone. Land border checkpoints apply on to goods movements, but not people.[108]

Military

Axalp Air Show

The

dual citizens of a foreign country and reside there.[citation needed
]

The Swiss militia system stipulates that soldiers keep their army-issued equipment, including fully automatic personal weapons, at home.[109] Women can serve voluntarily. Men usually receive military conscription orders for training at the age of 18.[110] About two-thirds of young Swiss are found suitable for service; for the others, various forms of alternative service are available.[111] Annually, approximately 20,000 persons are trained in recruit centres for 18 to 21 weeks. The reform "Army XXI" was adopted by popular vote in 2003, replacing "Army 95", reducing the rolls from 400,000 to about 200,000. Of those, 120,000 are active in periodic Army training, and 80,000 are non-training reserves.[112]

The newest reform of the military, Weiterentwicklung der Armee (WEA; English: Further development of the Army), started in 2018 and was expected to reduce the number of army personnel to 100,000 by the end of 2022.[113][114]

Swiss-built Mowag Eagles of the land forces

Overall, three general mobilisations have been declared to ensure the integrity and neutrality of Switzerland. The first mobilisation was held in response to the

German attack on Poland.[115]

Because of its neutrality policy, the Swiss army does not take part in armed conflicts in other countries but joins some peacekeeping missions. Since 2000 the armed force department has maintained the Onyx intelligence gathering system to monitor satellite communications.[116]

Gun politics in Switzerland are unique in Europe in that 2–3.5 million guns are in the hands of civilians, giving the nation an estimate of 28–41 guns per 100 people.[117] As per the Small Arms Survey, only 324,484 guns are owned by the military.[118] Only 143,372 are in the hands of soldiers.[119] However, ammunition is no longer issued.[120][121]

Economy and labour law

The city of Basel (Roche Tower) is the capital of the country's pharmaceutical industry, which accounts for around 38% of Swiss exports worldwide.[122]
The Greater Zürich Area, home to 1.5 million inhabitants and 150,000 companies, is one of the most important economic centres in the world.[123]

Origin of the capital at the 30 biggest Swiss corporations, 2018:[124][k]

  Switzerland (39%)
  North America (33%)
  Europe (24%)
  Rest of the world (4%)

Switzerland has a stable, prosperous and high-tech economy. It is the world's wealthiest country per capita in multiple rankings. The country ranks as one of the least corrupt countries in the world,[125][126][127] while its banking sector is rated as "one of the most corrupt in the world".[128] It has the world's twentieth largest economy by nominal GDP and the thirty-eighth largest by purchasing power parity. As of 2021, it is the thirteenth largest exporter, and the fifth largest per capita. Zürich and Geneva are regarded as global cities, ranked as Alpha and Beta respectively. Basel is the capital of Switzerland's pharmaceutical industry, hosting Novartis, Roche, and many other players. It is one of the world's most important centres for the life sciences industry.[129]

Switzerland had the second-highest global rating in the Index of Economic Freedom 2023,[130] while also providing significant public services.[131] On a per capita basis, nominal GDP is higher than those of the larger Western and Central European economies and Japan,[132] while adjusted for purchasing power, Switzerland ranked 11th in 2017,[133] fifth in 2018[134] and ninth in 2020.[135]

The 2016 World Economic Forum's

Ease of Doing Business Index. Switzerland's slow growth in the 1990s and the early 2000s increased support for economic reforms and harmonisation with the European Union.[142][143] In 2020, IMD placed Switzerland first in attracting skilled workers.[144]

For much of the 20th century, Switzerland was the wealthiest country in Europe by a considerable margin (per capita GDP).

EU-25 index in 2007, compared to 113% and 104% in Germany.[148]

Switzerland is home to several large multinational corporations. The largest by revenue are

.

Switzerland's most important economic sector is manufacturing. Manufactured products include specialty

measuring instruments and musical instruments. The largest exported goods are chemicals (34% of exported goods), machines/electronics (20.9%), and precision instruments/watches (16.9%).[148] The service sector – especially banking and insurance, commodities trading, tourism, and international organisations – is another important industry for Switzerland. Exported services amount to a third of exports.[148]

Agricultural protectionism—a rare exception to Switzerland's free trade policies—contributes to high food prices. Product market liberalisation is lagging behind many EU countries according to the OECD.[142] Apart from agriculture, economic and trade barriers between the European Union and Switzerland are minimal, and Switzerland has free trade agreements with many countries. Switzerland is a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

Switzerland is considered as the "land of Cooperatives" with the ten largest cooperative companies accounting for more than 11% of GDP in 2018. They include Migros and Coop, the two largest retail companies in Switzerland.[150]

Taxation and government spending

Switzerland is a

tax revenue to GDP ratio is one of the smallest of developed countries. The Swiss Federal budget reached 62.8 billion Swiss francs in 2010, 11.35% of GDP; however, canton and municipality budgets are not counted as part of the federal budget. Total government spending is closer to 33.8% of GDP. The main sources of income for the federal government are the value-added tax (33% of tax revenue) and the direct federal tax (29%). The main areas of expenditure are in social welfare and finance/taxes. The expenditures of the Swiss Confederation have been growing from 7% of GDP in 1960 to 9.7% in 1990 and 10.7% in 2010. While the social welfare and finance sectors and tax grew from 35% in 1990 to 48.2% in 2010, a significant reduction of expenditures has been occurring in agriculture and national defence; from 26.5% to 12.4% (estimation for the year 2015).[152][153]

Labour force

Slightly more than 5 million people work in Switzerland;

foreign citizen population was 28.9% in 2015, about the same as in Australia.[160]

In 2016, the median monthly gross income in Switzerland was 6,502 francs per month (equivalent to US$6,597 per month).[161] After rent, taxes and pension contributions, plus spending on goods and services, the average household has about 15% of its gross income left for savings. Though 61% of the population made less than the mean income, income inequality is relatively low with a Gini coefficient of 29.7, placing Switzerland among the top 20 countries. In 2015, the richest 1% owned 35% of the wealth.[162] Wealth inequality increased through 2019.[163]

About 8.2% of the population live below the national poverty line, defined in Switzerland as earning less than CHF3,990 per month for a household of two adults and two children, and a further 15% are at risk of poverty. Single-parent families, those with no post-compulsory education and those out of work are among the most likely to live below the poverty line. Although work is considered a way out of poverty, some 4.3% are considered working poor. One in ten jobs in Switzerland is considered low-paid; roughly 12% of Swiss workers hold such jobs, many of them women and foreigners.[161]

Education and science

The University of Basel is Switzerland's oldest university (1460).
Some Swiss scientists who played a key role in their discipline (clockwise):
Leonhard Euler (mathematics)
Louis Agassiz (glaciology)
Auguste Piccard (aeronautics)
Albert Einstein (physics)

Education in Switzerland is diverse, because the

cantons.[164]
Public and private schools are available, including many private international schools.

Primary education

The minimum age for primary school is about six years, but most cantons provide a free "children's school" starting at age four or five.[164] Primary school continues until grade four, five or six, depending on the school. Traditionally, the first foreign language in school was one of the other Swiss languages, although in 2000, English was elevated in a few cantons.[164] At the end of primary school or at the beginning of secondary school, pupils are assigned according to their capacities into one of several sections (often three). The fastest learners are taught advanced classes to prepare for further studies and the matura,[164] while other students receive an education adapted to their needs.

Tertiary education

Switzerland hosts

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ) and the University of Zurich are listed 20th and 54th respectively, on the 2015 Academic Ranking of World Universities.[167]

The federal government sponsors two institutes: the

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ) in Zürich, founded in 1855 and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Lausanne, founded in 1969, formerly associated with the University of Lausanne.[l][168][169]

Eight of the world's ten best hotel schools are located in Switzerland.

Universities of Applied Sciences are available. In business and management studies, the University of St. Gallen, (HSG) is ranked 329th in the world according to QS World University Rankings[171] and the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), was ranked first in open programmes worldwide.[172] Switzerland has the second highest rate (almost 18% in 2003) of foreign students in tertiary education, after Australia (slightly over 18%).[173][174]

The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, located in Geneva, is continental Europe's oldest graduate school of international and development studies. It is widely held to be one of its most prestigious.[175][176]

Science

Switzerland has birthed many Nobel Prize laureates. They include

Rolf Zinkernagel, Kurt Wüthrich and Jacques Dubochet received Nobel science prizes. In total, 114 laureates across all fields have a relationship to Switzerland.[178][m] The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded nine times to organisations headquartered in Switzerland.[179]

The LHC tunnel. CERN is the world's largest laboratory and also the birthplace of the World Wide Web.[180]

Geneva and the nearby French department of Ain co-host the world's largest laboratory, CERN,[181] dedicated to particle physics research. Another important research centre is the Paul Scherrer Institute.

Notable inventions include

lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), diazepam (Valium), the scanning tunnelling microscope (Nobel prize) and Velcro. Some technologies enabled the exploration of new worlds such as the pressurised balloon of Auguste Piccard and the Bathyscaphe which permitted Jacques Piccard
to reach the deepest point of the world's oceans.

The

Oerlikon Space[182] or Maxon Motors.[183]

Energy

tallest dams in Europe, among which the Mauvoisin Dam
, in the Alps. Hydroelectric power is the most important domestic source of energy in the country.

Electricity generated in Switzerland is 56% from

Fukushima nuclear disaster, in 2011 the government announced plans to end the use of nuclear energy in the following 20 to 30 years.[186] In November 2016, Swiss voters rejected a Green Party referendum to accelerate the phaseout of nuclear power (45.8% supported).[187] The Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) is responsible for energy supply and energy use within the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC). The agency supports the 2000-watt society initiative to cut the nation's energy use by more than half by 2050.[188]

Transport

Lötschberg railway line. It was the first completed tunnel of the greater project NRLA
.

The densest rail network in Europe

narrow gauge networks: the Rhaetian Railway (RhB) in Graubünden, which includes some World Heritage lines,[190] and the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn (MGB), which co-operates with RhB the Glacier Express between Zermatt and St. Moritz/Davos. Switzerland operates the world's longest and deepest railway tunnel and the first flat, low-level route through the Alps, the 57.1-kilometre-long (35.5 mi) Gotthard Base Tunnel, the largest part of the New Railway Link through the Alps (NRLA)
project.

Switzerland has a publicly managed, toll-free road network financed by highway permits as well as vehicle and petrol taxes. The Swiss autobahn/autoroute system requires the annual purchase of a vignette (toll sticker)—for 40 Swiss francs—to use its roadways, including passenger cars and trucks. The Swiss autobahn/autoroute network stretches for 1,638 km (1,018 mi) and has one of the highest motorway densities in the world.[191]

St. Gallen-Altenrhein Airport and Sion Airport. Swiss International Air Lines
is the flag carrier. Its main hub is Zürich, but it is legally domiciled in Basel.

Environment

Switzerland has one of the best environmental records among developed nations.[194] It is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol. With Mexico and South Korea, it forms the Environmental Integrity Group (EIG).[195]

The country is active in recycling and anti-littering programs and is one of the world's top recyclers, recovering 66% to 96% of recyclable materials, varying across the country.[196] The 2014 Global Green Economy Index placed Switzerland among the top 10 green economies.[197]

Switzerland has an economic system for garbage disposal, which is based mostly on recycling and energy-producing

incinerators.[198] As in other European countries, the illegal disposal of garbage is heavily fined. In almost all Swiss municipalities, mandatory stickers or dedicated garbage bags allow the identification of disposable garbage.[199]

Demographics

Population density in Switzerland (2019)
Percentage of foreigners in Switzerland (2019)
Resident population (age 15+) by migration status (2012/2021)[200]
Migration status Year pct. Change
Without migration background 2021
  
59% -6%
2012
  
65%
Immigrants: First Generation 2021
  
31% +3%
2012
  
28%
Immigrants: Second Generation 2021
  
8% +1%
2012
  
7%
Migration status unknown 2021
  
1% +1%
2012
  
0%

In common with other developed countries, the Swiss population increased rapidly during the industrial era, quadrupling between 1800 and 1990 and has continued to grow.

The population is about 9 million (2023 est.).

replacement level.[202] Switzerland has one of the world's oldest populations, with an average age of 42.5 years.[203]

According to the

World Factbook, ethnic groups in Switzerland are as follows: Swiss 69.2%, German 4.2%, Italian 3.2%, Portuguese 2.5%, French 2.1%, Kosovan 1.1%, Turkish 1%, other 16.7% (2020 est).[204] The Council of Europe figures suggest a population of around 30,000 Romani people in the country.[205]

Immigration

As of 2023, resident foreigners made up 26.3% of Switzerland's population.

Tamil refugees, were the largest group of Asian origin (7.9%).[206]

2021 figures show that 39.5% (compared to 34.7% in 2012) of the permanent resident population aged 15 or over (around 2.89 million), had an immigrant background. 38% of the population with an immigrant background (1.1 million) held Swiss citizenship.[207][208]

In the 2000s, domestic and international institutions expressed concern about what was perceived as an increase in xenophobia. In reply to one critical report, the Federal Council noted that "racism unfortunately is present in Switzerland", but stated that the high proportion of foreign citizens in the country, as well as the generally successful integration of foreigners, underlined Switzerland's openness.[209] A follow-up study conducted in 2018 reported that 59% considered racism a serious problem in Switzerland.[210] The proportion of the population that claimed to have been targeted by racial discrimination increased from 10% in 2014 to almost 17% in 2018, according to the Federal Statistical Office.[211]

Largest cities

 
Rank Name Canton Municipal pop. Rank Name Canton Municipal pop.
Zürich
Zürich
Geneva
Geneva
1 Zürich Zürich 421,878 11 Thun Bern 43,476 Basel
Basel
Lausanne
Lausanne
2 Geneva Geneva 203,856 12 Bellinzona
Ticino
43,360
3 Basel Basel-Stadt 178,120 13 Köniz Bern 42,388
4 Lausanne
Vaud
140,202 14 La Chaux-de-Fonds
Neuchâtel
36,915
5 Bern Bern 134,794 15 Fribourg Fribourg 38,039
6 Winterthur Zürich 114,220 16 Schaffhausen Schaffhausen 36,952
7 Lucerne Luzern 82,620 17 Vernier Geneva 34,898
8 St. Gallen St. Gallen 76,213 18 Chur
Graubünden
36,336
9 Lugano
Ticino
62,315 19 Sion
Valais
34,978
10 Biel/Bienne Bern 55,206 20 Uster Zürich 35,337

Languages

National languages in Switzerland (2016):[213]
  German (62.8%)
  French (22.9%)
  Italian (8.2%)
  Romansh (0.5%)

Switzerland has four

canton of Grisons
, and is designated by Article 4 of the Federal Constitution as a national language along with German, French, and Italian. In Article 70 it is mentioned as an official language if the authorities communicate with persons who speak Romansh. However, federal laws and other official acts do not need to be decreed in Romansh.

In 2016, the languages most spoken at home among permanent residents aged 15 and older were Swiss German (59.4%), French (23.5%), Standard German (10.6%), and Italian (8.5%). Other languages spoken at home included English (5.0%), Portuguese (3.8%), Albanian (3.0%), Spanish (2.6%) and Serbian and Croatian (2.5%). 6.9% reported speaking another language at home.[215] In 2014 almost two-thirds (64.4%) of the permanent resident population indicated speaking more than one language regularly.[216]

The federal government is obliged to communicate in the official languages, and in the federal parliament simultaneous translation is provided from and into German, French and Italian.[217]

Aside from the official forms of their respective languages, the four linguistic regions of Switzerland also have local dialectal forms. The role played by dialects in each linguistic region varies dramatically: in German-speaking regions, Swiss German dialects have become more prevalent since the second half of the 20th century, especially in the media, and are used as an everyday language for many, while the Swiss variety of Standard German is almost always used instead of dialect for written communication (c.f. diglossic usage of a language).[218] Conversely, in the French-speaking regions, local Franco-Provençal dialects have almost disappeared (only 6.3% of the population of Valais, 3.9% of Fribourg, and 3.1% of Jura still spoke dialects at the end of the 20th century), while in the Italian-speaking regions, the use of Lombard dialects is mostly limited to family settings and casual conversation.[218]

The principal official languages have terms not used outside of Switzerland, known as Helvetisms. German Helvetisms are, roughly speaking, a large group of words typical of Swiss Standard German that do not appear in Standard German, nor in other German dialects. These include terms from Switzerland's surrounding language cultures (German Billett[219] from French), from similar terms in another language (Italian azione used not only as act but also as discount from German Aktion).[220] Swiss French, while generally close to the French of France, also contains some Helvetisms. The most frequent characteristics of Helvetisms are in vocabulary, phrases, and pronunciation, although certain Helvetisms denote themselves as special in syntax and orthography. Duden, the comprehensive German dictionary, contains about 3000 Helvetisms.[220] Current French dictionaries, such as the Petit Larousse, include several hundred Helvetisms; notably, Swiss French uses different terms than that of France for the numbers 70 (septante) and 90 (nonante) and often 80 (huitante) as well.[221]

Learning one of the other national languages is compulsory for all Swiss pupils, hence many Swiss are supposed to be at least bilingual, especially those belonging to linguistic minority groups.[222] Because the largest part of Switzerland is German-speaking, many French, Italian, and Romansh speakers migrating to the rest of Switzerland and the children of those non-German-speaking Swiss born within the rest of Switzerland speak German. While learning one of the other national languages at school is important, most Swiss learn English to communicate with Swiss speakers of other languages, as it is perceived as a neutral means of communication. English often functions as the de facto lingua franca.[223]

Health

Swiss residents are required to buy health insurance from private insurance companies, which in turn are required to accept every applicant. While the cost of the system is among the highest, its health outcomes compare well with other European countries; patients have been reported as in general, highly satisfied with it.[224][225][226] In 2012, life expectancy at birth was 80.4 years for men and 84.7 years for women[227] – the world's highest.[228][229] However, spending on health at 11.4% of GDP (2010) is on par with Germany and France (11.6%) and other European countries, but notably less than the US (17.6%).[230] From 1990, costs steadily increased.[231]

It is estimated that one out of six Swiss persons suffers from

mental illness.[232]

According to a survey conducted by Addiction Switzerland, fourteen per cent of men and 6.5% of women between 20 and 24 reported consuming cannabis in the past 30 days in 2020, and 4 Swiss cities were listed among the top 10 European cities for cocaine use as measured in wastewater, down from 5 in 2018.[233][234]

Culture

Alphorn concert in Vals

Swiss culture is characterised by diversity, which is reflected in diverse traditional customs.

Graubünden
in eastern Switzerland constitutes an exception. It survives only in the upper valleys of the Rhine and the Inn and strives to maintain its rare linguistic tradition.

Switzerland is home to notable contributors to literature, art, architecture, music and sciences. In addition, the country attracted creatives during times of unrest or war.[237] Some 1000 museums are found in the country.[235]

Among the most important cultural performances held annually are the

Locarno International Film Festival and Art Basel.[240]

Alpine symbolism played an essential role in shaping Swiss history and the Swiss national identity.

yodeling and the accordion as epitomes of traditional Swiss music.[242][243]

Religion

Religion in Switzerland (age 15+, 2018–2020):[244][n]

  
Judaism
(0.2%)
  Other religions (0.3%)
  Undetermined (1.1%)

Christianity is the predominant religion according to national surveys of Swiss Federal Statistical Office

Protestant churches (2.2%), Eastern Orthodoxy (2.5%), and other Christian denominations (2.2%).[246]

Switzerland has no official

Swiss Reformed Church. These churches, and in some cantons the Old Catholic Church and Jewish congregations, are financed by official taxation of members.[248] In 2020, the Roman Catholic Church had 3,048,475 registered and church tax paying members (corresponding to 35.2% of the total population), while the Swiss Reformed Church had 2,015,816 members (23.3% of the total population).[249][o]

26.3% of Swiss permanent residents are not affiliated with a religious community.[246]

As of 2020, according to a national survey conducted by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office,

Schweizer Pfingstmission), Apostolic communities (0.3%), other Protestant denominations (1.1%, including Methodism), the Old Catholic Church (0.1%), other Christian denominations (0.3%). Non-Christian religions are Islam (5.3%),[246] Hinduism (0.6%), Buddhism (0.5%), Judaism (0.25%) and others (0.4%).[244]

Historically, the country was about evenly balanced between Catholic and Protestant, in a complex patchwork. During the

Niklaus Manuel), and St. Gallen (Joachim Vadian). One canton, Appenzell, was officially divided into Catholic and Protestant sections in 1597. The larger cities and their cantons (Bern, Geneva, Lausanne, Zürich and Basel) used to be predominantly Protestant. Central Switzerland, the Valais, the Ticino, Appenzell Innerrhodes, the Jura, and Fribourg
are traditionally Catholic.

The

consociational state, allowing the peaceful co-existence of Catholics and Protestants.[citation needed] A 1980 initiative calling for the complete separation of church and state was rejected by 78.9% of the voters.[250] Some traditionally Protestant cantons and cities nowadays have a slight Catholic majority, because since about 1970 a steadily growing minority were not affiliated with any religious body (21.4% in Switzerland, 2012) especially in traditionally Protestant regions, such as Basel-City (42%), canton of Neuchâtel (38%), canton of Geneva (35%), canton of Vaud (26%), or Zürich city (city: >25%; canton: 23%).[251]

Literature

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was not only a writer but also an influential philosopher of the eighteenth century.[citation needed]

The earliest forms of literature were in German, reflecting the language's early predominance. In the 18th century, French became fashionable in Bern and elsewhere, while the influence of the French-speaking allies and subject lands increased.[252]

Among the classic authors of Swiss literature are Jeremias Gotthelf (1797–1854) and Gottfried Keller (1819–1890); later writers are Max Frisch (1911–1991) and Friedrich Dürrenmatt (1921–1990), whose Das Versprechen (The Pledge) was released as a Hollywood film in 2001.[253]

Famous French-speaking writers were Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) and Germaine de Staël (1766–1817). More recent authors include Charles Ferdinand Ramuz (1878–1947), whose novels describe the lives of peasants and mountain dwellers, set in a harsh environment, and Blaise Cendrars (born Frédéric Sauser, 1887–1961).[253] Italian and Romansh-speaking authors also contributed to the Swiss literary landscape, generally in proportion to their number.

Probably the most famous Swiss literary creation, Heidi, the story of an orphan girl who lives with her grandfather in the Alps, is one of the most popular children's books and has come to be a symbol of Switzerland. Her creator, Johanna Spyri (1827–1901), wrote a number of books on similar themes.[253]

Media

Swiss News Agency (SNA) broadcasts information in three of the four national languages—on politics, economics, society and culture. The SNA supplies almost all Swiss media and foreign media with its reporting.[254]

In Switzerland, the most influential newspapers include the German-language Tages-Anzeiger and Neue Zürcher Zeitung, as well as the French-language Le Temps. Additionally, almost every city has at least one local newspaper published in the predominant local language. [255][256]

The government exerts greater control over broadcast media than print media, especially due to financing and licensing.[citation needed] The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, whose name was recently changed to SRG SSR, is charged with the production and distribution of radio and television content. SRG SSR studios are distributed across the various language regions. Radio content is produced in six central and four regional studios while video media are produced in Geneva, Zürich, Basel, and Lugano. An extensive cable network allows most Swiss to access content from neighbouring countries.[citation needed]

Sports

Ski area over the glaciers of Saas-Fee

Skiing, snowboarding and mountaineering are among the most popular sports, reflecting the nature of the country[257] Winter sports are practised by natives and visitors. The bobsleigh was invented in St. Moritz.[258] The first world ski championships were held in Mürren (1931) and St. Moritz (1934). The latter town hosted the second Winter Olympic Games in 1928 and the fifth edition in 1948. Among its most successful skiers and world champions are Pirmin Zurbriggen and Didier Cuche.

The most prominently watched sports in Switzerland are

ice hockey.[259]

The headquarters of the international football's and ice hockey's governing bodies, the

International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) and International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) are located in Zürich. Many other headquarters of international sports federations are located in Switzerland. For example, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), IOC's Olympic Museum and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) are located in Lausanne
.

Switzerland hosted the 1954 FIFA World Cup and was the joint host, with Austria, of the UEFA Euro 2008 tournament. The Swiss Super League is the nation's professional football club league. Europe's highest football pitch, at 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) above sea level, is located in Switzerland, the Ottmar Hitzfeld Stadium.[260]

Many Swiss follow ice hockey and support one of the 12 teams of the National League, which is the most attended league in Europe.[261] In 2009, Switzerland hosted the IIHF World Championship for the tenth time.[262] It also became World Vice-Champion in 2013 and 2018. Its numerous lakes make Switzerland an attractive sailing destination. The largest, Lake Geneva, is the home of the sailing team Alinghi which was the first European team to win the America's Cup in 2003 and which successfully defended the title in 2007.

Wimbledon titles. He won a joint-record 6 ATP Finals.[264] He was ranked no. 1 in the ATP rankings for a record 237 consecutive weeks. He ended 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009 ranked no. 1. Fellow Swiss players Martina Hingis and Stan Wawrinka also hold multiple Grand Slam titles. Switzerland won the Davis Cup
title in 2014.

Swiss Council of States rejected the change and the ban remains in place.[265][266]

Traditional sports include Swiss wrestling or Schwingen, a tradition from the rural central cantons and considered the national sport by some. Hornussen is another indigenous Swiss sport, which is like a cross between baseball and golf.[267] Steinstossen is the Swiss variant of stone put, a competition in throwing a heavy stone. Practised only among the alpine population since prehistoric times, it is recorded to have taken place in Basel in the 13th century. It is central to the Unspunnenfest, first held in 1805, with its symbol the 83.5 stone named Unspunnenstein.[268]

Cuisine

Fondue is melted cheese, into which bread is dipped.

The cuisine is multifaceted. While dishes such as

Emmental, produced in the valleys of Gruyères and Emmental. The number of fine-dining establishments is high, particularly in western Switzerland.[270][271]

tempering, which enabled higher quality. Another breakthrough was the invention of solid milk chocolate in 1875 by Daniel Peter. The Swiss are the world's largest chocolate consumers.[272][273]

The most popular alcoholic drink is wine. Switzerland is notable for its variety of grape varieties, reflecting the large variations in

Fendant in Valais) and Pinot Noir. Merlot is the main variety produced in Ticino.[274][275]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b Bern is referred to as "federal city" (German: Bundesstadt; French: ville fédérale; Italian: città federale; Romansh: citad federala). Swiss law does not designate a capital as such, but the federal parliament and government are installed in Bern, while other federal institutions, such as the federal courts, are in other cities (Bellinzona, Lausanne, Lucerne, Neuchâtel, St. Gallen a.o.).
  2. ^ Traditional date. The original date of the Rütli Oath was 1307 (reported by Aegidius Tschudi in the 16th century) and is just one among several comparable treaties between more or less the same parties during that period. The date of the Federal Charter of 1291 was selected in 1891 for the official celebration of the "Confederacy's 600th anniversary".
  3. ^ A solemn declaration of the Tagsatzung declared the Federal Constitution adopted on 12 September 1848. A resolution of the Tagsatzung of 14 September 1848 specified that the powers of the institutions provided for by the 1815 Federal Treaty would expire at the time of the constitution of the Federal Council, which took place on 16 November 1848.
  4. ^ There are several definitions. See Geography of Switzerland#Western or Central Europe.
  5. ^ Audio pronunciations: Germany, Austria.
  6. ^ Swiss Standard German spelling and pronunciation. The Swiss German name is sometimes spelled as Schwyz or Schwiiz, pronounced [ˈʃʋiːts]. Schwyz is also the standard German (and international) name of one of the Swiss cantons.
  7. ^ The latter is the common Sursilvan pronunciation.
  8. ^ Formerly the Christian Democratic People's Party (CVP/PCD), which merged with the BDP party to form the Centre party in 2019
  9. ^ Since 1999, an initiative can also be in the form of a general proposal to be elaborated by Parliament. Still, because it is considered less attractive for various reasons, this initiative has yet to be used
  10. half-cantons
    each counts as half the vote of one of the other cantons.
  11. ^ Assumption made in the study: one third of the shares is "not allocable" and has been distributed equally among current regions.
  12. ^ In 2008, the ETH Zürich was ranked 15th in the field Natural Sciences and Mathematics by the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities and the EPFL in Lausanne was ranked 18th in the field Engineering/Technology and Computer Sciences by the same ranking.
  13. ^ Nobel prizes in non-science categories included.
  14. ^ a b c Since 2010, statistics of religious affiliation in Switzerland provided by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office are based on a national structural survey of 200,000 people aged 15 years and older (corresponding to 2.5% of the total resident population). Data are extrapolated to obtain statistical results for the whole population (aged 15 years and older). These results are estimates subject to some degree of uncertainty indicated by a confidence interval, but by merging samples (pooling) from several years it is possible to get more accurate results, including total number of Protestants and information about minority religions. Note: The figures of the structural survey are not entirely comparable to data collection before 2010 based on census figures (counting every person living in Switzerland) or to annual official numbers of church members.[245]
  15. ^ Precise statistics about the membership of churches among the total population in Switzerland is only available for officially registered and church tax paying members of the Catholic Church in Switzerland and the Protestant Church of Switzerland (Landeskirchen).

References

  1. ^ a b c d Georg Kreis: Federal city in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland, 20 March 2015.
  2. ^
    S2CID 178237847
    . Als 1848 ein politisch-administratives Zentrum für den neuen Bundesstaat zu bestimmen war, verzichteten die Verfassungsväter darauf, eine Hauptstadt der Schweiz zu bezeichnen und formulierten stattdessen in Artikel 108: "Alles, was sich auf den Sitz der Bundesbehörden bezieht, ist Gegenstand der Bundesgesetzgebung." Die Bundesstadt ist also nicht mehr und nicht weniger als der Sitz der Bundesbehörden. [In 1848, when a political and administrative centre was being determined for the new federation, the founders of the constitution abstained from designating a capital city for Switzerland and instead formulated in Article 108: "Everything, which relates to seat of the authorities, is the subject of the federal legislation." The federal city is therefore no more and no less than the seat of the federal authorities.]
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Further reading

External links

46°50′N 8°20′E / 46.833°N 8.333°E / 46.833; 8.333