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 8.7 million are concentrated on the plateau, which hosts the largest cities and economic centres, including Zürich, Geneva and Basel.
Switzerland originates from the
armed neutrality since the 16th century and has not fought an international war since 1815. It joined the United Nations only in 2002, but pursues an active foreign policy that include frequent involvement in peace-building processes worldwide.
The English name Switzerland is a portmanteau of Switzer, an obsolete term for a
code: lat promoted to code: la (English: Helvetic Confederation).
The toponym Schwyz itself was first attested in 972, as Old High GermanSuittes, perhaps related to swedan 'to burn' (cf. Old Norsesvíða 'to singe, burn'), referring to the area of forest that was burned and cleared to build. 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. 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, but simply Schwyz for the canton and the town). 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 Helveticacode: lat promoted to code: la was
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.
The oldest traces of hominid existence in Switzerland date to about 150,000 years ago. The oldest known farming settlements in Switzerland, which were found at Gächlingen, date to around 5300 BC.
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.
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.
The Act of Mediation was Napoleon's attempt at a compromise between the Ancien Régime
and a Republic.
In 1798, the revolutionary French government invaded Switzerland and imposed a new unified constitution. 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.
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. Henceforth, much of Swiss politics would concern balancing the cantons' tradition of self-rule with the need for a central government.[citation needed
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.
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.
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). 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.[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.
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.
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. 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 unusually strong elements of direct democracy, which remain unique today.
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.
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. Court-martial proceedings took place in England. The U.S. paid SFR 62,176,433.06 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 while refusing tens of thousands more, including Jews persecuted by the Nazis.
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.
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968 was seen as a valid alternative. Plans for building nuclear weapons were dropped by 1988. Switzerland joined the Council of Europe in 1963.
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 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, and the first female president was Ruth Dreifuss in 1999.
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.
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. 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 (SPP). However, voters rejected the attempt to retake control of immigration, defeating the motion by a roughly 63%–37% margin.
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. 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. On 27 September 2020, 62% of Swiss voters rejected the anti-free movement referendum by SVP.
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).
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.
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.
The Swiss climate is generally temperate, but can vary greatly across localities, 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
However, access to biocapacity in Switzerland is far lower than the world average. In 2016, Switzerland had 1.0 hectares of biocapacity per person within its territory, 40 percent 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). Switzerland had a 2019 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 3.53/10, ranking it 150th globally out of 172 countries.
Between two-thirds and three-quarters of the population live in urban areas. 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, raising concerns about land use. During the 21st century, population growth in urban areas is higher than in the countryside.
Switzerland has a dense network of complementary large, medium and small towns. The plateau is densely populated with about 450 people per km2 and the landscape shows uninterrupted signs of human presence. The weight of the largest metropolitan areas – Zürich, Geneva–Lausanne, Basel and Bern – tend to increase.[clarification needed] The importance of these urban areas is greater than their population suggests. These urban centers are recognised for their high quality of life.
Graubünden, lying entirely in the Alps, population density falls to 28.0 inhabitants per square kilometre (73/sq mi).: 30 In the canton of Zürich, with its large urban capital, the density is 926.8 per square kilometre (2,400/sq mi).
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.
Swiss Federal Council in 2022 with President Ignazio Cassis (bottom) standing on an abstract, reduced railway lines map and positioned at their respective political origins[j]
The Federal Council directs the federal government, the
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.
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 2 CVP/PDC, 2 SPS/PSS, 2 FDP/PRD and 1 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:
Direct democracy and federalism are hallmarks of the Swiss political system. 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), include the right to submit a federal initiative and a referendum, both of which may overturn parliamentary decisions.
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.
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.[k] 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.[l]
As of 2018 the cantons comprised 2,222 municipalities.
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.
Old City of Bern
In 1848, the federal constitution provided that details concerning federal institutions, such as their locations, should be addressed by the
The 1999 Constitution does not mention a Federal City and the Federal Council has yet to address the matter. Thus as of 2022, 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).
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.
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
The Swiss militia system stipulates that soldiers keep their army-issued equipment, including personal weapons, at home. Some organisations and political parties find this practice controversial. Women can serve voluntarily. Men usually receive military conscription orders for training at the age of 18. About two-thirds of young Swiss are found suitable for service; for the others, various forms of alternative service are available. 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.
The newest reform of the military, WEA/DEVA/USEs, started in 2019 and was expected to reduce the number of army personnel to 100,000 by the end of 2022.[clarification needed]
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.
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. It is worth noting that as per the Small Arms Survey, only 324,484 guns are owned by the military. Only 143,372 are in the hands of soldiers. However, ammunition is no longer issued.
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. In 2020, IMD placed Switzerland first in attracting skilled workers.
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.
Switzerland is home to several large multinational corporations. The largest by revenue are
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. 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.
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).
Slightly more than 5 million people work in Switzerland;
foreign citizen population was 28.9% in 2015, about the same as in Australia.
In 2016, the median monthly gross income in Switzerland was 6,502 francs per month (equivalent to US$6,597 per month). 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. Wealth inequality increased through 2019.
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.
Public and private schools are available, including many private international schools.
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. 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. 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, while other students receive an education adapted to their needs.
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. The 2014 Global Green Economy Index placed Switzerland among the top 10 green economies.
Switzerland has an economic system for garbage disposal, which is based mostly on recycling and energy-producing
incinerators. 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.
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 8.7 million (2020 est.).
replacement level. Switzerland has one of the world's oldest populations, with an average age of 42.5 years.
Fourteen percent of men and 6.5% of women between 20 and 24 reported consuming cannabis in the past 30 days, and 5 Swiss cities were listed among the top 10 European cities for cocaine use as measured in wastewater.
As of 2020[update], resident foreigners made up 25.7% of Switzerland's population.
Tamil refugees, were the largest group of Asian origin (7.9%).
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.
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. A follow-up study conducted in 2018 reported that 59% considered racism a serious problem in Switzerland. 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.
, 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. In 2014 almost two-thirds (64.4%) of the permanent resident population indicated speaking more than one language regularly.
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.
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). 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.
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 from French), from similar terms in another language (Italian azione used not only as act but also as discount from German Aktion).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. 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.
Learning one of the other national languages is compulsory for all Swiss pupils, so many Swiss are supposed to be at least bilingual, especially those belonging to linguistic minority groups. 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 a lingua franca.
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. In 2012, life expectancy at birth was 80.4 years for men and 84.7 years for women – the world's highest. 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%). From 1990, costs steadily increased.
It is estimated that one out of six Swiss persons suffers from
Swiss culture is characterised by diversity, which is reflected in diverse traditional customs.
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. Some 1000 museums are found in the country; more than tripling since 1950.
Among the most important cultural performances held annually are the
Jewish congregations, are financed by official taxation of members. 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).[p]
26.3% of Swiss permanent residents are not affiliated with a religious community.
As of 2020, according to a national survey conducted by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office,
consociational state, allowing the peaceful co-existence of Catholics and Protestants. A 1980 initiative calling for the complete separation of church and state was rejected by 78.9% of the voters. 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%).
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.
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). 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.
Media of Switzerland
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.
Switzerland has historically boasted the world's greatest number of newspaper titles relative to its population and size. The most influential newspapers are the German-language Tages-Anzeiger and Neue Zürcher Zeitung NZZ, and the French-language Le Temps, but almost every city has at least one local newspaper, in the most common local language.
The government exerts greater control over broadcast media than print media, especially due to financing and licensing.
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.
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.
Swiss Council of States rejected the change and the ban remains in place.
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.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.
^ abBern is referred to as "federal city" (German: Bundesstadt, French: ville fédérale, Italian: città federale). 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, Luzern, Neuchâtel, St. Gallen a.o.).
^While English is not an official language, it is sometimes used as a lingua franca and many official documents – but missing any legal relevance – are available in English. Furthermore, 5.2% (almost half a million) of Swiss inhabitants – mostly foreigners – speak English as a first language and about a fifth of the population can speak some English as a second language.
^ abcdSince 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.
Rütlischwur 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".
^Swiss Standard German spelling and pronunciation. The Swiss German name is sometimes spelled as Schwyz or Schwiiz[ˈʃʋiːt͡s]. Schwyz is also the standard German (and international) name of one of the Swiss cantons.
^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
each counts as half the vote of one of the other cantons.
^Assumption made: one third of the shares is "not allocable" and has been distributed equally among current regions.
^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.
. 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.]
^Jacqueline Kucera; Athena Krummenacher, eds. (22 November 2016). Switzerland's population 2015(PDF) (official report). Swiss Statistics. Neuchâtel, Switzerland: Swiss Federal Statistical Office (FSO), Swiss Confederation. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
^Swiss border ("Les principales rectifications postérieures à 1815 concernent la vallée des Dappes en 1862 (frontière Vaud-France, env. 7,5 km2), la valle di Lei en 1952 (Grisons-Italie, 0,45 km2), l'Ellhorn en 1955 (colline revendiquée par la Suisse pour des raisons militaires, Grisons-Liechtenstein) et l'enclave allemande du Verenahof dans le canton de Schaffhouse en 1967.") in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.. It should be noticed that in valle di Lei, Italy got in exchange a territory of the same area. See hereArchived 21 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine
^ ab"Swiss Climate". Swiss Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss, Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs FDHA, Swiss Confederation. Archived from the original on 29 June 2007. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
^ ab"Swiss climate maps". Swiss Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss, Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs FDHA, Swiss Confederation. Archived from the original on 23 February 2010. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
^"2014 Environmental Performance Index". epi.yale.edu/epi. Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy, Yale University, and Center for International Earth Science Information Network, Columbia University. 2014. Archived from the original on 29 January 2014. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
^ abc"Regionalportraits 2021: Cantons". Federal Statistical Office. Federal Department of Home Affairs FDHA. 17 March 2021. p. 79 (81 in PDF). Archived from the original on 15 July 2021. Retrieved 15 July 2021. Note: page number refers to report pagination; PDF viewer displays pages two numbers higher.
^Geiser, Urs. "Swiss nuclear plants to remain on grid". SWI swissinfo.ch – the international service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). Zurich, Switzerland: Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). Archived from the original on 27 November 2016. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
^"Topic Waste" (official site) (in German, French, Italian, and English). Ittigen, Switzerland: Federal Office for the Environment FOEN. Archived from the original on 29 April 2018. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
^"Abfall – Déchets – Rifiuti" (official site) (in German, French, and Italian). Berne, Switzerland: Preisüberwachung, Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research. Archived from the original on 29 April 2018. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
^ ab"Sprachen / Lingue / Lingue" (official site) (in German, French, and Italian). Neuchâtel, Switzerland: Swiss Federal Statistical Office FSO. 28 March 2018. Archived from the original on 14 November 2018. Retrieved 5 December 2018.
from the original on 6 September 2015. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
^"Multilingualism". Berne, Switzerland: Presence Switzerland, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA, The Federal Administration. Archived from the original on 4 September 2015. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
^"Patients are very satisfied with "Hospital Switzerland"" [Patienten mit "Spital Schweiz" sehr zufrieden] (in German). Berne, Switzerland: ANQ Nationaler Verein für Qualitätsentwicklung in Spitälern und Kliniken. 5 November 2014. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 1 April 2015. Die Antworten erreichten auf einer Skala von 1 bis 10 durchschnittliche Werte zwischen 9 und 9,4.
^Kütscher, Rico (28 June 2014). "Kundenzufriedenheit: Krankenkassen sollten Effizienz und Image verbessern". Neue Zürcher Zeitung, NZZ (in German). Zürich, Switzerland. Archived from the original on 6 July 2015. Retrieved 8 April 2015. Wie es um die Kundenzufriedenheit in der Branche generell steht, zeigt eine 2013 im Auftrag von "K-Tipp" durchgeführte repräsentative Umfrage unter Versicherten, die in den vergangenen zwei Jahren Leistungen von ihrer Krankenkasse in Anspruch genommen haben. Beim Testsieger Concordia waren rund 73% der Versicherten "sehr zufrieden". Bei grossen Krankenkassen wie der CSS und Helsana betrug dieser Anteil 70% beziehungsweise 63%. Groupe Mutuel erreichte rund 50%, und die Billigkasse Assura kam auf 44%. Dies illustriert, dass die Zufriedenheit durchaus hoch ist – dass es aber auch Potenzial für Effizienzsteigerungen bei Krankenkassen gibt.
^"Die Kirchensteuern August 2013". www.estv.admin.ch (Document) (in German, French, and Italian). Berne: Schweizerische Steuerkonferenz SSK, Swiss Federal Tax Administration FTA, Federal Department of Finance FDF. 2013. Archived from the original(PDF) on 25 January 2012. Retrieved 5 April 2014.