Where is Switzerland located?

What countries border Switzerland?

Switzerland Weather

What is the current weather in Switzerland?


Switzerland Facts and Culture

What is Switzerland famous for?

  • Family: The Swiss who live in urban areas tend to have small families; one or two children are the norm. Multi-generational... More
  • Fashion: Conservative casual clothes are the norm for people in Switzerland outside of the office.  When in the office businessmen wear a conservative... More
  • Visiting: The Swiss are known for their use of polite formalities at social functions or in business transactions. They greet friends... More
  • Recreation: Hiking is one of the most popular leisure activities in the country, and there are more than 50,000 kilometers of... More
  • Cultural Attributes: The Swiss are known for their skill, integrity and punctuality. They pride themselves on honoring their contracts, working hard and... More
  • Diet: Cooking in Switzerland reflects the country's various ethnic traditions. For example, fondue and raclette (melted cheese dishes) come from the... More

Switzerland Facts

What is the capital of Switzerland?

Capital Bern
Government Type federal republic (formally a confederation)
Currency Swiss Franc (CHF)
Total Area 15,937 Square Miles
41,277 Square Kilometers
Location Central Europe, east of France, north of Italy
Language German (official) 63.7%, French (official) 19.2%, Italian (official) 7.6%, Romansch (official) 0.6%, other 8.9%
GDP - real growth rate 1%
GDP - per capita (PPP) $59,300.00 (USD)

Switzerland Demographics

What is the population of Switzerland?

Ethnic Groups German 65%, French 18%, Italian 10%, Romansch 1%, other 6%
Nationality Adjective Swiss
Nationality Noun Swiss (singular and plural)
Population 8,403,994
Population Growth Rate 0.85%
Population in Major Urban Areas Zurich 1.194 million; BERN (capital) 353,000
Predominant Language German (official) 63.7%, French (official) 19.2%, Italian (official) 7.6%, Romansch (official) 0.6%, other 8.9%
Urban Population 73.7%

Switzerland Government

What type of government does Switzerland have?

  • Executive Branch: chief of state: President of the Swiss Confederation Simonetta SOMMARUGA (since 1 January 2020; Vice President Guy PARMELIN (since 1... More
  • Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal More
  • Citizenship: citizenship by birth: no citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Switzerland dual citizenship recognized: yes residency... More
  • National Holiday: Founding of the Swiss Confederation in 1291; note - since 1 August 1891 celebrated as Swiss National Day More
  • Constitution: history: previous 1848, 1874; latest adopted by referendum 18 April 1999, effective 1 January 2000 amendments: proposed by the two houses... More
  • Independence: 1 August 1291 (founding of the Swiss Confederation) More

Switzerland Geography

What environmental issues does Switzerland have?

  • Overview: Switzerland covers an area of 15,944 square miles. A quarter of the country consists of glaciers, mountains, and lakes; another... More
  • Climate: Because of the varied topography (from an altitude of 633 feet above sea level in the Ticino Canton to 15,203... More
  • Border Countries: Austria 164 km, France 573 km, Italy 740 km, Liechtenstein 41 km, Germany 334 km More
  • Environment - Current Issues: air pollution from vehicle emissions and open-air burning; acid rain; water pollution from increased use of agricultural fertilizers; loss of... More
  • Environment - International Agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic... More
  • Terrain: mostly mountains (Alps in south, Jura in northwest) with a central plateau of rolling hills, plains, and large lakes More

Switzerland Economy

How big is the Switzerland economy?

Switzerland News & Current Events

What current events are happening in Switzerland?
Source: Google News

Interesting Switzerland Facts

What unique things can you discover about Switzerland?

  • Because of its policy of neutrality, Switzerland has not been directly involved in foreign wars, but many Swiss have served as mercenaries in other countries over the centuries. The Swiss Guards, who serve in the Vatican, are the only remaining Swiss mercenary force.
  • Between 70 and 80 Swiss-German dialects are spoken in Switzerland. They are commonly referred to as Schwyzerdütsch.
  • Cheese manufacturing must meet strict standards. Inspectors verify the quality and even the size of holes in a Swiss cheese. This industry is heavily subsidized by the government and the best quality cheeses are exported.
  • During the Reformation, Geneva was known as 'The Rome of the Protestants.' The city was a magnet for Protestant thinkers. Lucerne became the center of the Catholic resistance to Protestant ideas.
  • During the winter, a warm wind called the Fohn sometimes blows, melting the ice and causing avalanches. This wind can increase the risk of forest fires, so during the time of the Fohn, some Swiss mountain villages forbid smoking.
  • Emile Jaques-Dalcroze (1865-1950), who studied at the Geneva Conservatory of Music, developed a method of teaching music using physical movement that is known as Dalcroze Eurhythmics. This method is still widely used to help children not only appreciate and understand music, but also develop muscular coordination.
  • In 1998 and 1999, the top woman tennis player in the world was Swiss-born Martina Hingis.
  • In July, in the Rugen Woods near Interlaken, the citizens present an open-air production of Friedrich Schiller's Wilhelm Tell. The play is about a 13th-century woodsman and his son. The performance involves more than 200 actors and many live animals.
  • Müesli, a popular breakfast food was created in Switzerland in the 1800s by a Dr. Bircher.
  • One of the most popular Swiss card games is called Jass (pronounced Yas), played with 36 cards in 4 suits.
  • Students from around the world study in private boarding schools in Switzerland. About 50 different nationalities are represented in these schools.
  • Swiss chocolateer Daniel Peter was the first to develop a solid bar of milk chocolate in 1875.
  • Switzerland is home to many international organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Red Cross and UNICEF.
  • Switzerland is not a member of the European Union (EU) or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), but it is a member of European Free Trade Association, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Council of Europe. Switzerland is also an observer in the United Nations, although it is not a member.
  • The name Switzerland comes from Schwyz, one of the three cantons (provinces) that originally formed the Swiss Confederation. The country is also known as Helvetica, because the original inhabitants were called Helvetians.
  • The Swiss are leaders in recycling everything from cans, glass and plastic bottles, to newspapers, furniture, batteries and clothing. The Swiss must pay for each bag of garbage that is picked up and they must place their garbage in special bags purchased from the cantons.
  • The Swiss have one of the highest life expectancies in the world: 76 years for men and 82 years for women. The leading causes of death are cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
  • The Swiss take great pride in their homes and gardens. Many Swiss homes are adorned with window boxes of geraniums and other flowers. Their yards are fenced and look neat and orderly.
  • Switzerland holds the world record for eating the most chocolate. Citizens consume 19 pounds on average per year.

Switzerland Travel Information

What makes Switzerland a unique country to travel to?

Country Description

Switzerland is a highly developed democracy.

Crime

Switzerland has a low rate of violent crime; however, crimes of all types which may include violence do occur. Pick-pocketing and purse snatching are the most common and frequently occur in the vicinity of train and bus stations, airports, and some public parks, especially during peak tourist periods (such as summer and Christmas) and when conferences, shows, or exhibits are scheduled in major cities. Be especially vigilant in the airports and railway stations in both Zurich and Geneva, as these locations experience multiple incidents of petty theft almost every day.

You should be careful on trains, especially on overnight trains to neighboring countries. Thieves, who steal from passengers while they sleep, can enter even locked sleeping compartments. Thieves have been known to work in pairs to target train passengers; while one member of the pair creates a diversion at a train window or on a platform, the other steals items you have left briefly unattended.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law. In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Switzerland is 144 for medical/ambulance services; 117 for the police department; and 118 for the fire department.

Criminal Penalties

While you are traveling in Switzerland, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S.citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. In Switzerland it is expected that citizens and visitors carry an I.D. and/or a passport. Should the police stop you, and you are without an I.D., it is possible that you may be taken in for questioning. This is the decision of the individual police officer. Travelers should also be aware that photography is not allowed in certain areas (for example, at military airports). Please observe posted signs regarding photography.

Driving under the influence of alcohol can lead to heavy fines and/or a ban from driving or in severe cases, a jail sentence, depending on the percentage of alcohol in the blood. Swiss law only allows up to 0.05% blood alcohol content (whereas the legal limit in the United States is 0.08%). Driving speeds in Switzerland are also much slower than in the rest of Europe and vary from area to area. In residential areas the speed limit is 30 km/h (18.6 m/h), on urban roads 50 km/h (31 m/h), on rural roads 80 km/h (49.7 m/h), on minor highways 100 km/h (62 m/h) and on the Autobahn 120 km/h (74.5 m/h). Travelers are advised to carefully observe the posted speed limits.

Traffic fines are costly and vary according to where the infraction occurs and by how much one exceeds the speed limit. Fines assessed within the city limits are higher than those assessed on a highway or autobahn.

Drug possession carries heavy fines and prison terms in Switzerland; these can vary depending on the amount and type of narcotics carried. Any attempt to cross an international border carrying drugs (for instance transiting Switzerland via Zurich airport) automatically constitutes trafficking charges. These charges can also carry heavy penalties.

Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Switzerland, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going.

Switzerland, through its 26 cantons (states), has programs to assist victims of crime and their immediate relatives. Medical, psychological, social, financial, and legal assistance are available throughout the country. This type of assistance must be applied for, and the local police can assist if necessary. These programs also protect the rights of the victim during criminal proceedings. The victim may receive compensation for some damages, if requested during the criminal procedure. Information is available at the Swiss Department of Justice located on Bundesrain 20, 3003 Bern, telephone: 41-31-322-4750.

The United States and Switzerland do not have a bilateral agreement requiring mandatory notification of a U.S. citizen arrest to the U.S. embassy. Notification of arrests is only required if the arrested U.S. citizen so requests. If you are arrested and concerned that the Department of State may not be aware of your situation, you should request the police or prison officials to notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate of your arrest. Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements with certain countries, and customary international law, if you are arrested in Switzerland, you have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate of your arrest, and to have communications from you forwarded to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Switzerland is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, which requires arrestees be immediately heard before an independent Magistrate to determine if they will be held for investigative detention. Individuals “highly suspected” of a crime are generally placed under police detention until such time that their case can be heard by the Magistrate.

Medical Facilities and Health Information

Excellent medical care is widely available. G

Safety and Security

Switzerland remains largely free of terrorist incidents; however, like other countries in the Schengen area, Switzerland’s open borders with its Western European neighbors allow for the possibility of terrorist groups entering/exiting the country anonymously. You should remain vigilant with regard to your personal security. Although there have been no recent terrorist attacks in Switzerland, violence by anti-globalization, anti-Semitic, and anti-establishment (anarchist) groups does occur from time to time. This violence is typically in the form of property damage and clashes between these groups and the police. The potential for specific threats of violence involving U.S. citizens in Switzerland is remote. Nevertheless, the Consular Agencies in Zurich and Geneva may close periodically to assess their security situation.

Public demonstrations occasionally take place mostly in Zurich, Geneva, and Bern. These events are almost always known in advance to the police, who provide appropriate personnel to observe them and maintain order. Such demonstrations rarely turn violent; nonetheless, you should avoid them if at all possible.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions

While in Switzerland, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.

Although many roads are mountainous and winding, Swiss road safety standards are high. In some mountain areas, vehicle snow chains are required in winter. Road travel can be more dangerous during summer, winter holidays, the Easter break, and Whitsunday weekend (late spring) because of increased traffic. Travel on expressways (indicated by green signs with a white expressway symbol) requires purchase of a sticker (“vignette”), which must be affixed to the car’s windshield. Vignettes can be purchased at most border crossings points, gas stations and Swiss post offices. Drivers using the highway system without a vignette are subject to hefty fines levied on the spot.

Public transportation in Switzerland is excellent and punctual. The Swiss tourist office and train station are the best place to obtain information about special fares for tourists.

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