Switzerland Geography

What is the terrain and geography like in Switzerland?

Overview:

Switzerland covers an area of 15,944 square miles. A quarter of the country consists of glaciers, mountains, and lakes; another quarter is covered by forests. Switzerland has a varied topography from an altitude of 633 feet above sea level in the Ticino Canton to 15,203 feet — the Monte Rosa peak — in the Alps.

Geography - note:

landlocked; crossroads of northern and southern Europe; along with southeastern France, northern Italy, and southwestern Austria, has the highest elevations in the Alps

Climate:

Because of the varied topography (from an altitude of 633 feet above sea level in the Ticino Canton to 15,203 feet — the Monte Rosa peak — in the Alps), climate and vegetation vary from Mediterranean to arctic. Bern does not have great extremes of hot or cold weather. Rain is common in summer as well as winter, with snowfalls in Bern occurring with more regularity in recent years. Humidity is high during spring and fall. Winter brings some warm spells, and all-day fog and cloudy weather are common. Often a 30-minute drive will get you out of the clouds and into sunshine. The Föhn, a dry south wind that passes over the Alps changing the air pressure, has an enervating and otherwise unpleasant effect on some people. The average high temperature in July is 30°C (86°F), and the average low for that month is 6.1°C (43°F). In February, the thermometer reaches 5.4°C (42°F) and dips to about -10°C (14°F).

Switzerland Use of Natural Resources

Switzerland Environment

Climate:

Because of the varied topography (from an altitude of 633 feet above sea level in the Ticino Canton to 15,203 feet — the Monte Rosa peak — in the Alps), climate and vegetation vary from Mediterranean to arctic. Bern does not have great extremes of hot or cold weather. Rain is common in summer as well as winter, with snowfalls in Bern occurring with more regularity in recent years. Humidity is high during spring and fall. Winter brings some warm spells, and all-day fog and cloudy weather are common. Often a 30-minute drive will get you out of the clouds and into sunshine. The Föhn, a dry south wind that passes over the Alps changing the air pressure, has an enervating and otherwise unpleasant effect on some people. The average high temperature in July is 30°C (86°F), and the average low for that month is 6.1°C (43°F). In February, the thermometer reaches 5.4°C (42°F) and dips to about -10°C (14°F).

Terrain:

mostly mountains (Alps in south, Jura in northwest) with a central plateau of rolling hills, plains, and large lakes

Natural Resources:

hydropower potential, timber, salt

Natural Hazards:

avalanches, landslides, flash floods

Irrigated Land:

212 Square Miles
550 Square Kilometers

Environmental Issues:

air pollution from vehicle emissions and open-air burning; acid rain; water pollution from increased use of agricultural fertilizers; loss of biodiversity

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 Compounds, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

Switzerland Geography

Geographic Location Europe
Total Area 15,937 Square Miles
41,277 Square Kilometers
Land Area 15,443 Square Miles
39,997 Square Kilometers
Water Area 494 Square Miles
1,280 Square Kilometers
Land Boundaries 1,151 Miles
1,852 Kilometers
Irrigated Land 212 Square Miles
550 Square Kilometers
Border Countries Austria 164 km, France 573 km, Italy 740 km, Liechtenstein 41 km, Germany 334 km
Geographic Coordinates 47 00 N, 8 00 E
Terrain mostly mountains (Alps in south, Jura in northwest) with a central plateau of rolling hills, plains, and large lakes
Highest Point 4,634 Meters
Highest Point Location Dufourspitze 4,634 m
Lowest Point 195 Meters
Lowest Point Location Lake Maggiore 195 m
Natural Resources hydropower potential, timber, salt
Time Zone UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
Daylight saving time +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
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