Name: Swiss Confederation
German: Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft
French: Confédération suisse
Italian: Confederazione Svizzera
Rumantsch: Confederazium svizra
Official languages of Switzerland: German, French, Italian, Romansch
Location: Located in Central Europe (surrounded by Germany, Austria, France and Italy)
Largest city: Zurich
Main cities: Bern (known as political city), Zurich (known as financial centre), Geneva (known for being the centre for international organizations such as Red Cross and United Nations), Basel (known as industrial city)
Area: 41,284 sq km (15,940 sq miles)
Founded in 1291
Independant federal state since 1848
Government: Switzerland has a federal structure with three different political levels: the Confederation, the cantons and the communes.
Confederation: There are three powers: the executive (the Federal Council) the legislature (the Federal Assembly) and the judiciary (the Federal Supreme Court)
Cantons: 26 (states that originally united 1848 to form the Confederation)
Communes: The lowest level of the state structure. The cantons are divided up into political communes.
Currency: Swiss Francs 1 Swiss Franc = 100 Rappen (Centimes)
Major religion: Christianity
Main exports: Watches, chemicals, precision instruments, pharmaceuticals, food, jewelry, machinery and electronics
International dialling code: + 41
Internet domain suffix .ch
Emergency numbers: Police 117 / Fire brigade 118 / Ambulance 144
The REGA - Swiss air rescue 1414 / Poisoning 145
Telephone directory enquiries: Dial 1818 or www.1818.com / tel.search.ch/index.en.html /
Switzerland is formally known as the Swiss Confederation, or country code CH. The country is a federal republic comprising of 26 cantons.
Switzerland Population: 7.7 million in 2008 of which approximately 21.7% are foreigners
Geography of Switzerland
Switzerland is bordered by Germany to the north, France to the west, Italy to the south, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. Switzerland is a landlocked country whose territory is geographically divided between the Alps, the Central Plateau and the Jura over a total area of 41,285 sq km (15,940 sq mi). Switzerland contains the two global cities and economic centres of Zürich and Geneva. Switzerland is one of the world's richest countries in terms of GDP per capita. Zürich and Geneva regularly appear near the top of the rankings of international quality of life indices.
The Swiss Confederation has a long history of neutrality and was one of the last countries to join the United Nations. Switzerland is home to many international organisations, including the World Economic Forum, the International Olympic Committee, the Red Cross, the World Trade Organization and the second largest UN office. On the European level Switzerland was a founder of the European Free Trade Association and is part of the Schengen Agreement. Swiss participation in international organisations includes: ADB (nonregional member), AfDB (nonregional member), Australia Group, BIS, CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EFTA, ESA, FAO, FATF, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAIA (observer), MIGA, MONUC, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OIF, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNRWA, UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Switzerland comprises three main linguistic and cultural regions: German, French, and Italian, to which the Romansh-speaking valleys are added. The Swiss therefore do not form a nation in the sense of a common ethnic or linguistic identity. The strong sense of belonging to the country is founded on the common historical background, shared values (federalism, direct democracy, neutrality) and Alpine symbolism. The establishment of the Swiss Confederation is traditionally dated to 1 August 1291; Swiss National Day is celebrated on the anniversary.
The Swiss Confederation consists of 26 cantons:
Appenzell A. Rh.
Appenzell I. Rh.
Under the Federal Constitution, all 26 cantons are equal in status. Each canton has its own constitution, and its own parliament, government and courts. Cantonal populations vary between 15,000 (Appenzell Innerrhoden) and 1,253,500 (Zürich), and their area between 37 km2 (14 sq mi) (Basel-Stadt) and 7,105 km2(2,743 sq mi) (Graubünden). The Cantons comprise a total of 2,889 municipalities. Within Switzerland there are two enclaves: Büsingen belongs to Germany, Campione d'Italia belongs to Italy.
Switzerland has an comparatively small public sector. Overall taxation rates are amongst the smallest of developed countries. Switzerland has one of the lowest home ownership rates in Europe. Product market liberalisation is lagging behind many EU countries according to the OECD. Switzerland is a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
Switzerland is a peaceful, productive, modern market economy with very low unemployment and a skilled work-force. A total of 3.8 million people work in Switzerland. Switzerland's economy includes a developed service sector, led by financial services, and a high-technology manufacturing industry. The recent global economic crisis and ensuing downturn in the economy saw Switzerland in recession in 2009 as global export demand shrank. The Swiss National Bank effectively implemented a zero interest rate policy in a bid to boost the economy and prevent appreciation of the franc. Switzerland's economy experienced a return to GDP growth from late 2009. Switzerland's largest banks suffered sizable losses in 2008-09, leading UBS to accept a government rescue deal in late 2008. Switzerland is facing ever-increasing pressure from the international community to reform its banking secrecy laws. The Swiss government is negotiating measures that would improve transparency within its banking sector and increase cooperation with foreign tax authorities. In 2009 Swiss financial regulators ordered UBS to reveal the names of US accountholders suspected of using the bank to commit tax fraud. Bern has recently signed dual taxation agreements with more than ten countries to improve information exchange.
Data compiled from a number of sources including the Wikipedia about Switzerland page and the CIA World Factbook Switzerland facts