Bottom Content goes here.
Wikipedia content requires these links.....
Wikipedia content is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
The Swiss Confederation is a small landlocked federal state in central
Europe, with neighbours Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein.
The country has a strong tradition of political and military neutrality, but
also of international co-operation, as it is home to many international
organisations. It is also known as Confoederatio Helvetica (CH), Latin for
National motto: None
Official languages German, French,
President of the
In 1291, representatives of the three Pascal Couchepin
forest cantons of Uri, Schwyz, and Federal Council Kaspar Villiger
Unterwalden signed the Eternal Alliance. Moritz Leuenberger
This united them in the struggle against Pascal Couchepin
"foreign" rule by the Habsburgs, who Ruth Metzler-Arnold
then held the German imperial throne of Joseph Deiss
the Holy Roman Empire. At the Battle of Samuel Schmid
Morgarten in 1315, the Swiss defeated Micheline Calmy-Rey
the Habsburg army and secured
quasi-independence as the Swiss Area
Confederation. ╩- Total
╩- % waterRanked 132nd
Under the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, 41,285 km²
European countries recognised 3.7%
Switzerland's independence from the Holy Population
Roman Empire and its neutrality. In ╩- Total (2001)
1798, armies of the French Revolution ╩- DensityRanked 92nd
conquered Switzerland. The Congress of 7,261,200
Vienna of 1815 re-established Swiss 176/km²
independence and the European powers
agreed to permanently recognise Swiss Independence
neutrality. ╩- Declared
Switzerland adopted a federal Federal state Eternal Alliance
constitution in 1848, amending it August 1, 1291
extensively in 1874 and establishing October 24, 1648
federal responsibility for defense, 1848
trade, and legal matters. Since then, Currency Swiss Franc (CHF)
continued political, economic, and Time zone UTC +1
social improvement has characterised
Swiss history. The Swiss are known for National anthem Swiss Psalm
their historic neutrality and did not Internet TLD.CH
participate in either world war. In 2002 Calling Code41
Switzerland finally became a full member
of the United Nations.
Under the 1999 constitution, cantons hold all powers not specifically
delegated to the federation. The bicameral Swiss parliament, the Federal
Assembly, is the primary seat of power. Both houses, the Council of States
and the National Council, have equal powers in all respects, including the
right to introduce legislation. The 46 members of the Council of States (two
from each canton and one from former half cantons) are directly elected in
each canton, whereas the 200 members of the National Council are elected
directly under a system of proportional representation. Members of both
houses serve for 4 years. Through referenda people may challenge any law
voted by federal parliament and through initiatives introduce amendments of
the federal constitution, making Switzerland a semi-direct democracy.
The top executive body is the Federal Council, a collegial body of seven
members. Although the constitution provides that the Assembly elects and
supervises the members of the Council, the latter has gradually assumed a
preeminent role in directing the legislative process as well as executing
federal laws. The President of the Confederation is elected from the seven.
During a one year term, he assumes special representative functions.
The function of the Federal Supreme Courts is to hear appeals of cantonal
courts or the administrative rulings of the federal administration. The
judges are elected by the Federal Assembly for 6-year terms.
* Argovia (Aargau)
* Appenzell Inner-Rhodes (Appenzell Innerrhoden) *
* Appenzell Outer-Rhodes (Appenzell Ausserrhoden) *
* Basel-City (Basel-Stadt) *
* Basel-Country (Basel-Landschaft) *
* Berne (Bern)
* Fribourg (Freiburg)
* Geneva (GenĆve)
* Grisons (Graubčnden/Grischun/Grigioni)
* Lucerne (Luzern)
* Nidwalden *
* Obwalden *
* St. Gallen (Sankt Gallen)
* Thurgau (Thurgovia)
* Valais (Wallis)
Cantons marked by a * are represented by only one councilor in the Council
of States [Map of Switzerland]
The Swiss landscape is characterised by the Alps, a high mountain range
running across the central-south of the country. Amongst the high peaks of
the Swiss Alps, the highest of which is the Dufour Peak at 4,634 m, are
found countless valleys, some with glaciers. From these the headwaters of
several major European rivers such as the Rhine, the RhÖne, the Inn, the
Aare or the Ticino, flow down into lakes such as Lake Geneva, Lake Zurich
and Lake Constance and farther down.
The northern, more populous part of the country is more open, but can still
be fairly mountainous such as with the Jura Mountains, a smaller range in
the northwest. The Swiss climate is generally temperate, but it can vary
greatly locally, from the harsh conditions on the high mountains to the
pleasant mediterranean clime at Switzerland's southern tip.
Switzerland is a prosperous and stable modern market economy with a per
capita GDP higher than that of the big western European economies. The Swiss
in recent years have brought their economic practices largely into
conformity with the European Union's to enhance their international
competitiveness. Although the Swiss are not pursuing full EU membership in
the near term, in 1999 Bern and Brussels signed agreements to further
liberalise trade ties. They continue to discuss further areas for
cooperation. Switzerland is however a member of the European Free Trade
Switzerland remains a safe haven for investors, because it has maintained a
degree of bank secrecy and has kept up the franc's long-term external value.
The GDP growth rate dipped to 1.6% in 2001, and the government projects that
it will slow further to 1.3% in 2002.
Switzerland sits at the crossroads of several major European cultures, which
have heavily influenced the country's languages and cultural practices.
Switzerland has four official languages: German (64%) in the north and
centre, French (19%) to the west, Italian (8%) in the south, and finally
Romansh, a Romance language spoken by a small minority (<1%) in the
southeastern canton Grisons. The German spoken here is predominantly a Swiss
dialect known as Swiss German, but newspapers and some broadcasts use High
German. Many Swiss speak more than one language and resident foreigners and
temporary foreign workers make up about 20% of the population.
The largest religion in Switzerland is Roman Catholicism, to which some 43%
of the population adhere. Various Protestant faiths number some 35% of the
population, and immigration has established Islam (4%) and Eastern Orthodoxy
(2%) as sizable minority religions. The remainder belongs to very small
minorities or is unaffiliated. The stability and prosperity of Switzerland,
combined with a linguistically and religiously diverse population has led
some to describe the country as a consociational state.
The Swiss are noted for their banks, their chocolate, their cheese, their
watches, and their private boarding schools.