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,
german: Schweizer(in),
french: Suisse(sse),
it, svizzero/svizzera or ,
rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type =
Federal Federal or foederal (archaic) may refer to: Politics General *Federal monarchy, a federation of monarchies *Federation, or ''Federal state'' (federal system), a type of government characterized by both a central (federal) government and states or ...
semi-direct democracy Semi-direct democracy is a type of democracy that combines the mechanisms of direct democracy and representative government. In semi-direct democracy, representatives administer daily governance, but citizens keep the sovereignty, being able to cont ...
under a
multi-party In political science, a multi-party system is a political system in which multiple political parties across the political spectrum run for national elections, and all have the capacity to gain control of government offices, separately or in coali ...
assembly-independent directorial
republic A republic ( la, res publica, links=yes, meaning "public affair") is a form of government in which "power is held by the people and their elected representatives". In republics, the country is considered a "public matter", not the private concern ...
, leader_title1 = Federal Council , leader_name1 = , leader_title2 = , leader_name2 =
Walter Thurnherr Walter Thurnherr (born 11 July 1963) is the Federal Chancellor of Switzerland since 1 January 2016. Biography Born in Muri, Thurnherr graduated as a physicist at the ETH Zürich. In 1989, he joined the ranks of Switzerland's diplomatic corps. ...
, legislature = Federal Assembly , upper_house = Council of States , lower_house = National Council , sovereignty_type =
History History (from Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study of the past. Events occurring before the invention of writing systems are considered prehistory. "History" is an umbrella term that relates t ...
, established_event1 = Foundation date , established_date1 = The original date of the
Rütlischwur The Rütlischwur () is the legendary oath taken at the foundation of the Old Swiss Confederacy by the representatives of the three founding cantons, Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden, traditionally dated to 1291. It is named after the site of the oath t ...
was 1307 (reported by
Aegidius Tschudi Aegidius (or Giles or Glig) Tschudi (5 February 150528 February 1572) was a Swiss statesman and historian, an eminent member of the Tschudi family of Glarus, Switzerland. His best known work is the Chronicon Helveticum, a history of the early Swi ...
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 The Federal Charter or Letter of Alliance (german: Bundesbrief) is one of the earliest constitutional documents of Switzerland. A treaty of alliance from 1291 between the cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden, the Charter is one of a series of ...
was selected in 1891 for the official celebration of the "Confederacy's 600th anniversary".
(traditionally 1 August 1291) , established_event2 =
Peace of Westphalia The Peace of Westphalia (german: Westfälischer Friede, ) is the collective name for two peace treaties signed in October 1648 in the Westphalian cities of Osnabrück and Münster. They ended the Thirty Years War and brought peace to the Holy Rom ...
, established_date2 = 24 October 1648 , established_event3 =
Restoration Restoration is the act of restoring something to its original state and may refer to: * Conservation and restoration of cultural heritage * Restoration style Film and television * ''The Restoration'' (1909 film), a film by D.W. Griffith starring ...
, established_date3 = 7 August 1815 , established_event4 =
Federal state A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity characterized by a union of partially self-governing provinces, states, or other regions under a central federal government (federalism). In a federation, the self-governing ...
, established_date4 = 12 September 1848A solemn declaration of the
Tagsatzung The Federal Diet of Switzerland (german: Tagsatzung, ; french: Diète fédérale; it, Dieta federale) was the legislative and executive council of the Swiss Confederacy which existed in various forms since the beginnings of Swiss independence un ...
declared the Federal Constitution adopted on 12 September 1848. A resolution of the ''Tagsatzung'' of 14 September 1848 specified that the powers of the institutions provided for by the 1815 Federal Treaty would expire at the time of the
constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation or other type of entity and commonly determine how that entity is to be governed. When these principl ...
of the Federal Council, which took place on 16 November 1848.
, area_km2 = 41,285 , area_rank = 132nd , area_sq_mi = 15,940 , percent_water = 4.34 (as of 2015) , population_estimate = , population_census = 8,327,126 , population_estimate_year = 2019 , population_estimate_rank = 99th , population_census_year = 2015 , population_density_km2 = , population_density_rank = 48th , GDP_PPP = $584 billion , GDP_PPP_year = 2020 , GDP_PPP_rank = 38th , GDP_PPP_per_capita = $67,557 , GDP_PPP_per_capita_rank = 9th , GDP_nominal = $749 billion , GDP_nominal_year = 2020 , GDP_nominal_rank = 20th , GDP_nominal_per_capita = $86,673 , GDP_nominal_per_capita_rank = 2nd , Gini = 29.7 , Gini_year = 2018 , Gini_change = decrease , Gini_ref = , Gini_rank = 19th , HDI = 0.955 , HDI_year = 2019 , HDI_change = increase , HDI_ref = , HDI_rank = 2nd , currency =
Swiss franc#REDIRECT Swiss franc#REDIRECT Swiss franc {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
, currency_code = CHF , time_zone = CET , utc_offset = +1 , utc_offset_DST = +2 , time_zone_DST = CEST , date_format = dd.mm.yyyy (
AD The terms (AD) and before Christ (BC) are used to label or number years in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. The term is Medieval Latin and means "in the year of the Lord", but is often presented using "our Lord" instead of "the Lord", tak ...
) , drives_on = right , calling_code = +41 , patron_saint = St Nicholas of Flüe , iso3166code = CH , cctld =
.ch .ch is the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Switzerland in the Domain Name System of the Internet. Made available in 1987, only two years after .com, it is administered by SWITCH Information Technology Services. The domain ''ch'', as wi ...
, .swiss , today= , ethnic_groups = , ethnic_groups_ref = , ethnic_groups_year = 2019 Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a
landlocked country A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basins. There are currently 44 landlocked countries and 5 partially recognized landlocked states. Kazakhstan is the world's ...
situated at the confluence of
Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western world, countries that ide ...
,
Central Central is an adjective usually referring to being in the center of some place or (mathematical) object. Central may also refer to: Directions and generalised locations * Central Africa, a region in the centre of Africa continent, also known as ...
, and
Southern Europe Southern Europe is the southern subregion of Europe. Most definitions of Southern Europe, also known as Mediterranean Europe, include countries and regions such as: Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Gr ...
.There are several definitions. See Geography of Switzerland#Western or Central Europe?. It is a
federal republic A federal republic is a federation of states with a republican form of government. At its core, the literal meaning of the word republic when used to reference a form of government means: "a country that is governed by elected representatives and ...
composed of 26 cantons, with federal authorities based in
Bern ,german: Berner(in),french: Bernois(e), it, Bernese , neighboring_municipalities = Bremgarten bei Bern, Frauenkappelen, Ittigen, Kirchlindach, Köniz, Mühleberg, Muri bei Bern, Neuenegg, Ostermundigen, Wohlen bei Bern, Zollikofen , website ...
.Bern is referred to as "federal city" (german: Bundesstadt, french: ville fédérale, it, città federale). Swiss law does not designate a ''capital'' as such, but the federal parliament and government are located in Bern, while the federal courts are located in other cities. Switzerland is bordered by
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a continental part, delimited by the Alps, a peninsula and several islands surrounding it. Italy is located in Southern Europ ...
to the south,
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consisting of metropolitan France and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of Fr ...
to the west,
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , languages_type = Official language , languages = German , demonym = German , government_type = Federal parliamentary republi ...
to the north, and
Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ), is a landlocked East Alpine country in the southern part of Central Europe. It is composed of nine federated states (''Bund ...
and
Liechtenstein Liechtenstein ( ; ), officially the Principality of Liechtenstein (german: link=no, Fürstentum Liechtenstein), is a German-speaking microstate situated in the Alps and in the southwest of Central Europe. The principality is a semi-constitution ...

Liechtenstein
to the east. It is geographically divided among the
Swiss Plateau#REDIRECT Swiss Plateau#REDIRECT Swiss Plateau {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{R from other capitalisation ...
, the
Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest and most extensive mountain range system that lies entirely in Europe, stretching approximately across eight Alpine countries (from west to east): France, Switzerland ...
, and the Jura, spanning a total area of , and land area of . Although the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of approximately 8.5 million is concentrated mostly on the plateau, where the largest cities and economic centres are located, among them
Zürich , neighboring_municipalities = Adliswil, Dübendorf, Fällanden, Kilchberg, Maur, Oberengstringen, Opfikon, Regensdorf, Rümlang, Schlieren, Stallikon, Uitikon, Urdorf, Wallisellen, Zollikon , twintowns = Kunming, San Francisco Zürich is the lar ...

Zürich
,
Geneva , neighboring_municipalities= Carouge, Chêne-Bougeries, Cologny, Lancy, Grand-Saconnex, Pregny-Chambésy, Vernier, Veyrier , website = ville-geneve.ch Geneva ( ; french: Genève ; frp, Genèva ; german: link=no, Genf ; it, Ginevra ; rm, Genevra ...
, and
Basel , french: link=no, Bâlois(e), it, Basilese , neighboring_municipalities= Allschwil (BL), Hégenheim (FR-68), Binningen (BL), Birsfelden (BL), Bottmingen (BL), Huningue (FR-68), Münchenstein (BL), Muttenz (BL), Reinach (BL), Riehen (BS), Saint-L ...
. These cities are home to several offices of international organisations such as the
headquarters Headquarters (commonly referred to as HQ) denotes the location where most, if not all, of the important functions of an organization are coordinated. In the United States, the corporate headquarters represents the entity at the center or the top ...
of
FIFA FIFA ( french: Fédération Internationale de Football Association, '' en, International Federation of Association Football, link=yes'', '' es, Federación Internacional de Fútbol Asociación ''; ''german: Internationaler Verband des Association F ...
, the UN's second-largest Office, and the main building of the
Bank for International Settlements The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) is an international financial institution owned by central banks that "fosters international monetary and financial cooperation and serves as a bank for central banks". The BIS carries out its work thro ...
. The main international airports of Switzerland are also located in these cities. The
establishment Establishment may refer to: * The Establishment, the dominant group or elite holding effective power or authority in a society * The Establishment (club), an English satire club of the 1960s * ''The Establishment'' (comics), a comic book produced ...
of the
Old Swiss Confederacy The Old Swiss Confederacy or Swiss Confederacy, Swiss Confederation (Modern German: ; historically , after the Reformation also , "Republic of the Swiss") was a loose confederation of independent small states (, German or ) within the Holy Rom ...
dates to the
late medieval period The Late Middle Ages or Late Medieval Period was the period of European history lasting from AD 1250 to 1500. The Late Middle Ages followed the High Middle Ages and preceded the onset of the early modern period (and in much of Europe, the Renaiss ...
, resulting from a series of military successes against
Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ), is a landlocked East Alpine country in the southern part of Central Europe. It is composed of nine federated states (''Bund ...
and
Burgundy Burgundy (; french: link=no, Bourgogne ) is a historical territory and a former administrative region of east-central France. It is named for the Burgundians, an East Germanic people who moved westwards beyond the Rhine during the late Roman peri ...
. Swiss independence from the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Imperium Romanum; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western and Central Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its dissolution in 180 ...
was formally recognized in the
Peace of Westphalia The Peace of Westphalia (german: Westfälischer Friede, ) is the collective name for two peace treaties signed in October 1648 in the Westphalian cities of Osnabrück and Münster. They ended the Thirty Years War and brought peace to the Holy Rom ...
in 1648. The Federal Charter of 1291 is considered the founding document of Switzerland which is celebrated on
Swiss National Day ; french: Fête nationale suisse; it, Festa nazionale svizzera; rm, Festa naziunala svizra , nickname = First of August , observedby = Switzerland , litcolor = , longtype = , significance = Anniversary of the Federal Charter of 1291 , ...
. Since the
Reformation The Reformation (alternatively named the Protestant Reformation or the European Reformation) was a major movement within Western Christianity in 16th-century Europe that posed a religious and political challenge to the Catholic Church and in p ...
of the 16th century, Switzerland has maintained a strong policy of
armed neutrality A neutral country is a state that is neutral towards belligerents in a specific war or holds itself as permanently neutral in all future conflicts (including avoiding entering into military alliances such as NATO). As a type of non-combatant status ...
; it has not fought an international war since 1815 and did not join the United Nations until 2002. Nevertheless, it pursues an active foreign policy and is frequently involved in peace-building processes around the world. Switzerland is the birthplace of the
Red Cross The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is an international humanitarian movement with approximately 97 million volunteers, members and staff worldwide, which was founded to protect human life and health, to ensure respect for all ...
, one of the world's oldest and best known humanitarian organisations, and is home to numerous international organisations, including the United Nations Office at Geneva, which is its second-largest in the world. It is a founding member of the
European Free Trade Association The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is a regional trade organization and free trade area consisting of four European states: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. The organization operates in parallel with the European Union ( ...
, but notably not part of the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a combined area of and an estimated total population of about 447million. The EU has developed an internal s ...
, the
European Economic Area The European Economic Area (EEA) was established via the ''Agreement on the European Economic Area'', an international agreement which enables the extension of the European Union's single market to member states of the European Free Trade Assoc ...

European Economic Area
or the
Eurozone The eurozone, officially called the euro area, is a monetary union of 19 member states of the European Union (EU) that have adopted the euro (€) as their primary currency and sole legal tender. The monetary authority of the eurozone is the Eur ...

Eurozone
. However, it participates in the
Schengen Area The Schengen Area (; ) is an area comprising 26 European countries that have officially abolished all passport and all other types of border control at their mutual borders. The area mostly functions as a single jurisdiction for international ...

Schengen Area
and the
European Single Market The European Single Market, Internal Market or Common Market is a single market comprising the 27 member states of the European Union (EU) as well as – with certain exceptions – Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the Agreement on t ...
through bilateral treaties. Switzerland occupies the crossroads of Germanic and
Romance Romance (from Vulgar Latin , "in the Roman language", i.e., "Latin") may refer to: Common meanings * Romance (love), emotional attraction towards another person and the courtship behaviors undertaken to express the feelings * Romance languages, a ...

Romance
Europe, as reflected in its four main linguistic and cultural regions: German, French, Italian and Romansh. Although the majority of the population are German-speaking,
Swiss Swiss may refer to: * the adjectival form of Switzerland *Swiss people Places *Swiss, Missouri *Swiss, North Carolina *Swiss, West Virginia *Swiss, Wisconsin Other uses *Swiss-system tournament, in various games and sports *Swiss International Ai ...
national identity is rooted in a common historical background, shared values such as
federalism Federalism is a mixed or compound mode of government that combines a general government (the central or "federal" government) with regional governments (provincial, state, cantonal, territorial or other sub-unit governments) in a single political ...
and
direct democracy upright=1.5, A Landsgemeinde, or assembly, of the canton of Glarus, on 7 May 2006, Switzerland. Direct democracy or pure democracy is a form of democracy in which people decide on policy initiatives directly. This differs from the majorit ...
, and
Alpine
Alpine
symbolism. Due to its linguistic diversity, Switzerland is known by a variety of native names: ''Schweiz'' (
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language * Germanic peoples * Ger ...
);
Swiss Standard German Swiss Standard German (german: Schweizer Standarddeutsch), or Swiss High German (german: Schweizer Hochdeutsch or ''Schweizerhochdeutsch''), referred to by the Swiss as ''Schriftdeutsch'', or ''Hochdeutsch'', is the written form of one of four off ...
spelling and pronunciation. The
Swiss German Swiss German (Standard German: ''Schweizerdeutsch'', gsw, Schwiizerdütsch, Schwyzerdütsch, Schwiizertüütsch, Schwizertitsch Mundart,Because of the many different dialects, and because there is no defined orthography for any of them, many d ...
name is sometimes spelled as ''Schwyz'' or ''Schwiiz'' . ''
Schwyz The town of Schwyz (; french: Schwytz; it, Svitto) is the capital of the canton of Schwyz in Switzerland. The Federal Charter of 1291 or ''Bundesbrief'', the charter that eventually led to the foundation of Switzerland, can be seen at the ''Bu ...
'' is also the standard German (and international) name of one of the Swiss cantons.
''Suisse'' (
French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France ** French language, a French language which originated in France, and its various dialects ** French people, a nation and ethnic group identified with Fr ...
); ''Svizzera'' (
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, regional variants of the ...
); and ''Svizra'' ( Romansh).The latter is the common
Sursilvan Sursilvan (; also ''romontsch sursilvan'' ; Sursilvan, Vallader, Surmiran, Sutsilvan, and Rumantsch Grischun: ''sursilvan''; Puter: ''sursilvaun'') is a group of dialects of the Romansh language spoken in the Swiss district of Surselva. It is the m ...
pronunciation.
On
coins ContextObjects in Spans (COinS) is a method to embed bibliographic metadata in the HTML code of web pages. This allows bibliographic software to publish machine-readable bibliographic items and client reference management software to retrieve bibl ...
and
stamps Stamp or Stamps or Stamping may refer to: Official documents and related impressions * Postage stamp, used to indicate prepayment of fees for public mail * Ration stamp, indicating the right to rationed goods * Revenue stamp, used on documents to ...
, the Latin name, ''Confoederatio Helvetica'' – frequently shortened to "
Helvetia Helvetia () is the female national personification of Switzerland, officially ''Confoederatio Helvetica,'' the Swiss Confederation. The allegory is typically pictured in a flowing gown, with a spear and a shield emblazoned with the Swiss flag, ...
" – is used instead of the four national languages. A
developed country 450px, Classifications by the IMF and the UN in 2008.A developed country, industrialized country (or post-industrial country), more developed country (MDC), or more economically developed country (MEDC), is a sovereign state that has a high q ...
, it has the highest nominal
wealth Wealth is the abundance of valuable financial assets or physical possessions which can be converted into a form that can be used for transactions. This includes the core meaning as held in the originating old English word ''weal'', which is fro ...
per adult and the eighth-highest
per capita ''Per capita'' is a Latin prepositional phrase: ''per'' (preposition, taking the accusative case, meaning "by means of") and ''capita'' (accusative plural of the noun ''caput'', "head"). The phrase thus means "by heads" or "for each head", i.e., per ...
gross domestic product Gross domestic product (GDP) is a monetary measure of the market value of all the final goods and services produced in a specific time period. GDP (nominal) per capita does not, however, reflect differences in the cost of living and the inflation ...
, and has been considered a
tax haven A tax haven is a country or place with very low "effective" rates of taxation for foreign investors ("headline" rates may be higher). In some traditional definitions, a tax haven also offers financial secrecy. However, while countries with high ...
. It ranks highly on some international metrics, including economic competitiveness and
human developmentHuman development may refer to: * Development of the human body * Developmental psychology * Human development (economics) * Human Development Index, an index used to rank countries by level of human development * Human evolution, the prehistoric p ...
. Its cities such as Zürich, Geneva, and Basel rank among the highest in the world in terms of quality of life, albeit with some of the highest costs of living in the world. In 2020, IMD placed Switzerland first in attracting skilled workers. The
World Economic Forum The World Economic Forum (WEF), based in Cologny, Geneva Canton, Switzerland, is an international NGO, founded on 24 January 1971. The WEF's mission is stated as "committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, ac ...
ranks it the 5th most competitive country globally.


Etymology

The English name ''Switzerland'' is a compound containing ''Switzer'', an obsolete term for the
Swiss Swiss may refer to: * the adjectival form of Switzerland *Swiss people Places *Swiss, Missouri *Swiss, North Carolina *Swiss, West Virginia *Swiss, Wisconsin Other uses *Swiss-system tournament, in various games and sports *Swiss International Ai ...
, which was in use during the 16th to 19th centuries. The English adjective ''Swiss'' is a loan from French ', also in use since the 16th century. The name ''Switzer'' is from the Alemannic ', in origin an inhabitant of ''
Schwyz The town of Schwyz (; french: Schwytz; it, Svitto) is the capital of the canton of Schwyz in Switzerland. The Federal Charter of 1291 or ''Bundesbrief'', the charter that eventually led to the foundation of Switzerland, can be seen at the ''Bu ...

Schwyz
'' and its associated territory, one of the Waldstätte cantons which formed the nucleus of the
Old Swiss Confederacy The Old Swiss Confederacy or Swiss Confederacy, Swiss Confederation (Modern German: ; historically , after the Reformation also , "Republic of the Swiss") was a loose confederation of independent small states (, German or ) within the Holy Rom ...
. The Swiss began to adopt the name for themselves after the
Swabian War The Swabian War of 1499 ( gsw, Schwoobechrieg (spelling depending on dialect), called or ("Swiss War") in Germany and ("War of the Engadin") in Austria) was the last major armed conflict between the Old Swiss Confederacy and the House of Habsbu ...
of 1499, used alongside the term for "Confederates", ''
Eidgenosse ''Eidgenossenschaft'' () is a German word specific to the political history of Switzerland. It means "oath commonwealth" or "oath alliance" in reference to the "eternal pacts" formed between the Eight Cantons of the Old Swiss Confederacy of the l ...
n'' (literally: ''comrades by oath''), used since the 14th century. The data code for Switzerland, CH, is derived from
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant language ...
''Confoederatio Helvetica'' ( en, Helvetic Confederation). The toponym ''Schwyz'' itself was first attested in 972, as
Old High German Old High German (OHG, german: Althochdeutsch, German abbr. ) is the earliest stage of the German language, conventionally covering the period from around 750 to 1050. There is no standardised or supra-regional form of German at this period, and O ...
', ultimately perhaps related to ' ‘to burn’ (cf.
Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian was a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and their overseas settlements from about the 7th to the 15th centuries. The Proto-Norse language developed into Old Norse ...
''svíða'' ‘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 Swiss German (Standard German: ''Schweizerdeutsch'', gsw, Schwiizerdütsch, Schwyzerdütsch, Schwiizertüütsch, Schwizertitsch Mundart,Because of the many different dialects, and because there is no defined orthography for any of them, many d ...
name of the country, ', is homophonous to that of the canton and the settlement, but distinguished by the use of the definite article (' for the Confederation, but simply ' for the canton and the town). The long ːof Swiss German is historically and still often today spelled rather than , preserving the original identity of the two names even in writing. The
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant language ...
name ''Confoederatio Helvetica'' was neologized and introduced gradually after the formation of the federal state in 1848, harking back to the Napoleonic
Helvetic Republic In Swiss history, the Helvetic Republic (1798–1803) represented an early attempt to impose a central authority over Switzerland, which until then had consisted of self-governing cantons united by a loose military alliance (and ruling over subje ...
, appearing on coins from 1879, inscribed on the
Federal Palace The Federal Palace (german: Bundeshaus, french: Palais fédéral, it, Palazzo federale, rm, Chasa federala, la, Curia Confœderationis Helveticæ) refers to the building in Bern housing the Swiss Federal Assembly (legislature) and the Federal Co ...
in 1902 and after 1948 used in the official seal (e.g., the ISO banking code "CHF" for the
Swiss franc#REDIRECT Swiss franc#REDIRECT Swiss franc {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
, and the country top-level domain ".ch", are both taken from the state's Latin name). ''Helvetica'' is derived from the ''
Helvetii '' (c. 300 AD), which comprised the territories of a part of the Helvetii, Sequani and several smaller tribes. The relative locations of the Helvetian ''pagi'' Tigurini and Verbigeni, though indicated on the map, remain unknown. in the 1st centur ...
'', a
Gaulish tribe The Gauls ( la, Galli; grc, Γαλάται, ''Galátai'') were a group of Celtic peoples of Continental Europe in the Iron Age and the Roman period (roughly from the 5th century BC to the 5th century AD). The area they originally inhabited was know ...
living on the
Swiss plateau#REDIRECT Swiss Plateau#REDIRECT Swiss Plateau {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{R from other capitalisation ...
before the
Roman era In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Roman Kingdom (753 BC–509 BC), Rom ...
. ''
Helvetia Helvetia () is the female national personification of Switzerland, officially ''Confoederatio Helvetica,'' the Swiss Confederation. The allegory is typically pictured in a flowing gown, with a spear and a shield emblazoned with the Swiss flag, ...
'' appears as a
national personification upright=0.9, An early example of National personification in a gospel book dated 990: Germania.html"_style="text-decoration:_none;"class="mw-redirect"_title="Sclavinia,_Germania">Sclavinia,_Germania,_Gallia,_and_Sclavinia,_Germania,_Galli ...
of the Swiss confederacy in the 17th century with a 1672 play by Johann Caspar Weissenbach.


History

Switzerland has existed as a state in its present form since the adoption of the Swiss Federal Constitution in 1848. The precursors of Switzerland established a protective alliance at the end of the 13th century (1291), forming a loose confederation of states which persisted for centuries.


Early history

The oldest traces of hominid existence in Switzerland date back about 150,000 years.History
swissworld.org. Retrieved on 27 June 2009
The oldest known farming settlements in Switzerland, which were found at Gächlingen, have been dated to around 5300 BC. The earliest known cultural tribes of the area were members of the
Hallstatt Hallstatt ( , , ) is a small town in the district of Gmunden, in the Austrian state of Upper Austria. Situated between the southwestern shore of Hallstätter See and the steep slopes of the Dachstein massif, the town lies in Salzkammergut re ...

Hallstatt
and
La Tène culture The La Tène culture (; ) was a European Iron Age culture. It developed and flourished during the late Iron Age (from about 450 BCE to the Roman conquest in the 1st century BCE), succeeding the early Iron Age Hallstatt culture without any defin ...
s, named after the archaeological site of La Tène on the north side of
Lake Neuchâtel german: Neuenburgersee , native_name_lang = fr, de , image = Lac de neuchatel.jpg , caption = With Lakes Biel and Morat in the background , image_bathymetry = , caption_bathymetry = , coords = , type = , pushpin_map=Canton of Neuchâtel , inflow = L'Orbe ...
. La Tène culture developed and flourished during the late
Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory and protohistory of humanity. It was preceded by the Bronze Age and the Stone Age (Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Chalcolithic). The concept has been mostly app ...
from around 450 BC, possibly under some influence from the
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor of ...
and
Etruscan__NOTOC__ Etruscan may refer to: Ancient civilisation *The Etruscan language, an extinct language in ancient Italy *Something derived from or related to the Etruscan civilization **Etruscan architecture **Etruscan art **Etruscan cities **Etruscan ...
civilisations. One of the most important tribal groups in the Swiss region was the
Helvetii '' (c. 300 AD), which comprised the territories of a part of the Helvetii, Sequani and several smaller tribes. The relative locations of the Helvetian ''pagi'' Tigurini and Verbigeni, though indicated on the map, remain unknown. in the 1st centur ...
. Steadily harassed by the
Germanic tribes This list of ancient Germanic peoples is a list of groups and alliances of ancient Germanic peoples in ancient times. These reports begin in the 2nd century BC and extend into late antiquity. Beginning with the states of the Early Middle Ages, the ...
, in 58 BC the Helvetii decided to abandon the Swiss plateau and migrate to western
Gallia Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe first described by the Romans. It was inhabited by Celtic tribes, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg, Belgium, most of Switzerland, and parts of Northern Italy, the Netherlands, and Germ ...
, but
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman general and statesman who played a critical role in the events that led to the demise of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. In 60 BC, Caesar, Crassus and Po ...

Julius Caesar
's armies pursued and defeated them at the
Battle of Bibracte The Battle of Bibracte was fought between the Helvetii and six Roman legions, under the command of Gaius Julius Caesar. It was the second major battle of the Gallic Wars. Prelude The Helvetii, a confederation of Gallic tribes, had begun a total mi ...
, in today's eastern France, forcing the tribe to move back to its original homeland. In 15 BC,
Tiberius Tiberius Caesar Augustus ( ; 16 November 42 BC – 16 March AD 37) was the second Roman emperor, reigning from AD 14 to 37. He succeeded his stepfather, Augustus. Tiberius was one of Rome's greatest generals: his conquests of Pannonia, Dalmatia ...
, who would one day become the second Roman emperor, and his brother
Drusus{{Unreferenced, date=June 2019, bot=noref (GreenC bot) Drusus was a cognomen in Ancient Rome originating with the Livii. Under the Republic, it was associated with the Livii Drusi. Under the empire and owing to the influence of the empress Livia, the n ...
, conquered the Alps, integrating them into the
Roman Empire#REDIRECT Roman Empire#REDIRECT Roman Empire {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...

Roman Empire. The area occupied by the Helvetii—the namesakes of the later ''Confoederatio Helvetica''—first became part of Rome's
Gallia Belgica Gallia Belgica ("Belgic Gaul") was a province of the Roman Empire located in the north-eastern part of Roman Gaul, in what is today primarily northern France, Belgium, and Luxembourg, along with parts of the Netherlands and Germany. In 50 BC ...
province and then of its
Germania Superior 250px, Northern part of the province with the Limes Germanicus. Germania Superior ("Upper Germania") was an imperial province of the Roman Empire. It comprised an area of today's western Switzerland, the French Jura and Alsace regions, and southwe ...
province, while the eastern portion of modern Switzerland was integrated into the
Roman province The Roman provinces (Latin: ''provincia'', pl. ''provinciae'') were the administrative regions of Ancient Rome outside Italy that were controlled by the Romans under the Roman Republic and later the Roman Empire. Each province was ruled by a ...
of
Raetia 250px, Province of Raetia highlighted. Raetia ( ; ; also spelled Rhaetia) was a province of the Roman Empire, named after the Rhaetian (''Raeti'' or ''Rhaeti'') people. It bordered on the west with the country of the Helvetii, on the east with No ...
. Sometime around the start of the Common Era, the Romans maintained a large legionary camp called
Vindonissa 250px, Modern re-construction of the southern gate Vindonissa (from a Gaulish toponym in *''windo-'' "white") was a Roman legion camp, vicus and later a bishop's seat at modern Windisch, Switzerland. The remains of the camp are listed as a heritage ...
, now a ruin at the confluence of the
Aare The Aare () or Aar () is a tributary of the High Rhine and the longest river that both rises and ends entirely within Switzerland. Its total length from its source to its junction with the Rhine comprises about , during which distance it descends ...
and
ReussReuss may refer to: *Reuss (surname) *Reuss (river) in Switzerland *Reuss (state) or Reuß, several former states or countries in present-day Germany, and the Republic of Reuss *Reuss Elder Line and Reuss Younger Line (House of Reuss), members inclu ...
rivers, near the town of
Windisch Windisch is a municipality in the district of Brugg in the canton of Aargau in Switzerland. Etymology Windisch is situated at the site of the Roman legion camp Vindonissa. Originally a Celtic God, the name ''Vindos'' points to a widespread prehi ...

Windisch
, an outskirt of
Brugg , neighboring_municipalities = Gebenstorf, Habsburg, Hausen, Holderbank, Lupfig, Riniken, Rüfenach, Schinznach, Untersiggenthal, Villigen, Villnachern, Veltheim, Windisch , twintowns = Rottweil (Germany) , website ...
. The first and second century AD was an age of prosperity for the population living on the Swiss plateau. Several towns, like
Aventicum Aventicum was the largest town and capital of Roman Switzerland (Helvetia or Civitas Helvetiorum). Its remains are beside the modern town of Avenches. The city was probably created ''ex nihilo'' in the early 1st century AD, as the capital of th ...
, Iulia Equestris and Augusta Raurica, reached a remarkable size, while hundreds of agricultural estates (
Villae rusticae Villa rustica () was the term used by the ancient Romans to denote a villa set in the open countryside, often as the hub of a large agricultural estate (''latifundium''). The adjective ''rusticum'' was used to distinguish it from an urban or resort ...
) were founded in the countryside. Around 260 AD, the fall of the
Agri Decumates The ''Agri Decumates'' or ''Decumates Agri'' ("Decumatian Fields") were a region of the Roman Empire's provinces of Germania Superior and Raetia; covering the Black Forest, Swabian Jura, and Franconian Jura areas between the Rhine, Main, and Danu ...
territory north of the Rhine transformed today's Switzerland into a frontier land of the Empire. Repeated raids by the
Alamanni The Alemanni (also ''Alamanni''; ''Suebi'' "Swabians") were a confederation of Germanic tribes * * * on the Upper Rhine River. First mentioned by Cassius Dio in the context of the campaign of Caracalla of 213, the Alemanni captured the in 260, a ...
tribes provoked the ruin of the Roman towns and economy, forcing the population to find shelter near Roman fortresses, like the Castrum Rauracense near Augusta Raurica. The Empire built another line of defence at the north border (the so-called Donau-Iller-Rhine-Limes), but at the end of the fourth century the increased Germanic pressure forced the Romans to abandon the linear defence concept, and the Swiss plateau was finally open to the settlement of Germanic tribes. In the
Early Middle Ages The Early Middle Ages or Early Medieval Period, sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages, is typically regarded by historians as lasting from the late 5th or early 6th century to the 10th century AD. They marked the start of the Middle Ages of Eur ...
, from the end of the 4th century, the western extent of modern-day Switzerland was part of the territory of the
Kings of the Burgundians Kings or King's may refer to: *Monarchs: The sovereign heads of states and/or nations, with the male being kings *One of several works known as the "Book of Kings": **The Books of Kings part of the Bible, divided into two parts **The ''Shahnameh'', ...
. The
Alemanni The Alemanni (also ''Alamanni''; ''Suebi'' "Swabians") were a confederation of Germanic tribes * * * on the Upper Rhine River. First mentioned by Cassius Dio in the context of the campaign of Caracalla of 213, the Alemanni captured the in 260, a ...
settled the
Swiss plateau#REDIRECT Swiss Plateau#REDIRECT Swiss Plateau {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{R from other capitalisation ...
in the 5th century and the
valleys of the Alps The main valleys of the Alps, orographically by drainage basin. Rhine basin (North Sea) High Rhine *Aare **Limmat ***Linth (Glarus) ****Lake Walen *****Seeztal ****Klöntal ****Sernftal **Reuss ***Lake Lucerne ****Sarner Aa (Brünig Pass connects ...
in the 8th century, forming Alemannia. Modern-day Switzerland was therefore then divided between the kingdoms of Alemannia and
Burgundy Burgundy (; french: link=no, Bourgogne ) is a historical territory and a former administrative region of east-central France. It is named for the Burgundians, an East Germanic people who moved westwards beyond the Rhine during the late Roman peri ...
. The entire region became part of the expanding
Frankish Empire Francia, also called the Kingdom of the Franks ( la, Regnum Francorum), Frankland, or Frankish Empire, was the largest post-Roman barbarian kingdom in Western Europe. It was ruled by the Franks during Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. A ...

Frankish Empire
in the 6th century, following
Clovis I Clovis ( la, Chlodovechus; reconstructed Frankish: ; – 27 November 511) was the first king of the Franks to unite all of the Frankish tribes under one ruler, changing the form of leadership from a group of royal chieftains to rule by a single ...
's victory over the Alemanni at Tolbiac in 504 AD, and later Frankish domination of the Burgundians.Switzerland history
Nationsencyclopedia.com. Retrieved on 27 November 2009

Nationsonline.org. Retrieved on 27 November 2009
Throughout the rest of the 6th, 7th and 8th centuries the Swiss regions continued under Frankish hegemony (
Merovingian The Merovingian dynasty () was the ruling family of the Franks from the middle of the 5th century until 751. They first appear as "Kings of the Franks" in the Roman army of northern Gaul. By 509 they had united all the Franks and northern Gaulish ...
and
Carolingian The Carolingian dynasty (known variously as the Carlovingians, Carolingus, Carolings, Karolinger or Karlings) was a Frankish noble family founded by Charles Martel with origins in the Arnulfing and Pippinid clans of the 7th century AD. The dyn ...
dynasties). But after its extension under
Charlemagne Charlemagne (; ) or Charles the Great or ''Carolus'', whence in English or in German (for this individual, specifically ''Karl der Große''). The French form and the Italian or () come from his nickname ("Charles the Great")., ''Karil' ...

Charlemagne
, the
Frankish Empire Francia, also called the Kingdom of the Franks ( la, Regnum Francorum), Frankland, or Frankish Empire, was the largest post-Roman barbarian kingdom in Western Europe. It was ruled by the Franks during Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. A ...

Frankish Empire
was divided by the
Treaty of Verdun The Treaty of Verdun, signed in August 843, was the first of the treaties that divided the Carolingian Empire into three kingdoms among the three surviving sons of Louis the Pious, who was the son of Charlemagne. The treaty, signed in Verdun-sur ...
in 843. The territories of present-day Switzerland became divided into
Middle Francia Middle Francia or the first state of Lotharingia ( la, Francia media, links=no) was a short-lived Frankish kingdom which was created in 843 by the Treaty of Verdun after an intermittent civil war between the grandsons of Charlemagne resulted in divis ...
and
East Francia East Francia (Latin: ''Francia orientalis'') or the Kingdom of the East Franks (''regnum Francorum orientalium'') was a successor state of Charlemagne's empire ruled by the Carolingian dynasty until 911. It was created through the Treaty of Verdu ...
until they were reunified under the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Imperium Romanum; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western and Central Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its dissolution in 180 ...
around 1000 AD. By 1200, the Swiss plateau comprised the dominions of the houses of
Savoy Savoy (; frp, Savouè ; french: Savoie ; it, Savoia ; pms, Savòja ; ) is a cultural-historical region in the Western Alps. Situated on the cultural boundary between Franco-Provençal, Occitan and Piedmontese, the area is now divided by the Fr ...
, Zähringer,
Habsburg The House of Habsburg (; ; alternatively spelled Hapsburg in English; german: Haus Habsburg, es, Casa de Habsburgo, hu, Habsburg-család), also House of Austria (german: link=no, Haus Österreich, es, link=no, Casa de Austria), was one of the most ...
, and Kyburg. Some regions (
Uri A Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) is a unique sequence of characters that identifies a logical or physical resource used by web technologies. URIs may be used to identify anything, including real-world objects, such as people and places, concep ...
,
Schwyz The town of Schwyz (; french: Schwytz; it, Svitto) is the capital of the canton of Schwyz in Switzerland. The Federal Charter of 1291 or ''Bundesbrief'', the charter that eventually led to the foundation of Switzerland, can be seen at the ''Bu ...
,
Unterwalden Unterwalden (Latinized as ''Sylvania'', later also ''Subsylvania'' as opposed to ''Supersylvania'') is the old name of a forest-canton of the Old Swiss Confederacy in central Switzerland, south of Lake Lucerne, consisting of two valleys or ''Talsc ...

Unterwalden
, later known as ''Waldstätten'') were accorded the
Imperial immediacy Imperial immediacy (german: Reichsfreiheit or ') was a privileged constitutional and political status rooted in German feudal law under which the Imperial estates of the Holy Roman Empire such as Imperial cities, prince-bishoprics and secular princ ...
to grant the empire direct control over the mountain passes. With the extinction of its male line in 1263, the Kyburg dynasty fell in AD 1264; then the Habsburgs under King Rudolph I (Holy Roman Emperor in 1273) laid claim to the Kyburg lands and annexed them extending their territory to the eastern Swiss plateau.


Old Swiss Confederacy

The Old Swiss Confederacy was an alliance among the valley communities of the central Alps. The Confederacy, governed by
nobles Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy. Nobility has often been an estate of the realm that possessed more acknowledged privilege and higher social st ...
and
patricians The patricians (from la, patricius) were originally a group of ruling class families in ancient Rome. The distinction was highly significant in the Roman Kingdom, and the early Republic, but its relevance waned after the Conflict of the Orders (49 ...
of various cantons, facilitated management of common interests and ensured peace on the important mountain trade routes. The
Federal Charter of 1291 The Federal Charter or Letter of Alliance (german: Bundesbrief) is one of the earliest constitutional documents of Switzerland. A treaty of alliance from 1291 between the cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden, the Charter is one of a series of ...
agreed between the rural communes of
Uri A Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) is a unique sequence of characters that identifies a logical or physical resource used by web technologies. URIs may be used to identify anything, including real-world objects, such as people and places, concep ...
,
Schwyz The town of Schwyz (; french: Schwytz; it, Svitto) is the capital of the canton of Schwyz in Switzerland. The Federal Charter of 1291 or ''Bundesbrief'', the charter that eventually led to the foundation of Switzerland, can be seen at the ''Bu ...
, and
Unterwalden Unterwalden (Latinized as ''Sylvania'', later also ''Subsylvania'' as opposed to ''Supersylvania'') is the old name of a forest-canton of the Old Swiss Confederacy in central Switzerland, south of Lake Lucerne, consisting of two valleys or ''Talsc ...

Unterwalden
is considered the confederacy's founding document, even though similar alliances are likely to have existed decades earlier.Greanias, Thomas. ''Geschichte der Schweiz und der Schweizer'', Schwabe & Co 1986/2004. By 1353, the three original
cantons A canton is a type of administrative division of a country. In general, cantons are relatively small in terms of area and population when compared with other administrative divisions such as counties, departments, or provinces. Internationally, t ...
had joined with the cantons of
Glarus , neighboring_municipalities= Glarus Nord, Glarus Süd, Muotathal (SZ), Innerthal (SZ) , twintowns= Wiesbaden-Biebrich (Germany) } Glarus (; gsw, Glaris; french: Glaris; it, Glarona; rm, Glaruna) is the capital of the canton of Glarus in Switzer ...
and Zug and the
Lucerne , neighboring_municipalities= Adligenswil, Ebikon, Emmen, Horw, Kriens, Malters, Meggen, Neuenkirch Lucerne or Luzern ( )Pronunciations: ; german: Luzern ; gsw, Lozärn, label=Lucerne German; it, Lucerna ; rm, Lucerna is a city in central Switz ...
,
Zürich , neighboring_municipalities = Adliswil, Dübendorf, Fällanden, Kilchberg, Maur, Oberengstringen, Opfikon, Regensdorf, Rümlang, Schlieren, Stallikon, Uitikon, Urdorf, Wallisellen, Zollikon , twintowns = Kunming, San Francisco Zürich is the lar ...

Zürich
and
Bern ,german: Berner(in),french: Bernois(e), it, Bernese , neighboring_municipalities = Bremgarten bei Bern, Frauenkappelen, Ittigen, Kirchlindach, Köniz, Mühleberg, Muri bei Bern, Neuenegg, Ostermundigen, Wohlen bei Bern, Zollikofen , website ...
city states to form the "Old Confederacy" of eight states that existed until the end of the 15th century. The expansion led to increased power and wealth for the confederation. By 1460, the confederates controlled most of the territory south and west of the Rhine to the Alps and the Jura mountains, particularly after victories against the Habsburgs (
Battle of Sempach The Battle of Sempach was fought on 9 July 1386, between Leopold III, Duke of Austria and the Old Swiss Confederacy. The battle was a decisive Swiss victory in which Duke Leopold and numerous Austrian nobles died. The victory helped turn the loos ...
,
Battle of Näfels A battle is an occurrence of combat in warfare between opposing military units of any number or size. A war usually consists of multiple battles. In general, a battle is a military engagement that is well defined in duration, area, and force c ...
), over
Charles the Bold 260px, Double Briquet, struck under Charles the Bold in Bruges, 1475 Charles (Charles Martin; german: Karl Martin; nl, Karel Maarten; 10 November 1433 – 5 January 1477), nicknamed the Bold (german: der Kühne; nl, de Stoute; french: le T ...
of
Burgundy Burgundy (; french: link=no, Bourgogne ) is a historical territory and a former administrative region of east-central France. It is named for the Burgundians, an East Germanic people who moved westwards beyond the Rhine during the late Roman peri ...
during the 1470s, and the success of the
Swiss mercenaries Swiss mercenaries (''Reisläufer'') were notable for their service in foreign armies, especially the armies of the Kings of France, throughout the Early Modern period of European history, from the Later Middle Ages into the Age of Enlightenment. ...
. The Swiss victory in the
Swabian War The Swabian War of 1499 ( gsw, Schwoobechrieg (spelling depending on dialect), called or ("Swiss War") in Germany and ("War of the Engadin") in Austria) was the last major armed conflict between the Old Swiss Confederacy and the House of Habsbu ...
against the
Swabian League The Swabian League (''Schwäbischer Bund'') was a mutual defence and peace keeping association of Imperial Estates – free Imperial cities, prelates, principalities and knights – principally in the territory of the early medieval stem duchy of ...
of
Emperor An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch, and usually the sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife (empress consort), mother (empress ...
Maximilian IMaximilian I may refer to: *Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, reigned 1486/93–1519 *Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria, reigned 1597–1651 *Maximilian I, Prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (1636-1689) *Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria, reigned 1795– ...

Maximilian I
in 1499 amounted to ''de facto'' independence within the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Imperium Romanum; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western and Central Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its dissolution in 180 ...
. In 1501, Basel and Schaffhausen joined the Old Swiss Confederacy. The Old Swiss Confederacy had acquired a reputation of invincibility during these earlier wars, but expansion of the confederation suffered a setback in 1515 with the Swiss defeat in the
Battle of Marignano The Battle of Marignano was the last major engagement of the War of the League of Cambrai and took place on 13–14 September 1515, near the town now called Melegnano, 16 km southeast of Milan. It pitted the French army, composed of the bes ...
. This ended the so-called "heroic" epoch of Swiss history. The success of
Zwingli Huldrych Zwingli or Ulrich Zwingli (1 January 1484 – 11 October 1531) was a leader of the Reformation in Switzerland, born during a time of emerging Swiss patriotism and increasing criticism of the Swiss mercenary system. He attended the ...
's
Reformation The Reformation (alternatively named the Protestant Reformation or the European Reformation) was a major movement within Western Christianity in 16th-century Europe that posed a religious and political challenge to the Catholic Church and in p ...
in some cantons led to inter-cantonal religious conflicts in 1529 and 1531 (
Wars of KappelThe wars of Kappel (''Kappelerkriege'') is a collective term for two armed conflicts fought near Kappel am Albis between the Protestant and the Roman Catholic cantons of the Old Swiss Confederacy during the Reformation in Switzerland. First War T ...
). It was not until more than one hundred years after these internal wars that, in 1648, under the
Peace of Westphalia The Peace of Westphalia (german: Westfälischer Friede, ) is the collective name for two peace treaties signed in October 1648 in the Westphalian cities of Osnabrück and Münster. They ended the Thirty Years War and brought peace to the Holy Rom ...
, European countries recognised Switzerland's independence from the Holy Roman Empire and its neutrality. During the
Early Modern#REDIRECT Early modern period#REDIRECT Early modern period#REDIRECT Early modern period {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ... {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell ...
period of Swiss history, the growing
authoritarianism Authoritarianism is a form of government characterized by the rejection of political plurality, the use of a strong central power to preserve the political ''status quo'', and reductions in the rule of law, separation of powers, and democratic v ...
of the patriciate families combined with a financial crisis in the wake of the
Thirty Years' War The Thirty Years' War (, ) was a conflict fought primarily in modern Germany and Central Europe. It was one of the longest and most destructive conflicts in European history. Estimates of total military and civilian deaths range from 4.5 to ...
led to the
Swiss peasant war of 1653 The Swiss peasant war of 1653 was a popular revolt in the Old Swiss Confederacy at the time of the Ancien Régime. A devaluation of Bernese money caused a tax revolt that spread from the Entlebuch valley in the Canton of Lucerne to the Emmental va ...
. In the background to this struggle, the conflict between
Catholic The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide . As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international ...
and
Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Catholic Church. Protestants reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy and ...
cantons persisted, erupting in further violence at the
First War of Villmergen The First War of Villmergen Encarta-encyclopedie Winkler Prins (1993–2002) s.v. "Zwitserland. §5.2 Reformatie". Microsoft Corporation/Het Spectrum. was a Swiss religious war which lasted from 5 January until 7 March 1656, at the time of the Old ...
, in 1656, and the
Toggenburg War The Toggenburg War, also known as the Second War of Villmergen or the Swiss Civil War of 1712, was a Swiss civil war during the Old Swiss Confederacy, that took place from 12 April until 11 August 1712. On the one hand there were the Catholic "in ...
(or Second War of Villmergen), in 1712.


Napoleonic era

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 Mulhouse (; Alsatian: or , ; ; meaning ''mill house'') is a subprefecture of the Haut-Rhin department in the Grand Est region of Eastern France, close to the Swiss and German borders. With a population of 108,942 in 2018 in the commune and 246, ...
joined France and the
Valtellina Valtellina or the Valtelline (occasionally spelled as two words in English: Val Telline; rm, Vuclina (); lmo, Valtelina or ; german: Veltlin; it, Valtellina) is a valley in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, bordering Switzerland. Today it ...
valley became part of the
Cisalpine Republic The Cisalpine Republic ( it, Repubblica Cisalpina) was a sister republic of France in Northern Italy that lasted from 1797 to 1802. Creation After the Battle of Lodi in May 1796, Napoleon Bonaparte organized two states: one to the south of the Po, ...
, separating from Switzerland. The new
regime In politics, a regime (also known as "régime", from the original French spelling) is the form of government or the set of rules, cultural or social norms, etc. that regulate the operation of a government or institution and its interactions with s ...
, known as the Helvetic Republic, was highly unpopular. It had been imposed by a foreign invading army and destroyed centuries of tradition, making Switzerland nothing more than a French
satellite state A satellite state is a country that is formally independent in the world, but under heavy political, economic and military influence or control from another country. The term was coined by analogy to planetary objects orbiting a larger object, such ...
. The fierce French suppression of the Nidwalden Revolt in September 1798 was an example of the oppressive presence of the
French Army The French Army, officially the Ground Army (french: Armée de Terre , ) to distinguish it from the French Air and Space Force (), is the land-based and largest component of the French Armed Forces. It is responsible to the Government of France, a ...

French Army
and the local population's resistance to the occupation. When war broke out between France and its rivals, Russian and Austrian forces invaded Switzerland. The Swiss refused to fight alongside the French in the name of the Helvetic Republic. In 1803
Napoleon Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader. He rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the Revolutionary Wars. As Napoleon I, he was Empe ...
organised a meeting of the leading Swiss politicians from both sides in Paris. The result was the
Act of Mediation The Act of Mediation () was issued by Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of the French Republic on 19 February 1803 establishing the Swiss Confederation. The act also abolished the previous Helvetic Republic, which had existed since the invasion of ...
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. In 1815 the
Congress of Vienna The Congress of Vienna (, ) of 1814–1815 was the most important international diplomatic conference in European history, reconstituting the European political order after the downfall of the French Emperor Napoleon I. It was a meeting of ambas ...

Congress of Vienna
fully re-established Swiss independence and the European powers agreed to permanently recognise Swiss neutrality. Swiss troops still served foreign governments until 1860 when they fought in the Siege of Gaeta. The treaty also allowed Switzerland to increase its territory, with the admission of the cantons of
Valais Valais ( , , french: (Canton du) Valais, ), sometimes Wallis (german: (Kanton) Wallis ), more formally the Canton of Valais, is one of the 26 cantons forming the Swiss Confederation. It is composed of thirteen districts and its capital and larges ...
,
Neuchâtel , neighboring_municipalities= Auvernier, Boudry, Chabrey (VD), Colombier, Cressier, Cudrefin (VD), Delley-Portalban (FR), Enges, Fenin-Vilars-Saules, Hauterive, Saint-Blaise, Savagnier , twintowns = Aarau (Switzerland), Besançon (France), Sansepol ...
and
Geneva , neighboring_municipalities= Carouge, Chêne-Bougeries, Cologny, Lancy, Grand-Saconnex, Pregny-Chambésy, Vernier, Veyrier , website = ville-geneve.ch Geneva ( ; french: Genève ; frp, Genèva ; german: link=no, Genf ; it, Ginevra ; rm, Genevra ...
. Switzerland's borders have not changed since, except for some minor adjustments.


Federal state

The restoration of power to the patriciate was only temporary. After a period of unrest with repeated violent clashes, such as the
Züriputsch The Züriputsch of 6 September 1839 was a putsch of the rural conservative population against the liberal rule of the city of Zürich on the eve of the formation of the Swiss federal state. The reason for the putsch was the appointment of the c ...
of 1839, civil war (the ''
Sonderbundskrieg The Sonderbund War (german: Sonderbundskrieg, fr , Guerre du Sonderbund) of November 1847 was a civil war in Switzerland, then still a relatively loose confederacy of cantons (states). It ensued after seven Catholic cantons formed the ("separat ...
'') broke out in 1847 when some Catholic cantons tried to set up a separate alliance (the ''Sonderbund''). The war lasted for less than a month, causing fewer than 100 casualties, most of which were through
friendly fire Friendly fire is an attack by a military force on friendly or neutral troops while attempting to attack the enemy. Examples include misidentifying the target as hostile, cross-fire while engaging an enemy, long range ranging errors or inaccurac ...
. Yet however minor the Sonderbundskrieg appears compared with other European riots and wars in the 19th century, it nevertheless had a major impact on both the psychology and the society of the Swiss and of Switzerland. The war convinced most Swiss of the need for unity and strength towards its European neighbours. Swiss people from all strata of society, whether Catholic or Protestant, from the liberal or conservative current, realised that the cantons would profit more if their economic and religious interests were merged. Thus, while the rest of Europe saw revolutionary uprisings, the Swiss drew up a constitution which provided for a federal layout, much of it inspired by the . This constitution provided for a central authority while leaving the cantons the right to self-government on local issues. Giving credit to those who favoured the power of the cantons (the Sonderbund Kantone), the national assembly was divided between an
upper house#REDIRECT Upper house#REDIRECT Upper house {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
(the Council of States, two representatives per canton) and a
lower house A lower house is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the upper house. Despite its official position "below" the upper house, in many legislatures worldwide, the lower house has come to wield more power or otherwi ...
(the National Council, with representatives elected from across the country).
Referendum A referendum (plural: referendums or less commonly referenda) is a direct and universal vote in which an entire electorate is invited to vote on a particular proposal and can have nationwide or local forms. This may result in the adoption of a new ...

Referendum
s were made mandatory for any amendment of this constitution. This new constitution also brought a legal end to nobility in Switzerland. A system of single weights and measures was introduced and in 1850 the
Swiss franc#REDIRECT Swiss franc#REDIRECT Swiss franc {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
became the Swiss single currency. Article 11 of the constitution forbade sending troops to serve abroad, with the exception of serving the
Holy See The Holy See ( lat, Sancta Sedes, ; it, Santa Sede ), also called the See of Rome, is the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope, which includes the apostolic episcopal see of the Diocese of Rome with universal ecclesiastical jur ...
, though the Swiss were still obliged to serve
Francis II of the Two Sicilies , image = Francesco II of the Two Sicilies.JPG , caption = Photo , succession = King of the Two Sicilies , reign = 22 May 1859 – 20 March 1861 , predecessor = Ferdinand II , successor = ''Kingdom of Italy'' , ...
with Swiss Guards present at the Siege of Gaeta in 1860, marking the end of foreign service. An important clause of the constitution was that it could be re-written completely if this was deemed necessary, thus enabling it to evolve as a whole rather than being modified one amendment at a time.''Histoire de la Suisse'', Éditions Fragnière, Fribourg, Switzerland This need soon proved itself when the rise in population and the
Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Europe and the United States, in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840. This transition included going from hand production methods to machin ...
that followed led to calls to modify the constitution accordingly. An early draft was rejected by the population 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 upright=1.5, A Landsgemeinde, or assembly, of the canton of Glarus, on 7 May 2006, Switzerland. Direct democracy or pure democracy is a form of democracy in which people decide on policy initiatives directly. This differs from the majorit ...
, which remain unique even today.


Modern history

Switzerland was not invaded during either of the world wars. During
World War I World War I or the First World War, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously known as the Great War or "the war to end all wars", i ...
, Switzerland was home to the revolutionary and founder of the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a federal socialist state in Northern Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, in practice its governmen ...
Vladimir Illych Ulyanov (
Vladimir Lenin Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov. ( 1870 – 21 January 1924), better known by his alias Lenin,. was a Russian revolutionary, politician, and political theorist. He served as the first and founding head of government of Soviet Russia from 1917 to 192 ...

Vladimir Lenin
) and he remained there until 1917. Swiss neutrality was seriously questioned by the Grimm–Hoffmann affair in 1917, but that was short-lived. In 1920, Switzerland joined the
League of Nations The League of Nations, abbreviated as LON (french: Société des Nations , abbreviated as SDN or SdN), was the first worldwide intergovernmental organisation whose principal mission was to maintain world peace. Founded on 10 January 1920 follo ...
, which was based in
Geneva , neighboring_municipalities= Carouge, Chêne-Bougeries, Cologny, Lancy, Grand-Saconnex, Pregny-Chambésy, Vernier, Veyrier , website = ville-geneve.ch Geneva ( ; french: Genève ; frp, Genèva ; german: link=no, Genf ; it, Ginevra ; rm, Genevra ...
, on condition that it was exempt from any military requirements. During
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—forming two opposing milit ...
, detailed invasion plans were drawn up by the Germans, but Switzerland was never attacked. Switzerland was able to remain independent through a combination of military deterrence, concessions to Germany, and good fortune as larger events during the war delayed an invasion.Book review: Target Switzerland: Swiss Armed Neutrality in World War II, Halbrook, Stephen P.
stonebooks.com. Retrieved on 2 December 2009
Under General
Henri Guisan Henri Guisan (; 21 October 1874 – 7 April 1960) was a Swiss army officer who held the office of the General of the Swiss Armed Forces during the Second World War. He was the fourth and the most recent man to be appointed to the rarely used ...
, appointed the commander-in-chief for the duration of the war, a general mobilisation of the armed forces was ordered. The Swiss military strategy was changed from one of static defence at the borders to protect the economic heartland, to one of organised long-term attrition and withdrawal to strong, well-stockpiled positions high in the Alps known as the
Reduit A reduit is a fortified structure such as a citadel or a keep into which the defending troops can retreat when the outer defences are breached. The term is also used to describe an area of a country, which, through a ring of heavy fortifications or ...
. Switzerland was an important base for espionage by both sides in the conflict and often mediated communications between the
Axis Axis may refer to: Politics *Axis of evil (first used in 2002), U.S. President George W. Bush's description of Iran, Iraq, and North Korea *Axis of Resistance (first used in 2002), the Shia alliance of Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah *Axis powers of W ...
and
Allied An alliance is a relationship among people, groups, or states that have joined together for mutual benefit or to achieve some common purpose, whether or not explicit agreement has been worked out among them. Members of an alliance are called a ...
powers. Switzerland's trade was blockaded by both the Allies and by the Axis. Economic cooperation and extension of credit to the
Third Reich Nazi Germany, (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for short; also ' (lit. "National Socialist Germany") officially known as the German Reich. until 1943 and Greater German Reich. from 1943 to 1945, was the German state ...
varied according to the perceived likelihood of invasion and the availability of other trading partners. Concessions reached a peak after a crucial rail link through
Vichy France Vichy France (french: Régime de Vichy) is the common name of the French State () headed by Marshal Philippe Pétain during World War II. It was an independent ally of Nazi Germany until late 1942 when Berlin took full control. Evacuated fro ...
was severed in 1942, leaving Switzerland (together with
Liechtenstein Liechtenstein ( ; ), officially the Principality of Liechtenstein (german: link=no, Fürstentum Liechtenstein), is a German-speaking microstate situated in the Alps and in the southwest of Central Europe. The principality is a semi-constitution ...

Liechtenstein
) entirely isolated from the wider world by Axis controlled territory. Over the course of the war, Switzerland interned over 300,000 refugees and the
International Red Cross The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC; french: Comité international de la Croix-Rouge) is a humanitarian organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, and a three-time Nobel Prize Laureate. State parties (signatories) to the Geneva Con ...
, based in Geneva, played an important part during the conflict. Strict immigration and asylum policies as well as the financial relationships with
Nazi Nazism (), officially National Socialism (german: Nationalsozialismus; ), is the ideology and practices associated with Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party (german: link=no, Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, NSDAP, or National Social ...
Germany raised controversy, but not until the end of the 20th century. During the war, the Swiss Air Force engaged aircraft of both sides, shooting down 11 intruding
Luftwaffe The ''Luftwaffe'' () was the aerial warfare branch of the ''Wehrmacht'' during World War II. Germany's military air arms during World War I, the ''Luftstreitkräfte'' of the Imperial Army and the ''Marine-Fliegerabteilung'' of the Imperial ...
planes in May and June 1940, then forcing down other intruders after a change of policy following threats from Germany. Over 100 Allied bombers and their crews were interned during the war. Between 1940 and 1945, Switzerland was bombed by the Allies causing fatalities and property damage. Among the cities and towns bombed were
Basel , french: link=no, Bâlois(e), it, Basilese , neighboring_municipalities= Allschwil (BL), Hégenheim (FR-68), Binningen (BL), Birsfelden (BL), Bottmingen (BL), Huningue (FR-68), Münchenstein (BL), Muttenz (BL), Reinach (BL), Riehen (BS), Saint-L ...
,
Brusio Brusio is a municipality in the Bernina Region in the canton of Grisons in Switzerland. History Brusio is first mentioned in 1106 as ''Bruse''. It was first mentioned as Brusio in 1212. Previously it was known as ''Romansh: Brüsch'' and german: Br ...
,
Chiasso Chiasso (; lmo, Ciass ) is a municipality in the district of Mendrisio in the canton of Ticino in Switzerland. As the southernmost of Switzerland's municipalities, Chiasso is located at the border with Italy, in front of Ponte Chiasso (a Frazione ...
,
Cornol Cornol is a municipality in the district of Porrentruy in the canton of Jura in Switzerland. History Cornol is first mentioned in 1136 as ''Coronotum''. Geography Cornol has an area of . Of this area, or 57.8% is used for agricultural purposes ...
, Geneva,
Koblenz Koblenz (; french: Coblence ), spelled Coblenz before 1926, is a German city on the banks of the Rhine and of the Moselle, a multi-nation tributary. Koblenz was established as a Roman military post by Drusus around 8 B.C. Its name originates fro ...
, Niederweningen,
Rafz Rafz is a municipality in the district of Bülach in the northwest of the canton of Zürich in Switzerland. Rafz was first mentioned in 1413 as ''Rafsa''. Geography Rafz has an area of . Of this area, 52% is used for agricultural purposes, whil ...
,
Renens Renens ( ) is a municipality in the canton of Vaud, Switzerland. It is located in the district of Ouest Lausannois, and is a suburb of the city of Lausanne. It is the fourth largest city in the canton. It is considered a very multiethnic town, as ...
,
Samedan Samedan () is a town and municipality in the Maloja Region in the Swiss canton of Grisons. History Samedan is first mentioned in 1139 as ''Samaden''. In 1334 it was mentioned as ''Semeden'', in 1367 as ''Semaden'', in 1498 as ''Sumada'' and i ...

Samedan
,
Schaffhausen Schaffhausen (; gsw, Schafuuse; french: Schaffhouse; it, Sciaffusa; rm, Schaffusa; en, Shaffhouse) is a town with historic roots, a municipality in northern Switzerland, and the capital of the canton of the same name; it has an estimated populat ...
,
Stein am Rhein Stein am Rhein (abbreviated as Stein a. R.) is a historic town and a municipality in the canton of Schaffhausen in Switzerland. The town's medieval centre retains the ancient street plan. The site of the city wall, and the city gates are preserved, ...
,
Tägerwilen Tägerwilen is a municipality in the district of Kreuzlingen in the canton of Thurgau in Switzerland. Geography Aerial view by Walter Mittelholzer (1931) Tägerwilen has an area, , of . Of this area, or 47.5% is used for agricultural purposes, w ...
,
Thayngen Thayngen () is a village and a municipality in the canton of Schaffhausen in Switzerland. On 1 January 2009 Altdorf, Bibern, Hofen, Opfertshofen merged into Thayngen.
, Vals, and
Zürich , neighboring_municipalities = Adliswil, Dübendorf, Fällanden, Kilchberg, Maur, Oberengstringen, Opfikon, Regensdorf, Rümlang, Schlieren, Stallikon, Uitikon, Urdorf, Wallisellen, Zollikon , twintowns = Kunming, San Francisco Zürich is the lar ...

Zürich
. Allied forces explained the bombings, which violated the 96th Article of War, resulted from navigation errors, equipment failure, weather conditions, and errors made by bomber pilots. 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 and the U.S. Government paid 62,176,433.06 in Swiss francs for reparations of the bombings. Switzerland's attitude towards
refugees A refugee, generally speaking, is a displaced person who has been forced to cross national boundaries and who cannot return home safely. Such a person may be called an asylum seeker until granted refugee status by the contracting state or the ...
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 who were severely persecuted by the Nazis. After the war, the Swiss government exported credits through the charitable fund known as the Schweizerspende and also donated to the
Marshall Plan The Marshall Plan (officially the European Recovery Program, ERP) was an American initiative passed in 1948 for foreign aid to Western Europe. The United States transferred over $12 billion (equivalent to $ billion in ) in economic rec ...

Marshall Plan
to help Europe's recovery, efforts that ultimately benefited the Swiss economy. During the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union and the United States and their respective allies, the Eastern Bloc and the Western Bloc, after World War II. Historians do not fully agree on the dates, but the per ...
, Swiss authorities considered the construction of a Swiss
nuclear bomb A nuclear weapon (also called an atom bomb, nuke, atomic bomb, nuclear warhead, A-bomb, or nuclear bomb) is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission (fission bomb) or from a combination of fi ...
. Leading nuclear physicists at the Federal Institute of Technology Zürich such as
Paul Scherrer Paul Hermann Scherrer (3 February 1890 – 25 September 1969) was a Swiss physicist. Born in St.Gallen, Switzerland, he studied at Göttingen, Germany, before becoming a lecturer there. Later, Scherrer became head of the Department of Physics at ...
made this a realistic possibility. In 1988, the
Paul Scherrer Institute The Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) is a multi-disciplinary research institute for natural and engineering sciences in Switzerland. It is located in the Canton of Aargau in the municipalities Villigen and Würenlingen on either side of the River Aar ...
was founded in his name to explore the therapeutic uses of
neutron scattering Neutron scattering, the irregular dispersal of free neutrons by matter, can refer to either the naturally occurring physical process itself or to the man-made experimental techniques that use the natural process for investigating materials. The ...
technologies. Financial problems with the defence budget and ethical considerations prevented the substantial funds from being allocated, and the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT, is an international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation ...
of 1968 was seen as a valid alternative. All remaining plans for building nuclear weapons were dropped by 1988. Switzerland was the last Western republic to grant women the
right to vote Suffrage, political franchise, or simply franchise is the right to vote in public, political elections (although the term is sometimes used for any right to vote). In some languages, and occasionally in English, the right to vote is called act ...
. Some Swiss cantons approved this in 1959, while at the federal level it was achieved in 1971Country profile: Switzerland
UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (29 October 2012).
and, after resistance, in the last canton
Appenzell Innerrhoden Appenzell Innerrhoden (; in English sometimes Appenzell Inner-Rhodes) is one of the 26 cantons forming the Swiss Confederation. It is composed of six districts. The seat of the government and parliament is Appenzell. It is traditionally considere ...
(one of only two remaining ''
Landsgemeinde The ''Landsgemeinde'' () or "cantonal assembly" is a public, non-secret ballot voting system operating by majority rule, which constitutes one of the oldest forms of direct democracy. Still at use – in a few places – at the subnational politi ...
'', along with
Glarus , neighboring_municipalities= Glarus Nord, Glarus Süd, Muotathal (SZ), Innerthal (SZ) , twintowns= Wiesbaden-Biebrich (Germany) } Glarus (; gsw, Glaris; french: Glaris; it, Glarona; rm, Glaruna) is the capital of the canton of Glarus in Switzer ...
) in 1990. After obtaining suffrage at the federal level, women quickly rose in political significance, with the first woman on the seven-member Federal Council executive being , who served from 1984 to 1989, and the first female president being
Ruth Dreifuss Ruth Dreifuss (born 9 January 1940 in St. Gallen) is a Swiss politician affiliated with the Social Democratic Party. She was a member of the Swiss Federal Council from 1993 to 2002, representing the Canton of Geneva. She was elected to the Swiss ...

Ruth Dreifuss
in 1999. Switzerland joined the
Council of Europe The Council of Europe (CoE) (french: Conseil de l'Europe, CdE) is an international organisation founded in the wake of World War II to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe. Founded in 1949, it has 47 member states, with a ...

Council of Europe
in 1963. In 1979 areas from the canton of
Bern ,german: Berner(in),french: Bernois(e), it, Bernese , neighboring_municipalities = Bremgarten bei Bern, Frauenkappelen, Ittigen, Kirchlindach, Köniz, Mühleberg, Muri bei Bern, Neuenegg, Ostermundigen, Wohlen bei Bern, Zollikofen , website ...
attained independence from the Bernese, forming the new
canton of Jura The Republic and Canton of Jura (french: République et canton du Jura), less formally the Canton of Jura or Canton Jura ( , ), is the newest (founded in 1979) of the 26 Swiss cantons, located in the northwestern part of Switzerland. The capital is ...
. 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 the
Vatican City Vatican City (), officially the Vatican City State ( it, Stato della Città del Vaticano; la, Status Civitatis Vaticanae),—' * german: Vatikanstadt, cf. '—' (in Austria: ') * pl, Miasto Watykańskie, cf. '—' * pt, Cidade do Vaticano—' ...
as the last widely recognised state without full UN membership. Switzerland is a founding member of the
EFTA The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is a regional trade organization and free trade area consisting of four European states: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. The organization operates in parallel with the European Union ( ...
but is not a member of the
European Economic Area The European Economic Area (EEA) was established via the ''Agreement on the European Economic Area'', an international agreement which enables the extension of the European Union's single market to member states of the European Free Trade Assoc ...

European Economic Area
. An application for membership in the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a combined area of and an estimated total population of about 447million. The EU has developed an internal s ...
was sent in May 1992, but not advanced since the EEA was rejected in December 1992 when Switzerland was the only country to launch a referendum on the EEA. There have since been several referendums on the EU issue; due to opposition from the citizens, the membership application has been withdrawn. Nonetheless, Swiss law is gradually being adjusted to conform with that of the EU, and the government has signed a number of bilateral agreements with the European Union. Switzerland, together with Liechtenstein, has been completely surrounded by the EU since Austria's entry in 1995. On 5 June 2005, Swiss voters agreed by a 55% majority to join the
Schengen treaty The Schengen Agreement (; ) is a treaty which led to the creation of Europe's Schengen Area, in which internal border checks have largely been abolished. It was signed on 14 June 1985, near the town of Schengen, Luxembourg, by five of the ten m ...
, a result that was regarded by EU commentators as a sign of support by Switzerland, a country that is traditionally perceived as independent and reluctant to enter supranational bodies. In September 2020, a referendum calling for a vote on end to the pact that allowed a free movement of people from the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a combined area of and an estimated total population of about 447million. The EU has developed an internal s ...
was introduced by the
Swiss People's Party The Swiss People's Party (german: Schweizerische Volkspartei, SVP; rm, Partida populara Svizra, PPS), also known as the Democratic Union of the Centre (french: Union démocratique du centre, UDC; it, Unione Democratica di Centro, UDC), is a nationa ...
(SPP). However, the voters rejected the attempts of taking back control of
immigration Immigration is the international movement of people to a destination country of which they are not natives or where they do not possess citizenship in order to settle as permanent residents or naturalized citizens. Commuters, tourists, and ot ...
, defeating the motion by a roughly 63%–37% margin.


Geography

Extending across the north and south side of the
Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest and most extensive mountain range system that lies entirely in Europe, stretching approximately across eight Alpine countries (from west to east): France, Switzerland ...

Alps
in
west 250px, A compass rose with west highlighted in black West is one of the four cardinal directions or points of the compass. It is the opposite direction from east, and is the direction in which the sun sets. Etymology The word "west" is a Germanic ...
-
central Europe Central Europe is the central region of Europe. Central Europe includes contiguous territories that are sometimes also considered parts of Western Europe, Southern Europe and Eastern Europe. The concept of Central Europe is based on a common histo ...
, Switzerland encompasses a great diversity of landscapes and climates on a limited area of . The population is about 8 million, resulting in an average
population density#REDIRECT Population density#REDIRECT Population density {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{R from other capitalisation ...

population density of around 195 people per square kilometre (500/sq mi). The more mountainous southern half of the country is far more sparsely populated than the northern half. In the largest Canton of Graubünden, lying entirely in the Alps, population density falls to 27 /km2 (70 /sq mi). Switzerland lies between latitudes and 48° N, and longitudes and 11° E. It contains three basic topographical areas: the
Swiss Alps The Alpine region of Switzerland, conventionally referred to as the ''Swiss Alps'' (german: Schweizer Alpen, french: Alpes suisses, it, Alpi svizzere, rm, Alps svizras), represents a major natural feature of the country and is, along with the Swis ...
to the south, the
Swiss Plateau#REDIRECT Swiss Plateau#REDIRECT Swiss Plateau {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{R from other capitalisation ...
or Central Plateau, and the
Jura mountains The Jura Mountains ( , , , ; french: Massif du Jura; german: Juragebirge; it, Massiccio del Giura, rm, Montagnas da Jura) are a sub-alpine mountain range a short distance north of the Western Alps and mainly demarcate a long part of the French ...
on the west. The Alps are a high mountain range running across the central-south of the country, constituting about 60% of the country's total area. The majority of the Swiss population live in the Swiss Plateau. Among the high valleys of the Swiss Alps, many glaciers are found, totalling an area of . From these originate the headwaters of several major rivers, such as the
Rhine ), Surselva, Graubünden, Switzerland , source1_coordinates= , source1_elevation = , source2 = Rein Posteriur/Hinterrhein , source2_location = Paradies Glacier, Graubünden, Switzerland , source2_coordinates= , source2_elevation ...

Rhine
, Inn,
Ticino Ticino (), sometimes Tessin (), officially the Republic and Canton of Ticino or less formally the Canton of Ticino,, informally ''Canton Ticino'' ; lmo, Canton Tesin ; german: Kanton Tessin ; french: canton du Tessin ; rm, chantun dal Tessin . is ...
and
Rhône The Rhône ( , ; german: Rhone ; wae, Rotten ; it, Rodano ; frp, Rôno ; oc, Ròse ) is one of the major rivers of Europe and has twice the average discharge of the Loire (which is the longest French river), rising in the Rhône Glacier in the S ...

Rhône
, which flow in the four cardinal directions into the whole of Europe. The hydrographic network includes several of the largest bodies of freshwater in Central and Western Europe, among which are included
Lake Geneva * it, Lago Lemano * rm, Lai da Genevra , pushpin_map = Switzerland , image = Lake Geneva by Sentinel-2.jpg , caption = Satellite image , image_bathymetry = , caption_bathymetry = , location = Switzer ...
(also called le Lac Léman in French),
Lake Constance Lake Constance (german: Bodensee) refers to three bodies of water on the Rhine at the northern foot of the Alps: Upper Lake Constance (''Obersee''), Lower Lake Constance (''Untersee''), and a connecting stretch of the Rhine, called the Lake Rhin ...
(known as Bodensee in German) and
Lake Maggiore Lake Maggiore (, ; it, Lago Maggiore ; lmo, label=Western Lombard, Lagh Maggior; pms, Lagh Magior; literally 'Greater Lake') or Verbano (; la, Lacus Verbanus) is a large lake located on the south side of the Alps. It is the second largest lake in I ...
. Switzerland has more than 1500 lakes and contains 6% of Europe's stock of fresh water. Lakes and glaciers cover about 6% of the national territory. The largest lake is Lake Geneva, in western Switzerland shared with France. The Rhône is both the main source and outflow of Lake Geneva. Lake Constance is the second-largest Swiss lake and, like Lake Geneva, an intermediate step by the Rhine at the border to 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 in the Netherlands, about apart, both springs are only about apart from each other in the Swiss Alps. Forty-eight of Switzerland's mountains are above sea in altitude or higher. At ,
Monte Rosa : , other_name = Monte Rosa massif , translation = Mount Glacier , photo = Dufourspitze (Monte Rosa) and Monte Rosa Glacier as seen from Gornergrat, Wallis, Switzerland, 2012 August.jpg , photo_caption = Central Monte ...
is the highest, although the
Matterhorn The (, ; it, Cervino ; french: Cervin ) is a mountain of the Alps, straddling the main watershed and border between Switzerland and Italy. It is a large, near-symmetric pyramidal peak in the extended Monte Rosa area of the Pennine Alps, whose su ...

Matterhorn
() is often regarded as the most famous. Both are located within the
Pennine Alps , german: Walliser Alpen, it, Alpi Pennine, la, Alpes Poeninae , photo=Valais Alps.jpg , photo_caption= View of Pennine Alps from Riederalp , country_type= Countries , country= , subdivision1_type= Canton/Regions , subdivision1= , parent= Alps , b ...
in the canton of
Valais Valais ( , , french: (Canton du) Valais, ), sometimes Wallis (german: (Kanton) Wallis ), more formally the Canton of Valais, is one of the 26 cantons forming the Swiss Confederation. It is composed of thirteen districts and its capital and larges ...
, on the border with
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a continental part, delimited by the Alps, a peninsula and several islands surrounding it. Italy is located in Southern Europ ...
. The section of the
Bernese Alps , topo_map= Swiss Federal Office of Topography swisstopo , photo=BerneseAlps.jpg , photo_caption=The Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau , country= Switzerland , subdivision1_type=Cantons , subdivision1= , parent= Western Alps , borders_on= , length_mi= ...
above the deep glacial
Lauterbrunnen , neighboring_municipalities= Aeschi bei Spiez, Blatten (Lötschen) (VS), Fieschertal (VS), Grindelwald, Gündlischwand, Kandersteg, Lütschental, Reichenbach im Kandertal, Saxeten, Wilderswil , twintowns = } Lauterbrunnen is a village and a mun ...
valley, containing 72 waterfalls, is well known for the
Jungfrau The Jungfrau ( "maiden, virgin"), at is one of the main summits of the Bernese Alps, located between the northern canton of Bern and the southern canton of Valais, halfway between Interlaken and Fiesch. Together with the Eiger and Mönch, the Jung ...
()
Eiger The Eiger is a mountain of the Bernese Alps, overlooking Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland, just north of the main watershed and border with Valais. It is the easternmost peak of a ridge crest that extends acros ...
and
Mönch The Mönch (German: "monk") at is a mountain in the Bernese Alps, in Switzerland. Together with the Eiger and the Jungfrau, it forms a highly recognisable group of mountains, visible from far away. The Mönch lies on the border between the canto ...
, and the many picturesque valleys in the region. In the southeast the long
Engadin The Engadin or Engadine ( , also ; rm, ;This is the name in the two Romansh idioms that are spoken in the Engadin, Vallader and Puter, as well as in Sursilvan and Rumantsch Grischun. In Surmiran, the name is ''Nagiadegna'', and in Sutsilvan, i ...
Valley, encompassing the St. Moritz area in canton of Graubünden, is also well known; the highest peak in the neighbouring
Bernina Alps#REDIRECT Bernina Range {{R from other capitalisation ...
is
Piz Bernina Piz Bernina (Romansh, it, Pizzo Bernina, ) is the highest mountain in the Eastern Alps, the highest point of the Bernina Range, and the highest peak in the Rhaetian Alps. It rises 4,048.6 m (13,283 ft) and is located south of Pontresina ...
(). The more populous northern part of the country, constituting about 30% of the country's total area, is called the Swiss Plateau. It has greater open and hilly landscapes, partly forested, partly open pastures, usually with grazing herds, or vegetables and fruit fields, but it is still hilly. There are large lakes found here and the biggest Swiss cities are in this area of the country. Within Switzerland there are two small
enclave An enclave is a territory (or a part of one) that is entirely surrounded by the territory of one other state. Enclaves may also exist within territorial waters. ''Enclave'' is sometimes used improperly to denote a territory that is only partly s ...
s: Büsingen belongs to Germany,
Campione d'Italia#REDIRECT Campione d'Italia#REDIRECT Campione d'Italia {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
belongs to Italy. Switzerland has no exclaves in other countries.


Climate

The Swiss climate is generally
temperate In geography, the temperate climates of Earth occur in the middle latitudes (40° to 60° N/S of Equator), which span between the tropics and the polar regions of Earth. These zones generally have wider temperature ranges throughout the yea ...
, but can vary greatly between the localities, from glacial conditions on the mountaintops to the often pleasant near
Mediterranean climate The coastal Mediterranean region of Costa Brava, Catalonia, Spain">Catalonia.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="Costa Brava, Catalonia">Costa Brava, Catalonia, Spain A Mediterranean climate or dry summer c ...
at Switzerland's southern tip. There are some valley areas in the southern part of Switzerland where some cold-hardy palm trees are found. Summers tend to be warm and humid at times with periodic rainfall so they are ideal for pastures and grazing. The less humid winters in the mountains may see long intervals of stable conditions for weeks, while the lower lands tend to suffer from inversion, during these periods, thus seeing no sun for weeks. A weather phenomenon known as the
föhn A föhn, also spelled foehn (, ) is a type of dry, warm, down-slope wind that occurs in the lee (downwind side) of a mountain range. It is a rain shadow wind that results from the subsequent adiabatic warming of air that has dropped most of its m ...
(with an identical effect to the
chinook wind Chinook winds , or simply Chinooks, are föhn winds in the interior West of North America, where the Canadian Prairies and Great Plains meet various mountain ranges, although the original usage is in reference to wet, warm coastal winds in the P ...

chinook wind
) can occur at all times of the year and is characterised by an unexpectedly warm wind, bringing air of very low relative humidity to the north of the Alps during rainfall periods on the southern face of the Alps. This works both ways across the alps but is more efficient if blowing from the south due to the steeper step for oncoming wind from the south. Valleys running south to north trigger the best effect. The driest conditions persist in all inner alpine valleys that receive less rain because arriving clouds lose a lot of their content while crossing the mountains before reaching these areas. Large alpine areas such as Graubünden remain drier than pre-alpine areas and as in the main valley of the
Valais Valais ( , , french: (Canton du) Valais, ), sometimes Wallis (german: (Kanton) Wallis ), more formally the Canton of Valais, is one of the 26 cantons forming the Swiss Confederation. It is composed of thirteen districts and its capital and larges ...
wine grapes are grown there. The wettest conditions persist in the high Alps and in the
Ticino Ticino (), sometimes Tessin (), officially the Republic and Canton of Ticino or less formally the Canton of Ticino,, informally ''Canton Ticino'' ; lmo, Canton Tesin ; german: Kanton Tessin ; french: canton du Tessin ; rm, chantun dal Tessin . is ...
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 and can be variable from year to year with no strict and predictable periods.


Environment

Switzerland contains two terrestrial ecoregions:
Western European broadleaf forests The Western European broadleaf forests is an ecoregion in Western Europe, and parts of the Alps. It comprises temperate broadleaf and mixed forests, that cover large areas of France, Germany and the Czech Republic and more moderately sized parts of ...
and Alps conifer and mixed forests. Switzerland's ecosystems can be particularly fragile, because the many delicate valleys separated by high mountains often form unique ecologies. The mountainous regions themselves are also vulnerable, with a rich range of plants not found at other altitudes, and experience some pressure from visitors and grazing. The climatic, geological and topographical conditions of the alpine region make for a very fragile ecosystem that is particularly sensitive to
climate change Climate change includes both global warming driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century hu ...
. Nevertheless, according to the 2014 Environmental Performance Index, Switzerland ranks first among 132 nations in safeguarding the environment, due to its high scores on environmental public health, its heavy reliance on renewable sources of energy (
hydropower Hydropower (from el, ὕδωρ, "water"), also known as water power, is the use of falling or fast-running water to produce electricity or to power machines. This is achieved by converting the water's kinetic energy into electrical or mechanica ...
and geothermal energy), and its control of
greenhouse gas A greenhouse gas (sometimes abbreviated GHG) is a gas that absorbs and emits radiant energy within the thermal infrared range, causing the greenhouse effect. The primary greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere are water vapor (), carbon dioxid ...
emissions. In 2020 it was ranked third out of 180 countries. The country pledged to cut
GHG emissions Greenhouse gas emissions are emissions of greenhouse gases created from a range of human activities that cause climate change, as they have increased concentrations in the earth's atmosphere. These emissions mainly include carbon dioxide emissions ...
by 50% by the year 2030 compared to the level of 1990 and works on a plan to reach zero emissions by 2050. However, access to
biocapacity The biocapacity or biological capacity of an ecosystem is an estimate of its production of certain biological materials such as natural resources, and its absorption and filtering of other materials such as carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Bi ...
in Switzerland is far lower than world average. In 2016, Switzerland had 1.0 global hectares of biocapacity per person within its territory, 40 percent less than world average of 1.6 global hectares per person. In contrast, in 2016, they used 4.6 global hectares of biocapacity - their
ecological footprint#REDIRECT Ecological footprint#REDIRECT Ecological footprint {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
of consumption. This means they used about 4.6 times as much biocapacity as Switzerland contains. The remainder comes from imports and overusing the global commons (such as the atmosphere through greenhouse gas emissions). As a result, Switzerland is running a biocapacity deficit. Switzerland had a 2019
Forest Landscape Integrity Index The Forest Landscape Integrity Index (FLII) is an annual global index of forest condition measured by degree of anthropogenic modification. Created by a team of 48 scientists, the FLII, in its measurement of 300m pixels of forest across the globe, f ...
mean score of 3.53/10, ranking it 150th globally out of 172 countries.


Politics

The Federal Constitution adopted in 1848 is the legal foundation of the modern federal state. A new Swiss Constitution was adopted in 1999, but did not introduce notable changes to the federal structure. It outlines basic and political rights of individuals and citizen participation in public affairs, divides the powers between the Confederation and the cantons and defines federal jurisdiction and authority. There are three main governing bodies on the federal level: the
bicameral Bicameralism is the practice of having a legislature divided into two separate assemblies, chambers, or houses, known as a bicameral legislature. Bicameralism is distinguished from unicameralism, in which all members deliberate and vote as a si ...
parliament (legislative), the Federal Council (executive) and the Federal Court (judicial). The
Swiss Parliament The Federal Assembly (german: Bundesversammlung, french: Assemblée fédérale, it, Assemblea federale, rm, Assamblea federala) is Switzerland's federal legislature. It meets in Bern in the Federal Palace. The Federal Assembly is bicameral, bein ...
consists of two houses: the Council of States which has 46 representatives (two from each canton and one from each
half-canton The 26 cantons of Switzerland (german: Kanton; french: canton; it, cantone; Sursilvan and Surmiran: ''cantun''; Vallader and Puter: ''Chantun''; Sutsilvan: ''cantùn''; Rumantsch Grischun: ''chantun'') are the member states of the Swiss Confede ...
) who are elected under a system determined by each canton, and the National Council, which consists of 200 members who are elected under a system of
proportional representation Proportional representation (PR) characterizes electoral systems in which divisions in an electorate are reflected proportionately in the elected body. The concept applies mainly to geographical, and to ideological partitioning of the electorate. ...
, depending on the population of each canton. Members of both houses serve for 4 years and only serve as members of parliament part-time (so-called ''Milizsystem'' or
citizen legislature A citizen legislature is a legislative chamber made up primarily of citizens who have a full-time occupation besides being a legislator. Such citizen legislatures can be found on the state level, as in some U.S. states, or on the national level as i ...
). When both houses are in joint session, they are known collectively as the Federal Assembly. Through
referendum A referendum (plural: referendums or less commonly referenda) is a direct and universal vote in which an entire electorate is invited to vote on a particular proposal and can have nationwide or local forms. This may result in the adoption of a new ...

referendum
s, citizens may challenge any law passed by parliament and through
initiative In political science, an initiative (also known as a popular or citizens' initiative) is a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can force a government to choose to either enact a law or hold a publi ...
s, introduce amendments to the federal constitution, thus making Switzerland a
direct democracy upright=1.5, A Landsgemeinde, or assembly, of the canton of Glarus, on 7 May 2006, Switzerland. Direct democracy or pure democracy is a form of democracy in which people decide on policy initiatives directly. This differs from the majorit ...
. The Federal Council constitutes the federal government, directs the federal administration and serves as collective
Head of State A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a stateFoakes, pp. 110–11 "he head of statebeing an embodiment of the State itself or representatitve of its international persona." in its unity and legitim ...
. It is a collegial body of seven members, elected for a four-year mandate by the Federal Assembly which also exercises
oversight Oversight may refer to: Governance *Regulation – rulemaking *Separation of powers in state governance (checks and balances) - the concept of separate branches of government or agencies exercising authority over one another *Checks and controls ...
over 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 assumes representative functions. However, the president is a ''
primus inter pares ''Primus inter pares'' ( grc, πρῶτος μεταξὺ ἴσων, ) is a Latin phrase meaning first among equals. It is typically used as an honorary title for someone who is formally equal to other members of their group but is accorded unoffi ...
'' with no additional powers, and remains the head of a department within the administration. The Swiss 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 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 In Swiss politics, the magic formula (german: Zauberformel, french: formule magique, it, formula magica) is an arithmetic formula for dividing the seven executive seats on the Federal Council among the four coalition parties. The formula was first ...
". Following the 2015 Federal Council elections, the seven seats in the Federal Council were distributed as follows: : 1 seat for the Christian Democratic People's Party (CVP/PDC), : 2 seats for the Free Democratic Party (FDP/PRD), : 2 seats for the Social Democratic Party (SPS/PSS), : 2 seats for the Swiss People's Party (SVP/UDC). The function of the Federal Supreme Court is to hear appeals against rulings of cantonal or federal courts. The judges are elected by the Federal Assembly for six-year terms.


Direct democracy

Direct democracy upright=1.5, A Landsgemeinde, or assembly, of the canton of Glarus, on 7 May 2006, Switzerland. Direct democracy or pure democracy is a form of democracy in which people decide on policy initiatives directly. This differs from the majorit ...
and
federalism Federalism is a mixed or compound mode of government that combines a general government (the central or "federal" government) with regional governments (provincial, state, cantonal, territorial or other sub-unit governments) in a single political ...
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 is aided by the more commonplace institutions of a
representative democracy Representative democracy, also known as indirect democracy or representative government, is a type of democracy founded on the principle of elected persons representing a group of people, as opposed to direct democracy. Nearly all modern Wester ...
). The instruments of this system at the federal level, known as popular rights (german: Volksrechte, french: droits populaires, it, 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, if they gather 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 8 cantons together can also call a constitutional referendum on a 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.Since 1999, an initiative can also be in the form of a general proposal to be elaborated by Parliament, but because it is considered less attractive for various reasons, this form of initiative has yet to find any use. The Federal Council and the Federal Assembly can supplement the proposed amendment with a counter-proposal, and then voters must indicate a preference on the ballot in case 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 cantonal popular votes.That is a majority of 23 cantonal votes because the result of the popular vote in the six traditional
half-canton The 26 cantons of Switzerland (german: Kanton; french: canton; it, cantone; Sursilvan and Surmiran: ''cantun''; Vallader and Puter: ''Chantun''; Sutsilvan: ''cantùn''; Rumantsch Grischun: ''chantun'') are the member states of the Swiss Confede ...
s each counts as half the vote of one of the other cantons.


Cantons

The Swiss Confederation consists of 26 cantons: *These cantons are known as half-cantons. The cantons are federated states, have a permanent constitutional status and, in comparison with the situation in other countries, a high degree of independence. Under the Federal Constitution, all 26 cantons are equal in status, except that 6 (referred to often as the Cantons of Switzerland#Half-cantons, half-cantons) are represented by only one councillor (instead of two) in the Council of States and have only half a cantonal vote with respect to the required cantonal majority in Voting in Switzerland#Constitutional referendums (Popular initiatives), referendums on constitutional amendments. Each canton has its own constitution, and its own parliament, government, police and courts. However, there are considerable differences between the individual cantons, most particularly in terms of population and geographical area. Their populations vary between 16,003 (Appenzell Innerrhoden) and 1,487,969 (Zürich), and their area between (Basel-Stadt) and (Canton of Grisons, Grisons).


Municipalities

The cantons comprise a total of 2,222 municipalities as of 2018.


Foreign relations and international institutions

Traditionally, Switzerland avoids alliances that might entail military, political, or direct economic action and has been neutral since the end of its Growth of the Old Swiss Confederacy, expansion in 1515. Its Swiss neutrality, policy of neutrality was internationally recognised at the
Congress of Vienna The Congress of Vienna (, ) of 1814–1815 was the most important international diplomatic conference in European history, reconstituting the European political order after the downfall of the French Emperor Napoleon I. It was a meeting of ambas ...

Congress of Vienna
in 1815.Neutrality and isolationism
swissworld.org, Retrieved on 23 June 2009
Only in 2002 did Switzerland become a full member of the United Nations and it was the first state to join it by 2002 Swiss referendums, referendum. Switzerland maintains diplomatic relations with almost all countries and historically has served as an intermediary between other states. Switzerland is not a member of the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a combined area of and an estimated total population of about 447million. The EU has developed an internal s ...
; the Swiss people have consistently rejected membership since the early 1990s. However, Switzerland does participate in the
Schengen Area The Schengen Area (; ) is an area comprising 26 European countries that have officially abolished all passport and all other types of border control at their mutual borders. The area mostly functions as a single jurisdiction for international ...

Schengen Area
. Swiss neutrality has been questioned at times. Many international institutions have their seats in Switzerland, in part because of its policy of neutrality.
Geneva , neighboring_municipalities= Carouge, Chêne-Bougeries, Cologny, Lancy, Grand-Saconnex, Pregny-Chambésy, Vernier, Veyrier , website = ville-geneve.ch Geneva ( ; french: Genève ; frp, Genèva ; german: link=no, Genf ; it, Ginevra ; rm, Genevra ...
is the birthplace of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the Geneva Conventions and, since 2006, hosts the United Nations Human Rights Council. Even though Switzerland is one of the most recent countries to have joined the United Nations, the Palace of Nations, Geneva, Palace of Nations in Geneva is the second biggest centre for the United Nations after New York, and Switzerland was a founding member and home to the
League of Nations The League of Nations, abbreviated as LON (french: Société des Nations , abbreviated as SDN or SdN), was the first worldwide intergovernmental organisation whose principal mission was to maintain world peace. Founded on 10 January 1920 follo ...
. Apart from the United Nations headquarters, the Swiss Confederation is host to many UN agencies, like the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Labour Organization (International Labour Organization, ILO), the International Telecommunication Union (International Telecommunication Union, ITU), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR) and about 200 other international organisations, including the World Trade Organization and the World Intellectual Property Organization. The annual meetings of the
World Economic Forum The World Economic Forum (WEF), based in Cologny, Geneva Canton, Switzerland, is an international NGO, founded on 24 January 1971. The WEF's mission is stated as "committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, ac ...
in Davos bring together top international business and political leaders from Switzerland and foreign countries to discuss important issues facing the world, including health and the environment. Additionally the headquarters of the
Bank for International Settlements The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) is an international financial institution owned by central banks that "fosters international monetary and financial cooperation and serves as a bank for central banks". The BIS carries out its work thro ...
(BIS) are located in
Basel , french: link=no, Bâlois(e), it, Basilese , neighboring_municipalities= Allschwil (BL), Hégenheim (FR-68), Binningen (BL), Birsfelden (BL), Bottmingen (BL), Huningue (FR-68), Münchenstein (BL), Muttenz (BL), Reinach (BL), Riehen (BS), Saint-L ...
since 1930. Furthermore, many sports federations and organisations are located throughout the country, such as the International Handball Federation in Basel, the International Basketball Federation in Geneva, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) in Nyon, the International Federation of Association Football (
FIFA FIFA ( french: Fédération Internationale de Football Association, '' en, International Federation of Association Football, link=yes'', '' es, Federación Internacional de Fútbol Asociación ''; ''german: Internationaler Verband des Association F ...
) and the International Ice Hockey Federation both in
Zürich , neighboring_municipalities = Adliswil, Dübendorf, Fällanden, Kilchberg, Maur, Oberengstringen, Opfikon, Regensdorf, Rümlang, Schlieren, Stallikon, Uitikon, Urdorf, Wallisellen, Zollikon , twintowns = Kunming, San Francisco Zürich is the lar ...

Zürich
, the Union Cycliste Internationale, International Cycling Union in Aigle, and the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne.


Military

The Swiss Armed Forces, including the Ground Forces, Land Forces and the Swiss Air Force, Air Force, are Conscription in Switzerland, composed mostly of conscripts, male citizens aged from 20 to 34 (in special cases up to 50) years. Being a landlocked country, Switzerland has no navy; however, on lakes bordering neighbouring countries, armed military patrol boats are used. Swiss citizens are prohibited from serving in foreign armies, except for the Pontifical Swiss Guard, Swiss Guards of the Vatican City, Vatican, or if they are dual citizens of a foreign country and reside there. The structure of the Swiss militia system stipulates that the soldiers keep their Army issued equipment, including all 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 the young Swiss are found suited for service; for those found unsuited, various forms of alternative service exist. Annually, approximately 20,000 persons are trained in recruit centres for a duration from 18 to 21 weeks. The reform "Army XXI" was adopted by popular vote in 2003, it replaced the previous model "Army 95", reducing the effectiveness from 400,000 to about 200,000. Of those, 120,000 are active in periodic Army training and 80,000 are non-training reserves. Overall, three general mobilisations have been declared to ensure the integrity and neutrality of Switzerland. The first one was held on the occasion of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71. The second was in response to the outbreak of the World War I, First World War in August 1914. The third mobilisation of the army took place in September 1939 in response to the German attack on Poland;
Henri Guisan Henri Guisan (; 21 October 1874 – 7 April 1960) was a Swiss army officer who held the office of the General of the Swiss Armed Forces during the Second World War. He was the fourth and the most recent man to be appointed to the rarely used ...
was elected as the General-in-Chief. Because of its neutrality policy, the Swiss army does not currently take part in armed conflicts in other countries but is part of some peacekeeping missions around the world. Since 2000 the armed force department has also maintained the Onyx (interception system), Onyx intelligence gathering system to monitor satellite communications. Switzerland decided not to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty. Following the end of the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union and the United States and their respective allies, the Eastern Bloc and the Western Bloc, after World War II. Historians do not fully agree on the dates, but the per ...
there have been a number of attempts to curb military activity or even abolish the armed forces altogether. A notable referendum on the subject, launched by an Group for a Switzerland without an Army, anti-militarist group, was held on 26 November 1989. It was defeated with about two-thirds of the voters against the proposal. A similar referendum, called for before, but held shortly after the September 11 attacks, 11 September attacks in the US, was defeated by over 78% of voters. Gun politics in Switzerland are unique in Europe in that 29% of citizens are legally armed. The large majority of firearms kept at home are issued by the Swiss army, but ammunition is no longer issued.


The capital or Federal City issue

Until 1848 the rather loosely coupled Confederation did not know a central political organisation, but representatives, mayors, and ''Landammänner'' met several times a year at the capital of the Cantons of Switzerland, ''Lieu'' presiding the Tagsatzung, Confederal Diet for one year. Until 1500 the legates met most of the time in
Lucerne , neighboring_municipalities= Adligenswil, Ebikon, Emmen, Horw, Kriens, Malters, Meggen, Neuenkirch Lucerne or Luzern ( )Pronunciations: ; german: Luzern ; gsw, Lozärn, label=Lucerne German; it, Lucerna ; rm, Lucerna is a city in central Switz ...
, but also in Zürich, Baden, Bern, Schwyz etc., but sometimes also at places outside of the confederation, such as Constance. From the
Swabian War The Swabian War of 1499 ( gsw, Schwoobechrieg (spelling depending on dialect), called or ("Swiss War") in Germany and ("War of the Engadin") in Austria) was the last major armed conflict between the Old Swiss Confederacy and the House of Habsbu ...
in 1499 onwards until Reformation, most conferences met in Zurich. Afterwards, the town hall at Baden, where the annual accounts of the common people had been held regularly since 1426, became the most frequent, but not the sole place of assembly. After 1712 Frauenfeld gradually dissolved Baden. From 1526, the Catholic conferences were held mostly in Lucerne, the Protestant conferences from 1528 mostly in Aarau, the one for the legitimation of the French Ambassador in Solothurn. At the same time the syndicate for the ''Ennetbirgischen Vogteien'' located in the present Ticino met from 1513 in Lugano and Locarno. After the
Helvetic Republic In Swiss history, the Helvetic Republic (1798–1803) represented an early attempt to impose a central authority over Switzerland, which until then had consisted of self-governing cantons united by a loose military alliance (and ruling over subje ...
and during the Act of Mediation, Mediation from 1803 until 1815 the Confederal Diet of the 19 ''Lieus'' met at the capitals of the ''directoral cantons'' Canton of Fribourg, Fribourg, Berne, Canton of Basel-City, Basel, Zurich, Lucerne and Solothurn. After the Long Diet from 6 April 1814 to 31 August 1815 took place in Zurich to replace the constitution and the enhancement of the Confederation to 22 cantons by the admission of the cantons of Valais, Neuchâtel and Geneva to full members, the directorial cantons of Lucerne, Zurich and Berne took over the diet in two-year turns. In 1848, the federal constitution provided that details concerning the federal institutions, such as their locations, should be taken care of by the Federal Assembly (BV 1848 Art. 108). Thus on 28 November 1848, the Federal Assembly voted in majority to locate the seat of government in Berne. And, as a prototypical federal compromise, to assign other federal institutions, such as the ETH Zurich, Federal Polytechnical School (1854, the later ETH) to Zurich, and other institutions to Lucerne, such as the later SUVA (1912) and the Federal Insurance Court (1917). In 1875, a law (RS 112) fixed the compensations owed by the city of Bern for the federal seat. According to these living fundamental federalistic feelings further federal institutions were subsequently attributed to Lausanne (Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, Federal Supreme Court in 1872, and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, EPFL in 1969), Bellinzona (Federal Criminal Court of Switzerland, Federal Criminal Court, 2004), and St. Gallen (Federal Administrative Court (Switzerland), Federal Administrative Court and Federal Patent Court (Switzerland), Federal Patent Court, 2012). The 1999 new constitution, however, does not contain anything concerning any Federal City. In 2002 a tripartite committee has been asked by the Swiss Federal Council to prepare the "creation of a federal law on the status of Bern as a Federal City", and to evaluate the positive and negative aspects for the city and the canton of Bern if this status were awarded. After a first report, the work of this committee was suspended in 2004 by the Swiss Federal Council, and work on this subject has not resumed since. Thus as of today, 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, it, città federale).


Economy and labour law

File:Vintage Omega Speedmaster 145.012-67.jpg, The Omega Speedmaster worn on the moon during the Apollo program, ''Apollo'' missions. In terms of value, Switzerland is responsible for half of the world production of watches. Switzerland has a stable, prosperous and high-tech economy and enjoys great wealth, being ranked as the wealthiest country in the world per capita in multiple rankings. The country has been ranked as one the Corruption Perceptions Index, least corrupt countries in the world, while Banking in Switzerland#Links to illegal activities, its banking sector has been rated as "one of the most corrupt in the world". It has the world's List of countries by GDP (nominal), twentieth largest economy by nominal GDP and the List of countries by GDP (PPP), thirty-eighth largest by purchasing power parity. It is the List of countries by exports, seventeenth largest exporter. Zürich and Geneva are regarded as global city, global cities, ranked as Globalization and World Cities Research Network, Alpha and Beta respectively. Basel is the capital of the pharmaceutical industry in Switzerland. With its world-class companies, Novartis and Roche, and many other players, it is also one of the world's most important centres for the life sciences industry. Switzerland has the highest European rating in the Index of Economic Freedom 2010, while also providing large coverage through public services. The nominal per capita Gross domestic product, GDP is higher than those of the larger Western and Central European economies and Japan. In terms of List of countries by GDP (PPP) per capita, GDP per capita adjusted for purchasing power, Switzerland was ranked 5th in the world in 2018 by World Bank and estimated at 9th by the IMF in 2020, as well as 11th by the CIA World Factbook in 2017. The World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report currently ranks Switzerland's economy as the most competitive in the world, while ranked by the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a combined area of and an estimated total population of about 447million. The EU has developed an internal s ...
as Europe's most innovative country. It is a relatively easy place to do business, currently ranking 20th of 189 countries in the Ease of Doing Business Index. The slow growth Switzerland experienced in the 1990s and the early 2000s has brought greater support for economic reforms and harmonisation with the European Union. For much of the 20th century, Switzerland was the wealthiest country in Europe by a considerable margin (by GDP – per capita). Switzerland also has one of the world's largest List of countries by current account balance as a percentage of GDP, account balances as a percentage of GDP. In 2018, the canton of Basel-City had the highest GDP per capita in the country, ahead of the cantons of Zug and Geneva. According to Credit Suisse, only about 37% of residents own their own homes, one of the lowest rates of home ownership in Europe. Housing and food price levels were 171% and 145% of the EU-25 index in 2007, compared to 113% and 104% in Germany. Switzerland is home to several large multinational corporations. The largest Swiss companies by revenue are Glencore, Gunvor (company), Gunvor, Nestlé, Mediterranean Shipping Company, Novartis, Hoffmann-La Roche, ABB Group, ABB, Mercuria Energy Group and Adecco. Also, notable are UBS AG, Zurich Financial Services, Richemont, Credit Suisse, Barry Callebaut, Swiss Re, Rolex, Tetra Pak, The Swatch Group and Swiss International Air Lines. Switzerland is ranked as having one of the most powerful economies in the world. Switzerland's most important economic sector is manufacturing. Manufacturing consists largely of the production of specialist chemical industry, chemicals, Pharmaceutical industry in Switzerland, health and pharmaceutical goods, scientific and precision measuring instruments and musical instruments. The largest exported goods are chemicals (34% of exported goods), machines/electronics (20.9%), and precision instruments/watches (16.9%). Exported services amount to a third of exports.Swiss Statistical Yearbook 2008 by Swiss Federal Statistical Office The service sector – especially banking and insurance, tourism, and international organization, international organisations – is another important industry for Switzerland. Agricultural protectionism—a rare exception to Switzerland's free trade policies—has contributed to high food prices. Product market liberalisation is lagging behind many Member state of the European Union, EU countries according to the OECD. Nevertheless, domestic purchasing power is one of the best in the world. Apart from agriculture, economic and trade barriers between the European Union and Switzerland are minimal and Switzerland has free trade agreements worldwide. Switzerland is a member of the
European Free Trade Association The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is a regional trade organization and free trade area consisting of four European states: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. The organization operates in parallel with the European Union ( ...
(EFTA).


Taxation and government spending

Switzerland has an overwhelmingly private sector economy and low tax rates by Western World standards; List of countries by tax revenue as percentage of GDP, overall taxation is one of the smallest of developed country, developed countries. The Federal budget of Switzerland, Swiss Federal budget had a size of 62.8 billion Swiss francs in 2010, which is an equivalent 11.35% of the country's GDP in that year; however, the regional (canton) budgets and the budgets of the municipalities are not counted as part of the federal budget and the total rate of government spending is closer to 33.8% of GDP. The main sources of income for the federal government are the value-added tax (accounting for 33% of tax revenue) and the direct federal tax (29%), with the main areas of expenditure 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 to 10.7% in 2010. While the sectors social welfare and finance & tax have been growing from 35% in 1990 to 48.2% in 2010, a significant reduction of expenditures has been occurring in the sectors of agriculture and national defence; from 26.5% in to 12.4% (estimation for the year 2015).


Labour market

Slightly more than 5 million people work in Switzerland; about 25% of employees belonged to a trade union in 2004. Switzerland has a more flexible job market than neighbouring countries and the unemployment rate is very low. The unemployment rate increased from a low of 1.7% in June 2000 to a peak of 4.4% in December 2009. The unemployment rate decreased to 3.2% in 2014 and held steady at that level for several years, before further dropping to 2.5% in 2018 and 2.3% in 2019. Population growth from net immigration is quite high, at 0.52% of population in 2004, increased in the following years before falling to 0.54% again in 2017. The List of countries by immigrant population, foreign citizen population was 28.9% in 2015, about the same as in Australia. GDP per hour worked is the world's 16th highest, at 49.46 international dollars in 2012. In 2016, the median monthly gross salary in Switzerland was 6,502 francs per month (equivalent to US$6,597 per month), is just enough to cover the high cost of living. After rent, taxes and social security 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 average income, income inequality is relatively low with a Gini coefficient of 29.7, placing Switzerland among the top 20 countries for income equality. 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 who are out of work are among the most likely to be living below the poverty line. Although getting a job is considered a way out of poverty, among the gainfully employed, some 4.3% are considered working poor. One in ten jobs in Switzerland is considered low-paid and roughly 12% of Swiss workers hold such jobs, many of them women and foreigners.


Education and science

Education in Switzerland is very diverse because the constitution of Switzerland delegates the authority for the school system to the Canton of Switzerland, cantons.The Swiss education system
swissworld.org, Retrieved on 23 June 2009
There are both public and private schools, including many private international schools. The minimum age for primary school is about six years in all cantons, but most cantons provide a free "children's school" starting at four or five years old. Primary school continues until grade four, five or six, depending on the school. Traditionally, the first foreign language in school was always one of the other national languages, although in 2000 English was introduced first in a few cantons.At the end of primary school (or at the beginning of secondary school), pupils are separated according to their capacities in several (often three) sections. The fastest learners are taught advanced classes to be prepared for further studies and the matura, while students who assimilate a little more slowly receive an education more adapted to their needs. There are List of universities in Switzerland, 12 universities in Switzerland, ten of which are maintained at Cantons of Switzerland, cantonal level and usually offer a range of non-technical subjects. The University of Basel, first university in Switzerland was founded in 1460 in
Basel , french: link=no, Bâlois(e), it, Basilese , neighboring_municipalities= Allschwil (BL), Hégenheim (FR-68), Binningen (BL), Birsfelden (BL), Bottmingen (BL), Huningue (FR-68), Münchenstein (BL), Muttenz (BL), Reinach (BL), Riehen (BS), Saint-L ...
(with a faculty of medicine) and has a tradition of chemical and medical research in Switzerland. It is listed 87th on the 2019 Academic Ranking of World Universities. The largest university in Switzerland is the University of Zurich with nearly 25,000 students. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ) and the University of Zurich are listed 20th and 54th respectively, on the 2015 Academic Ranking of World Universities. The two institutes sponsored by the federal government are the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ) in
Zürich , neighboring_municipalities = Adliswil, Dübendorf, Fällanden, Kilchberg, Maur, Oberengstringen, Opfikon, Regensdorf, Rümlang, Schlieren, Stallikon, Uitikon, Urdorf, Wallisellen, Zollikon , twintowns = Kunming, San Francisco Zürich is the lar ...

Zürich
, founded 1855 and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, EPFL in Lausanne, founded 1969 as such, which was formerly an institute associated with the University of Lausanne.In 2008, the ETH Zürich was ranked 15th in the field ''Natural Sciences and Mathematics'' by the Academic Ranking of World Universities, 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. Eight of ten best hotel schools in the world are located in Switzerland. In addition, there are various Universities of Applied Sciences. In business and management studies, the University of St. Gallen, (HSG) is ranked 329th in the world according to QS World University Rankings and the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), was ranked first in open programmes worldwide by the ''Financial Times.''Financial Time Executive Education Rankings – Open Programs – 2015
Retrieved 8 July 2015
Switzerland has the second highest rate (almost 18% in 2003) of foreign students in tertiary education, after Australia (slightly over 18%). As might befit a country that plays home to innumerable international organisations, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, located in
Geneva , neighboring_municipalities= Carouge, Chêne-Bougeries, Cologny, Lancy, Grand-Saconnex, Pregny-Chambésy, Vernier, Veyrier , website = ville-geneve.ch Geneva ( ; french: Genève ; frp, Genèva ; german: link=no, Genf ; it, Ginevra ; rm, Genevra ...
, is not only continental Europe's oldest graduate school of international and development studies, but also widely believed to be one of its most prestigious. Many Nobel Prize laureates have been Swiss scientists. They include the world-famous physicist Albert Einstein in the field of physics, who developed his special relativity while working in Bern. More recently Vladimir Prelog, Heinrich Rohrer, Richard R. Ernst, Richard Ernst, Edmond H. Fischer, Edmond Fischer, Rolf Zinkernagel, Kurt Wüthrich and Jacques Dubochet received Nobel Prizes in the sciences. In total, 114 Nobel Prize winners in all fields stand in relation to SwitzerlandNobel prizes in non-science categories included. and the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded nine times to organisations residing in Switzerland. Geneva and the nearby French department of Ain co-host the world's largest laboratory, CERN, dedicated to particle physics research. Another important research centre is the
Paul Scherrer Institute The Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) is a multi-disciplinary research institute for natural and engineering sciences in Switzerland. It is located in the Canton of Aargau in the municipalities Villigen and Würenlingen on either side of the River Aar ...
. Notable inventions include lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), diazepam (Valium), the scanning tunneling microscope, scanning tunnelling microscope (Nobel prize) and Velcro. Some technologies enabled the exploration of new worlds such as the pressurised balloon of Auguste Piccard and the Bathyscaphe which permitted Jacques Piccard to reach the deepest point of the world's oceans. Switzerland Space Agency, the Swiss Space Office, has been involved in various space technologies and programmes. In addition it was one of the 10 founders of European Space Agency, the European Space Agency in 1975 and is the seventh largest contributor to the ESA budget. In the private sector, several companies are implicated in the space industry such as Oerlikon Space or Maxon Motors who provide spacecraft structures.


Switzerland and the European Union

Switzerland voted against membership in the
European Economic Area The European Economic Area (EEA) was established via the ''Agreement on the European Economic Area'', an international agreement which enables the extension of the European Union's single market to member states of the European Free Trade Assoc ...

European Economic Area
in a referendum in December 1992 and has since maintained and developed its relationships with the European Union (EU) and European countries through bilateral agreements. In March 2001, the Swiss people refused in a popular vote to start accession negotiations with the EU. In recent years, the Swiss have brought their economic practices largely into conformity with those of the EU in many ways, in an effort to enhance their international competitiveness. The economy grew at 3% in 2010, 1.9% in 2011, and 1% in 2012. Future enlargement of the European Union#States not on the agenda, EU membership was a long-term objective of the Swiss government, but there was and remains considerable popular sentiment against membership, which is opposed by the conservative Swiss People's Party, SVP party, the largest party in the National Council, and not currently supported or proposed by several other political parties. The application for membership of the EU was formally withdrawn in 2016, having long been frozen. The western French-speaking areas and the urban regions of the rest of the country tend to be more pro-EU, nonetheless with far from a significant share of the population. The government has established an Integration Office under the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs and the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Department of Economic Affairs. To minimise the negative consequences of Switzerland's isolation from the rest of Europe, Bern and Brussels signed seven bilateral agreements to further liberalise trade ties. These agreements were signed in 1999 and took effect in 2001. This first series of bilateral agreements included the free movement of persons. A second series covering nine areas was signed in 2004 and has since been ratified, which includes the Schengen Treaty and the Dublin Convention besides others. They continue to discuss further areas for cooperation. In 2006, Switzerland approved 1 billion francs of supportive investment in the poorer Southern and Central European countries in support of cooperation and 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 also been under EU and sometimes international pressure to reduce banking secrecy and to raise tax rates to parity with the EU. Preparatory discussions are being opened in four new areas: opening up the electricity market, participation in the European GNSS project Galileo positioning system, Galileo, cooperating with the European centre for disease prevention and recognising certificates of origin for food products. On 27 November 2008, the interior and justice ministers of the European Union in Brussels announced Switzerland's accession to the Schengen passport-free zone from 12 December 2008. The land border checkpoints will remain in place only for goods movements, but should not run controls on people, though people entering the country had their passports checked until 29 March 2009 if they originated from a Schengen nation. On 9 February 2014, Swiss voters narrowly approved by 50.3% a ballot Popular initiative (Switzerland), initiative launched by the National conservatism, national conservative Swiss People's Party (SVP/UDC) to Federal popular initiative "Against mass immigration", restrict immigration, and thus reintroducing a quota system on the influx of foreigners. This initiative was mostly backed by rural (57.6% approvals) and suburban agglomerations (51.2% approvals), and isolated towns (51.3% approvals) as well as by a strong majority (69.2% approval) in the canton of
Ticino Ticino (), sometimes Tessin (), officially the Republic and Canton of Ticino or less formally the Canton of Ticino,, informally ''Canton Ticino'' ; lmo, Canton Tesin ; german: Kanton Tessin ; french: canton du Tessin ; rm, chantun dal Tessin . is ...
, while metropolitan centres (58.5% rejection) and the French-speaking part (58.5% rejection) rather rejected it. Some news commentators claim that this proposal ''de facto'' contradicts Switzerland–European Union relations, the bilateral agreements on the free movement of persons from these respective countries. In December 2016, a political compromise with the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a combined area of and an estimated total population of about 447million. The EU has developed an internal s ...
was attained effectively canceling quotas on EU citizens but still allowing for favourable treatment of Swiss-based job applicants.EU and Switzerland agree on free movement
''EUobserver'', 22 December 2016.
On 27 September 2020, Swiss voters clearly rejected the anti-free movement Popular initiative (Switzerland), popular initiative by the conservative
Swiss People's Party The Swiss People's Party (german: Schweizerische Volkspartei, SVP; rm, Partida populara Svizra, PPS), also known as the Democratic Union of the Centre (french: Union démocratique du centre, UDC; it, Unione Democratica di Centro, UDC), is a nationa ...
(SVP) with nearly 62% "no" votes, reflecting democratic support for bilateral agreements with the European Union.


Energy, infrastructure and environment

Electricity generated in Switzerland is 56% from hydroelectricity and 39% from nuclear power, resulting in a nearly CO2-free electricity-generating network. On 18 May 2003, two anti-nuclear initiatives were turned down: ''Moratorium Plus'', aimed at forbidding the building of new nuclear power plants (41.6% supported and 58.4% opposed), and Electricity Without Nuclear (33.7% supported and 66.3% opposed) after a previous moratorium expired in 2000. However, as a reaction to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, Fukushima nuclear disaster, the Swiss government announced in 2011 that it plans to end its use of nuclear energy in the next 2 or 3 decades. In November 2016, Swiss voters rejected a proposal by the Green Party of Switzerland, Green Party to accelerate the phaseout of nuclear power (45.8% supported and 54.2% opposed). The Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) is the office responsible for all questions relating to energy supply and energy use within the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC). The agency is supporting the 2000-watt society initiative to cut the nation's energy use by more than half by the year 2050. The most dense rail network in Europe of carries over 596 million passengers annually (as of 2015). In 2015, each Swiss resident travelled on average by rail, which makes them the keenest rail users. Virtually 100% of the network is electrified. The vast majority (60%) of the network is operated by the Swiss Federal Railways, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB CFF FFS). Besides the second largest standard gauge railway company BLS AG two railways companies operating on narrow gauge networks are the Rhaetian Railway, Rhaetian Railway (RhB) in the southeastern canton of Graubünden, which includes some World Heritage lines, and the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn, Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn (MGB), which co-operates together with RhB the Glacier Express between Zermatt and St. Moritz/Davos. On 31 May 2016 the List of longest tunnels, world's longest and deepest railway tunnel and the first flat, low-level route through the Alps, the Gotthard Base Tunnel, opened as the largest part of the NRLA, New Railway Link through the Alps (NRLA) project after 17 years of realization. It started its daily business for passenger transport on 11 December 2016 replacing the Gotthard line, old, mountainous, scenic route over and through the Gotthard Pass, St Gotthard Massif. Switzerland has a publicly managed road network without Road toll (modern), road tolls that is financed by highway permits as well as vehicle and gasoline taxes. The Swiss autobahn/autoroute system requires the purchase of a vignette (road tax), vignette (toll sticker)—which costs 40
Swiss franc#REDIRECT Swiss franc#REDIRECT Swiss franc {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
s—for one calendar year in order to use its roadways, for both passenger cars and trucks. The Swiss autobahn/autoroute network has a total length of (as of 2000) and has, by an area of , also one of the highest motorway densities in the world. Zurich Airport is Switzerland's largest international flight gateway, which handled 22.8 million passengers in 2012. The other international airports are Geneva Airport (13.9 million passengers in 2012), EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg which is located in France, Bern Airport, Lugano Airport, St. Gallen-Altenrhein Airport and Sion Airport. Swiss International Air Lines is the flag carrier of Switzerland. Its main hub is Zürich, but it is legally domiciled in Basel. Switzerland has one of the best environmental records among nations in the developed world; it was one of the countries to sign the Kyoto Protocol in 1998 and ratified it in 2003. With Mexico and the Republic of Korea it forms the Environmental Integrity Group (EIG). The country is heavily active in recycling and anti-littering regulations and is one of the top recyclers in the world, with 66% to 96% of recyclable materials being recycled, depending on the area of the country. The 2014 Global Green Economy Index ranked Switzerland among the top 10 green economies in the world. Switzerland developed an efficient system to recycle most recyclable materials. Publicly organised collection by volunteers and economical railway transport logistics started as early as 1865 under the leadership of the notable industrialist Hans Caspar Escher (Escher Wyss AG) when the first modern Swiss paper manufacturing plant was built in Biberist. Switzerland also has an economic system for garbage disposal, which is based mostly on recycling and energy-producing incinerators due to a strong political will to protect the environment. As in other European countries, the illegal disposal of garbage is not tolerated at all and heavily fined. In almost all Swiss municipalities, stickers or dedicated garbage bags need to be purchased that allow for the identification of disposable garbage.


Demographics

In 2018, Switzerland's population slightly exceeded 8.5 million. 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. Like most of Europe, Switzerland faces an aging population, ageing population, albeit with consistent annual growth projected into 2035, due mostly to immigration and a fertility rate close to Replacement fertility rate, replacement level. Switzerland subsequently has one of the oldest populations in the world, with the average age of 42.5 years. , resident foreigners make up 25.2% of the population, one of the largest proportions in the developed world. Most of these (64%) were from European Union or
EFTA The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is a regional trade organization and free trade area consisting of four European states: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. The organization operates in parallel with the European Union ( ...
countries. Italians were the largest single group of foreigners, with 15.6% of total foreign population, followed closely by Germans (15.2%), immigrants from Portugal (12.7%), France (5.6%), Serbia (5.3%), Turkey (3.8%), Spain (3.7%), and Austria (2%). Immigrants from Sri Lanka, most of them former Sri Lankan Tamil, Tamil refugees, were the largest group among people of Asian origin (6.3%). Additionally, the figures from 2012 show that 34.7% of the permanent resident population aged 15 or over in Switzerland (around 2.33 million), had an immigrant background. A third of this population (853,000) held Swiss citizenship. Four fifths of persons with an immigration background were themselves immigrants (first generation foreigners and native-born and naturalised Swiss citizens), whereas one fifth were born in Switzerland (second generation foreigners and native-born and naturalised Swiss citizens). In the 2000s, domestic and international institutions expressed concern about what was perceived as an increase in xenophobia, particularly in some political campaigns. 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 unproblematic integration of foreigners, underlined Switzerland's openness. Follow-up study conducted in 2018 found that 59% considered racism a serious problem in Switzerland. The proportion of the population that has reported being targeted by racial discrimination has increased in recent years, from 10% in 2014 to almost 17% in 2018, according to the Federal Statistical Office. Drug use is comparable to other developed countries with 14% of men and 6.5% of women between 20 and 24 saying they had Cannabis in Switzerland, consumed cannabis in the past 30 days, and 5 Swiss cities were listed among the top 10 European cities for Legal status of cocaine, cocaine use as measured in wastewater.


Languages

Switzerland has four national languages: mainly
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language * Germanic peoples * Ger ...
(spoken by 62.8% of the population in 2016);
French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France ** French language, a French language which originated in France, and its various dialects ** French people, a nation and ethnic group identified with Fr ...
(22.9%) in the west; and
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, regional variants of the ...
(8.2%) in the south. The fourth national language, Romansh (0.5%), is a Romance languages, Romance language spoken locally in the southeastern trilingual canton of Grisons, and is designated by Article 4 of the Federal Constitution as a national language along with German, French, and Italian, and in Article 70 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 Swiss German (Standard German: ''Schweizerdeutsch'', gsw, Schwiizerdütsch, Schwyzerdütsch, Schwiizertüütsch, Schwizertitsch Mundart,Because of the many different dialects, and because there is no defined orthography for any of them, many d ...
(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 their local dialectal forms. The role played by dialects in each linguistic region varies dramatically: in the German-speaking regions,
Swiss German Swiss German (Standard German: ''Schweizerdeutsch'', gsw, Schwiizerdütsch, Schwyzerdütsch, Schwiizertüütsch, Schwizertitsch Mundart,Because of the many different dialects, and because there is no defined orthography for any of them, many d ...
dialects have become ever more prevalent since the second half of the 20th century, especially in the media, such as radio and television, and are used as an everyday language for many, while the Swiss Standard German, Swiss variety of Standard German is almost always used instead of dialect for written communication (c.f. Diglossia, diglossic usage of a language). Conversely, in the French-speaking regions the local 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 dialects are mostly limited to family settings and casual conversation. The principal official languages (German, French, and Italian) 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 Swiss Standard German (german: Schweizer Standarddeutsch), or Swiss High German (german: Schweizer Hochdeutsch or ''Schweizerhochdeutsch''), referred to by the Swiss as ''Schriftdeutsch'', or ''Hochdeutsch'', is the written form of one of four off ...
, which do not appear either 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''). The French spoken in Switzerland has similar terms, which are equally known as Helvetisms. The most frequent characteristics of Helvetisms are in vocabulary, phrases, and pronunciation, but certain Helvetisms denote themselves as special in syntax and orthography likewise. Duden, the comprehensive German dictionary, contains about 3000 Helvetisms. Current French dictionaries, such as the Petit Larousse, include several hundred Helvetisms. Learning one of the other national languages at school is compulsory for all Swiss pupils, so many Swiss are supposed to be at least Multilingualism, bilingual, especially those belonging to linguistic minority groups.


Health

Swiss residents are universally 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, it compares well with other European countries in terms of health outcomes; patients have been reported as being, 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 highest in the world. However, spending on health is particularly high at 11.4% of Gross domestic product, GDP (2010), on par with Germany and France (11.6%) and other European countries, but notably less than spending in the USA (17.6%). From 1990, a steady increase can be observed, reflecting the high costs of the services provided.OECD and WHO survey of Switzerland's health system
oecd.org. Retrieved on 29 June 2009
With an ageing population and new healthcare technologies, health spending will likely continue to rise. It is estimated that one out of six persons in Switzerland suffers from mental illness.


Urbanisation

Between two thirds and three quarters of the population live in urban areas.Städte und Agglomerationen unter der Lupe
admin.ch. Retrieved on 26 June 2009
Switzerland has gone from a largely rural country to an urban one in just 70 years. Since 1935 urban development has claimed as much of the Swiss landscape as it did during the previous 2,000 years. This urban sprawl does not only affect the plateau but also the Jura and the Alpine foothills and there are growing concerns about land use. However, from the beginning of the 21st century, the population growth in urban areas is higher than in the countryside. Switzerland has a dense network of towns, where large, medium and small towns are complementary. The Swiss plateau, plateau is very densely populated with about 450 people per km2 and the landscape continually shows signs of human presence. The weight of the largest metropolitan areas, which are
Zürich , neighboring_municipalities = Adliswil, Dübendorf, Fällanden, Kilchberg, Maur, Oberengstringen, Opfikon, Regensdorf, Rümlang, Schlieren, Stallikon, Uitikon, Urdorf, Wallisellen, Zollikon , twintowns = Kunming, San Francisco Zürich is the lar ...

Zürich
,
Geneva , neighboring_municipalities= Carouge, Chêne-Bougeries, Cologny, Lancy, Grand-Saconnex, Pregny-Chambésy, Vernier, Veyrier , website = ville-geneve.ch Geneva ( ; french: Genève ; frp, Genèva ; german: link=no, Genf ; it, Ginevra ; rm, Genevra ...
–Lausanne,
Basel , french: link=no, Bâlois(e), it, Basilese , neighboring_municipalities= Allschwil (BL), Hégenheim (FR-68), Binningen (BL), Birsfelden (BL), Bottmingen (BL), Huningue (FR-68), Münchenstein (BL), Muttenz (BL), Reinach (BL), Riehen (BS), Saint-L ...
and
Bern ,german: Berner(in),french: Bernois(e), it, Bernese , neighboring_municipalities = Bremgarten bei Bern, Frauenkappelen, Ittigen, Kirchlindach, Köniz, Mühleberg, Muri bei Bern, Neuenegg, Ostermundigen, Wohlen bei Bern, Zollikofen , website ...
tend to increase. In international comparison the importance of these urban areas is stronger than their number of inhabitants suggests. In addition the three main centres of Zürich, Geneva and Basel are recognised for their particularly great quality of life.


Largest cities


Religion

Switzerland has no official state religion, though most of the cantons of Switzerland, cantons (except
Geneva , neighboring_municipalities= Carouge, Chêne-Bougeries, Cologny, Lancy, Grand-Saconnex, Pregny-Chambésy, Vernier, Veyrier , website = ville-geneve.ch Geneva ( ; french: Genève ; frp, Genèva ; german: link=no, Genf ; it, Ginevra ; rm, Genevra ...
and
Neuchâtel , neighboring_municipalities= Auvernier, Boudry, Chabrey (VD), Colombier, Cressier, Cudrefin (VD), Delley-Portalban (FR), Enges, Fenin-Vilars-Saules, Hauterive, Saint-Blaise, Savagnier , twintowns = Aarau (Switzerland), Besançon (France), Sansepol ...
) recognise official churches, which are either the Roman Catholicism in Switzerland, Roman Catholic Church or the Swiss Reformed Church. These churches, and in some cantons also the Old Catholic Church and Jewish congregations, are financed by official taxation of adherents. Christianity is the predominant religion of Switzerland (about 67% of resident population in 2016-2018 and 75% of Swiss citizens), divided between the Roman Catholic Church (35.8% of the population), the Swiss Reformed Church (23.8%), further Protestant churches (2.2%), Eastern Orthodoxy (2.5%), and other Christian denominations (2.2%). Immigration to Switzerland, Immigration has established Islam (5.3%) as a sizeable minority religion. 26.3% of Swiss permanent residents are not affiliated with any religious community (Atheism, Agnosticism, and others). As of the 2000 census other Christian minority communities included Neo-Pietism (0.44%), Pentecostalism (0.28%, mostly incorporated in the Schweizer Pfingstmission), Methodism (0.13%), the New Apostolic Church (0.45%), Jehovah's Witnesses (0.28%), other Protestant denominations (0.20%), the Old Catholic Church (0.18%), other Christian denominations (0.20%). Non-Christian religions are Hinduism (0.38%), Buddhism (0.29%), Judaism (0.25%) and others (0.11%); 4.3% did not make a statement. The country was historically about evenly balanced between Catholic and Protestant, with a complex patchwork of majorities over most of the country. Switzerland Reformation in Switzerland, played an exceptional role during the Reformation as it became home to many Protestant Reformers, reformers.
Geneva , neighboring_municipalities= Carouge, Chêne-Bougeries, Cologny, Lancy, Grand-Saconnex, Pregny-Chambésy, Vernier, Veyrier , website = ville-geneve.ch Geneva ( ; french: Genève ; frp, Genèva ; german: link=no, Genf ; it, Ginevra ; rm, Genevra ...
converted to Protestantism in 1536, just before John Calvin arrived there. In 1541, he founded the ''Republic of Geneva'' on his own ideals. It became known internationally as the ''Protestant Rome'', and housed such reformers as Theodore Beza, William Farel or Pierre Viret.
Zürich , neighboring_municipalities = Adliswil, Dübendorf, Fällanden, Kilchberg, Maur, Oberengstringen, Opfikon, Regensdorf, Rümlang, Schlieren, Stallikon, Uitikon, Urdorf, Wallisellen, Zollikon , twintowns = Kunming, San Francisco Zürich is the lar ...

Zürich
Reformation in Zürich, became another stronghold around the same time, with Huldrych Zwingli and Heinrich Bullinger taking the lead there. Anabaptists Felix Manz and Conrad Grebel also operated there. They were later joined by the fleeing Peter Martyr Vermigli and Hans Denck. Other centres included
Basel , french: link=no, Bâlois(e), it, Basilese , neighboring_municipalities= Allschwil (BL), Hégenheim (FR-68), Binningen (BL), Birsfelden (BL), Bottmingen (BL), Huningue (FR-68), Münchenstein (BL), Muttenz (BL), Reinach (BL), Riehen (BS), Saint-L ...
(Andreas Karlstadt and Johannes Oecolampadius), Berne (Berchtold Haller and Niklaus Manuel), and St. Gallen (Joachim Vadian). One canton, Appenzell, was officially divided into Catholic and Protestant sections in 1597. The larger cities and their cantons (Bern, Geneva, Lausanne, Zürich and Basel) used to be predominantly Protestant. Central Switzerland, the
Valais Valais ( , , french: (Canton du) Valais, ), sometimes Wallis (german: (Kanton) Wallis ), more formally the Canton of Valais, is one of the 26 cantons forming the Swiss Confederation. It is composed of thirteen districts and its capital and larges ...
, the
Ticino Ticino (), sometimes Tessin (), officially the Republic and Canton of Ticino or less formally the Canton of Ticino,, informally ''Canton Ticino'' ; lmo, Canton Tesin ; german: Kanton Tessin ; french: canton du Tessin ; rm, chantun dal Tessin . is ...
, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Appenzell Innerrhodes, the Canton of Jura, Jura, and Canton of Fribourg, Fribourg are traditionally Catholic. The Swiss Constitution of 1848, under the recent impression of the clashes of Catholic vs. Protestant cantons that culminated in the
Sonderbundskrieg The Sonderbund War (german: Sonderbundskrieg, fr , Guerre du Sonderbund) of November 1847 was a civil war in Switzerland, then still a relatively loose confederacy of cantons (states). It ensued after seven Catholic cantons formed the ("separat ...
, consciously defines a 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, not because they were growing in members, quite the contrary, but only because since about 1970 a steadily growing minority became not affiliated with any church or other 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%).


Culture

Three of Europe's major languages are official in Switzerland. Swiss culture is characterised by diversity, which is reflected in a wide range of traditional customs. A region may be in some ways strongly culturally connected to the neighbouring country that shares its language, the country itself being rooted in western Culture of Europe, European culture. The linguistically isolated Romansh culture in Graubünden 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 many notable contributors to literature, art, architecture, music and sciences. In addition the country attracted a number of creative persons during time of unrest or war in Europe. Some 1000 museums are distributed through the country; the number has more than tripled since 1950. Among the most important cultural performances held annually are the Paléo Festival, Lucerne Festival, the Montreux Jazz Festival, the Locarno International Film Festival and the Art Basel. Alpine symbolism has played an essential role in shaping the history of the country and the Swiss national identity. Many alpine areas and ski resorts offer winter sports during the colder months as well as hiking (german: das Wandern) or Mountain biking in summer. Other areas throughout the year have a recreational culture that caters to tourism such as sightseeing, yet the quieter seasons are spring and autumn when there are fewer visitors. A traditional farmer and herder culture also predominates in many areas and small farms are omnipresent outside the towns. Folk art is kept alive in organisations all over the country. In Switzerland, it is mostly expressed in music, dance, poetry, wood carving and embroidery. The alphorn, a trumpet-like musical instrument made of wood, has become alongside yodeling and the accordion an epitome of traditional Music of Switzerland, Swiss music.


Literature

As the Confederation, from its foundation in 1291, was almost exclusively composed of German-speaking regions, the earliest forms of literature are in German. In the 18th century, French became the fashionable language in Bern and elsewhere, while the influence of the French-speaking allies and subject lands was more marked than before. Among the classic authors of Swiss German literature are Jeremias Gotthelf (1797–1854) and Gottfried Keller (1819–1890). The undisputed giants of 20th-century Swiss literature are Max Frisch (1911–91) and Friedrich Dürrenmatt (1921–90), whose repertoire includes ''Die Physiker'' (The Physicists) and ''Das Versprechen'' (The Pledge: Requiem for the Detective Novel, The Pledge), released in 2001 as a Hollywood film.Literature
swissworld.org, Retrieved on 23 June 2009
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, but generally in more modest ways given their small 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 ever and has come to be a symbol of Switzerland. Her creator, Johanna Spyri (1827–1901), wrote a number of other books on similar themes.


Media

The freedom of the press and the right to free expression is guaranteed in the federal constitution of Switzerland.Press and the media
ch.ch. Retrieved on 25 June 2009
The Schweizerische Depeschenagentur, Swiss News Agency (SNA) broadcasts information around-the-clock in three of the four national languages—on politics, economics, society and culture. The SNA supplies almost all Swiss media and a couple of dozen foreign media services with its news. Switzerland has historically boasted the greatest number of newspaper titles published in proportion to its population and size.Press in Switzerland
pressreference.com. Retrieved on 25 June 2009
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. The cultural diversity accounts for a variety of newspapers. The government exerts greater control over broadcast media than print media, especially due to finance and licensing. The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, whose name was recently changed to SRG SSR, is charged with the production and broadcast of radio and television programmes. SRG SSR studios are distributed throughout the various language regions. Radio content is produced in six central and four regional studios while the television programmes are produced in
Geneva , neighboring_municipalities= Carouge, Chêne-Bougeries, Cologny, Lancy, Grand-Saconnex, Pregny-Chambésy, Vernier, Veyrier , website = ville-geneve.ch Geneva ( ; french: Genève ; frp, Genèva ; german: link=no, Genf ; it, Ginevra ; rm, Genevra ...
,
Zürich , neighboring_municipalities = Adliswil, Dübendorf, Fällanden, Kilchberg, Maur, Oberengstringen, Opfikon, Regensdorf, Rümlang, Schlieren, Stallikon, Uitikon, Urdorf, Wallisellen, Zollikon , twintowns = Kunming, San Francisco Zürich is the lar ...

Zürich
,
Basel , french: link=no, Bâlois(e), it, Basilese , neighboring_municipalities= Allschwil (BL), Hégenheim (FR-68), Binningen (BL), Birsfelden (BL), Bottmingen (BL), Huningue (FR-68), Münchenstein (BL), Muttenz (BL), Reinach (BL), Riehen (BS), Saint-L ...
, and Lugano. An extensive cable network also allows most Swiss to access the programmes from neighbouring countries.


Sports

Skiing, snowboarding and mountaineering are among the most popular sports in Switzerland, the nature of the country being particularly suited for such activities. Winter sports are practised by the natives and tourists since the second half of the 19th century with the invention of bobsleigh in St. Moritz. The first FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, world ski championships were held in Mürren (1931) and St. Moritz (1934). The latter town hosted the second Winter Olympic Games in 1928 and the fifth edition in 1948. Among the most successful skiers and world champions are Pirmin Zurbriggen and Didier Cuche. The most prominently watched sports in Switzerland are Football in Switzerland, football, Schweizerischer Eishockeyverband, ice hockey, FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, Alpine skiing, "Schwingen", and tennis. The headquarters of the international football's and ice hockey's governing bodies, the International Federation of Association Football, International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) and International Ice Hockey Federation, International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), are located in Zürich. Many other headquarters of international sports federations are located in Switzerland. For example, the International Olympic Committee, International Olympic Committee (IOC), IOC's Olympic Museum and the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) are located in Lausanne. 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 above sea level, is located in Switzerland and is named the ''Ottmar Hitzfeld Stadium''. Many Swiss also follow ice hockey and support one of the 12 teams of the National League A, National League, which is the most attended league in Europe. In 2009, Switzerland hosted the 2009 IIHF World Championship, IIHF World Championship for the 10th time. It also became 2013 IIHF World Championship, World Vice-Champion in 2013 and 2018. The numerous lakes make Switzerland an attractive place for sailing. The largest,
Lake Geneva * it, Lago Lemano * rm, Lai da Genevra , pushpin_map = Switzerland , image = Lake Geneva by Sentinel-2.jpg , caption = Satellite image , image_bathymetry = , caption_bathymetry = , location = Switzer ...
, is the home of the sailing team Alinghi which was the first European team to win the America's Cup in 2003 and which successfully defended the title in 2007. Swiss tennis player Roger Federer is widely regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time. He has won 20 Grand Slam (tennis), Grand Slam tournaments overall including a record 8 The Championships, Wimbledon, Wimbledon titles. He has also won a record 6 ATP Finals. He was ranked no. 1 in the ATP Rankings for a record 237 consecutive weeks. He ended 2004 ATP Tour, 2004, 2005 ATP Tour, 2005, 2006 ATP Tour, 2006, 2007 ATP Tour, 2007 and 2009 ATP World Tour, 2009 ranked no. 1. Fellow swiss tennis stars Martina Hingis and Stan Wawrinka also hold multiple Grand Slam titles. Switzerland won the Davis Cup title in 2014 Davis Cup, 2014. Motorsport racecourses and events were banned in Switzerland following the 1955 Le Mans disaster with exception to events such as Hillclimbing. During this period, the country still produced successful racing drivers such as Clay Regazzoni, Sébastien Buemi, Jo Siffert, Dominique Aegerter, successful World Touring Car Championship driver Alain Menu, 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Marcel Fässler (racing driver), Marcel Fässler and 2015 24 Hours Nürburgring winner Nico Müller. A1 Team Switzerland, Switzerland also won the A1 Grand Prix, A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in 2007–08 A1 Grand Prix season, 2007–08 with driver Neel Jani. Swiss motorcycle racer Thomas Lüthi won the 2005 MotoGP World Championship in the 125cc category. In June 2007 the Swiss National Council, one house of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland, voted to overturn the ban, however the other house, the Swiss Council of States rejected the change and the ban remains in place. Traditional sports include Swiss wrestling or "Schwingen". It is an old 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 prehistory, prehistoric times, it is recorded to have taken place in
Basel , french: link=no, Bâlois(e), it, Basilese , neighboring_municipalities= Allschwil (BL), Hégenheim (FR-68), Binningen (BL), Birsfelden (BL), Bottmingen (BL), Huningue (FR-68), Münchenstein (BL), Muttenz (BL), Reinach (BL), Riehen (BS), Saint-L ...
in the 13th century. It is also central to the Unspunnenfest, first held in 1805, with its symbol the 83.5 stone named ''Unspunnenstein''.


Cuisine

The cuisine of Switzerland is multifaceted. While some dishes such as fondue, raclette or rösti are omnipresent through the country, each region developed its own gastronomy according to the differences of climate and languages. Traditional Swiss cuisine uses ingredients similar to those in other European countries, as well as unique dairy products and cheeses such as Gruyère (cheese), Gruyère or Emmental (cheese), Emmental, produced in the valleys of Gruyères and Emmental. The number of fine-dining establishments is high, particularly in western Switzerland. Swiss chocolate, Chocolate has been made in Switzerland since the 18th century but it gained its reputation at the end of the 19th century with the invention of modern techniques such as conching and Why Chocolate Melts, tempering which enabled its production on a high-quality level. Also a breakthrough was the invention of solid milk chocolate in 1875 by Daniel Peter. The Swiss are the world's largest consumers of chocolate. Due to the popularisation of processed foods at the end of the 19th century, Swiss whole food, health food pioneer Maximilian Bircher-Benner created the first nutrition-based therapy in form of the well-known rolled oats cereal dish, called Muesli, Birchermüesli. The most popular alcoholic drink in Switzerland is wine. Switzerland is notable for the variety of grapes grown because of the large variations in terroirs, with their specific mixes of soil, air, altitude and light. Swiss wine is produced mainly in Valais (wine region), Valais, Vaud (Lavaux), Geneva (wine region), Geneva and Ticino (wine region), Ticino, with a small majority of white wines. Vineyards have been cultivated in Switzerland since the Roman era, even though certain traces can be found of a more ancient origin. The most widespread varieties are the Chasselas (called Fendant in Valais) and Pinot noir. The Merlot is the main variety produced in Ticino.Table 38. Top wine consuming nations per capita, 2006
winebiz.com. Retrieved on 14 June 2010


See also

* Index of Switzerland-related articles * Outline of Switzerland * List of sovereign states and dependent territories in Europe


Notes and references


Notes


References


Bibliography

* Church, Clive H. (2004) ''The Politics and Government of Switzerland''. Palgrave Macmillan. . * Ormonde Maddock Dalton, Dalton, O.M. (1927) ''The History of the Franks, by Gregory of Tours''. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. * Fahrni, Dieter. (2003) ''An Outline History of Switzerland. From the Origins to the Present Day''. 8th enlarged edition. Pro Helvetia, Zürich. * von Matt, Peter: ''Das Kalb vor der Gotthardpost. Zur Literatur und Politik in der Schweiz''. Carl Hanser Verlag, München, 2012, , S. 127–138. * Historical Dictionary of Switzerland. Published electronically (1998–) and in print (2002–) simultaneously in three of the national languages of Switzerland
DHS/HLS/DSS
online edition in German, French and Italian


External links


The Federal Authorities of the Swiss Confederation
*

{{Authority control Switzerland, Central European countries Federal republics French-speaking countries and territories German-speaking countries and territories Italian-speaking countries and territories Landlocked countries Member states of the Council of Europe Member states of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie Member states of the United Nations Member states of the European Free Trade Association Western European countries Countries in Europe