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Switzerland

Touristic attractions of Switzerland
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Your vacations in Switzerland

Switzerland – officially, the Swiss Confederation (Confoederatio Helvetica in Latin) – is a federal republic consisting of 26 states named “cantons”, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Central Europe where it’s bordered by Germany to the north, France to the west, Italy to the south, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east.

Switzerland is a landlocked country whose territory is geographically divided between the Jura, the Central Plateau, and the Alps, with a combined area of 41,285 km². Its population of approximately 7.8 million people concentrates mostly on the Plateau, where the largest cities are located – among them, the two global cities and economic centres of Zürich and Geneva. Switzerland is one of the richest countries in the world by per capita gross domestic product (GDP). Zürich and Geneva have been ranked as having the second and third highest quality of life in the world, respectively.

The Swiss Confederation has a long history of neutrality. It hasn’t been in a state of war, internationally, since 1815 and was one of the last countries to join the United Nations. Switzerland is home to many international organisations, including the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Red Cross, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the second largest United Nations (UN) office in the world. On the European level, it was a founder of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and is part of the Schengen Agreement.

Switzerland comprises three main linguistic and cultural regions: German, French, and Italian, to which are added the Romansh-speaking valleys. The Swiss therefore do not form a nation in the sense of a common ethnic or linguistic identity. The strong sense of belonging to the country is founded on the common historical background, shared values (e.g., federalism, direct democracy, neutrality) and Alpine symbolism. The establishment of the Swiss Confederation is traditionally dated to 1 August 1291; Swiss National Day is celebrated on the anniversary.

Official language

German, French, Italian and Romansh

Currency

Swiss franc

Electricity

230 volts, 50 cycles

Shopping

Switzerland is famous for quality goods – including watches, chocolate, cheese and Swiss Army knives. Holey moley! Have you ever wondered why Swiss cheese, known locally as Emmentaler, always has those distinct holes? Bacteria are a key part of the cheese-making process. They excrete huge amounts of carbon dioxide that form gas bubbles in the curd and these bubbles are what cause the holes.

Useful information

In terms of value, Switzerland is responsible for half of the world production of watches.