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Bieler See (lake Biel), Switzerland
Lake Biel (Bieler See) in the Jura region in the west of Switzerland, in background the Bernese Alps.
Image: kk
Flag of Switzerland
Flag of

Location map of Switzerland. Where in the World is Switzerland?
Location map of Switzerland

A virtual guide to Helvetia, how the country was called in ancient times, but even today the name is still in use. Switzerland is a landlocked mountainous country in South Central Europe, bordered by Austria, France, Germany, Italy, and Liechtenstein.

With an area of 41,285 km2, the country is only slightly smaller than the Netherlands or slightly less than twice the size of the US state of New Jersey.

Switzerland has a population of 8.3 million people (in 2015), capital city is Bern, largest city is Zürich. Spoken languages are German, French, Italian and Rumantsch, traditionally spoken in the different regions (cantons) of the country. According to the World Happiness Report 2015, the Swiss Confederation is officially the happiest nation on Earth.

Geographically the country is divided between the Alpine region of the Swiss Alps in south, the Swiss Plateau with its rolling hills, plains, and large lakes, and the mountainous Jura in northwest.

The country is a famous tourist destination for its ski resorts and hiking trails. Banking and finance are key industries, and Swiss watches and chocolate are world renowned.

Switzerland | Suisse | Schweiz | Svizzera | Suiza | Svizra

Country Profile

In the 13th century, the Gotthard Pass region in the heart of the Alps became negotiable and rapidly developed into an economically important north-south crossing point. As a result, the valleys of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden at the north foot of the Gotthard massif suddenly became a focal point of European power politics, and this led their inhabitants to found the core of what was to become Switzerland with a pact of mutual assistance.

Today Switzerland is a federal state in Central Europe. It is bordered by Germany, to the north, Austria and the Principality of Liechtenstein, to the east, Italy, to the south and France, to the west.
Switzerland's independence and neutrality have long been honored by the major European powers and Switzerland was not involved in either of the two World Wars. The political and economic integration of Europe over the past half century, as well as Switzerland's role in many UN and international organizations, may be rendering obsolete the country's concern for neutrality.

Official Name:
Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft (German)
Confederation Suisse (French)
Confederazione Svizzera (Italian)
short form: Suisse, Schweiz, Svizzera
int'l long form: Swiss Confederation
int'l short form: Switzerland

ISO Country Code: ch

Time Zone: Central European Time
Local Time = UTC +1h
Actual Time: Sun-Nov-8  04:18
Daylight Saving Time (DST) March - October (UTC +2)

Country Calling Code: +41

Capital City: Bern (Berne)
Berne (pop. 123,000)
The Municipality of Berne.

Major Cities:
Basel, Genève (Genf, Genève, Geneva), Luzern, Lausanne, Lugano, Zürich.

Type: Federal republic.
Independence: The first Swiss Confederation was founded in August 1291 as a defensive alliance among three cantons (Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden, known as Waldst?tte or Urschweiz). The Swiss Confederation established independence from the Holy Roman Empire in 1499.
Constitution: 1848; extensively amended in 1874; fully revised in 2000
Federal Charter of 1291
Document of the Federal Charter.
National Day (Bundesfeier/fête nationale/festa nazionale): 1. August (Celebrates the Oath of 1291, which is considered the start of the Swiss Confederation).

Location: Central Europe, south of Germany, east of France and north of Italy.
Area: 41,285 km2 (15,941 sq. mi.)
Terrain: 60% mountains, the remainder hills and plateau. Switzerland straddles the central ranges of the Alps.

Climate: From Central European in the north to Mediterranean in the south, varying with altitude and season.

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Swiss.
Population: 8,3 million (2015)
GNI per capita PPP: $ 33,168
Ethnic groups: Mixed European--German 65%, French 18%, Italian 10%, Romansch 1%, other.
Religions: Roman Catholic 42%, Protestant 33%, Muslim 4.3%, others 5.4%, no religion 11%.
Languages: German 63.7%, French 20.4%, Italian 6.5%, Romansch 0.5%, are official languages, other 9.4%.
Literacy: 100%.

Natural resources: Waterpower, timber, salt.

Agricultural Products: Dairy, livestock, grains, fruit and vegetables, potatoes, wine.

Industries: Machinery, chemicals, watch-making, textiles, precision instruments.

Exports - commodities: machinery, chemicals, metals, watches, agricultural products. Switzerland is the top exporter of Gold, Base Metal Watches, and Precious Metal Watches.

Exports partners: Germany 14.2%, USA 10.6%, Hong Kong 8.7%, India 7.3%, China 6.9%, France 6.1%, Italy 5.4%, UK 4.8% (2015)

Imports - commodities: machinery, chemicals, vehicles, metals; agricultural products, textiles

Imports partners: Germany 20.7%, UK 12.8%, USA 8.1%, Italy 7.8%, France 6.7%, China 5.1% (2015)

Currency: Swiss Franc (CHF)

Political System

Swiss politics is played out at three levels, the Confederation, the cantons and the communes. Each has the autonomy to decide on certain matters, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity: a decision is made at a higher level only when it is beyond the powers of the lower level to do so. [1]

The Swiss Confederation, is a federal republic made up of 26 cantons (member states). Each canton has its own constitution, legislature (parliament), government and courts.

The federal government of Switzerland consists of the legislative power of a bicameral Federal Assembly (parliament) with the National Council (lower house) and the Council of States (upper house).
A seven-member executive Federal Council serves as the collective head of the government and the state, the judiciary power is represented by the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland.

Official Sites of Switzerland

Note: External links will open in a new browser window.

Confoederatio Helvetica
The Federal Authorities of the Swiss Confederation, with access to the Internet Sites of the Parliament, the Chancellery and the federal Departments.

The Swiss Parliament
Official site of Switzerland's parliament.

Swiss Government Online
Register of the official Internet sites of the Helvetic Administration and Public Services. will guide you to Swiss administrative services at the federal level and in the cantons and communes.

Eidgenössisches Departement für auswärtige Angelegenheiten (EDA)
Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

Diplomatic Missions
Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations
The website introduces Switzerland's positions on important UN related issues.
Embassy of Switzerland
Washington D.C.
Swiss Embassies, Consulates and other Missions abroad
Address list of Swiss representations worldwide.
Foreign Representations in Switzerland
Address list of Foreign Representations in Switzerland.

Statistik Schweiz - Bundesamt für Statistik
Swiss Statistics.

Swiss Meteorological Institute.


Map of Switzerland
Political Map of Switzerland.
Administrative Map of Switzerland
Map showing Switzerland and the surrounding countries with international borders,
Canton boundaries, Canton capitals, major cities and towns, expressways, main roads, and major airports.

Google Earth Google Map Switzerland
Searchable map and satellite view of Switzerland.
Google Earth Google Map Bern
Searchable map and satellite view of Switzerland's capital city.
Google Earth Google Map Geneva
Searchable map and satellite view of Geneva.
Google Earth Google Map Zurich
Searchable map and satellite view of Zurich.

Map of Europe
Political Map of Europe.

Lake Geneva with Swiss Alps seen from Lavaux Vineyard
Lake Geneva (lac Léman) with Swiss Alps in background, view from the Lavaux region in the canton of Vaud. The Lavaux Vineyard Terraces official website are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Image: CalistaZ


Switzerland News

Le Matin
National and international news (in French).
Neue Zürcher Zeitung
A leading Swiss newspaper with an international reputation (in German).
National and international news in 9 languages by swissinfo an enterprise of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC).
Tribune de Genève
National and international news (in French, has an English corner).
Die Weltwoche
A well-known Swiss weekly magazine.

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Arts & Culture

Visual Arts
Art Brut
Dubuffet's collection of "Art Brut".
Kunstmuseum Basel
Museum for contemporary art.
Museum Jean Tinguely
Méta-Matics and more.
swissart Network
Portal for art lovers and art professionals in Switzerland and around the world.

International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum
History of the world's first humanitarian organisation.
Schweizerisches Landesmuseum
The Swiss national museum.
An interactive science museum (German).
The Swiss Museum of Transport and Communication.

Museums of Switzerland
A guide to Swiss museums (in German, French, and Italian).

Friedrich Dürrenmatt
About the Swiss playwright and essayist.
Friedrich Dürrenmatt
Informationen zu Leben und Werk (in German).

Montreux Jazz Festival
International Festival of Jazz since 1967.
A guide to popular Swiss music.
Paléo Festival
Biggest open-air music event in Switzerland, includes rock, French chanson, world music, reggae, hip hop, classical music and street theatre.
Contemporary Swiss music.

Schauspielhaus Zürich
One of the most renowned theaters in Switzerland.

Kramgasse with Clock Tower in Bern, Switzerland
Clock Tower - Bern, the Swiss Capital
Image: Daniel Schwen


Business & Economy

Switzerland is a prosperous, and modern market economy with low unemployment, a highly skilled labor force, and its GDP per capita is among the highest in the world. The country's economy benefits from a highly developed service sector, led by financial services, and a manufacturing industry that specializes in high-technology, and knowledge-based production.

Swiss National Bank
Central Bank of Switzerland. The Swiss National Bank conducts Switzerland’s monetary policy as an independent central bank.
SWX Swiss Exchange
The Swiss Stock Exchange.

Die schweizerischen Industrie- und Handelskammern
Chambers of commerce and industry of Switzerland. On the website you will find all the relevant details and contact information of the cantonal Chambers of Commerce and Industry that are part of the network.

Swiss Products
Swiss chocolate.
Home of Nescafé.
Swiss Alpine Cheese
Choose your Switzerland cheese.
Swiss Red Cross
Henry Dunant's dream come true in 1866, the foundation of the Red Cross in Switzerland.
The Swiss Army Knive.

List of Swiss Watchmakers

Audemars Piguet
The master of watchmaking since 1875. Ultra-luxury Swiss watches made in Le Brassus.
Breitling SA
Swiss watchmaker based in Grenchen.
Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry
All the Swiss watch makers.
F.P. Journe
Chronometer - Invenit et Fecit.
High-end Swiss watch manufacture based in La Chaux-de-Fonds.
Luxury watch company based in Saint-Imier.
Swiss luxury watchmaker based in Biel/Bienne.
Patek Philippe
Swiss made timepieces.
Swiss luxury watchmaker based in Geneva.
Modern times Swiss watches for collectors.
The Wonderful World of Swiss Watches.
Swiss luxury watchmaker.
Universal Genève
Swiss luxury watch company based in Geneva.


Edelweiss Air
The leisure airline serves various destinations in the Mediterranean, in the Caribbean, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, and the Maldives.
Helvetic Airways
Focuses on non-stop flights from Zurich to attractive destinations in Southern Europe.
Swiss International Air Lines
The Swiss Flag Carrier - its site provides intercontinental flights schedules, time tables, special offers and frequent flyer program.

Flughafen Basel Mulhouse
EuroAirport is one of the few airports in the world operated jointly by two countries, France and Switzerland.
Geneva International Airport
Official website of Geneva Cointrin International Airport.
Zurich Airport
Official website of Switzerland's principal airport.

AlpTransit Gotthard
The new Gotthard railway.
Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn
The Matterhorn Gotthard train runs from Zermatt to G?schenen. Along its way the train overcomes a total of 3300 m difference in altitude.
Glacier Express
Famous Swiss mountain railways from St.Moritz to Zermatt and the slowest express train in the world.
Gornergrat Bahn
The Gornergrat Bahn takes you from Zermatt up the 3089 m high Gornergrat.
Rhätische Bahn
Arosa Railway, Bernina Express and other railways.

The Swiss Railway - SBB
Swiss Federal Railways.
Online Timetable Swiss Railways
Timetable and tickets.
Bachalpsee (lake) and Schreckhorn mountain
Bachalpsee (lake) and Schreckhorn mountain (center 4,078 m (13,379 ft)) in the Bernese Alps near the town of Grindelwald in the Canton of Bern.
Image: Chnebelh?x

Travel and Tour Consumer Information

Destination Switzerland - Travel and Tour Guides

Discover Switzerland: St. Moritz, Davos, Lausanne, Zermatt, Lugano, Geneva, the Matterhorn, the Swiss cantons.
Find hotel, accommodation, attractions, festivals, events, tourist boards, the alps, wellness, health resorts and spas skiing, climbing, tours and much more by following the links below.

Switzerland Tourism
Information for the travel destination Switzerland.
Switzerland's official portal. Comprehensive information about Switzerland in its diversity: geography, economy, science, people, culture, government and history.
Commercial Swiss portal with extensive travel and tourism information.

Cantons and Regions
Tourism guide to the largest and easternmost canton of Switzerland.
Grindelwald Tourism
Travel and tourism in the Grindelwald region.
Jura Tourisme
Official website of Jura Tourism.
Lake Geneva Region
The Lake Geneva Region offers Alpine panorama and an almost Mediterranean climate.
Montreux-Vevey Tourisme
The official tourist guide for the Pearl of the "Swiss Riviera".
Official tourism website of the canton Neuchâtel.
Jura & Three-Lakes
Official website of Jura & Three-Lakes.
Ticino Tourismus
Official tourism guide of Ticino canton in the southernmost corner of Switzerland.
Tourism in the canton at Lake of Constance.
Canton Wallis Tourism.

Hotels have their anecdotes, grand hotels sometimes a history, but only certain palatial establishments can claim to embody a legend.
Swiss Deluxe Hotels
Leading hotels in Switzerland.
Grindelwald Glacier
Aletsch Glacier
Photo: Didier Baertschiger

Lake Thun
Lake Thun, the Alpine lake in the Bernese Oberland.
© Stephan Engler

Education & Research

Uni Basel
The University of Basel (in German).
Universität Bern
Université de Genéve
University of Geneva, founded in 1559.
Université de Lausanne
Foundation of the Academy in 1537.
Universität Zürich
University of Zurich, founded in 1833.

European Laboratory for Particle Physics
"Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire" - Some of the experiments of CERN leads to a communication tool called the internet

Environment - Environmental organizations Switzerland

Governmental Organizations

Federal Office for the Environment FOEN
FOEN is the federal government's centre of environmental expertise.
Federal Office of Topography.

Greenpeace Switzerland
Swiss section of Greenpeace.
Pro Natura - Friends of the Earth Switzerland
Pro Natura is a private non-profit organization founded in 1909. It's the largest conservation organization in Switzerland.
WWF Schweiz
The Swiss section of WWF (in German, French, and Italian.)

UNESCO Biosphäre Entlebuch.


History of Switzerland
Outline of the history of Switzerland and links to additional information about Swiss history.

Map of the Swiss Confederation, 1291-1513

The Origin of the Swiss Flag


Swiss search engine (German).

Sources and additional Information on Switzerland

BBC Country Profile: Switzerland

Amnesty International: Switzerland

FAO: Switzerland

GlobalEDGE: Switzerland

The Heritage Foundation: Switzerland

Human Rights Watch: Switzerland

OEC: Switzerland

Reporters Without Borders: Switzerland

Wikipedia: Switzerland

The World Factbook -- Switzerland

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