EtymologyThe English name ''Switzerland'' is a compound containing ''Switzer'', an obsolete term for a person 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 German, Alemannic ', in origin an inhabitant of ''Schwyz'' and its Canton of Schwyz, associated territory, one of the Waldstätte cantons which formed the nucleus of the . The Swiss began to adopt the name for themselves after the Swabian War of 1499, used alongside the term for "Confederates", ''Eidgenossen'' (literally: ''comrades by oath''), used since the 14th century. The Data codes for Switzerland#Country, data code for Switzerland, CH, is derived from Latin ''Confoederatio Helvetica'' ( en, Helvetic Confederation). The toponym ''Schwyz'' itself was first attested in 972, as Old High German ', ultimately perhaps related to ' ‘to burn’ (cf. 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 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 [iː] of Swiss German is historically and still often today spelled rather than , preserving the original identity of the two names even in writing. The Latin name ''Confoederatio Helvetica'' was Neologism, neologised and introduced gradually after the Switzerland as a federal state, formation of the federal state in 1848, harking back to the Napoleonic Helvetic Republic, appearing on coins from 1879, inscribed on the Federal Palace of Switzerland, Federal Palace in 1902 and after 1948 used in the official seal (e.g., the ISO 4217, ISO banking code "CHF" for the Swiss franc, and the country top-level domain ".ch", are both taken from the state's Latin name). ''Helvetica'' is derived from the ''Helvetii'', a Gaulish tribe living on the Swiss plateau before the Switzerland in the Roman era, Roman era. '' '' appears as a national personification of the Swiss confederacy in the 17th century with a 1672 play by Johann Caspar Weissenbach.
HistorySwitzerland 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 historyThe oldest traces of hominid existence in Switzerland date back about 150,000 years.History
Old Swiss ConfederacyThe Old Swiss Confederacy was an alliance among the valley communities of the central Alps. The Confederacy, governed by Swiss nobility, nobles and Patrician (post-Roman Europe), patricians of various cantons, facilitated management of common interests and ensured peace on the important mountain trade routes. The agreed between the Medieval commune, rural communes of Canton of Uri, Uri, , and 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 of Switzerland, cantons had joined with the cantons of Canton of Glarus, Glarus and Canton of Zug, Zug and the Lucerne, and 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, Battle of Näfels), over Charles the Bold of during the 1470s, and the success of the Swiss mercenaries. The Swiss victory in the Swabian War against the Swabian League of Holy Roman Emperor, Emperor Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I in 1499 amounted to ''de facto'' independence within the . 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 Growth of the Old Swiss Confederacy, expansion of the confederation suffered a setback in 1515 with the Swiss defeat in the Battle of Marignano. This ended the so-called "heroic" epoch of Swiss history. The success of Zwingli's Reformation in Switzerland, Reformation in some cantons led to inter-cantonal religious conflicts in 1529 and 1531 (Wars of Kappel). It was not until more than one hundred years after these internal wars that, in 1648, under the , European countries recognised Switzerland's independence from the Holy Roman Empire and its neutral country, neutrality. During the Early Modern Switzerland, Early Modern period of Swiss history, the growing authoritarianism of the patriciate families combined with a financial crisis in the wake of the Thirty Years' War led to the Swiss peasant war of 1653. In the background to this struggle, the conflict between Roman Catholicism in Switzerland, Catholic and Protestantism in Switzerland, Protestant cantons persisted, erupting in further violence at the First War of Villmergen, in 1656, and the Toggenburg War (or Second War of Villmergen), in 1712.
Napoleonic eraIn 1798, the French Revolution, revolutionary French government invaded Switzerland and imposed a new unified constitution. This centralised the government of the country, effectively abolishing the cantons: moreover, Mulhouse, Mülhausen joined France and the Valtellina valley became part of the Cisalpine Republic, separating from Switzerland. The new regime, 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. The fierce French suppression of the Nidwalden Revolt in September 1798 was an example of the oppressive presence of the French Army and the local population's resistance to the occupation. When war broke out between France and its rivals, Russian and Habsburg Monarchy, Austrian forces invaded Switzerland. The Swiss refused to fight alongside the French in the name of the Helvetic Republic. In 1803 Napoleon I of France, Napoleon organised a meeting of the leading Swiss politicians from both sides in Paris. The result was the Act of Mediation 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 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 (1860), Siege of Gaeta. The treaty also allowed Switzerland to increase its territory, with the admission of the cantons of Valais, Canton of Neuchâtel, Neuchâtel and Canton of Geneva, Geneva. Switzerland's borders have not changed since, except for some minor adjustments.
Federal stateThe restoration of power to the patriciate was only temporary. After a period of unrest with repeated violent clashes, such as the Züriputsch of 1839, civil war (the ''Sonderbundskrieg'') 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. 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 revolutions of 1848, revolutionary uprisings, the Swiss drew up a constitution which provided for a Swiss Federal Constitution, federal layout, much of it inspired by the United States Constitution, American example. 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 (the Swiss Council of States, Council of States, two representatives per canton) and a lower house (the National Council of Switzerland, National Council, with representatives elected from across the country). Referendums were made mandatory for any amendment of this constitution. This new constitution also brought a legal end to Swiss nobility#Current situation, nobility in Switzerland. A system of single weights and measures was introduced and in 1850 the Swiss franc became the Swiss single currency, complemented by the WIR franc in 1934. Article 11 of the constitution forbade sending troops to serve abroad, marking the end of foreign service. It came with the expectation of serving the Holy See, and the Swiss were still obliged to serve Francis II of the Two Sicilies with Swiss Guards present at the Siege of Gaeta (1860), Siege of Gaeta in 1860. 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 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 Referendum#Switzerland, 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 , which remain unique even today.
Modern historySwitzerland was not invaded during either of the world wars. During World War I, Switzerland was home to the revolutionary and founder of the Soviet Union Vladimir Illych Ulyanov (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, which was based in , on condition that it was exempt from any military requirements. During World War II, Operation Tannenbaum, 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.
GeographyExtending across the north and south side of the Alps in Western Europe, west-central Europe, Switzerland encompasses a great diversity of landscapes and climates on a limited area of . The population is about 8.7 million (2020 est.). The average population density in 2019 was . ''Note: page number refers to report pagination; PDF viewer displays pages two numbers higher.'' In the largest canton by area, Graubünden, lying entirely in the Alps, population density falls to . In the canton of Zürich, with its large urban capital, the density is . Switzerland lies between latitudes 45th parallel north, 45° and 48th parallel north, 48° N, and longitudes 5th meridian east, 5° and 11th meridian east, 11° E. It contains three basic topographical areas: the Swiss Alps to the south, the or Central Plateau, and the Jura mountains on the west. The Alps are a high mountain range running across the central and 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, Inn (river), Inn, Ticino (river), Ticino and 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 (also called le Lac Léman in French), Lake Constance (known as Bodensee in German) and Lake Maggiore. Switzerland has more than 1500 lakes and contains 6% of Europe's stock of freshwater. 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 is the highest, although the Matterhorn () is often regarded as the most famous. Both are located within the Pennine Alps in the canton of Valais, on the border with . The section of the Bernese Alps above the deep glacial Lauterbrunnen valley, containing 72 waterfalls, is well known for the Jungfrau () Eiger and Mönch, and the many picturesque valleys in the region. In the southeast the long Engadin Valley, encompassing the St. Moritz area in canton of Graubünden, is also well known; the highest peak in the neighbouring Bernina Alps is Piz Bernina (). 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 enclaves: Büsingen belongs to Germany, Campione d'Italia belongs to Italy. Switzerland has no exclaves in other countries.
ClimateThe Swiss climate is generally temperate climate, temperate, but can vary greatly between the localities, from glacial conditions on the mountaintops to the often pleasant near Mediterranean climate 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 (meteorology), inversion, during these periods, thus seeing no sun for weeks. A weather phenomenon known as the foehn wind, föhn (with an identical effect to the 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 wine grapes are grown there. The wettest conditions persist in the high Alps and in the Ticino 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.
EnvironmentSwitzerland contains two terrestrial ecoregions: Western European broadleaf forests 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. Nevertheless, according to the Environmental Performance Index, 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 and geothermal energy), and its control of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2020 it was ranked third out of 180 countries. The country pledged to cut GHG 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 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 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 mean score of 3.53/10, ranking it 150th globally out of 172 countries.
PoliticsThe Swiss Federal Constitution, 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 bicameralism, bicameral parliament (legislative), the Federal Council (executive) and the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, Federal Court (judicial). The Swiss Parliament consists of two houses: the Swiss Council of States, Council of States which has 46 representatives (two from each canton and one from each half-canton) who are elected under a system determined by each canton, and the National Council of Switzerland, National Council, which consists of 200 members who are elected under a system of proportional representation, 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). When both houses are in joint session, they are known collectively as the Federal Assembly of Switzerland, Federal Assembly. Through referendums, citizens may challenge any law passed by parliament and through initiatives, introduce amendments to the federal constitution, thus making Switzerland a . The Federal Council constitutes the federal government, directs the Federal administration of Switzerland, federal administration and serves as collective Head of State. It is a collegial body of seven members, elected for a four-year mandate by the Federal Assembly which also exercises Regulation, oversight over the council. The President of the Swiss Confederation, 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'' 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". Following the 2015 Swiss Federal Council election, 2015 Federal Council elections, the seven seats in the Federal Council were distributed as follows: : 1 seat for the Christian Democratic People's Party of Switzerland, Christian Democratic People's Party (CVP/PDC), : 2 seats for the Free Democratic Party of Switzerland, Free Democratic Party (FDP/PRD), : 2 seats for the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland, 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 democracyDirect democracy and 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). 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 majority, 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-cantons each counts as half the vote of one of the other cantons.
CantonsThe Swiss Confederation consists of 26 cantons:
MunicipalitiesThe cantons comprise a total of 2,222 municipalities as of 2018.
Foreign relations and international institutionsTraditionally, 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 in 1815.Neutrality and isolationism
MilitaryThe 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. The newest reform of the military, WEA/DEVA/USEs, started in 2019 and will reduce the number of army personnel progressively to 100,000 by the end of 2022. 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 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. Gun politics in Switzerland are unique in Europe in that 2–3.5 million guns are in the hands of civilians, giving the nation an estimate of 27.6–41.2 guns per 100 people. It is worth noting that as per Small Arms Survey, only 324,484 guns are owned by the military on top of the civilian-owned ones, but that only 143,372 are in the hands of soldiers as per Army numbers. However, ammunition is no longer issued.
The capital or Federal City issueUntil 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, but also in Zürich, Baden, Bern, Schwyz etc., but sometimes also at places outside of the confederation, such as Konstanz, Constance. From the Swabian War 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 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 of Switzerland, 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 (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 lawSwitzerland 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 of 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" paradoxically. 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, it is ranked by the as Europe's most innovative country and as the most innovative country in the Global Innovation Index in 2020. 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 (EFTA).
Taxation and government spendingSwitzerland has an overwhelmingly private sector economy and low tax rates; 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 marketSlightly 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. In 2015, the top 1% richest persons owned 35% of all the wealth in Switzerland. This inequality has increased in recent years. About 8.2% of the population live below Poverty in Switzerland, 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 scienceEducation 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
Switzerland and the European UnionSwitzerland voted against membership in the 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, 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 was attained effectively cancelling quotas on EU citizens but still allowing for favourable treatment of Swiss-based job applicants.EU and Switzerland agree on free movement
Energy, infrastructure and environmentElectricity 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 (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 (RhB) in the southeastern canton of Graubünden, which includes some World Heritage lines, and the 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 francs—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.
DemographicsIn 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 European Free Trade Association, EFTA 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 Immigration to Switzerland#Racism, 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. Fourteen percent 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.
LanguagesSwitzerland has four national languages: mainly (spoken by 62.8% of the population in 2016); (22.9%) in the west; and (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 (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, 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 , 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.
HealthSwiss 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
UrbanisationBetween two-thirds and three-quarters of the population live in urban areas.Städte und Agglomerationen unter der Lupe
ReligionSwitzerland has no official state religion, though most of the cantons of Switzerland, cantons (except Canton of Geneva, Geneva and Canton of Neuchâtel, Neuchâtel) recognise official churches, which are either the Roman Catholicism in Switzerland, 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 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. 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. 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 (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, the Ticino, 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, 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%).
CultureThree 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.
LiteratureAs 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
MediaThe freedom of the press and the right to free expression is guaranteed in the federal constitution of Switzerland.Press and the media
SportsSkiing, 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 (FIFA) and International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), are located in Zürich. Many other headquarters of international sports federations are located in Switzerland. For example, the (IOC), IOC's Olympic Museum and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) are located in . 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, 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 in the 13th century. It is also central to the Unspunnenfest, first held in 1805, with its symbol the 83.5 stone named ''Unspunnenstein''.
CuisineThe 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.
See also* Index of Switzerland-related articles * Outline of Switzerland * Poverty in Switzerland * List of sovereign states and dependent territories in Europe
Notes and 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