Switzerland - A Country Profile - Destination Switzerland by Nations Online Project
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Switzerland


The Matterhorn (4,478 m) and its reflection on the Stelli Lake, Switzerland
Sunlight on the top of the Matterhorn (4,478 m) and the reflection of the mountain's east and north faces on the Stelli Lake. It is not the highest mountain in Switzerland, but the Matterhorn is one of the world's most famous mountains.
Image: Jean Schmitt

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

Flag of Switzerland
Flag of Switzerland

Switzerland in brief

Destination Switzerland, a Nations Online country profile of the Swiss Confederation. Helvetia, how the country was called in ancient times, but even today, the name is still in use. The country's official Latin name is Confoederatio Helvetica (CH).

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 just slightly smaller than the Netherlands or almost twice the size of the US state of New Jersey.

Switzerland has a population of just under 8.7 million people (in 2020); capital city is Bern; the 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 2021, the Swiss Confederation is officially the third-happiest nation on Earth, after Finland and Denmark.

Geographically the country is divided into three major regions; there are the Swiss Alps in the south. The Alps fade out into the Swiss Plateau with a landscape of rolling hills, plains and large lakes and average elevations between 400 m and 700 m. To the northwest along the French/Swiss border is the Jura, a sub-alpine mountain range.

 
Switzerland | Suisse | Schweiz | Svizzera | Suiza | Svizra



Background:
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.

Switzerland's independence and neutrality have long been honored by the major European powers. Switzerland was not involved in either of the two World Wars. However, the country's political and economic integration within Europe over the past half century and Switzerland's role in the UN and other international organizations and as the headquarters of multinational banks and corporations, cast some doubt on its independence and neutrality.
 

 


Country Profile


Official Names:
Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft (German)
Confederation Suisse (French)
Confederazione Svizzera (Italian)
Confoederatio Helvetica (CH - Latin)

short form: Suisse, Schweiz, Svizzera
int'l long form: Swiss Confederation
int'l short form: Switzerland

ISO Country Code: ch, CHE

Time:
Time Zone: Central European Time
Local Time = UTC +1h
Actual Time: Thu-Dec-1  14:24
Daylight Saving Time (DST) March - October (UTC +2)

Country Calling Code: +41

Capital City: Bern (Berne)
Berne (pop. 144,000)
The Municipality of Berne.

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

...show more



 


Official Sites of Switzerland


Federal Palace of Switzerland in Bern
The Federal Palace of Switzerland (German: Bundeshaus, French: Palais fédéral) is home to Switzerland's parliament. View from the Bundesplatz in Bern during full moon with a clear night sky.
Image: Axel Tschentscher


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 according to 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 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 position of President of the Swiss Confederation rotates among the seven councilors every year. The judiciary power is represented by the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland.


Government

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

The Federal Council
The official website of the Swiss Government

The Swiss Parliament
Official website of Switzerland's parliament.

www.ch.ch
www.ch.ch 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.


Statistics
Statistik Schweiz - Bundesamt für Statistik
Swiss Statistics.

Weather
MeteoSwiss
Swiss Meteorological Institute.


Old City of Bern at Aare river, Nydeggkirche and Untertorbrücke, Switzerland.
The city of Bern is the de facto capital of Switzerland. The Old City of Bern at the river Aare, with Untertorbrücke (bridge) and the Nydeggkirche (church) to the left. The Old City of Berne is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Image: Thomas Huston
 

 


 


Maps from Switzerland



Switzerland Political Map
Map of Switzerland (click map to enlarge)
Image: © nationsonline.org


Maps


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.

 

 


News from Switzerland



Switzerland Newspaper

Online News from Switzerland



24 heures
Swiss regional French-language daily newspaper, published in Lausanne.

Basler Zeitung
German-language regional daily newspaper, published in Basel.

Le Matin
National and international news (in French).

Neue Zürcher Zeitung
A leading Swiss newspaper with an international reputation; the Swiss newspaper of record (in German; online for registered users).

Le News
Le News is an English language newspaper focused on Switzerland.

 Swissinfo
National and international news in 9 languages by swissinfo, an enterprise of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC).

Tribune de Genève
French language newspaper with national and international news.

Die Weltwoche
A well-known Swiss weekly magazine.

 

 


Arts & Culture of Switzerland


Abstract Trio, drawing by Paul Klee
Abstract Trio.
Painting: Paul Klee


Arts & Culture



Visual Arts

Phantasmagorical dreams of H. R. Giger
The phantasmagorical dreams of H. R. Giger, the creator of "Alien".
Image: HR GIGER

Art Brut
Jean Dubuffet's collection of "Art Brut" in Lausanne.
HR Giger Museum
The HR Giger Museum is located in the medieval Château St. Germain in Gruyères.; it houses artworks of the Swiss painter, sculptor and designer.
Kunsthaus Zürich
The art museum in Zurich houses one of the most important art collections in Switzerland.
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.
Zentrum Paul Klee
The Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern is a museum dedicated to the Swiss-born artist Paul Klee.


Museums

International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum
History of the world's first humanitarian organization at the museum located in Geneva.
Musée d'Horlogerie du Locle
The Watch Museum of Le Locle is located in the Château des Monts.
Museum der Kulturen Basel
The Museum der Kulturen in Basel is one of the most important ethnographic museums in Europe.
Schweizerisches Landesmuseum
The Swiss national museum.
Technorama
An interactive science museum.
Verkehrshaus
The Swiss Museum of Transport and Communication.

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


Literatur

The idyllic life of Heidi and Peter on the mountain pasture
The idyllic life of Heidi and Peter on the mountain pasture. The characters from the Heidi children's books by Johanna Spyri are world-famous.
Image: Heidiland

Wikipedia W Friedrich Dürrenmatt
Wikipedia entry about the Swiss playwright and essayist.
Wikipedia W Max Frisch
Wikipedia article about the Swiss playwright and novelist.
Wikipedia W Carl Gustav Jung
Wikipedia article about the Swiss psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and author who founded analytical psychology.
Wikipedia W Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Wikipedia article about the philosopher, writer, and composer.
Wikipedia W Johanna Spyri
Wikipedia article about the author of Heidi.


Music

Montreux Jazz Festival
International Festival of Jazz since 1967, held in early July on the shoreline of Lake Geneva (Lac Léman).
music.ch
Popular Swiss music platform.
Paléo Festival
The biggest open-air music event in Switzerland includes rock, French chanson, world music, reggae, hip hop, classical music and street theater.
Yello
40 years of contemporary Swiss music.


Theater/Opera

Schauspielhaus Zürich
One of the most renowned theaters in Switzerland.
Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne
The Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne showcases contemporary stagecraft, circus acts and plays for children.
Prix de Lausanne
The Prix de Lausanne is an annual international dance competition for classical ballet held in Lausanne.
Zürich Opera House
Home of the Zürich Opera since 1891, the building also houses the Bernhard-Theater Zürich and the Zürich Ballet.

 

 


 


Business & Economy of Switzerland


Switzerland's largest banks UBS and Credit Suisse at Paradeplatz in Zürich, Switzerland
The headquarters of Switzerland's largest banks, UBS and Credit Suisse, next to each other on Paradeplatz in Zürich.
Image: specialdj


The Economy of Switzerland
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 is specialized in high-technology and knowledge-based production. The country's labor productivity is high, and there is no federally mandated minimum wage. Switzerland has hardly any price controls, and its agricultural sector remains protected and heavily subsidized. [X]
Switzerland is home to some of the largest global companies. It has one of the highest concentrations of Fortune 500 companies in the world – nearly two for every million people. [X]
The country ranks second on Harvard's Country & Product Complexity Rankings, after Japan and ahead of South Korea.


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 their 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.


The Largest Swiss Banks
Credit Suisse
Credit Suisse was founded in 1856 to fund the development of Switzerland's rail system.

PostFinance
The financial services unit of the Swiss Post, the country's second-largest employer.

Swiss Raiffeisen
Raiffeisen Switzerland is the third-largest Swiss banking group.

UBS
A Swiss multinational investment bank.

Zürcher Kantonalbank
Zurich Cantonal Bank is the largest cantonal bank and fourth-largest bank in Switzerland.


Major Swiss Companies
Glencore
Glencore plc is an Anglo-Swiss multinational commodity trading and mining company headquartered in Baar, Switzerland.
Vitol
Dutch energy and commodity trading company with headquarters in Geneva and Rotterdam.
Trafigura
A Singaporean multinational commodity trading company (oil and metal) with headquarters in Singapore and Geneva.
Cargill International SA
Cargill, an international corporation with more than 1,600 companies, conducts its global trade in grains and oilseeds from Geneva.
Mercuria
Cypriot-domiciled multinational energy & commodity trading company with headquarters in Geneva.
Nestlé
Nestlé S.A. is a Swiss multinational food and drinks processing conglomerate headquartered in Vevey.
Roche
Hoffmann-La Roche is a Swiss multinational healthcare company based in Basel.
Gunvor
Gunvor is a multinational commodity trading company (crude oil) registered in Cyprus, with its main trading office in Geneva.
Novartis
Novartis International AG is a Swiss multinational pharmaceutical company based in Basel.
BHP
BHP is an Anglo-Australian multinational mining, metals and petroleum company. BHP Billiton Marketing AG is located in Baar; it has four employees at this location and generates $1.50 million in sales (USD). [X]
Givaudan
Givaudan is the world's largest company in the flavors and fragrances industry.

Retail
Coop
Coop is one of Switzerland's largest retail and wholesale companies.
Migros
Switzerland's largest retail company and supermarket chain.


Wikipedia W List of Swiss companies by revenue
Wikipedia's list of Swiss companies by revenue.


Swiss Products

Chocolate
Lindt
Swiss chocolate.
Milka
Milka is a chocolate brand originally from Switzerland, now owned by Mondelez/Kraft.
Sprüngli
Confiserie Sprüngli is a Swiss luxury confectionery manufacturer.
Toblerone
Well-known triangular Swiss chocolate bar; the brand is now owned by US company Mondelez/Kraft.


Other Swiss Brands

Mövenpick
Mövenpick is a Swiss hotel management company headquartered in Baar, now owned by French Accor Hotels.

Nescafé
Probably the most famous instant coffee.

Ovomaltine
Famous malt extract, also known as Ovaltine.

Ricola
Who invented it? Famous cough drops and breath mints.

Schindler
Escalators, moving walkways, and elevators worldwide.

Swiss Alpine Cheese
Choose your cheese from CH.

Swiss Red Cross
Henry Dunant's dream come true in 1866, the foundation of the Red Cross in Switzerland.

Victorinox
Variations of Swiss Army Knives, from "Cheese Master" to "Huntsman Year of the Ox 2021 Limited Edition".

Weleda
Weleda is a multinational company for cosmetics and alternative medicine.


International
CERN
The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) operates the largest and most expensive machine in the world, the Large Hadron Collider.


Swiss Watch Brands
From Audemars Piguet to Zenith
List of the best and most famous Swiss watch brands.


Audemars Piguet
The master of watchmaking since 1875. Ultra-luxury Swiss watches made in Le Brassus.

Baume et Mercier
Swiss luxury watchmaker founded in 1830, based in Geneva.

Breguet
Breguet is a luxury watch, clock and jewelry manufacturer and a subsidiary of The Swatch Group.

Breitling SA
The Swiss watchmaker is based in Grenchen.

Chopard
Swiss manufacturer and retailer of luxury watches, jewelry and accessories.

F.P. Journe
Serious timepieces - Invenit et Fecit.

Frederique Constant
The watch manufacturer is based in Plan-les-Ouates, Geneva.

Girard-Perregaux
High-end Swiss watch manufacture based in La Chaux-de-Fonds.

Greubel Forsey
Unusually extraordinary wristwatches.

IWC
IWC Schaffhausen is a Swiss luxury watch manufacturer based in Schaffhausen, Switzerland.

Jaeger-LeCoultre
Swiss luxury watch and clock manufacturer based in Le Sentier, Vaud.

Longines
Luxury watch company based in Saint-Imier.

Omega
Swiss luxury watchmaker based in Biel/Bienne.

Patek Philippe
Swiss-made timepieces.

Piaget
Swiss luxury watchmaker and jeweler.

Rolex
Swiss luxury watch manufacturer founded in the UK (in 1905) and based in Geneva.

Swatch
Overrated Swiss battery-operated plastic timepiece.

The Swatch Group
Swiss manufacturer of watches and jewelery. The group owns, among others, Swatch, Breguet, Glashütte Original, Omega, Longines, Tissot, Mido and Certina.

TAG Heuer
"Techniques d'Avant Garde" Swiss luxury watchmaker, founded in 1860. The company's headquarters is now in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Neuchâtel.

Tissot
Swiss luxury watchmaker.

Universal Genève
Swiss luxury watch company based in Geneva.

Vacheron Constantin
Vacheron Constantin is one of the oldest watch manufacturers in the world, founded in 1755.

Zenith
Swiss luxury watchmaker in Le Locle, Neuchâtel.




Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants
AHCI is a non-profit association with the mission to perpetuate the art of independent watch- and clock-making.

Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry
All the Swiss watchmakers.

Fondation du Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève
The Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix.

Swisstime
Swiss Watches magazine.


Transportation

Airlines
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
On its website, the Swiss Flag Carrier provides intercontinental flight schedules, timetables, special offers and a frequent flyer program.


Airports
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.


Railroad
AlpTransit Gotthard
The new Gotthard railway.
Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn
The Matterhorn Gotthard train runs from Zermatt to Göschenen. Along its way, the train overcomes a total of 3,300 m difference in altitude.
Glacier Express
Famous Swiss mountain railroad that connects the mountain resorts of St.Moritz and Zermatt and is known as the slowest express train in the world.
Gornergrat Bahn
The Gornergrat mountain rack railway takes you from Zermatt to the 3,089 m high Gornergrat.
Rhätische Bahn
Arosa Railway, Bernina Express and other railways.

Swiss Federal Railways - SBB
Swiss Federal Railways is the national railway company of Switzerland.

 

 


 


Tourism in Switzerland



Basilique de Valère and Tourbillon castle in Sion, Switzerland
The Basilique de Valère (left) and Tourbillon castle (right) in Sion in the canton of Valais (Wallis). In the background are the peaks of Thyon (left) Dent de Nendaz (right).
Image: Espandero


Destination Switzerland - Travel and Tour Guides



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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
The official Swiss tourism portal. Information about the travel destination Switzerland.

Discover Switzerland
Comprehensive information about Switzerland in its diversity: geography, economy, science, people, culture, government and history.



Switzerland tourism by Cantons and Regions

Engadin
The Engadin is a long high alpine valley formed by the river Inn. The valley is located in the Eastern Swiss Alps in the canton Grisons in Switzerland's extreme southeast.

Graubünden
Tourism guide to Graubünden or Grisons, the largest and easternmost canton of Switzerland.

Heidiland
The holiday region Heidiland in Eastern Switzerland.

Jura & Three-Lakes
Official website of the Jura and Neuchâtel cantons and the Three-Lakes region (Lake Biel, Lake Neuchâtel and Lake Murten). The spoken language in the canton is French.

Lake Geneva Region
The Lake Geneva Region in the canton of Vaud (Waadt) offers an Alpine panorama and an almost Mediterranean climate on the northern shore of Lake Geneva.

Montreux-Vevey Tourisme
The official tourist guide to the Montreux-Vevey region at Lake Geneva (or Lac Léman).

Ticino Tourismus
Official tourism guide of the Italian-speaking Ticino canton (Tessin) in the southernmost corner of Switzerland.

Thurgau
Tourism in the German-speaking canton bordering the Lake of Constance (Bodensee).

Valais
Canton Wallis Tourism.



Famous Alpine resort towns in Switzerland
List of popular as well as some less known Swiss alpine resorts.



Adelboden-Lenk
The Adelboden-Lenk ski region in the west of the Bernese Oberland is one of the largest ski areas in Switzerland and the venue of the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup for men.

Andermatt
The village in the Ursern valley in the canton Uri is situated at an altitude of 1437 m above sea level in the center of the Saint-Gotthard massif. Andermatt is connected by three Alpine passes, the Oberalp Pass, the St Gotthard Pass and the Furka Pass. The town is a winter sports and health resort and is a well-known center of freeriding.

Arosa
Arosa is an Alpine resort in the Schanfigg Valley in the Swiss canton of Grisons (Graubünden). The town is known for its lakes, ski slopes and cross-country ski trails. The highest settlement in Schanfigg (1,775 m) is a well-known former climatic health resort and, since the beginning of 2014, part of the expanded ski resort Arosa Lenzerheide. Permanent resident population: 3310. The spoken language is predominantly Swiss-German.

Crans-Montana
The vacation region of Crans-Montana is located in the French-speaking part of the Swiss canton of Valais (Wallis). Crans-Montana has become famous for numerous events in alpine skiing. In the summer, the region is a center of golf.

Davos
Since the 19th-century, Davos has been a mountain resort and, together with the nearby town of Klosters, a popular destination for winter sports. Davos is also famous as the host of the annual World Economic Forum.

Disentis
Disentis is a year-round tourist resort high up in the Rhine Valley in the Surselva region of Grisons (Graubünden) and the seat of one of the oldest Benedictine monasteries in Switzerland.

Einsiedeln
The village of Einsiedeln in Central Switzerland is a popular destination and one of the most important Roman Catholic pilgrimage sites in Europe.

Grindelwald
Grindelwald is a village in the canton of Bern, near the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains. Grindelwald has long been known as a winter tourist destination; today, the town is also popular for summer activities and a starting point for Eiger and Wetterhorn trails. Spoken language is predominantly Swiss-German.

Flumserberg
Flumserberg is a winter sport and hiking area in the southern part of the canton of St. Gallen. In summer, there is an Alpine cheese market and the Flumserberg Open Air - The Big Schlager Party.

Interlaken
Interlaken is a traditional resort town in the east of the Bernese Oberland region between Lake Thun in the west and Lake Brienz. Interlaken is one of the major tourist centers of the Bernese Oberland. The city offers a diverse range of outdoor and recreational activities, including adventure sports such as skydiving, paragliding, canyoning, river rafting, bungee jumping and kayaking.

Saas-Fee
Saas-Fee the largest village of the Saas Valley in the canton of Valais (Wallis). Today, the town is one of Switzerland's most popular vacation resorts, both in summer and winter. Most of the population speaks Walser German.

St. Moritz
The high-alpine luxury spa (at 1,800 m) is located in the Engadine, a long high Alpine valley in the Swiss canton of Grisons (Graubünden). The former village likes to call itself the birthplace of (British) Alpine winter tourism and has twice hosted the Winter Olympics (1928 and 1948).

Titlis-Engelberg
Engelberg is a village resort in the canton of Obwalden. The town is the starting point to the Titlis, the highest peak of the mountain range north of the Susten Pass.

Verbier
Verbier is a village in the Val de Bagnes in the Entremont district in the canton of Valais (Wallis) in the southwest of Switzerland. Verbier is known as one of the premier backcountry ski resorts. Spoken language is predominantly French.

Wengen
The mountain village in the Bernese Oberland is situated at 1274 m above sea level at the foot of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains. The town itself has no connection to the road network and is therefore almost car-free. Since 1893, Wengen can be reached by the Wengernalpbahn (a rack railway) which runs from Lauterbrunnen to Grindelwald via Wengen and Kleine Scheidegg.

Zermatt
Zermatt is a famous Alpine ski resort and mountaineering center below the pyramid-shaped Matterhorn in the district of Visp. The town is located at the southern end of the Matter Valley at an altitude of about 1,600 m in the south of Switzerland.
 



Swiss Deluxe Hotels
List of some of the best and most famous Swiss hotels.



The Alpina Gstaad
Gstaad's most luxurious hotel.

Badrutt's Palace Hotel
Historic luxury hotel in St. Moritz, Grisons.

Baur au Lac
Luxury hotel at Schanzengraben in Zürich.

Beau-Rivage
Hotels have their anecdotes, grand hotels sometimes a history, but only certain palatial establishments can claim to embody a legend.

Bellevue Palace
The Bellevue Palace in Bern is the official guesthouse of the Swiss government and the only Grand Hotel in the heart of the Swiss capital.

Bürgenstock Hotels & Resort
Luxury living above Lake Lucerne. 

The Cambrian
Hotel with a view.

The Chedi Andermatt Hotel
Alpine-chic with serene Asian accents for a Heidi-goes-Zen look (Forbes Travel Guide).

LeCrans Hotel & Spa
Chalet-style 5-star hotel with mountain view in the ski resort of Crans-Montana, Valais.

Grand Hotel des Bains
Cosy five-star hotel in St.Moritz.

Grand Hotel Kronenhof
Historical Grand Hotel from the time of the Belle Epoque in Pontresina in the Upper Engadine.

Grand Resort Bad Ragaz
A well-known five-star luxury resort in Bad Ragaz in the St. Gallen Rhine Valley. The town at the foot of the Pizol has a long tradition as a health resort.

Gstaad Palace Hotel
The privately-owned Swiss chalet-style luxury hotel in Gstaad opened in 1913.

Hotel Eden Roc
This five-star luxury hotel is located in Ascona (Ticino) on the shores of Lake Maggiore and offers gardens, a private beach and a marina.

Kulm Hotel St. Moritz
The Kulm Hotel St. Moritz in the Engadin valley is a big historic hotel close to Lake St. Moritz.

Mont Cervin Palace
The luxury hotel in Zermatt with a view of the Matterhorn.

Hotel Schweizerhof Luzern
Five-star hotel in Lucerne on the shore of Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee).

Suvretta House
Another five-star hotel in St. Moritz.
Park Hotel Vitznau
The luxury hotel on Lake Lucerne in Vitznau offers rooms with mountain views and lake views.

 


Tarasp castle, lower Engadin, Switzerland
Tarasp Castle, a Swiss heritage site of national significance, is located in the Lower Engadine. The Engadine Dolomites mountains in the background.
Image: Johnw
 
 

 


 



What is Switzerland famous for?


Glacier Express train of the Rhaetian Railway on the Landwasser Viaduct.
A Glacier Express train of the Rhaetian Railway on the Landwasser Viaduct in the direction of Thusis. The Rhaetian Railway in the Albula / Bernina Landscapes is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Image: Luca Gerber


What is Switzerland famous for?

The short answer is cash, cows, cheese, chocolate, and clocks, followed by mountains, meadows, Edelweiss and Heidi.


What is Switzerland known for?

Practically the whole country is a single vacation spot. Switzerland has idyllic landscapes with a variety of snow-capped mountains and ice-cold mountain lakes, melting glaciers and mountain pastures well suited as downhill ski slopes in winter.
The weather offers four seasons that effectively change the landscape.
The country has several cosmopolitan cities and many cozy villages like out of a Heimatfilm. Switzerland is home to 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The coffee is drinkable, and the food is mostly tasty. Switzerland has been ranked as the "world's best country" by the American media company U.S. News for several consecutive years.
The relatively small country has four national languages and the oldest policy of military neutrality in the world.


Swiss landscape
The country is a popular tourist destination, known for its picturesque landscapes. Switzerland has about 1,500 lakes and nearly 50 mountain peaks that are 4,000 meters high or higher. The Dufourspitze (4,634 m (15,203 ft)), a peak of the Monte Rosa massif, is the highest mountain peak of both Switzerland and the Pennine Alps.
The waters of Swiss-born rivers end up in the Black Sea (Inn via the Danube), the Adriatic Sea (Ticino via Po) and the North Sea (via Rhine). The Rhine Falls at Schaffhausen is Europe's most powerful waterfall.
The Hölloch (English: Hellhole) in the municipality of Muotathal (Schwyz) is an over 200 km long system of stalactite caves with a difference in altitude of 1033 m between the lowest and the highest point. It is the second-longest cave in Europe after Optymistychna Cave in Ukraine.


Alpine culture and other Swiss traditions

Greetings from the Matterhorn aka Toblerone Mountain!
Greetings from the Matterhorn.
Image: James Kennedy

Yodeling, the art of communication among Alpine hill tribes. The Alphorns, very long Alpine instruments played by herdsmen and villagers.
Dirndl and other folk costumes originated in German-speaking areas of the Alps.
The Swiss St. Bernard dogs were originally bred for rescue work by the hospice of the Great St Bernard Pass on the Italian-Swiss border.
The Swiss Guard; Swiss mercenaries, usually equipped with halberds, were employed as a security force, formerly by sovereigns of France and Spain, now only at the Vatican.
Wilhelm Tell, the legendary hero of the liberation of Switzerland from Austrian oppression. The expert marksman with the crossbow and a master of arrows, allegedly killed Albrecht Gessler, a vasall of Habsburg (Austria), in the Hohle Gasse (hollow way) between Immensee and Küssnacht.
Heidi, Geissenpeter, and the Almöhi, world-famous characters from the Heidi children books by Johanna Spyri.


Rappen and Franken
Switzerland is an expensive country by European standards. In global comparison, Geneva, Zurich and Bern frequently appear among the costliest cities.
A Swiss bank account has become a must for people who want to avoid the local tax collector; Swiss banks offer accounts in all major currencies. The Swiss banking industry, together with tourism, is one of the main pillars of the country's economy.
Swiss boarding schools; elite care facilities for the children of the rich and famous.

Sports
Due to the presence of mountains and the proper climate, skiing and mountaineering are important leisure activities in the country. Switzerland is traditionally one of the strongest nations in alpine winter sports and competes above all with its archrival Austria.

 

 


 


UNESCO World Heritage Sites


The Glarus thrust at Piz Sardona, Switzerland
The Glarus thrust at Piz Sardona. The Glarus thrust is a geological phenomenon where a visible horizontal line divides older rock lying on younger rock, resulting from the underground workings of plate tectonics.
Image: Matthias Zepper
 

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Switzerland
There are 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Switzerland, nine cultural and three natural heritage sites. Additionally, three properties are listed in UNESCO's Tentative List (see the List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Switzerland).
The following links lead to a detailed description of the respective World Heritage Site at UNESCO.


World Heritage Site Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona
The site features seven peaks that rise above 3,000 m. The area around Piz Sardona (Surenstock) is an exceptional example of mountain building by continental collision, where an older, uplifted rock layer pushed 40 km northward over a younger rock layer. The Glarus overthrust area in the Glarus Alps has been a key site for geological sciences since the 18th century.


World Heritage Site Abbey of St Gall
The imposing Abbey of St. Gall is a dissolved monastery in a Catholic monastery complex in the city of St. Gall. The monastery from the Carolingian period has existed since 719 and was one of the most important Benedictine abbeys for many centuries.


World Heritage Site La Chaux-de-Fonds / Le Locle, Watchmaking Town Planning
The two towns in the remote Swiss Jura in the canton of Neuchâtel are a center of Swiss watchmaking and an example of an artisanal production that evolved into a factory industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The watch industry was brought to Le Locle in the 17th century by Daniel JeanRichard, a self-taught watchmaker who encouraged local farmers to make watch parts for him during the long winters.


World Heritage Site Old City of Berne
Bern was founded in the 12th century on a small hill site surrounded by the Aare River. The city architecture features buildings from different periods, many arcades from the 15th century and fountains from the 16th century. Most of the medieval town was restored in the 18th-century but has retained its original characteristics.


World Heritage Site Monte San Giorgio
Monte San Giorgio is an almost unremarkable pyramid-shaped, wooded mountain on Lake Lugano. But the hill has it all; it is considered the best fossil site of marine life from the Triassic period, 240 million years ago.


The Lavaux Vineyard at Lake Geneva (Lac Léman)
View of the Swiss Lavaux Vineyards at Lake Geneva (Lac Léman). The mountains on the other side of the lake are in France. The vine terraces on the northern shores of Lake Geneva can be traced back to the 11th century when Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries controlled the area. The Lavaux Vineyard Terraces are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Image: kk nationsonline.org
 

 


Education in Switzerland



Panoramic view of public primary school in Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland
Panoramic view of public primary school in Villars-sur-Ollon. The town is home to some of the most expensive private international boarding schools in the world, such as Aiglon College, La Garenne International School, and Pre Fleuri.
Image: Axel Tschentscher


Swiss Elite Boarding Schools
Schools for kids of ultra-high-net-worth individuals.


The Lyceum Alpinum in Zuoz, CH
The Lyceum Alpinum in Zuoz.
Image: Adrian Michael

Aiglon College
Aiglon College is a private international boarding school in an alpine village.

Collège Beau Soleil
Beau Soleil is a prestigious, bilingual French-English private boarding school in Villars-sur-Ollon.

College du Léman
Collège du Léman International School is a prestigious boarding school in Versoix, near Geneva.

Institut auf dem Rosenberg
"The Artisans of Education" is a private, international boarding school located in St. Gallen.

Institut Le Rosey
Le Rosey, stylized as the 'school of kings,' is a boarding school in Rolle, on the shore of Lake Geneva (Lac Léman); Rosey maintains another campus in Gstaad.

Lyceum Alpinum Zuoz
Lyceum Alpinum is an international boarding school near St.Moritz.

TASIS
The American School in Switzerland is a private international boarding school in Montagnola (Lugano).

Federation of Swiss Private Schools
The Swiss association of private schools.



Swiss Universities
Swiss universities are among the top universities in Europe and the world. There are twelve publicly funded Swiss universities and a number of public and private Swiss Universities of Applied Sciences.


Uni Basel
The renowned University of Basel is the country's oldest institution of higher learning, founded in 1460.

Universität Bern
The university in the Swiss capital is the country's third-largest university.

University of Geneva
Université de Genéve is a public research university founded in 1559.

Université de Lausanne
The University of Lausanne was founded in 1537 as the Schola Lausannensis. Today, UNIL, together with the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), maintains a huge campus on the shores of Lake Geneva.

ETH Zürich
Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich is a prestigious public research university in the city of Zürich.

Universität Zürich
The University of Zürich is the largest in Switzerland; it was founded in 1833.


Wikipedia W List of universities in Switzerland
Wikipedia's list of universities in Switzerland.


Science
European Laboratory for Particle Physics
"Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire" - Some of CERN's experiments led to the confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson and a communication tool now known as the internet.
 
View on the old Academy of Lausanne and the Palais de Rumine
View on the old Academy of Lausanne (left), the Palais de Rumine, both former buildings of the University of Lausanne. Lausanne Cathedral in the background.
Image: Christian Mehlführer 
 

 


Environment & Nature



Munt Buffalora, Piz dal Fuorn and Piz Nair in the Swiss National Park
Swiss National Park - View in autumn on Munt Buffalora (left), Piz dal Fuorn (center) and Piz Nair (right).
Image: Martingarten

The beauty of the country's landscape also has its downsides. Switzerland has to deal with various natural hazards such as floods, debris flows, landslides, falling processes (rockfall and rock avalanches), avalanches and storms.


Swiss National Park
The Swiss National Park in Engadin and Val Müstair has been the oldest and best-protected wilderness area in the Alps since 1914.


Governmental Organizations

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

EnviDat
EnviDat is the environmental data portal developed by the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL.

Natural Hazards Portal
The website shows the current natural hazards situation in Switzerland.

Swisstopo
Federal Office of Topography.

WSL
The Swiss Federal Institute for Forest Snow and Landscape Research (WSL).


NGOs

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

Nature
biosphaere.ch
UNESCO Biosphäre Entlebuch. The Entlebuch Biosphere is a nature reserve at the foot of the Alps.

Wikipedia W Environmental movement in Switzerland
Wikipedia page about the environmental movement in Switzerland. 

Geneva Environment Network
GEN is a cooperative partnership of over 75 environmental and development organizations based in Geneva. The network is coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme with support from the Swiss Government.


Marbachegg on the edge of the Biosphere Entlebuch, Switzerland
Marbachegg on the edge of the Biosphere Entlebuch, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve at the foot of the Alps.
Image: Gabrielle Merk
 

 


Switzerland History



Entry to the church ruin San Gaudenzio
Entrance to the church ruins of San Gaudenzio. The church ruin is located on a slope above Casaccia (Bregaglia/Engadin).
Image: Muck

Switzerland evolved over many centuries from a loose alliance of small self-governing towns and states to a fully-fledged federal state of 26 cantons.


History
Chronology and epochs of Switzerland by Presence Switzerland, an organization of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

History of Switzerland
Exhibition at the Swiss National Museum.

History of Switzerland
Part of the Wikipedia series on the History of Switzerland.

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

Map
Map of the Swiss Confederation, 1291-1513

The Origin of the Swiss Flag
 

 


Additional Information


Selected country profiles of Switzerland published by international organizations.


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Amnesty International: Switzerland
Amnesty International is a non-governmental organization focused on human rights.

BBC Country Profile: Switzerland
Country profiles by the British public service broadcaster.

Switzerland: Country Profile | Freedom House
The U.S. government-funded non-profit organization whose goal is to promote liberal democracies worldwide.

GlobalEDGE: Switzerland
Switzerland ranking by the Global business knowledge portal.

The Heritage Foundation: Switzerland
Index of Economic Freedom by The Heritage Foundation, an American conservative think tank.

Human Rights Watch: Switzerland
HRW conducts research and advocacy on human rights.

OEC: Switzerland
The Observatory of Economic Complexity provides the latest international trade data.

Reporters Without Borders: Switzerland
RSF (Reporters sans frontières) is an international NGO that defends and promotes media freedom.

Wikipedia: Switzerland
Wikipedia's Switzerland page in many languages.

Worldbank Data: Switzerland
World Development Indicators database.

The CIA World Factbook -- Switzerland
CIA World Factbook Switzerland Page.

 

 



 
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