Official Name Swiss Confederation
Capital City Bern
Languages German, French, Italian, Romansch
Official Currency Swiss Franc
Religions Catholic, Protestant, others
Land Area 39,770 sq km (15,355 sq miles)
The geography of Switzerland is notable for its great diversity. Switzerland??s three main geographical regions are the Jura, Plateau and the Alps.
Switzerland is densely populated, with an average of 183 people per square kilometer. However, there are major differences between the geographical regions.
Politics: Switzerland features a system of government unlike any other seen in Europe, or indeed much of the world.
The bicameral Swiss parliament, the Federal Assembly, is the primary seat of power, apart from the Federal Council. Both houses, the Council of States and the National Council, have equal powers in all respects, including the right to introduce legislation.
Economy: Switzerland is a prosperous and stable modern market economy, with a per capita GDP that is higher than those of the big western European economies. Switzerland is a member of the European Free Trade Association. In recent years, the Swiss have brought their economic practices largely into conformity with those of the European Union, to enhance their international competitiveness. Full EU membership is a long-term objective of the Swiss government, but there is considerable popular sentiment against this. To this end, it has established an Integration Office under the Department of Foreign and Economic Affairs. To minimise the negative consequences of Switzerland's isolation from the rest of Europe, Bern and Brussels signed seven agreements, called Bilateral Agreements I, to further liberalise trade ties in 1999 and entering into force 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 awaits ratification. The second series includes the Schengen treaty and the Dublin Convention. They continue to discuss further areas for cooperation. Switzerland voted against membership in the European Economic Area in December 1992 and has since maintained and developed its relationships with the European Union and European countries through bilateral agreements.
Culture: The culture of Switzerland is characterised by the diversity of its geography, its languages and its religious affiliation. This is reflected in the variety of its literature, art, architecture, music, and customs.
The culture of the mountains of Switzerland is not the same as that in the plateau, there are significant differences between the language areas, and between the mainly Roman Catholic and the mainly Protestant regions.
The Swiss sometimes wonder what keeps Switzerland together.
Architecture: The innovative work of Swiss architects has gained an international reputation. At the same time, many foreign architects have produced exciting new buildings in Switzerland.
Art: Well-known artists of the 19th and the start of 20th centuries include Albert Anker, Arnold Boecklin and Ferdinand Hodler. Some of the important figures in 20th century art were Swiss/Swiss-born, respectively: Alberto Giacometti (1901-66), famous for his sculptures of elongated figures, and Paul Klee (1879-1940). Switzerland also boasts Jean Tinguely (1925-1991) with his creative and colourful installations, whose philosophy was that though machines made of scrap metal have no purpose they can have a meaning. Bernhard Luginb??hl (1929-), a friend of Tinguely's, also used scrap iron to create huge sculptures.
Reference: www.worldatlas.com http://www.swissworld.org/ http://en.wikipedia.org/