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Destination Switzerland, a virtual travel guide to Helvetia, how the country was called in ancient times. This page aims to give you a broad overview of Switzerland's art, culture, people, environment, geography, history, economy and government.
Beside a country profile with facts and figures, the page contains links to sources which provide you with all the information you need to know about this alpine nation, e.g.: official web sites of Switzerland, addresses of Swiss and foreign embassies, domestic airlines, city- and country guides providing extensive travel and tourism information on accommodation, tourist attractions, events and more like weather information, maps, statistics and local newspapers from Switzerland.
Clock Tower in Bern
Clock Tower - Bern, the Swiss Capital
© Bern Tourism
 

Switzerland | Suisse | Schweiz | Svizzera | Suiza | Svizra

Country Profile


Flag of Switzerland
Flag of Switzerland

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

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


border countries: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein
 
Where in the World is Switzerland?

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

ISO Country Code: ch

Time:
Time Zone: Central European Time
Local Time = UTC +1h
Actual Time: Sun-Nov-23  21:50
Daylight Saving Time (DST) March - October (UTC +2)

Country Calling Code: +41

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

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

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

Geography:
Location: Central Europe, south of Germany, east of France and north of Italy.
Area: 41,285 kmĀ² (15,941 sq. mi.)
Terrain: 60% mountains, the remainder hills and plateau. Switzerland straddles the central ranges of the Alps.

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

People:
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Swiss.
Population: 8 million (2011)
GNI per capita PPP: $ 33,168
Ethnic groups: Mixed European--German 65%, French 18%, Italian 10%, Romansch 1%, other.
Religions: Roman Catholic 42%, Protestant 33%, Muslim 4.3%, others 5.4%, no religion 11%.
Languages: German 63.7%, French 20.4%, Italian 6.5%, Romansch 0.5%, are official languages, other 9.4%.
Literacy: 100%.

Natural resources: Waterpower, timber, salt.

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

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

Exports partners: Germany 20.8%, USA 11.3%, France 8.7%, Italy 8.3%, UK 4.9%, Japan 4% (2003)

Imports partners: Germany 32.3%, France 10.8%, Italy 10.7%, USA 5.5%, Netherlands 5%, Austria 4.2%, UK 4.1% (2003)

Currency: Swiss Franc (CHF)

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

Official Sites of Switzerland

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

The Swiss Parliament
Official site of Switzerland's parliament.

Swiss Government Online
Register of the official Internet sites of the Helvetic Administration and Public Services.

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.

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.
 

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

 

Arts & Culture

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

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

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

Literatur
Friedrich Dürrenmatt
About the Swiss playwright and essayist.

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

Theater
Schauspielhaus Zürich
One of the most renowned theaters in Switzerland.

great site  cl culturelinks
Access to all culture websites in Switzerland as well as to Swiss culture websites abroad.
 



Business & Economy

Swiss National Bank
Central Bank of Switzerland.
SWX Swiss Exchange
The Swiss Stock Exchange.

Die schweizerischen Industrie- und Handelskammern
Chambers of commerce and industry of Switzerland.

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

Swiss Watches
Audemars Piguet
The master of watchmaking since 1875.
Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry
All the Swiss watch makers.
F.P. Journe
Chronometer - Invenit et Fecit.
Swatch
Modern times Swiss watches for collectors.
Swisstime
The Wonderful World of Swiss Watches.


__Transportation

Airlines
Edelweiss Air
Edelweiss Air serves various destinations in the Mediterranean, in the Caribbean, Kenya and the Maldives.
Helvetic Airways
Focuses on non-stop flights from Zurich to attractive destinations in Northern Africa and Southern Europe.
Swiss International Air Lines
The Swiss Flag Carrier - its site provides intercontinental flights schedules, time tables, special offers and 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
Glacier Express
Famous Swiss mountain railways from St.Moritz to Zermatt and the slowest express train in the world.
Gornergrat Bahn
The Gornergrat Bahn takes you from Zermatt up the 3089 m high Gornergrat.
Rhätische Bahn
Arosa Railway, Bernina Express and other railways.

The Swiss Railway - SBB
Swiss Federal Railways.
Online Timetable Swiss Railways
Timetable and tickets.
 
 

Destination Switzerland - Travel and Tour Guides

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

Switzerland Tourism
Information for the travel destination Switzerland.

swissworld.org
Switzerland's official portal. Comprehensive information about Switzerland in its diversity: geography, economy, science, people, culture, government and history.

traveling.ch
Commercial Swiss portal with extensive travel and tourism information.

Cantons and Regions
Graubünden
Tourism guide to the largest and easternmost canton of Switzerland.
Grindelwald Tourism
Travel and tourism in the Grindelwald region.
Jura Tourisme

Lake Geneva Region
The Lake Geneva Region offers Alpine panorama and an almost Mediterranean climate.
Montreux-Vevey Tourisme
The official tourist guide for the Pearl of the "Swiss Riviera".
Neuchâtel
Official tourism website of the canton Neuchâtel.
Watch Valley
Site about the Swiss watch makers.
Ticino Tourismus
Official tourism guide of Ticino canton in the southernmost corner of Switzerland.
Thurgau
Tourism in the canton at Lake of Constance.
Valais
Canton Wallis Tourism.

City Guides
Arosa Tourismus
Tourism site of the city of Arosa, the "generation holidays place" up on 1 800 meter height.
Basel
The cultural and economic region of Basel.
Bern Tourism
Visit Switzerlands' unknown capital.
Davos
Official site of the largest mountain resort of Europe.
Genève (Genf, Genève, Geneva)
The official Site of the International Swiss City.
Luzern
The official site of the City of Luzern.
Lausanne
The City of Lausanne.
Lugano
City of Lugano, the official website.
St. Moritz
Official site of the world-famous village in the Engadine valley.
Zermatt
The city in the Matterhorn region (Valais)
Zürich
Official portal of Zürich tourism.


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

More Hotels
 NEW  Hotels in Switzerland
Find a Hotel in Switzerland.
 

Travel and Tour Consumer Information

Grindelwald Glacier
Grindelwald Glacier
© swiss-image.ch/Photo: Walter Storto


Lake Thun
Lake Thun
© swiss-image.ch/Photo: Stephan Engler

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

Science
European Laboratory for Particle Physics
"Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire" - Some of the experiments of CERN leads to a communication tool called the internet
 Swiss Meteorite Laboratory
Real visitors from outer space.
 
 

Environment - Environmental organizations Switzerland

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

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

Nature
biosphaere.ch
UNESCO Biosphäre Entlebuch.
 
 

History

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


 
 

Search

sear.ch
Swiss search engine (German).
 Toplinks
Directory of Swiss websites by Swissinfo.

Additional Information on Switzerland

BBC News Country Profile: Switzerland
Governments on the WWW: Switzerland
Open Directory Project: Switzerland
Wikipedia: Switzerland
The World Factbook -- Switzerland
 
 

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Actually, there are more than five colors,

Baron de Coubertin would have loved to use them all.

Why is it, that Gay and Lesbian people still are victims of persecution, harassment, and assaults occasioning actual bodily harm or worse?
Our world would be much poorer and colder without the creativity and ingenuity of the colorful LGBT* culture.
So, get up, stand up, and don't let it happen again and again and again.

Nature made sure, that all men are able to love each other without distinction of gender. This ability empowers humans to care for and to help each other. Natures gift simply secures the survival of the species.
But in some societies this natural law has been neglected by religions, governments and other interest groups in favour for better controllable straight-laced communities.

But if you know what life is worth, You will look for yours on earth
(lyrics from the song Get Up, Stand Up)
Bob Marley



* LGBT - acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender

Declaration of Human Rights

Article I
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.