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Switzerland

Switzerland

Climate

The climate is moderate with no excessive heat, cold or humidity.

From July to August the daytime temperature range is 18 to 28 °C (65° - 82° F) and from January to February the range is -2 to 7 °C (28° - 45° F). In spring and autumn, the daytime temperature range is 8 to 15 °C (46° - 59° F).

Depending on the altitude the temperature range may vary. It is highly recommended to visitors to pack a sweater, good walking shoes, sunscreen, sunglasses, a compact umbrella and/or a light rain coat.

Seasons

The seasons are clearly distinguishable. In autumn (September to November), the fruit ripens and the leaves of deciduous trees change colour.

The winters were formerly generally cold and snowy, but now freezing temperatures and snow are no longer the rule, especially in the lowlands. Nowadays, many ski resorts could hardly survive without artificial snow.

In spring (March to May) the trees blossom and the meadows turn green. Sometimes in April the winter returns for a short period and sometimes there are summer conditions as early as May.

Summer temperatures rise to 25 to 30°C, with temperatures exceeding the 30°C mark during hot summers.

Population

There are approximately 8 million people in Switzerland.
Demographic trends are being influenced by multilingualism, the rising average age and the high proportion of foreigners living in the country.

Over 22.7% of the country’s approx. 8 million people do not have a Swiss passport.
The average age is increasing because people are living longer and having fewer children.

Language Distribution

Switzerland has four unevenly distributed languages and a wealth of dialects. 

German (65.6 %)
German is by far the most widely spoken language in Switzerland: 19 of the country’s 26 cantons are predominantly (Swiss) German-speaking.

French (22.8 %)
French is spoken in the western part of the country, the "Suisse Romande." Four cantons are French-speaking: Geneva, Jura, Neuchâtel and Vaud. Three cantons are bilingual: in Bern, Fribourg and Valais both French and German are spoken. 

Italian (8.4 %)
Italian is spoken in Ticino and four southern valleys of Canton Graubünden. 

Rhaeto-Rumantsch (0.6 %)
Rumantsch is spoken in the only trilingual canton, Graubünden. The other two languages spoken there are German and Italian. Rumantsch, like Italian and French, is a language with Latin roots. It is spoken by just 0.5% of the total Swiss population. 

Other languages (5.6 %)
The many foreigners resident in Switzerland have brought with them their own languages, which taken as a whole now outnumber both Rumantsch and Italian. The 2000 census showed that speakers of Serbian/Croatian were the largest foreign language group, with 1.4% of the population. English was the main language for 1%.

Religion

The majority of people living in Switzerland are Christian. Approx. 42% are Roman Catholic, and 35% Protestant (2002 figures). There are also many other religions represented in Switzerland: 4% Muslim, 0.3% Buddhist, 0.2% Jewish. The number of people with no religious affiliation has significantly increased (11%).

Politics

1848: The founding of Switzerland

The establishment of the modern state of Switzerland dates back to 1848. Prior to this, Switzerland consisted of a loose alliance of independent cantons.
In 1848 Switzerland formed a modern constitution which made a federal state of the confederation. A central government took over certain areas such as the foreign and financial policy responsibilities of the cantons. The Constitution had to link the various interests of the individual cantons with the overall interests of the federal state.

Form of government and system of government

Switzerland is a parliamentary democracy with a direct democracy.
The Federal Assembly of Switzerland has a bicameral parliament: This consists of the National Council of the representatives of the people (200 members) and the Council of States representing the cantons (46 members). The Federal Assembly elects the Federal Council – the collective head of state, consisting of 7 members.

Federalism and direct democracy

Unique to this small country is its strong federalism. This is expressed in two ways: In the strong autonomy of the 26 cantons and their municipalities, as well as in their direct participation in political decision-making.
It is not only the cantons that have a major influence – the individual citizens also do. This is the result of the country’s direct democracy: People's initiatives and referendums (polls held every quarter) give citizens the chance to influence the government.

Geography

Switzerland has an area of 41,285 square kilometres (15,940 square miles). The productive area - that is, the area without the lakes, rivers, unproductive vegetation and no vegetation at all - covers 30,753 square km (11,870 square miles).

It measures 220 kilometers (137 miles) from north to south and 350 km (217 miles) from east to west.

The Jura, the Plateau and the Alps form the three main geographic regions of the country.

Switzerland has a population of 8 million. Population density is high, with 193 people per square km (500 per square mile) of the productive area in 2008. In the agglomerations, which cover about 20% of the total surface area, the density is 590 per square km (1528 per square mile).

Switzerland at a glance

Capital: Bern

Cantons: 26

Area: 41'200 km2

Boundaries: total: 1852 km/Austria 164 km/France 573 km/Germany 334 km/Italy 740 km/Liechtenstein 41 km

Distance North to Souths: 220 km (137 miles)

Distance East to West: 346 km (216 miles)

Highes point: Dufour Peak, in the Monte Rosa mountain range, 4,634 m (15,203 feet)

Lowest point: Lake Maggiore (Ticino) 193 m (633 feet)

Lakes: 1'484

Glaciers: 140

Population entire country: about 8 million

Population in larger cities (approx.): 
Zürich: 376'990
Geneva: 188'234
Basel: 164'516
Bern: 125'681
Lausanne: 129'383
Winterthur: 103'075
St. Gallen: 73'505
Lucerne: 78'093
Lugano: 55'151

Economy

Switzerland’s economy is based on a highly qualified labour force performing highly skilled work. The main areas include microtechnology, hitech, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, as well as banking and insurance know-how. The service sector now employs the greatest number of people.

Most of the people working in Switzerland are employed by small and medium-sized enterprises, which play an extremely important role in the Swiss economy.

 

Information Courtesy Of Switzerland Tourism

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