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Flag of Switzerland

Country Profile

Capital City: Bern (Berne) (pop. 123 000)

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

Local Time: UTC +1h

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

Border countries
: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein

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

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.

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Swiss.
Population: 7.3 million.
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%.


Currency: Swiss Franc (CHF)

Natural resources: Waterpower, timber, salt.

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

Industries: Wachinery, chemicals, watches, 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)

Internet Links

Official Sites of Switzerland

Confoederatio Helvetica

The Swiss Parliament

Swiss Government Online

Eidgenössisches Departement für auswärtige Angelegenheiten (EDA)

Diplomatic Missions
Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations

Embassy of Switzerland

Swiss Embassies, Consulates and other Missions abroad

Foreign Representations in Switzerland

Statistik Schweiz - Bundesamt für Statistik


Map of Switzerland



Background:  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 has strengthened Switzerland's ties
with its neighbors. Switzerland is active in many UN and international
organizations, but retains a strong commitment to neutrality.

Geography Switzerland

Location:  Central Europe, east of France, north of Italy

Geographic coordinates:  47 00 N, 8 00 E

Map references:  Europe

Area:  total: 41,290 sq km water: 1,520 sq km land: 39,770 sq km

Area - comparative:  slightly less than twice the size of New Jersey

Land boundaries:  total: 1,852 km border countries: Austria 164 km,
France 573 km, Italy 740 km, Liechtenstein 41 km, Germany 334 km

Coastline:  0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims:  none (landlocked)

Climate:  temperate, but varies with altitude; cold, cloudy, rainy/snowy
winters; cool to warm, cloudy, humid summers with occasional showers

Terrain:  mostly mountains (Alps in south, Jura in northwest) with a
central plateau of rolling hills, plains, and large lakes

Elevation extremes:  lowest point: Lake Maggiore 195 m highest point:
Dufourspitze 4,634 m

Natural resources:  hydropower potential, timber, salt

Land use:  arable land: 10% permanent crops: 1% other: 89% (1998 est.)

Irrigated land:  250 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards:  avalanches, landslides, flash floods

Environment - current issues:  air pollution from vehicle emissions
and open-air burning; acid rain; water pollution from increased use of
agricultural fertilizers; loss of biodiversity

Environment - international agreements:  party to: Air Pollution, Air
Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants,
Air Pollution-Sulphur 85, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile
Organic Compounds, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change,
Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous
Wastes, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone
Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber
94, Wetlands, Whaling signed, but not ratified: Antarctic-Environmental
Protocol, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Law of the Sea

Geography - note:  landlocked; crossroads of northern and southern
Europe; along with southeastern France and northern Italy, has the
highest elevations in Europe

People Switzerland

Population:  7,301,994 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:  0-14 years: 16.8% (male 629,513; female 597,472) 15-64
years: 67.7% (male 2,512,273; female 2,433,396) 65 years and over: 15.5%
(male 461,722; female 667,618) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate:  0.24% (2002 est.)

Birth rate:  9.84 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate:  8.79 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate:  1.37 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Sex ratio:  at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.05
male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female 65 years and over:
0.69 male(s)/female total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate:  4.42 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:   82.89 years (2002 est.)  male: Total fertility
rate:  1.47 children born/woman (2002 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:  0.46% (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:  17,000 (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:  150 (1999 est.)

Nationality:  noun: Swiss (singular and plural) adjective: Swiss

Ethnic groups:  German 65%, French 18%, Italian 10%, Romansch 1%, other 6%

Religions:  Roman Catholic 46.1%, Protestant 40%, other 5%, none 8.9%

Languages:  German (official) 63.7%, French (official) 19.2%, Italian
(official) 7.6%, Romansch 0.6%, other 8.9%

Literacy:  definition: age 15 and over can read and write total
population: 99% (1980 est.)  male: NA% female: NA%

Government Switzerland

Country name:   Swiss Confederation conventional short form:  (Italian)
local long form: Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft (German), Confederation
Suisse (French), Confederazione Svizzera (Italian)

Government type:  federal republic

Capital:  Bern

Administrative divisions:  26 cantons (cantons, singular - canton in
French; cantoni, singular - cantone in Italian; kantone, singular - kanton
in German); Aargau, Appenzell Ausser-Rhoden, Appenzell Inner-Rhoden,
Basel-Landschaft, Basel-Stadt, Bern, Fribourg, Geneve, Glarus, Graubunden,
Jura, Luzern, Neuchatel, Nidwalden, Obwalden, Sankt Gallen, Schaffhausen,
Schwyz, Solothurn, Thurgau, Ticino, Uri, Valais, Vaud, Zug, Zurich

Independence:  1 August 1291 (Founding of the Swiss Confederation)

National holiday:  Founding of the Swiss Confederation, 1 August (1291)

Constitution:  29 May 1874

Legal system:  civil law system influenced by customary law; judicial
review of legislative acts, except with respect to federal decrees
of general obligatory character; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction,
with reservations

Suffrage:  18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:  chief of state: President Kasper VILLIGER (since 1
January 2002); Vice President Pascal COUCHEPIN (since 1 January 2002);
note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government:  Pascal COUCHEPIN (since 1 January 2002); note -
the president is both the chief of state and head of government cabinet:
Federal Council or Bundesrat (in German), Conseil Federal (in French),
Consiglio Federale (in Italian) elected by the Federal Assembly from
among its own members for a four-year term elections: president and vice
president elected by the Federal Assembly from among the members of the
Federal Council for one-year terms that run concurrently; election last
held 5 December 2001 (next to be held NA December 2002) election results:
Kasper VILLIGER elected president; percent of Federal Assembly vote -
74.4%; Pascal COUCHEPIN elected vice president; percent of legislative
vote - 58.5%

Legislative branch:  bicameral Federal Assembly or Bundesversammlung (in
German), Assemblee Federale (in French), Assemblea Federale (in Italian)
consists of the Council of States or Standerat (in German), Conseil
des Etats (in French), Consiglio degli Stati (in Italian) (46 seats -
members serve four-year terms) and the National Council or Nationalrat
(in German), Conseil National (in French), Consiglio Nazionale (in
Italian) (200 seats - members are elected by popular vote on the basis
of proportional representation to serve four-year terms) elections:
Council of States - last held NA 1999 (each canton determines when the
next election will be held); National Council - last held 24 October 1999
(next to be held NA October 2003) election results: Council of States -
percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - FDP 18, CVP 15, SVP 7,
SPS 6; National Council - percent of vote by party - SPS 22.5%, SVP 22.6%,
FDP 19.9%, CVP 15.8%, other small parties all under 5%; seats by party -
SPS 51, SVP 44, FDP 43, CVP 35, Green Party 9, other small parties 18

Judicial branch:  Federal Supreme Court (judges elected for six-year
terms by the Federal Assembly)

Political parties and leaders:  Christian Democratic People's Party
(Christichdemokratische Volkspartei der Schweiz or CVP, Parti
Democrate-Chretien Suisse or PDC, Partito Democratico-Cristiano
Popolare Svizzero or PDC, Partida Cristiandemocratica dalla Svizra
or PCD) [Philipp STAEHELIN, president]; Green Party (Grune Partei
der Schweiz or Grune, Parti Ecologiste Suisse or Les Verts, Partito
Ecologista Svizzero or I Verdi, Partida Ecologica Svizra or La
Verda) [Ruth GENNER and Patrice MUGNY, co-presidents]; Radical Free
Democratic Party (Freisinnig-Demokratische Partei der Schweiz or FDP,
Parti Radical-Democratique Suisse or PRD, Partitio Liberal-Radicale
Svizzero or PLR) [Gerold BUEHRER, president]; Social Democratic Party
(Sozialdemokratische Partei der Schweiz or SPS, Parti Socialist Suisse
or PSS, Partito Socialista Svizzero or PSS, Partida Socialdemocratica de
la Svizra or PSS) [Christiane BRUNNER, president]; Swiss People's Party
(Schweizerische Volkspartei or SVP, Union Democratique du Centre or UDC,
Unione Democratica de Centro or UDC, Uniun Democratica dal Center or UDC)
[Ueli MAURER, president]; and other minor parties

Political pressure groups and leaders:  NA

International organization participation:  ACCT, AfDB, AsDB, Australia
IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, LAIA (observer), MONUC, NAM (guest),
NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, PFP, UN (observer),

Diplomatic representation in the US:   Ambassador Christian BLICKENSTORFER
consulate(s):  New York, and San Francisco FAX: [1] (202) 387-2564
telephone: [1] (202) 745-7900 chancery: 2900 Cathedral Avenue NW,
Washington, DC 20008

Diplomatic representation from the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador
Mercer REYNOLDS III embassy: Jubilaeumstrasse
 use embassy street address telephone:
Flag description:  red square with a bold, equilateral white cross in
the center that does not extend to the edges of the flag

Economy Switzerland

Economy - overview:  Switzerland is a prosperous and stable modern
market economy with a per capita GDP higher than that of the big
western European economies. The Swiss in recent years have brought their
economic practices largely into conformity with the EU's to enhance their
international competitiveness. Although the Swiss are not pursuing full EU
membership in the near term, in 1999 Bern and Brussels signed agreements
to further liberalize trade ties. They continue to discuss further areas
for cooperation. Switzerland remains a safe haven for investors, because
it has maintained a degree of bank secrecy and has kept up the franc's
long-term external value. The GDP growth rate dipped to 1.6% in 2001,
and the government projects that it will slow further to 1.3% in 2002.

GDP:  purchasing power parity - $226 billion (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:  1.6% (2001 est.)

GDP - per capita:  purchasing power parity - $31,100 (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:  agriculture: 2% industry: 34% services: 64%
(2001 est.)

Population below poverty line:  NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share:  lowest 10%: 2.8%
highest 10%: 25.2% (1992)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:  33.1 (1992)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):  1% (2001)

Labor force:  4 million (2001)

Labor force - by occupation:  services 69.1%, industry 26.3%, agriculture
4.6% (1998)

Unemployment rate:  1.8% (2001)

Budget:  revenues: $30 billion expenditures: $30 billion, including
capital expenditures of $NA (2001 est.)

Industries:  machinery, chemicals, watches, textiles, precision

Industrial production growth rate:  3.2% (2001)

Electricity - production:  64.182 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - production by source:  fossil fuel: 3.96% hydro: 56.81%
other: 2.3% (2000) nuclear: 36.93%

Electricity - consumption:  52.62 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - exports:  31.4 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - imports:  24.33 billion kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products:  grains, fruits, vegetables; meat, eggs

Exports:  $91.4 billion (f.o.b., 2001)

Exports - commodities:  machinery, chemicals, metals, watches,
agricultural products

Exports - partners:  EU 59% (Germany 21%, France 9%, Italy 8%, UK 6%,
Austria 3%), US 13%, Japan 4% (2000)

Imports:  $91.4 billion (f.o.b., 2001)

Imports - commodities:  machinery, chemicals, vehicles, metals;
agricultural products, textiles

Imports - partners:  EU 74% (Germany 29%, France 10%, Italy 9%,
Netherlands 6%, UK 6%), US 8%, Japan 3% (2000)

Debt - external:  $NA

Economic aid - donor:  ODA, $1.1 billion (1995)

Currency:  Swiss franc (CHF)

Currency code:  CHF

Exchange rates:  Swiss francs per US dollar - 1.6668 (January 2002),
1.6876 (2001), 1.6888 (2000), 1.5022 (1999), 1.4498 (1998), 1.4513 (1997)

Fiscal year:  calendar year

Communications Switzerland

Telephones - main lines in use:  4.82 million (1998)

Telephones - mobile cellular:  1.967 million (1999)

Telephone system:  general assessment: excellent domestic and
international services domestic: extensive cable and microwave radio
relay networks international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat
(Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations:  AM 4, FM 113 (plus many low power stations),
shortwave 2 (1998)

Radios:  7.1 million (1997)

Television broadcast stations:  115 (plus 1,919 repeaters) (1995)

Televisions:  3.31 million (1997)

Internet country code:  .ch

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):  44 (Switzerland and Liechtenstein)

Internet users:  3.41 million (2001)

Transportation Switzerland

Railways:  total: 4,406 km standard gauge: 3,440 km 1.435-m gauge dual
gauge: 56 km 1.435-m and 1.000-m gauges (3 rail system) note: Swiss
railways are virtually all electrified (2001) narrow gauge: 900 km
1.000-m gauge; 10 km 0.800-m gauge

Highways:  total: 71,059 km (including 1,638 km of expressways) paved:
71,059 km unpaved: 0 km (1999)

Waterways:  65 km note: The Rhine carries heavy traffic on the
Basel-Rheinfelden and Schaffhausen-Bodensee stretches; there are also
12 navigable lakes

Pipelines:  crude oil 314 km; natural gas 1,506 km

Ports and harbors:  Basel

Merchant marine:  total: 26 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 509,943
GRT/896,309 DWT ships by type: bulk 15, cargo 6, chemical tanker 4,
petroleum tanker 1 note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here
as a flag of convenience:, United Kingdom 6, United States 1 (2002 est.)

Airports:  66 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:  total: 42 over 3,047 m: 3 2,438 to 3,047
m: 5 914 to 1,523 m: 8 under 914 m: 15 (2001) 1,524 to 2,437 m: 11

Airports - with unpaved runways:  total: 24 under 914 m: 24 (2001)

Heliports:  1 (2001)

Military Switzerland

Military branches:  Army, Air Force, Frontier Guards, Fortification Guards

Military manpower - military age:  20 years of age (2002 est.)

Military manpower - availability:  males age 15-49: 1,841,867 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:  males age 15-49: 1,561,689
(2002 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:  males: 42,597
(2002 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure:  $2.548 billion (FY01)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP:  1% (FY01)

Transnational Issues Switzerland

Disputes - international:  none

Illicit drugs:  because of more stringent government regulations, used
significantly less as a money-laundering center; transit country for
and consumer of South American cocaine and Southwest Asian heroin

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002

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