Switzerland in its full nameSwitzerland in its full namethe Swiss Confederation, is athe Swiss Confederation, is afederal republic consisting offederal republic consisting of26 cantons, with Bern as the26 cantons, with Bern as theseat/capital of the federalseat/capital of the federalauthorities. The country isauthorities. The country issituated in westernsituated in westernEurope,where it is borderedEurope,where it is borderedby Germany to the north,by Germany to the north,France to the west, Italy toFrance to the west, Italy tothe south, and Austria andthe south, and Austria andLiechtenstein to the east.Liechtenstein to the east.Switzerland comprises threeSwitzerland comprises threemain linguistic and culturalmain linguistic and culturalregions: German, French, andregions: German, French, andItalian, to which theItalian, to which theRomansh-speaking valleys areRomansh-speaking valleys areadded.added.
Switzerland is a landlocked countrygeographically divided between theAlps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura,spanning an area of 41,285 km2(15,940 sq mi). The population isabout 7.9 million, resulting in anaverage population density of around190 people per square kilometre(485/sq mi).While the Alps occupy thegreater part of the territory, the Swisspopulation of approximately 8 millionpeople is concentrated mostly on thePlateau, where the largest cities are tobe found. Among them are the twoglobal cities and economic centres ofZurich and Geneva.Zurich
Switzerland lies between latitudes45° and 48° N, and longitudes 5°and 11° E. It contains three basictopographical areas: the Swiss Alpsto the south, the Swiss plateau ormiddleland, and the Jura mountainson the north. About a hundred ofSwitzerlands mountain peaks areclose to or higher than 4,000metres (13,000 ft).At 4,634 m(15,203 ft), Monte Rosa is thehighest, although the Matterhorn(4,478 m/14,692 ft) is probablythe most famous. The largest lakeis Lake Geneva. The Rhone River isboth the main input and output ofLake Geneva.GENEVA
The Federal Constitution adopted in 1848 isthe legal foundation of the modern federalstate. It is among the oldest constitutions inthe world. A new Constitution was adoptedin 1999, but did not introduce notable changesto the federal structure
The Swiss Parliament consists of two houses: the Council ofStates which has 46 representatives (two from each cantonand one from each half-canton) who are elected under asystem determined by each canton, and the NationalCouncil, which consists of 200 members who are electedunder a system of proportional representation, dependingon the population of each canton. Members of both housesserve for 4 years. When both houses are in joint session,they are known collectively as the Federal Assembly. TheFederal Council constitutes the federal government,directs the federal administration and serves as collectiveHead of State
Switzerland has a stable, prosperous andhigh-tech economy. In 2011, it was rankedas being the wealthiest country in theworld in per capita terms (with wealthbeing defined to include both financialand non-financial assets).It has the worldsnineteenth largest economy by nominalGDP and the thirty-sixth largest bypurchasing power parity. It is thetwentieth largest exporter and eighteenthlargest importer of goods
Education in Switzerland is very diverse because theconstitution of Switzerland delegates the authorityfor the school system to the cantons. There are bothpublic and private schools, including many privateinternational schools. The minimum age for primaryschool is about six years in all cantons, but mostcantons provide a free "childrens school" startingat four or five years old.[There are 12 universities in Switzerland, ten of whichare maintained at cantonal level and usually offer arange of non-technical subjects. The first universityin Switzerland was founded in 1460 in Basel. Thebiggest university in Switzerland is the University ofZurich with nearly 25,000 students.
In addition there are various Universities ofApplied Sciences. In business andmanagement studies, University of St.Gallen, (HSG) and International Institutefor Management Development (IMD) arethe leaders within the country and highlyregarded internationally.
Switzerland lies at the crossroads of severalmajor European cultures that have heavilyinfluenced the countrys languages and culture.Switzerland has four official languages: German,French, Italian, Romansh.Switzerland has no official state religion, thoughmost of the cantons (except Geneva and Neuchâtel)recognize official churches, which are either theCatholic Church or the (Protestant) Swiss ReformedChurch
SportsSportsSkiing, snowboarding andmountaineering are among the mostpopular sports in Switzerland, thenature of the country beingparticularly suited for such activities.Winter sports are practiced by thenatives and tourists since the secondhalf of the 19th century with theinvention of bobsleigh in St. Moritz.
Convent of Saint JohnConvent of Saint JohnThe Convent of Saint John is anancient Benedictine monastery inMüstair village of Val Müstair,Switzerland, and, by reason of itsexceptionally well-preserved heritage ofCarolingian art, has been a UNESCOWorld Heritage Site since 1983. TheConvent of Müstair is a Christianmonastary from the Carolingian period. Ithas Switzerlands greatest series offigurative murals, painted c. 800 AD,along with other Romanesque art anddesigns.
La Chaux-de-FondsLa Chaux-de-FondsLa Chaux-de-Fonds is aSwiss city of the districtof La Chaux-de-Fonds inthe canton of Neuchâtel.It is located in the Juramountains at an altitudeof 1000 m, a fewkilometers south of theFrench border
TheThe Abbey of Saint GallAbbey of Saint GallThe Abbey of Saint Gall is a religiouscomplex in the city of St. Gallen inpresent-day Switzerland. TheCarolingian-era Abbey has existed since719 and became an independentprincipality during the 13th century, andwas for many centuries one of the chiefBenedictine abbeys in Europe. It wasfounded by Saint Othman on the spotwhere Saint Gall had erected hishermitage. The Carolingian Convent of StGall was one of the most important inEurope. It was in operation from the 8thcentury to its secularization in 1805. Itslibrary is one of the richest and oldest inthe world and contains a number ofprecious manuscripts
TheThe LavauxLavauxThe Lavaux is a region in the canton ofVaud in Switzerland, in the district ofLavaux. Although there is some evidencethat vines were grown in the area in Romantimes, the actual vine terraces can be tracedback to the 11th century, when Benedictineand Cistercian monasteries controlled thearea. The Lavaux consist of 830 hectares ofterraced wineyards that stretch for about30 km along the south-facing northernshores of Lake Geneva. The LavauxVineyard Terraces stretch for about 30 km(19 mi) along the south-facing northernshores of Lake Geneva from Chillon Castleto the eastern outskirts of Lausanne in theVaud region
Monte San Giorgio is a woodedmountain (1,097 m above sea level)located between the south ofcanton Ticino in Switzerland andthe region of Lombardy in Italy.Monte San Giorgio became aUNESCO World Heritage Sites in2003, because it "is the single bestknown record of marine life in theTriassic period, The pyramid-shaped, wooded mountain ofMonte San Giorgio beside LakeLugano is regarded as the bestfossil record of marine life from theTriassic Period (245–230 millionyears ago)
Jungfrau-AletschJungfrau-AletschThe site includes several of the highestmountains in the Central Alps alongwith the largest glacier in Eurasia. TheJungfrau-Aletsch protected area(officially Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch) is located in south-westernSwitzerland between the cantons ofBerne and Valais. It is a mountainousregion in the easternmost side of theBernese Alps, containing the northernwall of Jungfrau and Eiger, and thelargest glaciated area in westernEurasia, comprising the AletschGlacier. The Jungfrau-Aletschprotected area is the first WorldNatural Heritage site in the Alps.
The Bellinzona site consists of a group offortifications grouped around the castle ofCastelgrande, which stands on a rocky peaklooking out over the entire Ticino valley.Running from the castle, a series of fortifiedwalls protect the ancient town and block thepassage through the valley. A second castle(Montebello) forms an integral part of thefortifications, while a third but separate castle(Sasso Corbaro) was built on an isolatedrocky promontory south-east of the otherfortifications.The Unteraar Glacier is the largerof the two sources of the Aar riverin the Bernese Alps. It emergesfrom the association of theFinsteraar Glacier (near theFinsteraarhorn) and the LauteraarGlacier (near the Lauteraarhorn)and flows for about 6 km (3.7 mi) tothe east down to the Grimselseenear the Grimsel Pass