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  1. 1. Economy1. Introduction:About two third of the area of Switzerland is covered with forests, lakes and mountains. SinceSwitzerland has no mineral resources, it must import, process and resell them as products."Services" are the most important part of the economy. This includes banking, assurances andtourism.Farming is also an important part of the economy. But the production of the Swiss farmers doesnot fulfill the needs of all people, so Switzerland must rely on imported goods from othercountries.2. The three sectors:The economy in Switzerland is divided into three sectors: 1. "Landwirtschaft" (agriculture) 2. "Industrie" (industry) 3. "Dienstleistungen" (services)Less than 10% of the population is employed in the "Landwirtschaft" (agriculture), alsoconsidered the primary sector. This sector is strongly supported by the government.About 40% of the population is employed in the "Industrie, Gewerbe undHandwerk" (industry, trade and handicraft), also considered thesecondary sector. Thissector includes the "Maschinen- und Metallindustrie" (machine and metalindustry), "Uhrenindustrie" (watch industry) and the "Textilindustrie" (textile industry). Allof them export much of their products to foreign countries and suffer a lot because of theexpensive Swiss Franc. The fact that Switzerland does not belong to the European Unionadditionally slows down the Swiss exports.More than 50% of the population is employed in the "Dienstleistungssektor" (services), alsoconsidered the tertiary sector. This sector includes banking, assurances, tourism and so on.Banking is one of the most important businesses in Switzerland. Many of the banks have startedto use the Internet for business purposes. For more information, see the directory of Swissbanks.3. Foreign trade:Switzerland is one of the countries with the highest contribution of the foreign trade to thegross inland product. The most important trade partners are the so called "industrialized
  2. 2. countries". In 2003, 77.2% of the exported goods were shipped to and 89.0% of the importedgoods came from those countries. In particular, 60.3% of the goods were shipped to and81.7% of the imported goods came from countries which belong to the European Union (EU).3.1 Most important trade partners:The tables below show the names of the countries and the values of the imported and exportedgoods in million Swiss Francs (1 million = 1000000) for the year 2003.Rank Country Import Rank Country Export 1 Germany 41200 1 Germany 27700 2 Italy 13800 2 USA 13800 3 France 13700 3 France 11500 4 Netherlands 6400 4 Italy 11000 Austria 5400 5 Great Britain 6200 5 USA 5400 6 Japan 5100 6 Great Britain 4900 Austria 4400 7 7 Ireland 4700 Netherlands 4400 8 Belgium 3600 8 Belgium 2600 9 Japan 2600 9 Ireland 9003.2 Most important trade goods:The table below shows the value of the imported and exported goods in million Swiss Francs(1 million = 1000000) for the year 2002.No Goods Import No Goods Export1 Chemicals 27256 1 Chemicals 448462 Machines 25925 2 Machines 31693 Precision tools, watches,3 Vehicles 12843 3 22602 jewelry4 Agriculture and fishery 9864 4 Agriculture and fishery 42195 Metals 9329 5 Vehicles 3742
  3. 3. 6 Textile, clothing and shoes 8625 6 Textile, clothing and shoes 3726 Precision tools, watches,7 8167 7 Leather, rubber, plastic 3647 jewelry8 Energy 5369 8 Paper 32759 Paper 4740 9 Other 174610 Other 4516 10 Metals 97511 Leather, rubber, plastic 4264 11 Stone, soil 78012 Stone, soil 2229 12 Energy 363Information sources: www.zahlenspiegel.ch4. Currency:The Swiss currency is called "Schweizerfranken" ("Swiss Francs") or short "Franken". Onehundred "Rappen" make up one Swiss Franc.CHF is the ISO representation for Swiss francs;however, the old notation sFr. is still used quite often.This is a 5 Franken coin, called a "Fünfliber"The currency is available in the following coins: 1 Rappen ("Räppler", no longer in use) 2 Rappen ("Zweiräppler", no longer in use) 5 Rappen ("Fünfer")
  4. 4. 10 Rappen ("Zehner") 20 Rappen ("Zwanziger") ½ Franken ("Fünfziger") 1 Franken ("Fränkler") 2 Franken ("Zweifränkler") 5 Franken ("Fünfliber") - a long time ago, there used to be a five francs bill (includes images of approx. 220kB)Images of all coins.The currency is available in the following bills: 10 Franken (images of current, previous and older bill, approx. 400 kB) 20 Franken (images of current and previous bill, approx. 450 kB) 50 Franken (images of current bill, approx. 220 kB) 100 Franken (images of current, previous and older bill, approx. 710 kB) 200 Franken (images of current bill, approx. 270 kB) 1000 Franken (images of current bill, approx. 330 kB)To convert currency, we suggest the oanda online currency converter.5. Cost of living:Now and then I receive questions about the cost of living in Switzerland. Even tough it isdifficult to compare the costs of living between various countries, I try to list some indicationsthat may give an idea what it means to go along with your salary in Switzerland.5.1 Exchange rates:I remember times when I was young (some 35 years ago), when one US dollar (USD) costmore than four Swiss Francs (CHF) and one German Mark cost more than one Swiss Franc.Today (May 14, 2010), one US dollar costs approximately CHF 1.11 and the German Mark hasbeen replaced by the Euro (EUR). One Euro corresponds to about CHF 1.40. These everchanging exchange rates are one problem in comparing costs of living.5.2 Salaries:Another problem in comparing the costs of living is the amount of money one has available tospend, also known as the salary. This is particularly difficult because most people do not like totalk about it, at least here in Switzerland. Of course, the actual salary depends on theeducation, the position within the company or organization, the duration of the employmentetc. The following table is a very rough approximation of a yearly income depending on thelevel of education:
  5. 5. type of education salary rangeapprenticeship (typically 3 or 4 years) CHF 40000 - 80000academic CHF 70000 - 150000lower management CHF 120000 - 250000higher management CHF 200000 ++5.3 Expenses:Again as a very rough approximation, a Swiss family spends its income as follows: 25-35% for rent of a condominium or house 10-20% for assurances (health, liability, theft, car), health care and savings deposits 15-20% for food (at home and in restaurants) 20-40% for other expenses (non-food, car maintenance, phone bills, vacations, recreational activities) 5-15% for taxes (Taxes vary across the different cantons quite a lot)5.4 Cost of some food goods:The following table is a list of some food goods and their approximative cost as of summer2010 in the area of Zürich. Approximative cost in Goods Amount CHFBread in a store 1 kg 3.00 - 4.00Milk in a store 1 liter 2.00 1 cup (noCoffee or tee in a restaurant 3.50 refill)Softdrink in a restaurant 0.2 or 0.3 l 3.50 - 4.00Hamburger in fast food restaurant 200 gr 5.00A meal in a family restaurant without 1 person 15.00 - 30.00beverages
  6. 6. If you are not familiar with our metric unit system, see explanations about metric versusU.S. unit systems5.5 Cost of some non-food goods:The following table is a list of some non-food goods and their approximative cost as of spring2010 in the area of Zürich. Goods Amount Approximative cost in CHFDiesel 1 liter 1.85 (changes daily!)Gasoline 1 liter 1.70 (changes daily!)Cigarettes 1 pack 5.00Compact Disk (music) 1 CD 10.00 - 25.00Jeans 1 100.00 - 150.00Building land 1 m² 400.00 - 1200.00House (without land) 4 .. 5 rooms 400000 - 1000000++If you are not familiar with our metric unit system, see explanations about metric versusU.S. unit systemsAdministration1. Name:Switzerland is also known as "Confoederatio Helvetica", therefore theabbreviation "CH". "Confoederatio" stands for "confederation","Helvetica" derives from theLatin word "Helvetier", the name of the people who lived in the area which became laterSwitzerland.2. Flag:
  7. 7. The white cross on the red back (see top left on each page) has a religious background. Thecross represents the cross, Jesus was put on, the red color represents his blood.Each arm of the cross has to be of the same size and must be 1/6 longer than wide.3. National motto, flower, animalThere are no such things as a national motto, a national flower or a national animal. However,some cantons do have a motto or an animal.The "Edelweiss" (Leontopodium alpinum) has the status of an inoffical national flower.4. Capital:The capital of Switzerland is Bern City, also the capital of the canton Bern.5. Administrative divisions:Switzerland is broken up into the following administrative divisions ("top down"):5.1 Eidgenossenschaft:The "Eidgenossenschaft" (confederation) consists of the following authorities:5.1.1 "Bundesversammlung" (federal assembly), legislative authority: The federal assembly or parliament meets in the "Bundeshaus" in Bern and consists of two houses or "Kammern" (chambers): 1. "Ständerat": Also called the "kleine Kammer" (small chamber) with two representatives of each canton, or one representative of each split-canton, regardless of the size of the population of the canton. 2. "Nationalrat": Also called the "grosse Kammer" (large chamber) with 200 representatives. The number of representatives is proportional to the population of the cantons, but there is at least one representative of a canton.5.1.2 "Bundesrat", executive authority:
  8. 8. The "Bundesrat" (Federal Council) consists of seven members, elected by the "Vereinigte Bundesversammlung", a combined assembly of both chambers. Elections take place every four years. The president of the "Bundesrat", called "Bundespräsident" / "Bundespräsidentin", changes every year and has only representional status but no extra power. The seven "Bundesräte" / "Bundesrätinnen" head the following "Departemente" (departments): 1. Foreign Affairs ("Departement für auswärtige Angelegenheiten") 2. Home Affairs ("Departement des Innern") 3. Justice and Police ("Justiz- und Polizei-Departement") 4. Defence, Civil Protection and Sports ("Departement für Verteidigung, Bevölkerungsschutz und Sport") 5. Finance ("Finanz-Departement") 6. Economic Affairs ("Volkswirtschafts-Departement") 7. Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications ("Departement für Umwelt, Verkehr, Energie und Kommunikation")5.1.3 "Bundesgericht" (federal court), judicial authority: The federal court in Lausanne, VD is the highest court in the country. It protects the constitutional rights of the Swiss citizens against arbitrariness of the authorities and administration.The duties of the confederation are defined in the "Bundesverfassung" (federal constitution)and include: Protection of the country and its citizens Postal services, telephone and telecommunications (PTT) Monetary system ("Nationalbank", national bank) Transportation ("Nationalstrassen" (motor ways, railway) Military Customs Diplomatic relations with other countriesPeople can take direct influence by two means: 1. "Initiative": 100000 citizens can request a voting about a change or extension of the "Bundesverfassung" (constitution) or the"Bundesgesetzt" (federal law). 2. "Referendum": If the "Bundesrat" wants to change or extend the "Bundesverfassung" (constitution) or the "Bundesgesetz"(federal law), 50000 citizens can request a voting about it.5.2 Kantone:
  9. 9. Switzerland consists of 23 "Kantone" (singular "Kanton", also referred to as cantons orstates), 3 of them are divided into "Halb-Kantone"(split states) with the following authorities: "Grosser Rat", "Kantonsrat" or "Landesrat" (the name varies between the cantons), legislative authority "Kantonsregierung", executive authority "Kantonsgericht", judicial authorityThe cantons Appenzell, Glarus and Unterwalden do not perform elections and voting, but aso called "Landsgemeinde", an out door assembly of all its citizens. The attendees raise theirhands to show if they agree with or deny a particular request.The duties of the cantons are defined in their "Kantonsverfassung" (cantonal constitution)and include: Education Transportation ("Kantonsstrassen", cantonal roads) Social institutionsThis is a list of all cantons in the so called "official order": 1. Zürich 2. Bern / Berne 3. Luzern 4. Uri 5. Schwyz 6. Unterwalden (Obwalden / Nidwalden) 7. Glarus 8. Zug 9. Freiburg / Fribourg 10. Solothurn 11. Basel (Basel Stadt / Basel Land) 12. Schaffhausen 13. Appenzell (Appenzell Ausserrhoden / Appenzell Innerrhoden) 14. Sankt Gallen 15. Graubünden 16. Aargau 17. Thurgau 18. Ticino 19. Vaud 20. Valais / Valais 21. Neuchâtel 22. Genève 23. Jura
  10. 10. 5.3 Bezirke:Each canton consists of a number of "Bezirke" (singular "Bezirk", districts) with the followingauthorities: People by voting and elections, legislative authority "Bezirksrat", executive authority "Bezirksgericht", judicial authorityThe duties of the districts include: Education Judicature5.4 Gemeinden:Each district consists of a number of "Gemeinden" (singular "Gemeinde", municipalities).There are a 2929 municipalities in Switzerland. A municipality with more than 10000 citizens isconsidered a "Stadt" (town), smaller municipalities are called a "Dorf" (village). However,some smaller villages have the status of a town for historical reasons. Municipalities have thefollowing authorities: "Gemeindeversammlung", an assembly of all citizens, or people by voting and elections, legislative authority "Gemeinderat" or "Stadtrat", executive authority "Friedensrichter" (lay magistrate), judicial authorityThe duties of the municipalities include: Local services (electricity, water, fire brigade, police etc.) Transportation ("Gemeindestrassen", local roads) Schools Taxes (they vary significantly between the municipalities !)6. Link collection related to Swiss AdministrationThis is a small collection of links that might be useful for people interested in SwitzerlandsAdministration: 1. Swiss Administration 2. Federal Council (Bundesrat)
  11. 11. 3. Swiss Parliament 4. Swiss Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgericht) 5. List of Swiss embassies, consuls and missions 6. - a partnership project of the Swiss Confederation, Cantons and Communes ("Guichet virtuel")Political Switzerlands Political System Direct Democracy«It is astonishing how little the rest of the world knows about the way Switzerland runs itspolitics. Even its next-door neighbors in Europe, though vaguely aware that it is a deeplydecentralized country, do not really understand the other, more important part of the Swisssystem -- the part that could turn out to be a model for everybodys 21st century democracy.»Brian Beedham, United Press International, in a book review on Gregory Fossedals The road to fulldemocracy.Switzerland is a small country located in the heart of western Europe, at the intersection ofGerman, French and Italian language and culture. Switzerland has been multicultural in itsown way for centuries. Democracy and Direct Democracy in particular, has a long, but notundisputed tradition in this country. Switzerlands unique political system is today worldsmost stable democratic system, offering a maximum of participation to citizens.Switzerlands Direct Democracy is not the result of pure tradition and harmonicdevelopment, however. Much to the contrary, the very basics (decentralisation of power)and the unique instruments of Direct Democracy (frequent referendums andpopularinitiative) have been established through hard political struggle, including aviolent Revolution in 1798, decades of rioting (1830s and 1840s: the term putsch for aviolent overthrow of government is one of the few Swiss German dialect words that havebeen adopted in a large number of foreign languages ...) culminating in a short civil war in1847. Basic Features of Switzerlands Political System Switzerland is a Confederation of 26 cantons. The cantons [member states of the federation] do enjoy quite some autonomy. Governments, parliaments and courts on 3 levels: - federal
  12. 12. - cantonal - communal small villages have reunions of all citizens instead of parliaments, local courts are common to several communities Two features of Direct Democracy grant an unusually detailed level of participation to ordinary citizens: · Popular Initiative: Ordinary citizens may propose changes to the constitution, if they can find a number of supporters (100,000 out of about 3,500,000 voters, smaller numbers on cantonal and communal level). The parliament will discuss the proposals, probably set up an alternative and afterwards all citizens may decide in a referendum whether to accept the original initiative, the alternate parliamentary proposal or to leave the constitution unchanged. Common Features Shared with other Democratic Political SystemsAll democratic political systems share the separation of powers (independence ofgovernment/administration, parliament (legislation) and courts of justice). Several politicalparties compete with each other to propose solutions to the countrys problems.The federal system is not mandatory for a democracy, but it can be found in many othercountries like the U.S.A., Germany, Austria etc.In other words: most aspects of Switzerlands political system are just normal features of amodern democracy. Exclusive Features of Switzerlands Political SystemThe two chambers of Switzerlands national parliament meet several times annually tosessions during several weeks and between them to preparing meetings in numerouscommissions. But being member of parliament is not a full time job in Switzerland, contraryto most other countries today. This means that members of parliament have to practise anordinary profession to earn their living - thereby they are closer to everyday life of theirelectorate.The really remarkable thing about Switzerlands political system is Direct Democracy: theextraordinary amount of participation in the political process that is granted to ordinarycitizens. In other words: it is not the mere existence of direct democratic instruments(federalism is widespread and referendums are not completely unknown to otherdemocratic systems) but rather the frequent use of them, not only as encouragedby Switzerlands Constitution, but as practised with enthusiasm by thecitizens. Frequent referendums do have a stabilizing influence on parliament, government,economy and society: Referendums will increase the willingness to compromise (otherwise a party defeated in parliament will call for a referendum). This effect is not so strong, however, as we see from the fact that there are several non- mandatory referendums in Switzerland every year (and even some successful ones leaving the
  13. 13. uncompromising majority and the goverment in the rain) despite the fact that every politicianshould know and "fear" them ...Referendums favour big coalitions:Shared power motivates compromise, exclusion from power motivates obstructive referendums.Referendums increase stability:As extreme laws will mercilessly be blocked by the electorate in referendums, parties are lessinclined to radical changes in laws and voters are less inclined to call for fundamental changes inelections. There is no need to dismiss the government after a lost referendum, because thereferendum solves the problem - preventing an extreme law - more efficiently and also moreprecisely: On the very same day, three new laws may be accepted and two others rejected.