The scenic Switzerland is framed by the Alps in
the south towards Italy and the Jura mountains in the
west towards France. The country is not an EU member
even though it is enclosed by EU countries
geographically. As a banking and financial center,
Switzerland is one of the richest countries in the world
and has great tourism and exports of electronics.
Central power as well as party politics are weak. The 26
cantons (states) have a strong influence on direct
democracy, where citizens can tear up government
decisions in referendums.
Brief profiles of Switzerland, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
Switzerland is located in central Europe and
is roughly the same size as Denmark. Half the country
consists of mountains.
To the south lies the Alps with hundreds of peaks
above 4,000 meters; many of them are constantly
snow-covered. In the northwest, the more modest Yura
Mountains rise along the border with France.
In between, from Lake Geneva in the west to Lake
Constance in the northeast, stretches a highland with
hills, plains and lakes. A majority of the population
The name Switzerland comes from Schwyz, one of the
three original states that formed the Swiss
Confederation in 1291.
The terrain conditions in Switzerland make the
climate very variable. In the summer it can be 10-15
minus degrees in the mountains, while high summer heat
prevails in the valleys.
West winds from the Atlantic provide ample rainfall
in the Alps with fog, rain and snow during parts of the
year. The warm, dry hair dryer on the ridge side is
typical of Switzerland and contributes to the sometimes
mild climate in the valleys.
FACTS - GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
41 285 km2 (2018)
Adjacent country (s)
Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Italy, France
Capital with number of inhabitants
Bern 123,000 (estimated 2012)
Other major cities
Zurich 381,000, Geneva 191,000, Basel 167,000,
Lausanne 130,000 (2012 estimate)
Dufourspitze / Monte Rosa (4634 meters)
Lac Leman / Lake Geneva
Average Precipitation / year
Rhine-Rhône Valley 800-900 mm, Alpine range 1500-3000
Average / day
Zurich 1 °C (Jan), 17 °C (July)
The government remains in power after the election
In the vote held in Parliament, a majority of the center and right parties
voted against the Green Party leader, Regula Rytz, getting one of the seven
government ministerial posts. The country's green parties achieved great
electoral success in the October elections (see October).
Instead, the ministers of the outgoing government were re-elected, while
Environment Minister Simonetta Sommaruga of the Social Democrats was appointed
to take over the presidential post in 2020, which rotates between the ministers
Election success for the Greens
As predicted in opinion polls, both Swiss environmental parties are doing
well in the parliamentary elections. The Greens increase from 6 percent in the
last election to a full 13 percent, while the Green Liberal Party gets almost 8
percent compared to the previous just over 4 percent. The right-wing nationalist
SVP retains its position as the largest party, even if it goes back by 3
percentage points and gets 53 seats. The Social Democrats also lose voter
support, but still become second largest with 39 seats. Liberal FDP comes third
with 29 seats, just one more seat than the Greens. The Christian Democrats get
25 seats in the National Council, while the Green Liberals get 16.
Glaciers have shrunk 10 percent in 5 years
A research study at the Swiss Academy of Sciences shows that twenty glaciers
in the country over the last five-year period have decreased more than ever
during the more than one hundred years that the measurements have been carried
out. Glaciers' decline has been more than 10 percent. The hot summer of 2019
caused the glaciers to melt rapidly. Just about a month ago, a "funeral march"
was held to mark the disappearance of glacier Pizol, one of over 500 glaciers
that melted away in the Swiss Alps.