Teach English Abroad   Country Information

Get to know basic factual information about Switzerland, its geography, climate, political and public life as well as economy and transport system.
 
Country Information

country-information• Official Name: Swiss Confederation
• Area: 41,285 sq. km. (15,941 sq. mi.)
• Population: 7.3 million (est. 2002)
• Population Density: 172 per sq km
• Capital: Bern (population about 123,000)
• Government: Federal Republic (since 1848)
• Religions: Christian (Roman Catholic, Protestant)
• Languages: German (70%), French (20%), Italian (7%), Romansh (Latin-based language)

Geography and Climate

- Switzerland borders on France (to the west), Germany (to the north), Austria and Liechtenstein (to the east), and Italy (to the south)
- Terrain: mountainous (60%), the remainder constitute hills and plateau. Switzerland straddles the central ranges of the Alps
- Climate: temperate, varying with altitude and season from maritime to continental
- The highest point: the Dufourspitze (4634 m)
- The longest river: the Rhine (its basin is 375 km)
- The biggest lake is Lake Geneva (582 square km)

Politics and Public Life

- President: Micheline Calmy-Rey (since January 2007)
- A member of the UN (since 2002)
- The legislative body: the Federal Assembly (consists of 2 chambers: the Council of States (46 members representing the cantons) and the National Council (200 members representing the population)
- The executive body: the Federal Council
- The highest judicial authority: the Federal Supreme Court in Lausanne
- Administrative territorial districts: 26 Cantons
- Biggest Cities: Zürich (338.000 inhabitants), Basel (166.000), Genèva (175.000), and Lausanne (115.000)
- Monetary unit: Swiss franc (CHF)
- Telephone Code: 41

Economy

- Important industry branches: graphical and the metal industry; chemical industry (specializes in high-grade medicine)
- Agriculture products: sugar beet, fodder crop, grains, vegetables, apples and pears
- Import: raw materials (which are processed and then largely exported), are agricultural instruments, locomotives, aeroplane parts, printing presses and diesel engines
- Export:  high-grade industrial products, especially in machinery; watches; dairy, milk and chocolate products; cheese; wine

Transport

- Switzerland has one of the densest public transport networks in the world
- Road network includes about 2,315 km
- Speed Limit: 50 km/h (inside town), 80 km/h (outside town), 120 km/h (on motorways)
- A well-developed network of trams and buses is characteristic to the towns
- Zurich, Geneva and Basel are the cities that have the three larges international airports