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Introduction - Switzerland:
BackgroundThe Swiss Confederation was founded in 1291 as a defensive alliance among three cantons. In succeeding years, other localities joined the original three. The Swiss Confederation secured its independence from the Holy Roman Empire in 1499. Switzerlands sovereignty and neutrality have long been honored by the major European powers, and the country 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 Switzerlands role in many UN and international organizations, has strengthened Switzerlands ties with its neighbors. However, the country did not officially become a UN member until 2002. Switzerland remains active in many UN and international organizations but retains a strong commitment to neutrality.
Location - Switzerland:
LocationCentral Europe, east of France, north of Italy
Geographic coordinates47 00 N, 8 00 E
Map referencesEurope
Areatotal: 41,290 sq km
land: 39,770 sq km
water: 1,520 sq km
Area comparativeslightly less than twice the size of New Jersey
Land boundariestotal: 1,852 km
border countries: Austria 164 km, France 573 km, Italy 740 km, Liechtenstein 41 km, Germany 334 km
Coastline0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claimsnone (landlocked)
Climatetemperate, but varies with altitude; cold, cloudy, rainy/snowy winters; cool to warm, cloudy, humid summers with occasional showers
Terrainmostly mountains (Alps in south, Jura in northwest) with a central plateau of rolling hills, plains, and large lakes
Elevation extremeslowest point: Lake Maggiore 195 m
highest point: Dufourspitze 4,634 m
Natural resourceshydropower potential, timber, salt
Land usearable land: 9.91%
permanent crops: 0.58%
other: 89.51% (2005)
Irrigated land250 sq km (2003)
Natural hazardsavalanches, landslides, flash floods
Environment current issuesair pollution from vehicle emissions and open-air burning; acid rain; water pollution from increased use of agricultural fertilizers; loss of biodiversity
Environment international agreementsparty to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography notelandlocked; crossroads of northern and southern Europe; along with southeastern France, northern Italy, and southwestern Austria, has the highest elevations in the Alps
People - Switzerland:
Population7,554,661 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure0-14 years: 16.1% (male 630,341/female 584,167)
15-64 years: 68.2% (male 2,596,996/female 2,553,108)
65 years and over: 15.8% (male 489,895/female 700,154) (2007 est.)
Median agetotal: 40.4 years
male: 39.3 years
female: 41.4 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate0.381% (2007 est.)
Birth rate9.66 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate8.51 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate2.66 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratioat birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.079 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.017 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.7 male(s)/female
total population: 0.969 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality ratetotal: 4.28 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 4.77 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.77 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birthtotal population: 80.62 years
male: 77.8 years
female: 83.59 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate1.44 children born/woman (2007 est.)
Hiv aids adult prevalence rate0.4% (2001 est.)
Hiv aids people living with hiv aids13,000 (2001 est.)
Hiv aids deathsless than 100 (2003 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Swiss (singular and plural)
adjective: Swiss
Ethnic groupsGerman 65%, French 18%, Italian 10%, Romansch 1%, other 6%
ReligionsRoman Catholic 41.8%, Protestant 35.3%, Muslim 4.3%, Orthodox 1.8%, other Christian 0.4%, other 1%, unspecified 4.3%, none 11.1% (2000 census)
LanguagesGerman (official) 63.7%, French (official) 20.4%, Italian (official) 6.5%, Serbo-Croatian 1.5%, Albanian 1.3%, Portuguese 1.2%, Spanish 1.1%, English 1%, Romansch 0.5%, other 2.8% (2000 census)
note: German, French, Italian, and Romansch are all national languages, but only the first three are official languages
Literacydefinition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (2003 est.)
Government - Switzerland:
Country nameconventional long form: Swiss Confederation
conventional short form: Switzerland
local long form: Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft (German); Confederation Suisse (French); Confederazione Svizzera (Italian)
local short form: Schweiz (German); Suisse (French); Svizzera (Italian)
Government typeformally a confederation but similar in structure to a federal republic
Capitalname: Bern
geographic coordinates: 46 57 N, 7 26 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions26 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
Independence1 August 1291 (founding of the Swiss Confederation)
National holidayFounding of the Swiss Confederation, 1 August (1291)
Constitutionrevision of Constitution of 1874 approved by the Federal Parliament 18 December 1998, adopted by referendum 18 April 1999, officially entered into force 1 January 2000
Legal systemcivil 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
Suffrage18 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: President Micheline CALMY-REY (since 1 January 2007); Vice President Pascal COUCHEPIN (since 1 January 2007); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Micheline CALMY-REY (since 1 January 2007); Vice President Pascal COUCHEPIN (since 1 January 2007)
cabinet: Federal Council or Bundesrat (in German), Conseil Federal (in French), Consiglio Federale (in Italian) elected by the Federal Assembly usually from among its 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 a one-year term (they may not serve consecutive terms); election last held on 13 December 2006 (next to be held in December 2007)
election results: Micheline CALMY-REY elected president; percent of Federal Assembly vote - 76.5%; Pascal COUCHEPIN elected vice president; percent of Federal Assembly vote - 86.5%
Legislative branchbicameral 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; membership consists of 2 representatives from each canton and 1 from each half canton; to 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 in most cantons on 19 October 2003 (each canton determines when the next election will be held); National Council - last held on 19 October 2003 (next to be held in October 2007)
election results: Council of States - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CVP 15, FDP 14, SVP 8, SPS 6, other 3; National Council - percent of vote by party - SVP 26.6%, SPS 23.3%, FDP 17.3%, CVP 14.4%, Greens 7.4%, other 11%; seats by party - SVP 55, SPS 54, FDP 36, CVP 28, Green Party 13, other small parties 14
Judicial branchFederal Supreme Court (judges elected for six-year terms by the Federal Assembly)
Political parties and leadersGreen Party (Gruene 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]; Christian Democratic Peoples 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) [Christophe DARBELLAY]; Radical Free Democratic Party (Freisinnig-Demokratische Partei der Schweiz or FDP, Parti Radical-Democratique Suisse or PRD, Partitio Liberal-Radicale Svizzero or PLR) [Fulvio PELLI]; 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) [Hans-Juerg FEHR]; Swiss Peoples 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]; and other minor parties
Political pressure groups and leadersNA
Diplomatic representation in the uschief of mission: Ambassador Urs ZISWILER
chancery: 2900 Cathedral Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 745-7900
FAX: [1] (202) 387-2564
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco
consulate(s): Boston
Diplomatic representation from the uschief of mission: Ambassador Peter R. CONEWAY
embassy: Jubilaumsstrasse 93, CH-3005 Bern
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [41] (031) 357 70 11
FAX: [41] (031) 357 73 44
Flag descriptionred square with a bold, equilateral white cross in the center that does not extend to the edges of the flag
Economy - Switzerland:
Economy overviewSwitzerland is a peaceful, prosperous, and stable modern market economy with low unemployment, a highly skilled labor force, and a per capita GDP larger than that of the big Western European economies. The Swiss in recent years have brought their economic practices largely into conformity with the EUs to enhance their international competitiveness. Switzerland remains a safehaven for investors, because it has maintained a degree of bank secrecy and has kept up the francs long-term external value. Reflecting the anemic economic conditions of Europe, GDP growth stagnated during the 2001-03 period, improved during 2004-05 to 1.8% annually and to 2.9% in 2006. Even so, unemployment has remained at less than half the EU average.
Gdp purchasing power parity $255.5 billion (2006 est.)
Gdp official exchange rate $386.1 billion (2006 est.)
Gdp real growth rate2.7% (2006 est.)
Gdp per capita ppp $34,000 (2006 est.)
Gdp composition by sectoragriculture: 1.5%
industry: 34%
services: 64.5% (2003 est.)
Labor force3.81 million (2006 est.)
Labor force by occupationagriculture: 4.6%
industry: 26.3%
services: 69.1% (1998)
Unemployment rate3.3% (2006 est.)
Population below poverty lineNA%
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 2.6%
highest 10%: 25.2% (1992)
Distribution of family income gini index33.1 (1992)
Inflation rate consumer prices 1.2% (2006 est.)
Investment gross fixed 21.8% of GDP (2006 est.)
Budgetrevenues: $141 billion
expenditures: $139.1 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2006 est.)
Public debt51% of GDP (2006 est.)
Agriculture productsgrains, fruits, vegetables; meat, eggs
Industriesmachinery, chemicals, watches, textiles, precision instruments, tourism, banking, and insurance
Industrial production growth rate6.5% (2006 est.)
Electricity production61.97 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity consumption56.93 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity exports27.8 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity imports27.1 billion kWh (2004)
Oil production2,241 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil consumption268,100 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil exports11,360 bbl/day (2004)
Oil imports267,000 bbl/day (2004)
Oil proved reserves0 bbl
Natural gas production0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas consumption3.311 billion cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas exports0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas imports3.311 billion cu m (2004 est.)
Current account balance$50.44 billion (2006 est.)
Exports$166.3 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Exports commoditiesmachinery, chemicals, metals, watches, agricultural products
Exports partnersGermany 21.5%, US 9.5%, France 8.6%, Italy 8.4%, UK 5.3% (2006)
Imports$162.3 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Imports commoditiesmachinery, chemicals, vehicles, metals; agricultural products, textiles
Imports partnersGermany 27.3%, Italy 10.1%, US 9.1%, France 8.1%, Russia 7.6%, UK 4.9%, Austria 4.1% (2006)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$38.29 billion (August 2006 est.)
Economic aid donorODA, $1.1 billion (1995)
Debt external$1.077 trillion (30 June 2006)
Currency code Swiss franc (CHF)
Exchange ratesSwiss francs per US dollar - 1.2539 (2006), 1.2452 (2005), 1.2435 (2004), 1.3467 (2003), 1.5586 (2002)
Communications - Switzerland:
Fiscal yearcalendar year
Telephones main lines in use5.04 million (2006)
Telephones mobile cellular7.418 million (2006)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: excellent domestic and international services
domestic: extensive cable and microwave radio relay networks
international: country code - 41; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean)
Radio broadcast stationsAM 4, FM 113 (plus many low-power stations), shortwave 2 (1998)
Television broadcast stations115 (plus 1,919 repeaters) (1995)
Internet country code.ch
Internet hosts2.443 million (2006)
Internet users4.36 million (2006)
Transportation - Switzerland:
Airports65 (2006)
Airports with paved runwaystotal: 42
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 8
under 914 m: 16 (2006)
Airports with unpaved runwaystotal: 23
under 914 m: 23 (2006)
Heliports2 (2006)
Pipelinesgas 1,831 km; oil 94 km; refined products 7 km (2006)
Railwaystotal: 4,839 km
standard gauge: 3,561 km 1.435-m gauge (3,195 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 1,268 km 1.000-m gauge (1,274 km electrified); 10 km 0.800-m gauge (10 km electrified) (2006)
Roadwaystotal: 71,297 km
paved: 71,297 km (includes 1,728 of expressways) (2004)
Waterways65 km (Rhine River between Basel-Rheinfelden and Schaffhausen-Bodensee) (2003)
Merchant marinetotal: 27 ships (1000 GRT or over) 492,434 GRT/810,559 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 9, cargo 10, chemical tanker 3, container 4, specialized tanker 1
foreign-owned: 2 (Monaco 2)
registered in other countries: 320 (Antigua and Barbuda 4, Bahamas 2, Belize 1, Bermuda 2, Cyprus 4, France 2, French Southern and Antarctic Lands 1, Germany 1, Indonesia 3, Liberia 7, Malta 21, Marshall Islands 13, Mauritius 2, Morocco 1, Panama 226, Portugal 3, Russia 7, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 13, Tonga 1, Turkey 1, UK 3, Vanuatu 2) (2006)
Ports and terminalsBasel
Military - Switzerland:
Military branchesSwiss Armed Forces: Land Forces, Swiss Air Force (Schweizer Luftwaffe); Switzerland has no navy, but maintains a fleet of military patrol boats to patrol Swiss borders (2006)
Military service age and obligation19 years of age for compulsory military service; 17 years of age for voluntary military service; the Swiss Constitution states that every Swiss male is obliged to do military service; every Swiss male has to serve for at least 260 days in the armed forces; conscripts receive 18 weeks of mandatory training, followed by seven 3-week intermittent recalls for training over the next 10 years; women are accepted on a voluntary basis but are not conscripted (2005)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 19-49: 1,707,694
females age 19-49: 1,662,099 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 19-49: 1,375,889
females age 19-49: 1,342,945 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annuallymales age 18-49: 46,319
females age 19-49: 43,829 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures percent of gdp1% (2005 est.)
Disputes internationalnone
This page was last updated on 16 September, 2007
Source: CIA >>>

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