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Switzerland Country Guide

Explore Switzerland in Europe

Switzerland with the capital city Berne is located in Europe (Central Europe, east of France). It covers some 41,290 square kilometres (slightly less than twice the size of New Jersey) with 7,581,000 citizens.

Interactive map of Switzerland

The topography includes mostly mountains (Alps in south, Jura in northwest) with a central plateau of rolling hills, plains, and large lakes. The average density of population is approximately 184 per km². The notable climate conditions in Switzerland can be described as temperate, but varies with altitude with cold, cloudy, rainy/snowy winters and cool to warm, cloudy, humid summers with occasional showers. Possible natural disasters include avalanches, landslides or flash floods.

To reach someone in Switzerland dial +41 prior to a number. There are 4,650,000 installed telephones. And there are 9,255,000 registered mobile phones. The cellular networks commonly support frequencies of 900/1800 MHz. Websites registered in this country end with the top level domain ".ch". If you want to bring electric equipment on your trip (e.g. laptop power supply), note the local power outlet of 230V - 50Hz.

About the flag and history of Switzerland

Switzerland Flag Icon

Red square with a bold, equilateral white cross in the center that does not extend to the edges of the flag; various medieval legends purport to describe the origin of the flag; a white cross used as identification for troops of the Swiss Confederation is first attested at the Battle of Laupen (1339).

The 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. A constitution of 1848, subsequently modified in 1874, replaced the confederation with a centralized federal government. Switzerland's 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 Switzerland''s role in many UN and international organizations, has strengthened Switzerland''s 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.

Geography Quick-Facts

SummaryContinent: Europe
Neighbours: Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, France, Austria
Capital: Berne
Size41,290 square kilometers (km² or sqkm) or 15,942 square miles (mi² or sqmi)
slightly less than twice the size of New Jersey
CurrencyName Franc, Currency Code:CHF
Country Top Level Domain (cTLD).ch
Telephone Country Prefix+41
Mobile Phone Connections9,255,000
Landline Phone Connections4,650,000

Country Position in World Rankings

Information about single country attributes and how these compare against the rest of the world. The information below is compiled with data from 2013. As such, it may differ a bit to the Information above in the text (which is from 2010).


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Area41,277 (sq km)136

People and Society

Value nameValueWorld Rank
Population7,996,026 95
Population growth rate0.85 (%)128
Birth rate10.45 (births/1,000 population)183
Death rate8.08 (deaths/1,000 population)94
Net migration rate6.14 (migrant(s)/1,000 population)18
Maternal mortality rate8.00 (deaths/100,000 live births)160
Infant mortality rate3.80 (deaths/1,000 live births)202
Life expectancy at birth82.28 (years)8
Total fertility rate1.53 (children born/woman)187
Health expenditures11.50 (% of GDP)13
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate0.40 (%)72
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS18,000 81
HIV/AIDS - deaths100 116
Obesity - adult prevalence rate17.50 (%)111
Education expenditures5.40 (% of GDP)61
Unemployment, youth ages 15-247.70 (%)120


Value nameValueWorld Rank
GDP (purchasing power parity)369,400,000,000 37
GDP - real growth rate1.00 (%)162
GDP - per capita (PPP)46,200 16
Labor force4,910,000 79
Unemployment rate2.90 (%)23
Distribution of family income - Gini index29.60 117
Investment (gross fixed)20.60 (% of GDP)88
Taxes and other revenues33.60 (% of GDP)73
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)0.30 (% of GDP)37
Public debt52.40 (% of GDP)57
Inflation rate (consumer prices)-0.70 (%)3
Central bank discount rate0.75 (%)132
Commercial bank prime lending rate2.72 (%)179
Stock of narrow money484,400,000,000 11
Stock of broad money1,166,000,000,000 15
Stock of domestic credit1,286,000,000,000 16
Market value of publicly traded shares1,229,000,000,000 12
Industrial production growth rate0.80 (%)136
Current account balance66,500,000,000 9
Exports300,400,000,000 22
Imports287,700,000,000 19
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold331,900,000,000 8
Debt - external1,563,000,000,000 12
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home634,300,000,000 9
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad1,063,000,000,000 6


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Electricity - production62,880,000,000 (kWh)43
Electricity - consumption60,420,000,000 (kWh)42
Electricity - exports80,710,000,000 (kWh)2
Electricity - imports83,300,000,000 (kWh)2
Electricity - installed generating capacity17,700,000 (kW)40
Electricity - from fossil fuels2.50 (% of total installed capacity)202
Electricity - from nuclear fuels16.60 (% of total installed capacity)15
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants69.20 (% of total installed capacity)23
Electricity - from other renewable sources2.50 (% of total installed capacity)52
Crude oil - imports258,200 (bbl/day)28
Refined petroleum products - production103,500 (bbl/day)75
Refined petroleum products - consumption258,200 (bbl/day)51
Refined petroleum products - exports9,851 (bbl/day)86
Refined petroleum products - imports176,500 (bbl/day)31
Natural gas - consumption3,681,000,000 (cu m)68
Natural gas - imports3,681,000,000 (cu m)38
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy45,550,000 (Mt)65


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Telephones - main lines in use4,613,000 34
Telephones - mobile cellular10,122,000 75
Internet hosts5,301,000 20
Internet users6,152,000 42


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Airports64 79
Railways4,876 (km)37
Roadways71,454 (km)64
Waterways1,292 (km)58
Merchant marine38 77


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Military expenditures1.00 (% of GDP)127

Data based on CIA facts book 2010 & 2013, wikipedia, national statistical offices and their census releases

List of current world heritage sites

Abbey of St Gall
The Convent of St Gall, a perfect example of a great Carolingian monastery, was, from the 8th century to its secularization in 1805, one of the most important in Europe. Its library is one of the richest and oldest in the world and contains precious ...
Benedictine Convent of St John at Müstair
The Convent of Müstair, which stands in a valley in the Grisons, is a good example of Christian monastic renovation during the Carolingian period. It has Switzerland's greatest series of figurative murals, painted c. A.D. 800, along with Romanesque f ...
La Chaux-de-Fonds / Le Locle, Watchmaking Town Planning
The site of La Chaux-de-Fonds / Le Locle watchmaking town-planning consists of two towns situated close to one another in a remote environment in the Swiss Jura mountains, on land ill-suited to farming. Their planning and buildings reflect watchmaker ...
Lavaux, Vineyard Terraces
The Lavaux Vineyard Terraces, stretching for about 30 km along the south-facing northern shores of Lake Geneva from the Chateau de Chillon to the eastern outskirts of Lausanne in the Vaud region, cover the lower slopes of the mountainside between the ...
Old City of Berne
Founded in the 12th century on a hill site surrounded by the Aare River, Berne developed over the centuries in line with a an exceptionally coherent planning concept. The buildings in the Old City, dating from a variety of periods, include 15th-centu ...
Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch
The extension of the natural World Heritage property of Jungfrau - Aletsch - Bietschhorn (first inscribed in 2001), expands the site to the east and west, bringing its surface area up to 82,400 ha., up from 53,900. The site provides an outstanding ex ...
Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona
The Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona in the north-eastern part of the country covers a mountainous area of 32,850 ha which features seven peaks that rise above 3,000 m. The area displays an exceptional example of mountain building through continental col ...
Three Castles, Defensive Wall and Ramparts of the Market-Town of Bellinzona
The Bellinzona site consists of a group of fortifications grouped around the castle of Castelgrande, which stands on a rocky peak looking out over the entire Ticino valley. Running from the castle, a series of fortified walls protect the ancient town ...