Form of Government: Federal republic
Area: 41 291 sq km
Population: 8 667 088 inhab. (estimate 2020)
Density: 209.9 inhab./sq km
Coordinates: lat. 48° - 46° N; long. 6° - 10° E
Capital: Bern/Berne (capital) 134 727 inhab. (2020); Bern 422 100 inhab. (2019), urban agglomeration
Currency: Swiss franc (100 centimes)
Human development index: 0.955 (rank: 2)
President of the Confederation: Guy Parmelin (SVP/UDC), since 1 January 2021
National Council: seats (August 2021 update): SVP/UDC (Swiss People's Party/Democratic Union of the Centre, populist, right-wing), 55; SP (Social Democratic Party), 39; CVP (Christian Democratic People’s Party), 31; Green Party, 29; FDP (The Liberals), 29; GLP (Green Liberal Party), 16, vacant, 1
Internet: www.bfs.admin.ch (Ufficio federale di Statistica)
Member of Council of Europe, EBRD, OAS observer, OECD, OSCE, UN, WTO
International license plate code CH
International dialling code 0041
Travel vaccinations requirement none
Electricity (Voltage) 230
Driving side rigth
Internet code .ch
DST duration (start-end) late March-late October
Annual average temperature (°C) Bern 8.5
Average temperature in January/July (°C) Bern -1/18
Daily sunshine hours in June/December (average) Bern 7/1
Annual average precipitation (mm) Bern 1035
Days of rainfall (annual average) Bern 129
Politics and current affairs
Talks resumed to renew bilateral agreements with the EU after the veto of the “For Moderate Immigration” referendum (61.7% voted no) on 27 September 2020, which would have restricted the free movement of EU citizens in Switzerland. On 26 May 2021, Switzerland left the negotiations when the EU refused to guarantee the exemptions requested by the country on certain points (for example, state aid). Without further concessions by the EU, for the Swiss government the agreements would have been vetoed by a referendum. On 18 March 2020, the parliament approved a law legalizing same-sex marriages. A referendum has been called for this law (26 September 2021).
Switzerland is bordered to the north by Germany, to the east by Austria and Liechtenstein, to the south by Italy and to the west by France.
The country is mostly mountainous. There are three large regions: the Alps, the so-called Swiss Plateau and the Jura. The Alpine section covers almost 60% of the land area and is crossed by the upper reaches of the River Rhone and the River Rhine, that the Aar, the Reuss and the Inn flow into. The River Ticino flows south into Italy. In the Pennine Alps, to the south of the Rhone, lie the massifs of Mount Rosa (4635 m), the Weisshorn and the Matterhorn; to the south of the Rhine lie the Lepontine Alps (Rheinwaldhorn, 3402 m). To the east of the Splügen Pass lie the Alps of the Graubünden (the Rhaetian Alps) with Piz Bernina (4050 m). To the north of the Rhone and the Rhine there are the Bernese Alps, with the peaks of Finsteraarhorn (4274 m) and Jungfrau. The central plateau stretches for 150 km between Lake Constance and Lake Geneva. To the northwest the land suddenly rises again in the Jura.
Switzerland (the Swiss Confederation or Confoederatio Helvetica) is a federal republic consisting of 26 states, which are known as Cantons, (apart from the half-cantons of Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft which together form the canton of Basel, the half-cantons of Ausserrhoden and Innerrhoden which together form Appenzell, and the half-cantons of Obwalden and Nidwalden, forming Unterwalden), whereas the traditional division was into 23 cantons. Each state has its own assembly (Great Council) and government (State Council). According to the Constitution of 29 May 1874, which has been modified many times, legislative power resides in the Federal Assembly, which consists of the National Council (200 members elected for a four-year term by direct suffrage) and the State Council (46 members, each canton elects two representatives, each semi-canton one representative). The Federal assembly elects the Federal Council, which has seven members responsible for government activities. From these the President of the Confederation, who has mostly representative powers, is elected every year. Constitutional reforms approved by the 1999 referendum have added fundamental citizens’ rights (such as the right to strike) to the text of the 1874 Constitution. On 9 February 2014, a change to the Constitution was approved in a referendum to limit the number of foreigners in the country.
Switzerland is a neutral country and is not a member of any international defence organizations. Since 2001, however, the armed forces have been permitted to take part in UN peace keeping missions: the first time this happened was in 2002 when a contingent of Swiss troops was sent to Kosovo. Military service is compulsory and there are several different phases of this: 18-21 weeks of training for recruits, followed by brief refresher courses up until the age of 30.
The legal system is based on the continental one, with some common law elements. Referendums are frequently used as direct democratic tools to consult the population on federal and canton issues.
|Zürich||1 401 800||inhab.||2019|
|Population by age and gender (% - 2020)|
There are over 2 million foreign residents, mainly from European countries (Italians make up the most sizeable group), also on the rise in 2020.
|Foreigners, total||2 209 100||units||2020|
The pandemic caused a 3% contraction in GDP in 2020. A recovery is expected in 2021 (+3.5%). Unemployment remains stable (below 5%).
|Agricultural prod. index (2004-06=100)||101.49||index||2016|
|Agricultural prod. index (2014-16=100)||97.13||index||2019|
|Active population||4 933 800||units||2020|
|Active population, Females||46.8||%||2020|
|Unemployment rate, Females||48.3||%||2020|
|Expenses||79 807.8||M LCU||2020|
|Revenues||69 752.6||M LCU||2020|
|Currency in circulation||670.2||BN LCU||2018|
|International reserves||1 083 404.342||M US$||2020|
Agriculture and forests.
Agriculture is organized on a family basis with some support from the state.
The main crops are cereals, sugar beet and potatoes. Almost a third of the land is covered by forest, from which a large amount of timber is harvested.
Livestock farming is very important, especially cattle. More than for meat, cattle are raised for their milk, which is made into butter, cheese, condensed milk and milk powder and also used in chocolate making.
|cereals, total||932.528||1000 t||2019|
|roots and tubers, total||414.337||1000 t||2019|
|beans, green||8.47||1000 t||2019|
|broad beans, dry||3.163||1000 t||2019|
|sugar beet||1 454.536||1000 t||2019|
|beans, green||1.132||1000 ha||2019|
|broad beans, dry||1.002||1000 ha||2019|
|sugar beet||17.555||1000 ha||2019|
|timber||4 328 659||m³||2019|
|cattle||1 524.82||1000 heads||2019|
|cattle and buffaloes||1 524.82||1000 heads||2019|
|pigs||1 359.684||1000 heads||2019|
|asses and mules||34.385||1000 heads||2019|
|birds||11 911||1000 heads||2019|
|crustaceans and molluscs||40.8||t||2019|
|freshwater fishes||1 263.872||t||2019|
Salt is mainly extracted from the mines of Bex (Vaud).
Energy & industry.
About half of the power produced comes from hydroelectric sources. The rest comes largely from the Beznau (1 and 2), Gösgen and Leibstadt nuclear power stations. In 2017, a referendum ratified the gradual abandonment of nuclear power; the first reactor in Mühleberg was shut down in 2019. The country is crossed by the Transitgas pipeline, which connects Italy to Northern Europe.
Despite the scarcity of raw materials, Switzerland is a highly industrialized country. This can be seen in particular in the machinery sector: precision instruments are especially important, as is electrical machinery. Swiss watch-making is famous worldwide, and the main centres of this are at Geneva, Schaffhausen and especially in the Jura. Aluminium is the most important product of the electro-metallurgical industry (plants at Chippis, Steg and Martigny in the Valais, working with imported alumina).
The chemical and pharmaceutical industries have their headquarters at Basel; electrochemical plants are present in the Valais. For textiles, cotton manufacture is especially important (eastern Switzerland); silk processing plants are found in the cantons of Zürich and Basel.
The woollen industry is also widespread; lace making is still an important, high quality craft. There are artificial and synthetic fibre factories, paper mills and rubber processing plants (insulation materials and tyres). Ceramics are produced at Langenthal.
|- hydro||37 659.6||M kWh||2019|
|- nuclear||25 370||M kWh||2019|
|- hydro||4 193||1000 kW||2019|
|- other renew.||3 051||1000 kW||2019|
|total net generation||68 186.31||M kWh||2019|
|total installed capacity||22 059.69||1000 kW||2018|
|gold, metal||2 780 000||kg||2016|
|watches and clocks||13 800 000||no.||2020|
|petrol||1 660.5||1000 t||2014|
|beer of barley||360.3||1000 t||2018|
|groundnut oil||1.151||1000 t||2018|
|cigarettes||54 348||M units||2007|
|cigars and cigarettes||54 348||M units||2007|
|mechanical pulp||91.498||1000 t||2019|
|cement||4 300||1000 t||2018|
|chemicals production||34 761.312||M US$||2016|
|food, beverages and tobacco production||12 661.258||M US$||2018|
Main exports (M US$ - 2017) pharmaceuticals 70 282, gold 67 923, machinery 23 730, chemicals 21 736, watches 20 234, jewels and precious stones 16 387, technical and electro-medical appliances 16 059, electrical and electronic equipment 12 238, plastics 5 098, iron and steel 4 230, perfumes and cosmetics 3 290, works of art and antiques 2 504, vehicles and parts thereof 2 430, aluminium 2 313, coffee 2 250, beverages 1 995, apparel and accessories 1 963, aircraft and parts thereof 1 952, dyes 1 939, tools and implements 1 850, electric energy 1 487, paper 1 167
Finance and banking.
The Swiss National Bank, which is independent of the federal government, acts as the central bank. The Swiss banking system is one of the most advanced in the world. Swiss banks control a substantial share of the world market of overseas-managed assets. About 250 banks and financial institutions operate in Switzerland (the two largest ones are Credit Suisse and UBS). Zürich is home to the country’s largest stock exchange. Due to international pressure, Switzerland has made agreements with numerous other countries to tax non-residents. Since 2018, the automatic exchange of banking information has entered into force with EU member states and other countries. In response to the economic crisis, in 2020 the watchdog authorities demanded moderation from the main banking groups in the distribution of dividends.
|manufactures||73.772||% of goods exports||2019|
|food products||2.995||% of goods exports||2019|
|United States||73 109||M US$||2020|
|Germany||48 936||M US$||2020|
|Germany||56 596||M US$||2020|
|Italy||23 666||M US$||2020|
Tourism. Tourism is encouraged by the excellent hotel sector and the variety of accommodation on offer; ski resorts, lakeside towns (Interlaken, Lucerne, Locarno), conference and business centres (at Lugano, Zürich and Geneva). In 2020-21, the sector was severely affected by travel restrictions.
|Expenditures||20 497||M US$||2019|
|Number of arrivals||11 818 000||units||2019|
The country is at a juncture of important European highways and railways. Policies are in place to favour the reduction of cargo traffic on the road. In 2016, the San Gottardo tunnel (57 km) was opened, a strategically important endeavour for transporting goods by rail along the “Rotterdam-Genoa” corridor in Europe.
|Civil aviation, km flown||171 900 000||km flown||2004|
|Civil aviation, passengers carried||30 339.7||1000 units||2019|
|Broadband subscribers||469.011||per 1000 pop.||2019|
|Computers||962.4||per 1000 pop.||2008|
Social and welfare
Education and research.
In most of the cantons, education is mandatory from the age of 4-5 for 11 years, and it is divided into primary and higher levels. Education is organized by each individual Canton.
Social security and health.
There are compulsory insurance programmes for all employees. There is no national health system, but all citizens must have (private) insurance.
|Expected years of schooling||16.413||years||2018|
|Students, primary level||514 664||units||2018|
|Students, secondary level||608 878||units||2018|
|Social protection spending||39.41||% of total expenses||2019|
|Social protection spending||26.9||% of GDP||2019|
|Hospital beds||4.63||per 1000 pop.||2018|
|Physicians||4.34||per 1000 pop.||2018|
|HIV||0.2||% of adults||2019|
|Museums, visitors||13 253 486||units||2018|
|Research and development spending||3.18||% of GDP||2017|
|Access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking||100||%||2019|
|Access to electricity||100||%||2019|