Confoederatio Helvetica, The Swiss Confederation, or simply – Switzerland, is located in Western Europe, bordered by France, Germany, Austria, Italy and Liechtenstein. It consists of twenty-six cantons. The Canton of Bern is the center of the country’s federal authorities.
A large part of the Swiss territory is occupied by the Alps. Most of the population lives in the Plateau area, and this is where the major cities are located, including Geneva and Zurich.
Switzerland is known for its neutrality. The country hasn’t been involved in an armed conflict since 1815. Still, foreign policy of Switzerland is very active. Many important international organizations have headquarters in Switzerland, including the United Nations. Switzerland is one of the founding members of EFTA (European Free Trade Association). However, the country is neither an EU member, nor the member of the European Economic Area.
Switzerland is a very rich country. According to 2010 surveys, wealth per adult in Switzerland was higher than in all other countries of the world. Geneva and Zurich are among the world’s best places to live (they also belong to the group of the most expensive cities).
Switzerland has three cultural and linguistic regions: Italian, French and German. The nation is not based on a common linguistic or ethnic identity. However, Swiss citizens share the same historical background and the same values (democracy, federalism and neutrality).
Tourism is a well-developed industry sector. Some of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe are located in Switzerland. Some of the resorts are created specially for tourists who like winter sports (snowboarding, skiing, mountaineering, etc.), but there are also many tourist spots that can be visited all year round.
Interesting Facts about Switzerland
• The highest (and probably the most beautiful) part of the Alps is located in Switzerland.
• Yodeling comes from “jodeln”, the German word for “uttering the syllable Yo”. It started as a form of communication between farmers who lived in the mountains.
• When you are in Switzerland, you are always close to a river or lake, no matter which part of the country you’re in.
• The tallest peak in Switzerland is Dufourspitze, at 4.634 m.
• There is no lake named “Geneva”. The real name of Lake Geneva is Lake Leman.
• Switzerland’s territory is three times smaller than the territory of the New York State.
• Many tourists will confirm that the water in the Swiss lakes and streams is so clean that you can actually keep your mouth open while swimming.
• Some mountain villages have an extraordinary tradition of playing the game known as “Cow Bingo”. The game is played on the field, divided into numbered squares. Participants bet on one or more squares. Then, they let a cow walk around the field and wait until the cow picks a square to “do her business” there. The participant who bet on that square is the winner. The game can last for hours!