Switzerland in its diversity
Table of Contents Geography
Facts and Figures Topography and Climate Towns Transport Network
Federalism Direct Democracy Government and Parliament Foreign Policy
Science Switzerland – A Research Nation Swiss National Science Foundation / Support for Research
Education Swiss Education System Third-level Education
Economy Structure and Competitiveness Sectoral Composition Work and Employment
Demography Linguistic Diversity Multicultural Switzerland Quality of Life
Music Museums Architecture Painting and Sculpture Religion and Customs
History : Timetable
Biodiversity Water Forests Recycling / Waste Management Energy Policy
Geography: Facts and figures 41,285 km2, or 1.5‰ of world‟s surface area. Maximum distances: North-South: 220 km West-East: 348 km
Geography: Topography and climate Highest point: Dufour Peak (altitude: 4,634 m).
Main geographic regions
Lowest point: Lake Maggiore (altitude: 193 m).
1 Jura 2 Mittelland 3 Alps
Maritime climate north of the Alps; Mediterranean influence south of the Alps. Average temperatures for July:
Zurich: 17.6ºC Lugano: 21.1ºC Longest glacier: Aletsch (approx. 23 km long).
Geography: Towns The 10 largest conurbations Conurbation Zurich
115,700 Conurbations Spatial weighting as a function of the resident population in each municipality Source: SFSO, VZ 2000 / 漏 EPFL-Ch么ros / K2.6
Geography: Transport network Transport infrastructure – a priority: 5,100 km-long rail network, one of the densest in the world 71,500 km-long road network and 4 mn cars (514 cars/1,000 inhabitants) Access to the sea via the Rhine (Basel): 37-strong merchant fleet
Train, bus, tram, boat, aerial cableway and funicular railway stops Source: SwitzerlandMobility, 2011
North-South links through the Alps: 1882 Gotthard rail tunnel 1906 Simplon rail tunnel 1964 Great Saint Bernard road tunnel 1980 Gotthard road tunnel 2017 New Transalpine Rail Link (NEAT) through the Gotthard massif. At 57 km-long, it is the longest tunnel in the world. 5
Politics: Federalism 1848: Founding of the Swiss Confederation. Subsidiarity principle: Decentralised division of power and solving issues at the lowest possible level.
Federal state with three political levels: federal government canton municipality
Solidarity: Fiscal transfers from richer to poor regions. Confoederatio Helvetica: Official Latin name of the Swiss Confederation.
Source: ThemaKart, SFSO
Politics: Direct democracy Instruments of direct democracy:
popular initiative optional referendum mandatory referendum On average, four popular votes on a wide range of issues are held every year. Voting age: 18.
Politics: Government and parliament Legislative: Parliament with
National Council (lower house, 200 members of parliament); Council of States (upper house, 2 members of parliament per canton). Executive (government): Federal Council: 7 members from several Swiss political parties. Federal Chancellery: Assists and advises the Federal Council. Federal Chancellor is often referred to as the “eighth federal councillor”.
Politics: Foreign policy Switzerland is a member of various international organisations: EFTA (since 1960) European Council (since 1963) OSCE (since 1975) United Nations (since 2002) Swiss-EU relations are governed by a series of bilateral agreements. Neutrality and humanitarian tradition: cornerstones of Swiss foreign policy. Neutral state (since 1815) International Committee of the Red Cross ICRC (founded in 1863) 9
Science: Switzerland – a research nation Federal Institutes of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ) and Lausanne (EPFL): renowned worldwide for their research output. Two international research centres: CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research) in Geneva; 8,000 scientists from 85 countries. European laboratory of the high-tech company IBM in Rüschlikon (Zurich); 300 employees from 30 countries.
Science: SNSF/support for research Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) research areas: Humanities and Social Sciences Mathematics Natural and Engineering Sciences Biology and Medicine SNSF professorship programme facilitates the return of promising young researchers to Switzerland.
Education: Education system Responsibility for education is shared between the federal authorities, the Cantons and the communes. Decentralised school system. Compulsory schooling (9 years):
ď‚§ Primary and lower secondary Post-compulsory schooling: ď‚§ Upper secondary schooling based on a "dual system": Choice between vocational training routes (apprenticeship) and general education routes (preparation for the Matura) 60% of young people opt for the vocational training route. 12
Education: Universities and UAS â€œBolognaâ€? system in all Swiss universities (Bachelor & Masters degree programmes).
UAS (Universities of Applied Sciences) education. 35% of 25- to 64-year olds are university graduates. 50% of students are women.
Foreign nationals, educated in Switzerland Foreign nationals, educated abroad
Environment: Biodiversity Over 50,000 species of plants and animals. Swiss National Park in the canton of Graubünden, established in 1914. Regional nature parks, e.g. Parc Ela. UNESCO biosphere reserves: Swiss National Park (since 1979) Entlebuch in the canton of Lucerne (since 2001)
Environment: Water Switzerland is Europe‟s reservoir: the Swiss Alps are the source of 6% of Europe‟s freshwater reserves. Switzerland has over 1,500 lakes. Glaciers cover nearly 3% of Switzerland‟s surface area. Protection of lakes and rivers written into the Swiss Constitution.
Tap water in buildings is as pure as bottled mineral water. Daily water consumption per head: approx. 400 litres. 15
Environment: Forests Forests cover 31% of Swiss surface area.
80,000 - 2% of Swiss employment - work in the forestry sector and timber industry. Tree line: 1,300 m altitude (Mittelland and pre-Alps) 1,900 m altitude (mountains) Forests are also essential for preserving the landscape. Wood is one of Switzerland‟s few abundant natural resources. 5 mn cubic metres are harvested every year.
Environment: Recycling/waste management Recycling:
Switzerland: â€œWorld Recycling Championâ€?.
Special recycling points provided free of charge. Incineration plants for all non-recyclable, combustible waste. The 29 Swiss incineration plants together generate enough electricity to power 250,000 homes.
Environment: Energy policy Two main planks of energy policy:
ď‚§ Reduce energy consumption ď‚§ Promote the use of renewable resources
Switzerland imports 80% of its energy. CO2 legislation: reducing fossil fuel consumption.
Other renewable energies District heating Electricity Gas Fuel
Petroleum fuels Industrial waste Coal Wood Source: FOE
Economy: Structure and competitiveness Liberal market system. Major importer and exporter of goods and services. European Union (EU) is the most important trade partner. Well-developed industry and service provision (high-quality goods). High level of international competitiveness. High capacity for technological innovation.
Economy: Sectoral composition Service economy (banks, tourism, insurance, trade and commerce). 4%
99% of companies are small and mediumsized enterprises (SMEs), with a maximum of 250 employees. 24 %
Major exporter (machinery, chemicals, watches, jewellery).
Economy: Work and employment Big Mac Index 2010 Norway
Average working week: 42 hours GDP per capita (adjusted for purchasing power parity): USD 33,900. Unemployment rate in 2010: 3.9%. High female labour force participation, with most working part-time. “Three-pillar” old-age insurance system: AHV (old-age and survivors„ insurance), pension fund and optional private savings scheme.
Price of 1 Big Mac in USD 21
People: Demography Population trends 2007
7.8 mn inhabitants Average fertility rate: 1.5 children per woman.
Densely populated, can vary from region to region. On average 189 people/km2. Life expectancy: ď‚§ Women: 84 ď‚§ Men: 80 Men Women
People: Linguistic diversity Cultural diversity, strongly influenced by European neighbours.
Four national languages: German 64% French 20%
Italian 6% Rumantsch 0.5% Non-official languages 9%
Topography also shapes local culture and language.
German French Italian Rumantsch Darker shading = higher percentage Source: SFSO, VZ 2000 / © EPFL-Chôros / K4.11
People: Multicultural Switzerland Swiss foreign population by nationality
The culture of Switzerlandâ€&#x;s linguistic regions is influenced by neighbouring countries. Geography helps shape the cultural identity of Switzerlandâ€&#x;s regions Foreign residents: around 22% (children: over 25%). Foreign residents from Europe: over 85%. Foreign residents born in Switzerland: around 25%. Naturalised Swiss nationals: around 10%.
695,000 Swiss live abroad.
People: Quality of life Household expenses in % tax
housing and energy
food and drink
restaurants and hotels
entertainment, recreation and culture
clothing and shoes
alcohol and tobacco
Around 65% of the population rent their home. Single-person households: approx. 37%. Good quality of life: Personal safety Welfare provision Medical care Public transport
Diverse music scene. Internationally renowned musicians and Swiss bands.
Open-air rock and pop festivals (e.g. St. Gallen, Gurten near Berne, Avenches, Nyon). Jazz festivals (e.g. Montreux, Willisau, Berne). Classical music festivals (e.g. Lucerne, Gstaad, St. Moritz).
Culture: Museums Over 950 museums.
Annual visitor numbers: over 17 mn. Museums and galleries thanks to dedicated volunteers. Renowned museums at home and abroad designed by Swiss architects.
Culture: Architecture Peter Zumthor: Thermal Spa, Vals (top left). Annette Gigon and Mike Guyer: Kirchner Museum, Davos (top right). Herzog & de Meuron: Business Center Actelion, Allschwil (bottom left). Mario Botta: Church in Mogno (bottom right).
The services of Swiss architects are also in high demand abroad.
Culture: Painting and sculpture 19th/20th centuries: Albert Anker (top left), Arnold Böcklin, and Ferdinand Hodler. 20th century: Paul Klee (top right) and Alberto Giacometti. Installations by Jean Tinguely (bottom left) and Bernhard Luginbühl.
Playful art, e.g. by Meret Oppenheim (bottom right). Max Bill: the man behind “concrete” art.
Culture: Religion and Customs Religious affiliation Roman Catholic
No religious affiliation Others
Many religious and seasonal customs/festivals. Great diversity, reflecting regional and local cultures.
Source: Population Census 2000
History of Switzerland 1291
Founding of Swiss Confederation
Beginning of the Reformation
Napoleon invades Switzerland
Congress of Vienna; Swiss permanent neutrality recognised
Founding of the modern Swiss state
First World War
Second World War: armed neutrality
Jura becomes Switzerland‟s 26th canton
Bilateral Agreements I
Switzerland joins the UN
Bilateral Agreements II 31
EPFL-Ch么ros; Federal Office of Energy (FOE) National Energy Statistics; Federal Office of Topography (swisstopo); Federal Population Census 2000; Swiss Federal Statistical office SFSO; ThemaKart. Photos: ABB, Actelion, Kaspar Bacher, Berne Tourism, Christine Blaser, Fribourg Tourism, Getty Images, Paul Helmle, ICRC, Imagepoint, IWC, Keystone, Lake Geneva Region, Lake Sempach Tourism, Montreux Jazz Festival, Paul Scherrer Institute, Presence Switzerland, Pro Litteris, swiss-image, Swiss Museum of Transport, Swiss National Science Foundation, Swiss Post, swissworld.org.
Published on Jun 14, 2012
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