The Switzerland Portal

Drapeau suisse
Drapeau suisse
Map of Switzerland
The Aletsch Glacier. Swiss Pines (Pinus cembra) are visible in the foreground.
The Aletsch Glacier. Swiss Pines (Pinus cembra) are visible in the foreground.
Location of Switzerland

Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a landlocked country located in west-central Europe. It is bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. Switzerland is geographically divided among the Swiss Plateau, the Alps and the Jura; the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, whereas most of the country's population of 9 million are concentrated on the plateau, which hosts the largest cities and economic centres, including Zürich, Geneva and Basel.

Switzerland originates from the Old Swiss Confederacy established in the Late Middle Ages, following a series of military successes against Austria and Burgundy; the Federal Charter of 1291 is considered the country's founding document. Swiss independence from the Holy Roman Empire was formally recognised in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. Switzerland has maintained a policy of armed neutrality since the 16th century and has not fought an international war since 1815. It joined the United Nations only in 2002 but pursues an active foreign policy that includes frequent involvement in peace building.

Switzerland is the birthplace of the Red Cross and hosts the headquarters or offices of most major international institutions, including the WTO, the WHO, the ILO, FIFA, and the United Nations. It is a founding member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), but not part of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area, or the eurozone; however, it participates in the European single market and the Schengen Area. Switzerland is a federal republic composed of 26 cantons, with federal authorities based in Bern.

Switzerland is one of the world's most developed countries, with the highest nominal wealth per adult and the eighth-highest gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. Switzerland ranks first in the Human Development Index since 2021 and performs highly also on several international metrics, including economic competitiveness and democratic governance. Cities such as Zürich, Geneva and Basel rank among the highest in terms of quality of life, albeit with some of the highest costs of living. (Full article...)

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Mertz at the expedition's main hut, 1912

Xavier Guillaume Mertz (6 October 1882 – 8 January 1913) was a Swiss polar explorer, mountaineer, and skier who took part in the Far Eastern Party, a 1912–1913 component of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, which claimed his life. Mertz Glacier on the George V Coast in East Antarctica is named after him.

While a student, Mertz became active as a skier, competing in national competitions, and as a mountaineer, climbing many of the highest peaks in the Alps. In early 1911, Mertz was hired by geologist and explorer Douglas Mawson for his Antarctic expedition. He was initially employed as a ski instructor, but in Antarctica, Mertz instead joined Belgrave Edward Ninnis in the care of the expedition's Greenland huskies. (Full article...)

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The two-man United States bobsleigh team at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada

Bobsleigh or bobsled is a winter sport in which teams of 2 to 4 athletes make timed runs down narrow, twisting, banked, iced tracks in a gravity-powered sleigh. International bobsleigh competitions are governed by the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (formerly the FIBT).

The first bobsleds were built in the late 19th century in St. Moritz, Switzerland, by wealthy tourists from Victorian Britain who were staying at the Palace Hotel owned by Caspar Badrutt. The early sleds were adapted from boys' delivery sleds and toboggans. These eventually evolved into bobsleighs, luges and skeletons. Initially the tourists would race their hand-built contraptions down the narrow streets of St. Moritz; however, as collisions increased, growing opposition from St. Moritz residents led to bobsledding being eventually banned from public highways. In the winter of 1884, Badrutt had a purpose-built run constructed near the hamlet of Cresta. The Cresta Run remains the oldest in the world and is the home of the St. Moritz Tobogganing Club. It has hosted two Olympic Winter Games and as of 2022 was still in use. (Full article...)

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The Nyon Conference was a diplomatic conference held in Nyon, Switzerland, in September 1937 to address attacks on international shipping in the Mediterranean Sea during the Spanish Civil War. The conference was convened in part because Italy had been carrying out unrestricted submarine warfare, although the final conference agreement did not accuse Italy directly; instead, the attacks were referred to as "piracy" by an unidentified body. Italy was not officially at war, nor did any submarine identify itself. The conference was designed to strengthen non-intervention in the Spanish Civil War. The United Kingdom and France led the conference, which was also attended by Bulgaria, Egypt, Greece, Romania, Turkey, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.

The first agreement, signed on 14 September 1937, included plans to counterattack aggressive submarines. Naval patrols were established; the United Kingdom and France were to patrol most of the western Mediterranean and parts of the east, and the other signatories were to patrol their own waters. Italy was to be allowed to join the agreement and patrol the Tyrrhenian Sea if it wished. A second agreement followed three days later, applying similar provisions to surface ships. Italy and Germany did not attend, although the former took up naval patrols in November. In marked contrast to the actions of the Non-Intervention Committee and the League of Nations, this conference succeeded in preventing attacks by submarines. (Full article...)

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Related portals

Switzerland-related topics

Politics of Switzerland
Swiss Federal Council - Federal Assembly of Switzerland - List of political parties in Switzerland - Elections in Switzerland - Foreign relations of Switzerland - Swiss Armed Forces

Geography of Switzerland
Swiss Alps - Swiss plateau - Jura mountains - List of lakes of Switzerland - List of rivers of Switzerland - List of glaciers in Switzerland - List of mountains of Switzerland - List of mountain passes in Switzerland - List of cities in Switzerland - Municipalities of Switzerland

History of Switzerland
Federal Charter of 1291 - Wilhelm Tell - The Early history of Switzerland - The Swiss Confederacy from 1291-1516 - The Reform - Early Modern Switzerland - Switzerland in the Napoleonic era - The Helvetic Republic - The Return of the Federation - A federal Republic - Switzerland during the World Wars - "Operation Tannenbaum" - Modern Switzerland

Cantons of Switzerland
Aargau - Appenzell Ausserrhoden - Appenzell Innerrhoden - Basel-Landschaft - Basel-Stadt - Bern - Fribourg - Geneva - Glarus - Graubünden - Jura - Lucerne - Neuchâtel - Nidwalden - Obwalden - St. Gallen - Schaffhausen - Schwyz - Solothurn - Thurgau - Ticino - Uri - Valais - Vaud - Zug - Zürich

Economy of Switzerland
List of Swiss companies - Swiss franc - Banking in Switzerland - Transportation in Switzerland - Energy in Switzerland - World Economic Forum - Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH - Tourism in Switzerland

Education in Switzerland
List of universities in Switzerland - Dual education system - Science and technology in Switzerland - CERN

Culture of Switzerland
German - French - Italian - Romansh - Swiss German - Francoprovençal - Music of Switzerland - Swiss cuisine - Swiss literature - SRG SSR idée suisse - Röstigraben - Sport in Switzerland

Swiss people (list)
David Aebischer - Ursula Andress - Jakob Bernoulli - Le Corbusier - Louis Chevrolet - Carla Del Ponte - Henry Dunant - Herzog & de Meuron - Friedrich Dürrenmatt - Albert Einstein - Leonhard Euler - Roger Federer - Marc Forster - Martin Gerber - Alberto Giacometti - Martina Hingis - Arthur Honegger - Carl Gustav Jung - Paul Klee - Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi - Clay Regazzoni - Jean-Jacques Rousseau - Mark Streit - Huldrych Zwingli

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