Facts and Map

Other names:

Switzerland, Suisse, Schweiz, Suiza, Zwitserland, Svizzera

Capital: Berne
Area: 41284km2

Population: 7261200
Language: French, Swiss-German, Italian, Rhaeto-Romanic
Currency: Swiss Franc

What do you think of when you think of

Switzerland? Is it the dramatic landscapes and quaint country settings?

Or is it the unique French, German and Italian cultural influences?

Maybe it's the historic castles and heritage?


Whatever it is, Switzerland has something special for you. Whether your

idea of the perfect vacation is hiking in a world of breathtaking

vistas or pampering yourself in the lap of luxury.

Where Mountains rise into the sky

Fantastic routes, breathtaking vistas: experiences that await the

traveler on the Glacier-Express from St. Moritz to Zermatt, across 291

bridges and through 91 tunnels, and on the William Tell-Express from

Lucerne to Lugano/Locarno, first by ship and then by train. Also

unforgettable: The Bernina, the Palm and the Golden Pass Express.

The glow of the Alps at sunset

The world of the Swiss Alps is a world of wild beauty. Mountain peaks

soar more than 4,000 meters into the sky. Awe-inspiring glaciers and

gigantic rock-formations abound. Frothy streams rush down mountains,

without premonition of the oceans into which they flow. Waterfalls

thunder into valleys. The reflection of windswept pines and larch trees

shimmer on the blue surface of mountain lakes. The vivid colors of

mountain flowers dot Alpine meadows. Sun-blackened chalets beckon by

the roadside and invite you to rest awhile. Cogwheel trains and airy

gondolas effortlessly reach the top of the highest peaks. Come on

board, wander back on foot on the mountain trails!

The delights of the Alpine lakes

Crystal-clear water glitters in the sunlight, pristine beaches entice

you to go for a swim. Sailboats leave a trail in their wake on the

water. Steam boats travel from shore to shore. Chalets and inns with

shady gardens invite you to stay. Wherever you go, the next lake is

waiting around the corner!

Southern ambience

South of the Alps Mediterranean style awaits you: Italian Dolce Vita,

outdoor cafes on lively plazas, laughter, conversation, happiness.

Clean beaches with palm trees. Promenades for leisurely walks.

Romanesque churches. Houses with stone-dotted roofs in pristine

side-valleys. The most modern architecture wherever you go.

Gently rolling hills and vast valleys

Forests, hills, rivers, fertile soil and grazing cows, vibrant cities

full of hustle and bustle: this is the heart of Switzerland, between

the Alps and the crescent of the Jura mountains. Huge farmhouses,

adorned with window boxes full of colorful flowers, define this region

just as much as the large urban centers of Zurich, Bern and Basel with

their rich cultural offerings and modern industry. Medieval arcades

preside over stores and boutiques aligned like pearls on a string and

over the pulsating life of the cities. Modern architecture can be found

next to original Old Town quarters: Botta and Le Corbusier are to be

seen not far from Roman ruins, Mediaeval castles and Baroque

cathedrals. Everything is close by and easily reached.

French Flair

Vineyards stretch in a wide arc downhill toward Lake Geneva. The shores

of Lake Geneva are dotted with romantic villages, castles with mighty

ramparts and elegant cities with an urbane culture. A whiff of Paris, a

dash of France is in the air. Here alpine panorama and southern

vegetation unite in unique harmony. And the pristine mountain world of

the Waadtland Alps, or the quiet peaks of the Jura are just a short

journey away.


History, Mentality and Customs

Switzerland was founded more than 700 years ago. Long years of peace have left their mark on our heritage, history and culture.

A look at the past

We owe the fact that Switzerland is in Switzerland to Caesar - in 58 BC

he prevented the Helvetians from emigrating to France and founded a

flourishing Helvetia (Augst, Avenches are, amongst others, evidence of

this to the present day). The people remained in the Alps. The real

history of Switzerland began in the 13th century, with the first

alliances from the villages around Lake Lucerne (William Tell,

Rütlischwur) - victorious battles against the Habsburgs, new alliances,

and battles within Switzerland - Reformation (Calvin and Zwingli) and

the Counter-Reformation.

Conquest by Napoleon in 1798 put an end to the Old Confederation-. The

new era began - in 1848 the political arguments about the type of state

lead to a pioneering, revolutionary constitution for Europe - a

democratic Federal state with 26 sovereign cantons, democratically

elected authorities, a two chamber system, a direct political say and

equality of the four languages of the country and cultures.


The Swiss are a friendly and hospitable people, though somewhat

reserved at times. Life in our towns and cities is secure. We share an

independent spirit, a respect for tradition and no fewer than four

languages and dozens of dialects. The Swiss love for partying isn't yet

widely known. But the seasons are marked by traditional festivals and

popular pageants.

Music and Museums

Every major Swiss city honours its own symphony, opera or theatre,

where acclaimed international artists appear. Smaller towns and

villages prize their chamber groups or quartets. The Bern, Willisau and

Montreux Jazz Festivals rival in recognition with the classical music

events of Lucerne and Gstaad, to name just a few.

About 700 museums round out a rich cultural life. You'll find

outstanding, internationally acclaimed art collections and specialized

museums for every interest. Today scores of medieval castles and

venerable mansions are open for a look around. Some house superb

museums, other wonderful restaurants. Churches, monasteries and abbey

libraries hold precious legacies of the ages.

Festivals and Traditions

Some examples of Swiss celebrations:First of August, the Swiss

Independence day. Zurich's spring festival, the Sechseläuten. Carnival

is celebrated all over Switzerland. Hornussen, a unique sport. Onion

market in Berne. Harmless Cow fights in the Valais. Locarno's piazza is

a splendid open air cinema during its International Film Festival.


Switzerland borders France in the West, Germany in the north, Austria

and the principality of Liechtenstein in the east and Italy in the



3 main types of landscape - the Swiss Alps, the hilly Swiss Mittelland,

which extends from Lake Constance to Lake Geneva, and the Swiss Jura, a

long line of rugged fold mountains.

Highest Peaks

Dufourspitze (Valais): 4,634 m / 15,203 ft

Dom (Valais): 4,545 m / 14,911 ft

Weisshorn (Valais): 4,506 m / 14,793 ft

Matterhorn (Valais): 4,478 m / 14,691 ft

Largest Glacier (Surface)

Aletsch (Valais): 117 sq km / 73 sq ml.

Length 24 km / 15 mi.

Glaciers in total 140

Largest Lakes

Lake Geneva: 582 sq km / 223 sq mi.

Lake Constance: 539 sq km / 208 sq mi.

Lake Neuchâtel: 218 sq km / 83 sq mi.

Lake Maggiore: 212 sq km / 82 sq mi.

Lake Lucerne: 114 sq km / 44 sq mi.

Lake Zurich: 88 sq km / 35 sq mi.

Lakes in total 1,484

Highest Village

Juf (Graubunden): 2,126 m / 7,000 ft

Lowest Village

Ascona (Ticino): 196 m / 690 ft

Largest Cities

Zurich 336,800

Geneva 173,500

Basel 168,700

Berne 122,700

Lucerne 57,000


General Facts about Switzerland




7,4 million

Population density:

172 per sq. km


Parliamntary Federal State since 1848, Direct democracy

German (64%), French (20%), Italian (7%), Romansch (1%), others (8%)


Catholic (42%), Protestant (35%), others (23%)


Regions of Switzerland

The diversity of the landlocked, mountainous country is the essence of

Switzerland and gives the country its unique identity. Still, it is

best known for its financial institutions, fine cheeses and chocolate,

watch making industry, for its scenery and an excellent network of

public traffic.

North of Switzerland
Zurich Region

is top for leisure and pleasure. Gentle hills, peaceful woods, the

unpolluted lakes and rivers, picturesque villages - and all just a

stone's throw from the Alps. Zürich is the ideal starting point for all

kinds of varied excursions.

North-West of Switerland
Basel Region

fascinating city. Encounter the best of modern art and architecture at

every step. Savour cherries fresh from nearby orchards and asparagus

from the Alsace.

West of Switzerland

Finding, enjoying, understanding. Balmly summer warmth bathes the

valley. Water gurgles from pond to pond in pine forests and vineyards.

Fribourg / Neuchâtel / Jura / Jura Bernois

the Jura range to the pre-Alpine hills. Vast elevated plains punctuated

with fir trees in lush pastures, farm buildings of light-coloured Jura

limestone. - the Jura region is a giant park created by Nature herself,

bordering France to the north and crossed by deep canyons to the south.

Lake Geneva Region

region, four worlds. They came, saw... and stayed. Courbet, Kokoschka,

Charlie Chaplin and David Bowie are among those who settled at Lake

Geneva, attracted, no doubt, by the Alpine panorama and almost

Mediterranean vegetation.

Geneva Region

world's smallest metropolis. Cosmopolitan Geneva - a world of its own,

a world for everyone, quite apart from the rest of Switzerland.

Eastern Switzerland
Eastern Switzerland/ Liechtenstein

Switzerland stretches from the shimmering waters of Lake Constance

across the hilly Appenzellerland to the Alpine landscapes of

Toggenburg, the Heidiland holiday region and the Glarnerland. Far off

in the Rhine Valley is Vaduz with its princes' castle.


valleys descending from high mountains. Rivers in every conceivable

direction. German, Romansh and Italian in a single canton.

Central Switzerland
Central Switzerland

freedom. Switzerland was born when the good people of Uri, Schwyz and

Unterwalden formed an alliance at the Rütli. Here, in Central

Switzerland, is the Schöllenen Bridge which made north-south travel

across the Gotthard range possible, and here, in 1871, Europe?s first

cog railroad up to Rigi marked the beginning of tourism as we know it.

Schweizer Mittelland

grand. A slight haze tints quiet rivers with subtle pastel hues.

Impressively vast roofs shelter prosperous Emmental farmhouses..

Bernese Oberland

nature and holidays come together. Waterfalls crash down sheer cliff

sides. Glacier-fed creeks force their way through th narrow Rosenlaui

and Aare canyons.

South of Switzerland

Italian flair of Switzerland. The Mediterranean region seems to begin

on the southern side of the Alps. There is a feel of Italy, with palm

trees at clean beaches and lanes and alleyways leading to piazzas and



Swiss Cities

Swiss towns never lose their appeal - whatever the time of year! Art,

culture and culinary delights abound in Swiss towns. And if shopping is

your particular love, the opportunities are practically limitless.

Basel, the oldest university town in Switzerland, is a markedly open city.
The Old Town of Bern figures on the UNESCO list of World Cultural Heritage sites.
This, the smallest metropolis in the world, is characterised by its international population.
The Olympic capital, is built on three hills.
The 'capita morale', the secret capital is the third-largest financial hub in Switzerland.
Centrally located, Lucerne is easy to reach.
In the bilingual main town of the Canton of Valais, the past and the future seamlessly meet.
St. Gallen
This human-sized Eastern Swiss metropolis has a delightful, traffic-free Old Town.
The variety of scenery in Zurich will catch you unawares.



The national languages of Switzerland are German (North, Central and

Eastern Switzerland), French (Western Switzerland), Italian (Southern

Switzerland) and Romansh - a derive of Latin (South-Eastern

Switzerland). English is widely spoken.