Switzerland

Switzerland

Background

The Swiss Confederation was founded in 1291 as a defensive alliance among three cantons. In succeeding years, other localities joined the original three. The Swiss Confederation secured its independence from the Holy Roman Empire in 1499. A constitution of 1848, subsequently modified in 1874, replaced the confederation with a centralized federal government. Switzerland’s sovereignty and neutrality have long been honored by the major European powers, and the country was not involved in either of the two world wars. The political and economic integration of Europe over the past half century, as well as Switzerland’s role in many UN and international organizations, has strengthened Switzerland’s ties with its neighbors. However, the country did not officially become a UN member until 2002. Switzerland remains active in many UN and international organizations but retains a strong commitment to neutrality.

Geography

Location:
Central Europe, east of France, north of Italy

Geographic coordinates:
47 00 N, 8 00 E

Map references:
Europe

Area:
total: 41,277 sq km
country comparison to the world: 136
land: 39,997 sq km
water: 1,280 sq km

Area – comparative:
slightly less than twice the size of New Jersey

Land boundaries:
total: 1,852 km
border countries: Austria 164 km, France 573 km, Italy 740 km, Liechtenstein 41 km, Germany 334 km

Coastline:
0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims:
none (landlocked)

Climate:
temperate, but varies with altitude; cold, cloudy, rainy/snowy winters; cool to warm, cloudy, humid summers with occasional showers

Terrain:
mostly mountains (Alps in south, Jura in northwest) with a central plateau of rolling hills, plains, and large lakes

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Lake Maggiore 195 m
highest point: Dufourspitze 4,634 m

Natural resources:
hydropower potential, timber, salt

Land use:
arable land: 9.8%
permanent crops: 0.57%
other: 89.63% (2011)

Irrigated land:
550 sq km (2007)

Total renewable water resources:
53.5 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 2.61 cu km/yr (39%/58%/3%)
per capita: 360.3 cu m/yr (2010)

Natural hazards:
avalanches, landslides; flash floods

Environment – current issues:
air pollution from vehicle emissions and open-air burning; acid rain; water pollution from increased use of agricultural fertilizers; loss of biodiversity

Environment – international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

Geography – note:
landlocked; crossroads of northern and southern Europe; along with southeastern France, northern Italy, and southwestern Austria, has the highest elevations in the Alps


People & Society

Nationality:
noun: Swiss (singular and plural)
adjective: Swiss

Ethnic groups:
German 65%, French 18%, Italian 10%, Romansch 1%, other 6%

Languages:
German (official) 64.9%, French (official) 22.6%, Italian (official) 8.3%, Serbo-Croatian 2.5%, Albanian 2.6%, Portuguese 3.4%, Spanish 2.2%, English 4.6%, Romansch (official) 0.5%, other 5.1%
note: German, French, Italian, and Romansch are all national and official languages; totals more than 100% because some respondents indicated more than one main principal language (2012 est.)

Religions:
Roman Catholic 38.2%, Protestant 26.9%, Muslim 4.9%, other Christian 5.7%, other 1.6%, none 21.4%, unspecified 1.3% (2012 est.)

Population:
8,061,516 (July 2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 96

Age structure:
0-14 years: 15.1% (male 627,952/female 591,528)
15-24 years: 11.4% (male 469,536/female 451,547)
25-54 years: 43.9% (male 1,775,571/female 1,760,456)
55-64 years: 17.5% (male 484,278/female 486,220)
65 years and over: 17.3% (male 616,009/female 798,419) (2014 est.)

Dependency ratios:
total dependency ratio: 48.5 %
youth dependency ratio: 21.8 %
elderly dependency ratio: 26.7 %
potential support ratio: 3.7 (2014 est.)

Median age:
total: 42 years
male: 41 years
female: 42.9 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate:
0.78% (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 141

Birth rate:
10.48 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 185

Death rate:
8.1 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 95

Net migration rate:
5.43 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 26

Urbanization:
urban population: 73.7% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 0.49% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas – population:
Zurich 1.194 million; BERN (capital) 353,000 (2011)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

Mother’s mean age at first birth:
30.2 (2010 est.)

Maternal mortality rate:
8 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
country comparison to the world: 159

Infant mortality rate:
total: 3.73 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 203
male: 4.12 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.32 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 82.39 years
country comparison to the world: 8
male: 80.1 years
female: 84.81 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate:
1.54 children born/woman (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 188

Health expenditures:
10.9% of GDP (2011)
country comparison to the world: 15

Physicians density:
4.08 physicians/1,000 population (2010)

Hospital bed density:
5 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Drinking water source:
improved:
urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
unimproved:
urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2011 est.)

Sanitation facility access:
improved:
urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
unimproved:
urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2011 est.)

HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate:
0.4% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 80

HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS:
18,000 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 85

HIV/AIDS – deaths:
fewer than 100 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 148

Obesity – adult prevalence rate:
17.5% (2008)
country comparison to the world: 111

Education expenditures:
5.2% of GDP (2010)
country comparison to the world: 66

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 16 years
male: 16 years
female: 16 years (2011)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
total: 8.4%
country comparison to the world: 119
male: 8.8%
female: 8.1% (2012)


Government

Country name:
conventional long form: Swiss Confederation
conventional short form: Switzerland
local long form: Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft (German); Confederation Suisse (French); Confederazione Svizzera (Italian); Confederaziun Svizra (Romansh)
local short form: Schweiz (German); Suisse (French); Svizzera (Italian); Svizra (Romansh)

Government type:
formally a confederation but similar in structure to a federal republic

Capital:
name: Bern
geographic coordinates: 46 55 N, 7 28 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Administrative divisions:
26 cantons (cantons, singular – canton in French; cantoni, singular – cantone in Italian; Kantone, singular – Kanton in German); Aargau, Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Basel-Landschaft, Basel-Stadt, Bern/Berne, Fribourg/Freiburg, Geneve, Glarus, Graubuenden/Grischun/Grigioni, Jura, Luzern, Neuchatel, Nidwalden, Obwalden, Sankt Gallen, Schaffhausen, Schwyz, Solothurn, Thurgau, Ticino, Uri, Valais/Wallis, Vaud, Zug, Zuerich
note: 6 of the cantons – Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Basel-Landschaft, Basel-Stadt, Nidwalden, Obwalden – are referred to as half cantons because they elect only one member to the Council of States and, in popular referendums where a majority of popular votes and a majority of cantonal votes are required, these six cantons only have a half vote

Independence:
1 August 1291 (founding of the Swiss Confederation)

National holiday:
Founding of the Swiss Confederation, 1 August (1291)

Constitution:
previous 1848, 1874 (extensive revision of 1848 version); latest adopted by referendum 18 April 1999, effective 1 January 2000; amended several times, last in 2012 (2012)

Legal system:
civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts, except for federal decrees of a general obligatory character

International law organization participation:
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President of the Swiss Confederation Didier BURKHALTER (since 1 January 2014); Vice President Simonetta SOMMARUGA (since 1 January 2014; note – the Federal Council, which is comprised of seven federal councillors, constitutes the federal government of Switzerland; council members rotate in one-year terms as federal president (chief of state and head of government)
head of government: President of the Swiss Confederation Didier BURKHALTER (since 1 January 2014); Vice President Simonetta SOMMARUGA (since 1 January 2014)
cabinet: Federal Council or Bundesrat (in German), Conseil Federal (in French), Consiglio Federale (in Italian) is elected by the Federal Assembly usually from among its members for a four-year term
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
elections: president and vice president elected by the Federal Assembly from among the members of the Federal Council for a one-year term (they may not serve consecutive terms); election last held on 5 December 2012 (next to be held in early December 2013)
election results: Didier BURKHALTER elected president; number of Federal Assembly votes – 183 of 202; Simonetta SOMMARUGA elected vice president

Legislative branch:
bicameral Federal Assembly or Bundesversammlung (in German), Assemblee Federale (in French), Assemblea Federale (in Italian) consists of the Council of States or Staenderat (in German), Conseil des Etats (in French), Consiglio degli Stati (in Italian) (46 seats; membership consists of 2 representatives from each canton and 1 from each half canton; members serve four-year terms) and the National Council or Nationalrat (in German), Conseil National (in French), Consiglio Nazionale (in Italian) (200 seats; members elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation serve four-year terms)
elections: Council of States – last held in most cantons on 23 October 2011 (each canton determines when the next election will be held); National Council – last held on 23 October 2011 (next to be held in October 2015)
election results: Council of States – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – CVP 13, FDP 11, SVP 5, SPS 11, other 6; National Council – percent of vote by party – SVP 26.6%, SPS 18.7%, FDP 15.1%, CVP 12.3%, Green Party 8.4%, GLP 5.4%, BDP 5.4%, other 8.1%; seats by party – SVP 54, SPS 46, FDP 30, CVP 28, Green Party 15, GLP 12, BDP 9, other small parties 6

Judicial branch:
highest court(s): Federal Supreme Court (consists of 38 judges and 31 substitutes and organized into 5 sections)
judge selection and term of office: judges elected by the Federal Assembly for 6-year terms; note – judges are affiliated with political parties and are elected according to linguistic and regional criteria in approximate proportion to the level of party representation in the Federal Assembly
subordinate courts: Federal Criminal Court (began in 2004); Federal Administrative Court (began in 2007); note – each of Switzerland’s 26 cantons has its own courts

Political parties and leaders:
Christian Democratic People’s Party (Christlichdemokratische Volkspartei der Schweiz or CVP, Parti Democrate-Chretien Suisse or PDC, Partito Popolare Democratico Svizzero or PPD, Partida Cristiandemocratica dalla Svizra or PCD) [Christophe DARBELLAY]
Conservative Democratic Party (Buergerlich-Demokratische Partei Schweiz or BDP, Parti Bourgeois Democratique Suisse or PBD, Partito Borghese Democratico Svizzero or PBD, Partido burgais democratica Svizera or PBD) [Martin LANDOLT]
Free Democratic Party or FDP.The Liberals (FDP.Die Liberalen, PLR.Les Liberaux-Radicaux, PLR.I Liberali, Ils Liberals) [Philipp MUELLER]
Green Liberal Party (Grunliberale or GLP, Parti vert liberale or PVL, Partito Verde-Liberale or PVL, Partida Verde Liberale or PVL) [Martin BAEUMLE]
Green Party (Gruene Partei der Schweiz or Gruene, Parti Ecologiste Suisse or Les Verts, Partito Ecologista Svizzero or I Verdi, Partida Ecologica Svizra or La Verda) [Adele THORENS]
Social Democratic Party (Sozialdemokratische Partei der Schweiz or SPS, Parti Socialiste Suisse or PSS, Partito Socialista Svizzero or PSS, Partida Socialdemocratica de la Svizra or PSS) [Christian LEVRAT]
Swiss People’s Party (Schweizerische Volkspartei or SVP, Union Democratique du Centre or UDC, Unione Democratica di Centro or UDC, Uniun Democratica dal Center or UDC) [Toni BRUNNER]
and other minor parties

Political pressure groups and leaders:
NA

International organization participation:
ADB (nonregional member), AfDB (nonregional member), Australia Group, BIS, CD, CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EFTA, EITI (implementing country), ESA, FAO, FATF, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IGAD (partners), ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAIA (observer), MIGA, MINUSMA, MONUSCO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OIF, OPCW, OSCE, Pacific Alliance (observer), Paris Club, PCA, PFP, Schengen Convention, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNMISS, UNRWA, UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Manuel SAGER (since 1 November 2010)
chancery: 2900 Cathedral Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 745-7900
FAX: [1] (202) 387-2564
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco
consulate(s): Boston

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d’Affaires Jeffrey R. CELLARS (since 22 July 2013); note – also accredited to Liechtenstein
embassy: Sulgeneckstrasse 19, CH-3007 Bern
mailing address: use Embassy street address
telephone: [41] (031) 357-70-11
FAX: [41] (031) 357-73-44

Flag description:
red square with a bold, equilateral white cross in the center that does not extend to the edges of the flag; various medieval legends purport to describe the origin of the flag; a white cross used as identification for troops of the Swiss Confederation is first attested at the Battle of Laupen (1339)

National symbol(s):
Swiss cross (white cross on red field; arms equal length)

National anthem:
name: “Schweizerpsalm” [German] “Cantique Suisse” [French] “Salmo svizzero,” [Italian] “Psalm svizzer” [Romansch] (Swiss Psalm)


Economy

Economy – overview:
Switzerland is a peaceful, prosperous, and modern market economy with low unemployment, a highly skilled labor force, and a per capita GDP among the highest in the world. Switzerland’s economy benefits from a highly developed service sector, led by financial services, and a manufacturing industry that specializes in high-technology, knowledge-based production. Its economic and political stability, transparent legal system, exceptional infrastructure, efficient capital markets, and low corporate tax rates also make Switzerland one of the world’s most competitive economies. The Swiss have brought their economic practices largely into conformity with the EU’s to enhance their international competitiveness, but some trade protectionism remains, particularly for its small agricultural sector. The fate of the Swiss economy is tightly linked to that of its neighbors in the euro zone, which purchases half of all Swiss exports. The global financial crisis of 2008 and resulting economic downturn in 2009 stalled export demand and put Switzerland in a recession. The Swiss National Bank (SNB) during this period effectively implemented a zero-interest rate policy to boost the economy as well as prevent appreciation of the franc, and Switzerland’s economy began to recover in 2010. The sovereign debt crises currently unfolding in neighboring euro-zone countries pose a significant risk to Switzerland’s financial stability and are driving up demand for the Swiss franc by investors seeking a safe-haven currency. The independent SNB has upheld its zero-interest rate policy and conducted major market interventions to prevent further appreciation of the Swiss franc, but parliamentarians have urged it to do more to weaken the currency. The franc’s strength has made Swiss exports less competitive and weakened the country’s growth outlook; GDP growth fell below 2% per year during 2011-13. Switzerland has also come under increasing pressure from individual neighboring countries, the EU, the US, and international institutions to reform its banking secrecy laws. Consequently, the government agreed to conform to OECD regulations on administrative assistance in tax matters, including tax evasion. The government has renegotiated its double taxation agreements with numerous countries, including the US, to incorporate the OECD standard, and is considering the possibility of imposing taxes on bank deposits held by foreigners. These steps will have a lasting impact on Switzerland’s long history of bank secrecy.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$371.2 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 37
$363.9 billion (2012 est.)
$360.1 billion (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):
$646.2 billion (2013 est.)

GDP – real growth rate:
2% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 141
1% (2012 est.)
1.8% (2011 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP):
$54,800 (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 11
$53,300 (2012 est.)
$50,900 (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

Gross national saving:
31.5% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 24
31.5% of GDP (2012 est.)
27.3% of GDP (2011 est.)

GDP – composition, by end use:
household consumption: 57.4%
government consumption: 11.5%
investment in fixed capital: 20.3%
investment in inventories: 0.7%
exports of goods and services: 50.4%
imports of goods and services: -40.2%
(2013 est.)

GDP – composition, by sector of origin:
agriculture: 0.7%
industry: 26.8%
services: 72.5% (2013 est.)

Agriculture – products:
grains, fruits, vegetables; meat, eggs

Industries:
machinery, chemicals, watches, textiles, precision instruments, tourism, banking, and insurance

Industrial production growth rate:
2.2% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 121

Labor force:
4.976 million (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77

Labor force – by occupation:
agriculture: 3.4%
industry: 23.4%
services: 73.2% (2010)

Unemployment rate:
3.2% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 25
2.9% (2012 est.)

Population below poverty line:
7.6% (2011)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 7.5%
highest 10%: 19% (2007)

Distribution of family income – Gini index:
28.7 (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 123
33.1 (1992)

Budget:
revenues: $217.8 billion
expenditures: $208.5 billion
note: includes federal, cantonal, and municipal accounts (2013 est.)

Taxes and other revenues:
33.7% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 71

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
1.4% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 23

Public debt:
33.8% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 110
34.9% of GDP (2012)
note: general government gross debt; gross debt consists of all liabilities that require payment or payments of interest and/or principal by the debtor to the creditor at a date or dates in the future; includes debt liabilities in the form of SDRs, currency and deposits, debt securities, loans, insurance, pensions and standardized guarantee schemes, and other accounts payable; all liabilities in the GFSM 2001 system are debt, except for equity and investment fund shares and financial derivatives and employee stock options

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
-0.4% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 6
-0.7% (2012 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
0.5% (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 132
0.75% (31 December 2009 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
2.7% (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 171
2.69% (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of narrow money:
$525.9 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 11
$534.4 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of broad money:
$1.36 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 14
$1.215 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$1.395 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 14
$1.247 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$1.079 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 14
$932.2 billion (31 December 2011)
$1.229 trillion (31 December 2010 est.)

Current account balance:
$65.6 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 8
$63.82 billion (2012 est.)

Exports:
$229.2 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 25
$226 billion (2012 est.)
note: trade data exclude trade with Switzerland

Exports – commodities:
machinery, chemicals, metals, watches, agricultural products

Exports – partners:
Germany 18.5%, United States 11.61%, Italy 7.61%, France 6.96%, United Kingdom 5.67% (2013 est.)

Imports:
$200.5 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 26
$197.9 billion (2012 est.)

Imports – commodities:
machinery, chemicals, vehicles, metals; agricultural products, textiles

Imports – partners:
Germany 28.19%, Italy 10.46%, France 8.49%, United States 6.08%, China 5.75%, Austria 4.4% (2013 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$536.3 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 5
$536.4 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Debt – external:
$1.544 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 12
$1.424 trillion (31 December 2011)

Stock of direct foreign investment – at home:
$968.9 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 9
$955.1 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad:
$1.432 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 5
$1.381 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)

Exchange rates:
Swiss francs (CHF) per US dollar –
0.9542 (2013 est.)
0.9374 (2012 est.)
1.0429 (2010 est.)
1.0881 (2009)
1.0774 (2008)


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