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Switzerland

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Country information - Switzerland
Country name - conventional long form : Swiss Confederation
Country name - conventional short form : Switzerland
Country name - local long form : Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft (German); Confederation Suisse (French); Confederazione Svizzera (Italian); Confederaziun Svizra (Romansh)
Country name - 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
Capital - time difference : UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
National holiday : Founding of the Swiss Confederation, 1 August (1291)
Population : 7,581,520 (July 2008 est.)
Nationality - noun : Swiss (singular and plural)
Nationality - adjective : Swiss
Currency (code) : Swiss franc (CHF)
Currency code : CHF

Switzerland is located Central Europe, east of France, north of Italy. The climate is temperate, but varies with altitude; cold, cloudy, rainy/snowy winters; cool to warm, cloudy, humid summers with occasional showers. The terrain is mostly mountains (Alps in south, Jura in northwest) with a central plateau of rolling hills, plains, and large lakes.

Background

This entry usually highlights major historic events and current issues and may include a statement about one or two key future trends.
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.



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