Switzerland is a federal republic in Europe, formally known as the Swiss Confederation. It is divided into 26 cantons, with the federal authority headquartered in Bern. The nation is located in Western-Central Europe and is bounded on the south by Italy, on the west by France, on the north by Germany, and on the east by Austria and Liechtenstein. Switzerland is a landlocked nation separated physically by the Alps, the Swiss Plateau, and the Jura. It has an area of 41,285 square kilometers (15,940 sq mi). While the Alps dominate the landscape, the Swiss population of roughly eight million people is located mostly on the plateau, which is home to the country’s major cities, including the two global cities and economic centers Zürich and Geneva.
The Old Swiss Confederacy was founded in the late medieval century as a consequence of a series of military victories against Austria and Burgundy. In 1648, the Peace of Westphalia officially acknowledged Switzerland’s independence from the Holy Roman Empire. The country’s military neutrality dates all the way back to the Reformation; it has not been at war on a global scale since 1815 and did not join the United Nations until 2002. Despite this, it maintains an active foreign policy and is often engaged in global peace-building initiatives. Apart from being the origin of the Red Cross, Switzerland is home to a plethora of international organizations, including the United Nations’ second biggest headquarters. It is a founding member of the European Free Trade Association on the European level, but is not a member of the European Union or the European Economic Area. However, via bilateral accords, it is a member of the Schengen Area and the European Single Market.
Switzerland, which is at the crossroads of Germanic and Romance Europe, is divided into four distinct language and cultural regions: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. Although the majority of the population speaks German, Swiss national identity is based on a shared historical heritage, shared ideals such as federalism and direct democracy, and Alpine symbols. Switzerland is known by a number of indigenous names due to its linguistic diversity: Schweiz [vats] (German); Suisse [sis()] (French); Svizzera [zvittsera] (Italian); and Svizra[vitsr] or [vits] (Swiss) (Romansh). Latin (sometimes abbreviated as “Helvetia”) is used on coins and stamps in place of the four live languages.
Switzerland is one of the world’s most developed nations, according to the IMF, with the greatest nominal wealth per adult and the ninth highest per capita gross domestic output. Switzerland ranks near the top of many worldwide performance indicators, including government transparency, civil rights, living quality, economic competitiveness, and human development. Zürich and Geneva have both been rated among the world’s best cities for quality of life, with the former coming in second worldwide, according to Mercer.