Switzerland

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GENERAL INFORMATION

 

Population - Local time - Languages - Religion - Political context - Climate - Tourism - Food


Population


Total population (millions): 7.4
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Urban population: 68%
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Average annual population growth: 0.4%
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Surface area (km²) : 41,29


Population origin

Origin of the population% Of the population
German65
French18
Italian10
Other7



Main Cities Population
Zürich 1 101 710
Geneva 493 445
Basel 486 146
Bern 339 859
Lausanne 310 028
Luzern 199 202



Local time

It is  %T:%M %A  in Geneva, Bern, Lausanne (GMT+1 in winter, GMT+2 in summer).
Summer time from March to October



Languages
Official languages: German (a Swiss-German dialect is spoken by 64% of the population), French (19%), Italian (8%) and romance (0.6%).
Business language: English, German, French and Italian.

Free translation tools

Eurodicautom
The European Union Dictionary (12 languages avalaible)

Babel Fish
Free English-German-English translator of texts and web pages

Leo
German-English-German dictionary with over 300,000 entries

Babel Fish
Free French-English-French translation of texts and web pages

Grand dictionnaire terminologique
Free French-Engish-French dictionary with 3 billion terms





Religion
Religious practises : Catholics 46.4%
Protestants 39.8%
Orthodox 0,9%
Jews 0.4%
Others 12.5%.


Political context

Switzerland is a federal republic based on parliamentary democracy. Switzerland (official name: Swiss Confederation) has 26 cantons (states/provinces) which enjoy fair amount of decentralisation. Switzerland the closest possible direct-democracy system in the world where citizens can participate directly in decision making through referendums.
President is both the chief of the state and head of the government. The post is purely ceremonial and by tradition rotates annually among the seven members of the Federal Council for one-year term. The Federal Council is a seven-member executive council (cabinet) that heads the executive branch, with its members being elected by country’s parliament for a four-year term. Under the constitution of Switzerland the make-up of the government is not determined by parliamentary majority but in accordance with a four-party power-sharing agreement (established in 1959) and known as the "magic formula". The constitution provides for a central federal authority related to defence, international trade and foreign policy while leaving with the cantons the right to self-government on local issues.
The legislature in Switzerland is bicameral. The parliament called Federal Assembly consists of: Council of States (the upper house) having 46 seats, with 2 members selected from each of the 20 cantons (states/provinces) and 1 from each of the six half-canton to serve four-year terms and the National Council (the lower house) having 200 seats, with its members elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve four-year terms. The executive branch of government is directly or indirectly dependent on the support of the parliament, often expressed through a vote of confidence. The federal legislative power is vested in both the government and the parliament. The government does not have the power to dissolve the parliament or veto its enactment. The Swiss federal system is characterized by substantial decentralization. The cantons and half-cantons have control over much of economic and social policy, with the federal government's powers largely limited to foreign affairs and some economic. The people of Switzerland have considerable political rights.
The judiciary is independent in Switzerland. The main source of the law is the constitution of 1848, amended completely in 1874 and 2000. The legal system is based on civil law system and judicial review of various legislative acts. Switzerland accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, but with reservations. The judicial languages used in the country are: German, French and Italian. The federal laws are applicable uniformly across the whole country. Switzerland is ruled by law. Foreign nationals can expect a free trial from the country’s judicial system.
Switzerland is almost free from corruption; however the country has generally drawn criticism for its banking-secrecy laws, which financial watchdogs claim enable money laundering and other crimes.


Major political parties

Switzerland has a multi-party system, where a single party has little chance of gaining power alone. Thus, parties work with each other to form coalition governments. The major parties in the country are: 
- SVP (Swiss People's Party) – populist right-wing, with a strong base in German-speaking areas of Switzerland,
- SP (Social Democratic Party) – centre-left,
- CVP (Christian Democratic Party) - centre-right,
- Green Party - left-wing environmentalist, its motto "think globally, act locally.


Major political leaders

President: Moritz LEUENBERGER (since January 2006) - SP


Next political election dates

Presidential: December 2006 (conducted on yearly basis)
Council of States: Not available.
National Council: October 2007




Climate

 

 

 


Tourism


Number of visitors in Switzerland 2004 2005 2006 World rank
Number of visitors (1000) .. 7,229 7,863
Source : World Tourisme Organization, data available in November 2005

 

Tourist sites
-Kunsthaus (Zurich),
-The Clock Zytglogge ( Bern),
-The Kunst Museum (Basel),
-The Swiss Transport Museum (Lucerne).

For more information about tourism in Switzerland , check out the following web site(s) :
Switzerland Tourism Board



Food


Traditional dishes
The Swiss cuisine is famous for its variety of cheeses and its chocolate desserts.
Cheeses:
Appenzell: cow milk cheese, strong and sophisticated, it can be served as an appetizer with paprika sprinkled on top and with a slice of pineapple or as a starter (Appenzell Salad with ham).
The Emmental cheese: Obwald's cheese cake (it is the speciality of central Switzerland which is similar to the quiche Lorraine in France. It can be served with a salad or not and it constitutes a light meal.
The Swiss cheese: the wine-growers Rösti is a traditional dish made of Swiss cheese. This dish is prepared with slices of bacon, potatoes and Swiss cheese on top.
Sbrinz: This cheese has of the body and the character of central Switzerland.
Guggeli (Small chicken) with Emmental cheese (Swiss): it is a speciality of Bern's region, where a 600 to 800 grams chicken is called "guggeli ".
The real Swiss fondue: not to mix up with the Savoyard fondue. In Switzerland, the Fribourg fondue is made with only one cheese: the Fribourg vacherin cheese .
Röstis: sort of pancakes made with either cooked or raw potatoes. Ex: Rösti of Uri, of Zurich, made of glaronese or appenzell.
Chocolate soufflé
Chocolate fondue: This fondue is generally served with sliced fruits. The cool fruits coated with warm chocolate makes a tasteful harmony and a mix of a very pleasant taste in the mouth.


Food-related taboos
There are no culinary taboos in Switzerland.

Last modified on December 2006

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