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.
Location: Central Europe, east of France, north of Italy
Area land: 39,997 sq km
Area water: 1,280 sq km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Country name conventional long form: Swiss Confederation
Country name conventional short form: Switzerland
Country name former: Swiss Confederation
Population: 7,639,961 (July 2011 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 15.2% (male 602,894/female 560,175); 15-64 years: 67.8% (male 2,612,557/female 2,569,318); 65 years and over: 17% (male 543,074/female 751,943) (2011 est.);
Population growth rate: 0.21% (2011 est.)
Birth rate: 9.53 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate: 8.72 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate: 1.29 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.054 male(s)/female; under 15 years: 1.08 male(s)/female; 15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female; 65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female; total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2011 est.);
Infant mortality rate: total: 4.08 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 4.53 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 3.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.);
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 81.07 years; male: 78.24 years; female: 84.05 years (2011 est.);
Total fertility rate: 1.46 children born/woman (2011 est.);
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.4% (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 18,000 (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - deaths: fewer than 100 (2009 est.);
Nationality: noun: Swiss (singular and plural); adjective: Swiss;
Ethnic groups: German 65%, French 18%, Italian 10%, Romansch 1%, other 6%;
Religions: Roman Catholic 41.8%, Protestant 35.3%, Muslim 4.3%, Orthodox 1.8%, other Christian 0.4%, other 1%, unspecified 4.3%, none 11.1% (2000 census);
Languages: German (official) 63.7%, French (official) 20.4%, Italian (official) 6.5%, Serbo-Croatian 1.5%, Albanian 1.3%, Portuguese 1.2%, Spanish 1.1%, English 1%, Romansch (official) 0.5%, other 2.8% (2000 census);
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write; total population: 99%; male: 99%; female: 99% (2003 est.);
GDP (purchasing power parity): $326.5 billion (2010 est.); $318 billion (2009 est.); $324.1 billion (2008 est.);
GDP (official exchange rate): $522.4 billion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: 2.7% (2010 est.); -1.9% (2009 est.); 1.9% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $42,900 (2010 est.); $41,800 (2009 est.); $42,800 (2008 est.);
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 1.3%; industry: 27.5%; services: 71.2% (2010 est.);
Population below poverty line: 6.9% (2010);
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 7.5%; highest 10%: 19% (2007);
Labor force: 4.62 million (2010);
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 3.4%; industry: 23.4%; services: 73.2% (2010);
Unemployment rate: 3.9% (2010 est.); 3.7% (2009 est.);
Budget: revenues: $188.1 billion; expenditures: $192.7 billion;
Industries: machinery, chemicals, watches, textiles, precision instruments, tourism, banking, and insurance;
Industrial production growth rate: 2.4% (2010 est.);
Electricity - production: 66.5 billion kWh (2009);
Electricity - consumption: 57.5 billion kWh (2009);
Electricity - exports: 54.2 billion kWh (2009 est.);
Electricity - imports: 52 billion kWh (2009);
Statistics: CIA World Factbook.
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(Online Business Magazine), Zurich
(Catholic Oriented), Baden
(Independent weekly), Zurich
(Catholic Oriented), Freiburg
Displaying 1 to 4 of 5 items.
The railroad that bridged German and Italian Switzerland was meant to unify the nation. Up close, the story looked a little different.
Tekla Szymanski reviews response in the Swiss press to the nationalist, xenophobic Swiss People's Party victory in parliamentary elections.
In an article for Zurich's conservative Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Hermann Feldmeier reports on research showing that straining water through a sari reduces the rate of cholera infection.
Joëlle Kuntz reports on the Jayson Blair scandal at The New York Times for the independent Geneva daily Le Temps.