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Switzerland

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Welcome to Switzerland

Switzerland

Switzerland (Suisse | Schweiz | Svizzera | Suiza | Svizra)

  • Capital: Bern
  • Currency: Swiss Francs (CHF)
  • Dialling Code: +41
  • Electricity: 230V, 50Hz
  • Language(s): German, French, Italian, Romansh
  • Population: 8,372,000.
  • Religion(s): Roman Catholic (47.6%), Protestant (44.3%), Other (8.1%)
  • Total Area: 41,285 km²
  • Time Zone: UTC +1 (CET)/UTC +2 (DST)

Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a small but well known Federal Republic in the heart of Europe. ‎Also known in Latin as 'Confoederatio Helvetica' (CH), the country is a union of more than 3000 communities cutting across 26 cantons, 6 of which are traditionally referred to as demicantons (half cantons) but function as full cantons.

Bern (Berne), capital of the Bern canton, is the administrative federal capital of Switzerland while Lausanne serves as its judicial centre. Zürich is by far the country’s largest and most cosmopolitan city, Basel and Lucerne are major German-speaking cities, Geneva and Lausanne the centres of the country’s French-speaking cantons, and Bellinzona and Lugano the principal cities in the Italian-speaking Ticino.

Zürich and Geneva have each been ranked among the top cities in the world in terms of quality of life, with the former ranked second globally, according to Mercer.

Geographically, Switzerland is divided between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura, spanning an area of 41,285 km2 (15,940 sq mi) – about half of the size of Scotland. The landlocked country shares borders with Germany to the North, Italy to the South, Liechtenstein to the east and France to the west.

Switzerland's sovereignty and strong commitment to neutrality have long been honored by the major European powers, and the country was not involved in either of the two world wars. In addition to being the birthplace of the Red Cross, the country’s role in various UN and international organizations cannot be overemphasised; however, it did not officially become a UN member until 2002.

Information & Facts

Business

Switzerland is a prosperous, and modern market economy with low unemployment, a highly skilled labor force, and its GDP per capita is among the highest in the world. The country's economy benefits from a highly developed service sector, led by financial services, and a manufacturing industry that specializes in high-technology, and knowledge-based production.

Climate

The Swiss climate is generally temperate, but can vary greatly between the localities, from glacial conditions on the mountaintops to the often pleasant near Mediterranean climate at Switzerland's southern tip. There are some valley areas in the southern part of Switzerland where some cold-hardy palm trees are found.

Summers tend to be warm and humid at times with periodic rainfall so they are ideal for pastures and grazing. The less humid winters in the mountains may see long intervals of stable conditions for weeks, while the lower lands tend to suffer from inversion, during these periods, thus seeing no sun for weeks.

Depending on the altitude the temperature range may vary. It is highly recommended to visitors to pack a sweater, good walking shoes, sunscreen, sunglasses, a compact umbrella and/or a light rain coat.

Customs

Switzerland is one of the most diverse countries of the world with three of Europe's major languages. The Swiss have always maintained and nurtured local customs, and because of this, Switzerland is a country with an enormous wealth of cultural activity and living tradition.

Duty Free

The following items may be imported into Switzerland by travellers with a minimum age of 17 years without incurring customs duty:

  • 250 pieces /gr/ cigarettes / other tobacco products.
  • 5L of alcoholic drinks up to 18% volume and 1L of alcoholic drinks over 18% volume.
  • Goods to a value of SFr300.

Banned imports: Prohibited or restricted goods include endangered species, narcotics, counterfeit goods, cultural property, medicines, plants, radar warning devices, animals and animal products, and weapons.

Banned exports: Unlicensed firearms, counterfeit goods and narcotics. You must declare any cultural property.

Electricity

The voltage in Switzerland, as in most of Europe, is 230V/50 Hz. Most power sockets are designed for three pin round plugs and adaptors are available in most hotels. Switzerland uses type C (2-pin) and Type J (3-pin) plugs (Type C 2-pin plugs also fit J sockets.)

Language

Even though Switzerland is a small country, it is very liguistically divserse. There are four recognised official languages - German (74%), French (20%), Italian (4%) and Romansh (1%). The rest of the population speak other languages. On coins and stamps, is used instead of these four languages.

Money

The Swiss Francs (CHF) or 'Schweizerfranken' is the currency and official legal tender of Switzerland and Liechtenstein; it is also legal tender in the Italian exclave Campione d'Italia. One hundred "Rappen" make up one Swiss Franc. Coins are available in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50 Cents and 1, 2, 5 Francs while Bank notes are available in 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 1000 Francs.

Since Switzerland is not a part of the European Union, transactions are not obligated to be carried out in Euro (€) but prices are sometimes indicated in Euro for visitors to compare prices.

Credit and debit cards are accepted at most places throughout Switzerland. ATMs are widely available throughout Switzerland, especially in the major cities.

Passport Visa

  • Switzerland is a member of the Schengen Agreement but not the EU nor the EEA.
  • Passport must have at least 3 months' validity beyond duration of stay in Switzerland.

Safety

Switzerland has less violent and non-violent crime than most other countries, and there's never been a major incident of terrorism within its borders and there are hardly any issues around safety. It may seem strange but the weather does pose certain safety issues for the population. The weather is constantly changing and this is something that those planning on doing outdoor activities should particularly keep an eye on. Flooding, landslides and avalanches can occur in parts on the country.

Time

Switzerland falls within the Central European Time Zone (CET). The CET is 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC +1). Like most states in Europe, Daylight-Saving Time (DST) is observed during summer where the time is shifted forward by 1 hour;  2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (UTC +2).

Tipping

Tipping was abolished more than 35 years ago in Switzerland and replaced with an all-inclusive service bill that covers the total cost of service and tip. This means there is no obligation to tip but there are still instances where tipping is common though.

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