Country File

Understand the basics of Swiss history, geography, politics and economy at a glance...

The Swiss Confederation is a landlocked country situated in western Europe, bordered by France to the west, Germany to the north, Italy to the south, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. It extends across the north and south side of the Alps which comprises about 60 percent of the country's total area. It has a population of 7,639,961 (2011 figures).

Switzerland has three levels of legal jurisdictions: commune, canton and federal. It is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the capital of the federal authorities. The country has a policy of political and military neutrality which was internationally recognised at the Congress of Vienna in 1815. It is not a member of the European Union.

Christianity is the largest religion in Switzerland and is followed by over 77 percent of the population.  The religion of the rest of the population is divided between Muslim and Orthodox (according to a 2000 census).

Switzerland has four official languages: German (65 percent), French (18 percent), Italian (10 percent) and Romansch (1 percent). German is spoken in the north, east and centre of the country; French to the west; Italian in the south and Romansch in the south-eastern trilingual canton of Graubünden.

The Swiss flag consists of red square with a bold, equilateral white cross in the centre.