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Switzerland Country Profile

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Switzerland at a Glance

Location:Central Europe, east of France, north of Italy
Climate:temperate, but varies with altitude; cold, cloudy, rainy/snowy winters; cool to warm, cloudy, humid summers with occasional showers
Terrain:mostly mountains (Alps in south, Jura in northwest) with a central plateau of rolling hills, plains, and large lakes
Resources:hydropower potential, timber, salt
Hazards:avalanches, landslides; flash floods
Population:7,604,467 (July 2009 est.)




A Brief Profile of Switzerland

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.






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