Switzerland
Switzerland
external image sz_large_locator.gif
Map of Switzerland
Map of Switzerland



Background

The Swiss Confederation was founded in 1291 when 3 cities joined each other to defend themselves. Over the years, other cities joined them and eventually they became Switzerland. It became independent from the Holy Roman Empire in 1499. It became a federal government in 1874.
Switzerland is famous for being a neutral country. This means that it does not take sides in wars. It was not involved in either World War I or World War II. Today, Switzerland is actively involved with the United Nations.

Geography
Central Europe, east of France, north of Italy

Population
7,604,467 (July 2009 est.)

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)note: German, French, Italian, and Romansch are all national and official languages

Literacy
total population: 99%

Official Government Name

Swiss Confederation

Capital city
Bern

Federalism
Yes

Administrative Divisions
26 cantons, that function much like states.

Independence
August 1, 1291

Constitution
1874
Suffrage
18 years of age; universal

Executive Branch
chief of state: President Hans-Rudolf Merz external image sendobject.php%3Flang%3Den%26image%3DM3wBKQDW_8ullqDu36WcnojN14in3qSbnpWVZWmfm06p1rJdsYfsi6rPnqCdno7B
President: President Hans-Rudolf Merz
Legislative Branch:

Federal Assembly is divided into two groups.

Judicial Branch

Federal Supreme Court

Problems

Switzerland has problems with the illegal drug trade. In addition, Switzerland is a place for money laundering, which is a criminal activity where people basically hide their money. A person could rob a bank in Brazil, for example, and find a place in Switzerland to put their money, and the police wouldn't be able to catch them.