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currency: Swiss franc (CHF)
Official languages
Life expectancy
Literacy rate
National anthem
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Coat of arms
Switzerland profile
landlocked; crossroads of northern and southern Europe; along with southeastern France, northern Italy, and southwestern Austria, has the highest elevations in the Alps
Switzerland history
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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Conventional long form: Swiss Confederation
Conventional short form: Switzerland
Local long form: Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft (German); Confederation Suisse (French); Confederazione Svizzera (Italian); Confederaziun Svizra (Romansh)
Local short form: Schweiz (German); Suisse (French); Svizzera (Italian); Svizra (Romansh)
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Switzerland's capital city is Bern
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Switzerland Constitution:

revision of Constitution of 1874 approved by the Federal Parliament 18 December 1998, adopted by referendum 18 April 1999, officially entered into force 1 January 2000
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Switzerland population growth rate: 0.85%
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Switzerland highest point: Dufourspitze 4,634 m
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Switzerland lowest point: Lake Maggiore 195 m
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About 10% of Switzerland's land is arable.
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Rhine River is the Longest River in Switzerland
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Switzerland birth rate is 10 births/1,000 population
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Switzerland infant mortality rate is 4 deaths/1,000 live births
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Switzerland fertility rate is 1.53 children born/woman
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Switzerland climate:

temperate, but varies with altitude; cold, cloudy, rainy/snowy winters; cool to warm, cloudy, humid summers with occasional showers
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Top 10 cities of Switzerland with populations (2012 est.) are:
1. Zurich: 372,047
2. Geneva: 191,803
3. Basel: 169,536
4. Bern: 133,920
5. Lausanne: 127,821
6. Winterthur: 101,203
7. Lucerne: 77,491
8. St. Gallen: 72,959
9. Lugano: 59,412
10. Biel/Bienne: 51,203
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Switzerland ethnic groups:

German 65%, French 18%, Italian 10%, Romansch 1%, other 6%
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Switzerland Exports:

machinery, chemicals, metals, watches, agricultural products
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Switzerland Imports:

machinery, chemicals, vehicles, metals; agricultural products, textiles
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bicameral Federal Assembly or Bundesversammlung (in German), Assemblee Federale (in French), Assemblea Federale (in Italian) consists of the Council of States or Staenderat (in German), Conseil des Etats (in French), Consiglio degli Stati (in Italian) (46 seats; membership consists of 2 representatives from each canton and 1 from each half canton; members serve four-year terms) and the National Council or Nationalrat (in German), Conseil National (in French), Consiglio Nazionale (in Italian) (200 seats; members elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation serve four-year terms)

Administrative Divisions:
26 cantons (cantons, singular - canton in French; cantoni, singular - cantone in Italian; Kantone, singular - Kanton in German):
1. Aargau
2. Appenzell Ausserrhoden
3. Appenzell Innerrhoden
4. Basel-Landschaft
5. Basel-Stadt
6. Bern
7. Fribourg
8. Geneve
9. Glarus
10. Graubuenden
11. Jura
12. Luzern
13. Neuchatel
14. Nidwalden
15. Obwalden
16. Sankt Gallen
17. Schaffhausen
18. Schwyz
19. Solothurn
20. Thurgau
21. Ticino
22. Uri
23. Valais
24. Vaud
25. Zug
26. Zuerich
Political parties and leaders:
Christian Democratic People's Party
(Christlichdemokratische Volkspartei der Schweiz (CVP), Parti Democrate-Chretien Suisse (PDC), Partito Popolare Democratico Svizzero (PPD), Partida Cristiandemocratica dalla Svizra (PCD))
- Christophe DARBELLAY

Conservative Democratic Party
(Buergerlich-Demokratische Partei Schweiz (BDP), Parti Bourgeois Democratique Suisse (PBD), Partito Borghese Democratico Svizzero (PBD), Partido burgais democratica Svizera (PBD))
- Martin LANDOLT

Free Democratic Party (FDP.)
The Liberals (FDP.Die Liberalen, PLR.Les Liberaux-Radicaux, PLR.I Liberali, Ils Liberals)
- Philipp MUELLER

Green Liberal Party
(Grunliberale (GLP), Parti vert liberale (PVL), Partito Verde-Liberale (PVL), Partida Verde Liberale (PVL))
- Martin BAEUMLE

Green Party
(Gruene Partei der Schweiz (Gruene), Parti Ecologiste Suisse (Les Verts), Partito Ecologista Svizzero (I Verdi), Partida Ecologica Svizra (La Verda))

Social Democratic Party
(Sozialdemokratische Partei der Schweiz (SPS), Parti Socialiste Suisse (PSS), Partito Socialista Svizzero (PSS), Partida Socialdemocratica de la Svizra (PSS))
- Christian LEVRAT

Swiss People's Party
(Schweizerische Volkspartei (SVP), Union Democratique du Centre (UDC), Unione Democratica di Centro (UDC), Uniun Democratica dal Center (UDC))

and other minor parties