Switzerland - About the Country

Switzerland, located in the center of Europe, is a small country between the countries of Germany, France, Italy and Austria. In some point of view, it has some aspects of each of those countries, as there are German, French and Italian speaking parts of Switzerland. But there is also a fourth language called Romantsch or Rhätoromanisch. This language is a combination of various Roman languages, including Italian and German, forming a unique language. It is spoken in various valleys of Switzerland and Austria.

Switzerland is famous for a few things like the banks, the neutrality, the early democracy, the chocolate, and of course, Heidi. Two thousand years ago the Alps were a geographic barrier between southern Europe and central Europe. The Romans tried to connect those two parts of Europe with their extraordinary roads. The Carthagan Hannibal crossed the Alps on his elephants. Many passes in Switzerland became important connections for centuries. And until present Switzerland is a sort of through country, with enormous amounts of goods and people crossing it on their way between the north and the south. And still railroads, roads and tunnels are built to allow easy traversing.

The Alps are a mountaineous region, with mountains up to 4000 m high, and valleys of a few hundred meters asl in between. This extreme differences are a mayor characteristic of Switzerland. But still there are numerous areas of the country, which do not belong to the Alps. There is the Jura, a hill country at the northwestern border towards France. The Jura is a geographic region which belong half to France and half to Switzerland, but French is spoken in both parts. This area is also famous for its clock making tradition, most famous is the Swatch company. There is more french speaking territory around Geneva, famous for the Völkerbund and Cern, the worlds largest particle physics laboratory, which also influenced the development of the World Wide Web. Some areas around Zürich and Basel in the German speaking part are rather low too.