Portal:Switzerland
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Portal:Switzerland

The Switzerland Portal

Drapeau suisse
Map of Switzerland
The Aletsch Glacier. Swiss Pines (Pinus cembra) are visible in the foreground.
Location of Switzerland

Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a landlocked country situated at the confluence of Western, Central and Southern Europe. It is a federal republic composed of 26 cantons, with federal authorities based in Bern. Switzerland is bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. It is geographically divided among the Swiss Plateau, the Alps and the Jura, spanning a total area of 41,285 km2 (15,940 sq mi) and land area of 39,997 km2 (15,443 sq mi). Although the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of approximately 8.5 million is concentrated mostly on the plateau, where the largest cities and economic centres are located, among them Zürich, Geneva and Basel. These cities are home to several offices of international organisations such as the WTO, the WHO, the ILO, the headquarters of FIFA, the UN's second-largest office, as well as the main building of the Bank for International Settlements. The main international airports of Switzerland are also located in these cities.

The establishment of the Old Swiss Confederacy dates to the late medieval period, resulting from a series of military successes against Austria and Burgundy. Swiss independence from the Holy Roman Empire was formally recognised in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. The Federal Charter of 1291 is considered the founding document of Switzerland which is celebrated on Swiss National Day. Since the Reformation of the 16th century, Switzerland has maintained a strong policy of armed neutrality; it has not fought an international war since 1815 and did not join the United Nations until 2002. Nevertheless, it pursues an active foreign policy and is frequently involved in peace-building processes around the world. Switzerland is the birthplace of the Red Cross, one of the world's oldest and best known humanitarian organisations. It is a founding member of the European Free Trade Association, but notably not part of the European Union, the European Economic Area or the Eurozone. However, it participates in the Schengen Area and the European Single Market through bilateral treaties.

Switzerland occupies the crossroads of Germanic and Romance Europe, as reflected in its four main linguistic and cultural regions: German, French, Italian and Romansh. Although the majority of the population are German-speaking, Swiss national identity is rooted in a common historical background, shared values such as federalism and direct democracy, as well as Alpine symbolism. Due to its linguistic diversity, Switzerland is known by a variety of native names: Schweiz ['?va?ts] (German); Suisse [s?is(?)] (French); Svizzera ['zvittsera] (Italian); and Svizra ['?vi:tsr?, '?vi:ts] (Romansh). On coins and stamps, the Latin name, Confoederatio Helvetica - frequently shortened to "Helvetia" - is used instead of the four national languages. A developed country, it has the highest nominal wealth per adult and the eighth-highest per capita gross domestic product; it has been considered a tax haven. It ranks highly on some international metrics, including economic competitiveness and human development. Its cities such as Zürich, Geneva and Basel rank among the highest in the world in terms of quality of life, albeit with some of the highest costs of living in the world. In 2020, IMD placed Switzerland first in attracting skilled workers. The WEF ranks it the fifth most competitive country globally. (Full article...)

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The territory of modern Switzerland was a part of the Roman Republic and Empire for a period of about six centuries, beginning with the step-by-step conquest of the area by Roman armies from the 2nd century BC and ending with the decline of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD.

The mostly Celtic tribes of the area were subjugated by successive Roman campaigns aimed at control of the strategic routes from Italy across the Alps to the Rhine and into Gaul, most importantly by Julius Caesar's defeat of the largest tribal group, the Helvetii, in the Gallic Wars in 58 BC. Under the Pax Romana, the area was smoothly integrated into the prospering Empire, and its population assimilated into the wider Gallo-Roman culture by the 2nd century AD, as the Romans enlisted the native aristocracy to engage in local government, built a network of roads connecting their newly established colonial cities and divided up the area among the Roman provinces. (Full article...)

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View from the Rhine

Basel ( BAH-z?l, German: ['ba:zl?] ) or Basle ( BAHL; French: Bâle [b?l]; Arpitan: Bâla ['b?la] ; Italian: Basilea [bazi'l?:a]; Romansh: Basilea [bazi'le:?] ) is a city in northwestern Switzerland on the river Rhine. Basel is Switzerland's third-most-populous city (after Zürich and Geneva) with about 175,000 inhabitants. The official language of Basel is (the Swiss variety of Standard) German, but the main spoken language is the local Basel German dialect.

Basel is commonly considered to be the cultural capital of Switzerland. Basel is famous for its many museums, ranging from the Kunstmuseum, the first collection of art accessible to the public in the world (1661) and the largest museum of art in Switzerland, to the Fondation Beyeler (located in Riehen) and the Museum of Contemporary Art (Basel), the first public museum of contemporary art in Europe. Forty museums are spread throughout the city-canton, making Basel one of the largest cultural centres in relation to its size and population in Europe. (Full article...)

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The mark of Pierre Rossier's photographic studio in Fribourg
Pierre Joseph Rossier (16 July 1829 - 22 October 1886) was a pioneering Swiss photographer whose albumen photographs, which include stereographs and cartes-de-visite, comprise portraits, cityscapes, and landscapes. He was commissioned by the London firm of Negretti and Zambra to travel to Asia and document the progress of the Anglo-French troops in the Second Opium War and, although he failed to join that military expedition, he remained in Asia for several years, producing the first commercial photographs of China, the Philippines, Japan and Siam (now Thailand). He was the first professional photographer in Japan, where he trained Ueno Hikoma, Maeda Genz?, Horie Kuwajir?, as well as lesser known members of the first generation of Japanese photographers. In Switzerland he established photographic studios in Fribourg and Einsiedeln, and he also produced images elsewhere in the country. Rossier is an important figure in the early history of photography not only because of his own images, but also because of the critical impact of his teaching in the early days of Japanese photography. (Full article...)

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