Switzerland Facts

Switzerland Facts and History


Switzerland was founded in 1291, when the three original cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden formed the “eternal union” of the Confederation.

Switzerland is best known and loved for its magnificent alpine landscapes, numerous ski areas, lakes and elegant shopping paradises. But the Swiss banks also had a decades-old reputation as reputable and discreet companies, which, however, had recently been scratched.

Switzerland is known on the political stage for its neutral stance in times of peace and war. The country maintained neutrality in the last two world wars and was only active in international aid organizations, such as the Red Cross, which was founded in Switzerland.

In addition, the state is characterized by the extensive independence of the cantons, which have their own constitution, parliament, jurisdiction and other competencies. Switzerland is also politically neutral. The country belongs to the United Nations, but not to the European Union or NATO.

In Friedrich Schiller’s (1759-1805) drama “Wilhelm Tell” the Rütli oath reads as follows:

We want to be one people of brothers,in no need to separate and in danger.

We want to be free as the fathers were,

dying rather than living in bondage.

We want to trust in the highest God

and not be afraid of the power of men.

In 1971 women in Switzerland gained the right to vote after a vote by men.

In 1981, a constitutional amendment established equality between men and women, and in 1984 the first woman took over a ministerial office.

From June 7th to June 29th, 2008 Switzerland and Austria hosted the 13th European Football Championship. The venues were in Basel, Geneva, Bern and Zurich. The final took place on June 29th in Vienna/Austria.

In 1782 the maid Anna Göldi was executed in the canton of Glarus as the last witch in Europe.

In 2008, she was rehabilitated by the canton’s parliament and named the verdict as a judicial murder.

With effect from December 12, 2008, Switzerland joined the Schengen Agreement. Since then, the regular border controls to the neighboring EU countries have been omitted.

The referendum on February 9, 2014 caused a sensation, in which immigration – including from EU countries – is to be limited with slightly more than 50% of the votes.

It is very worrying that in 2017 the Swiss glaciers only had a total volume of around 1,400 km³ – in 1973 it was still 2,150 km³.

Name of the country Swiss Confederation(CH = Confoederatio Helvetica)
Form of government democratic and republican state
Geographical location Central Europe
National anthem Swiss psalm
National holiday August 1
Independence 1291: Foundation of the Swiss Confederation by the three “original cantons” Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden.1848: Federal state with federal constitution and the federal city (capital) Bern
Population approx. 7.9 million – of which a little less than 24% foreigners (Credit: Countryaah: Switzerland Population)
Ethnicities mainly Swiss, besides Italian, German, Portuguese, Spanish, French and others.
Religions 41.8% Roman Catholic and 35.3% Protestant, 4.3% Muslim, 1.8% Orthodox, 0.2% Jewish and 11.1% non-denominational
Languages German (64%), French (19%), Italian (7.6%), Romansh (0.6%)
Capital Bern with approx. 130,000 residents
Surface 41,285 km²
Highest mountain Dufourspitze with a height of 4,634 m
Longest river Rhine with a length in the country of around 375 km
Largest lake Lake Geneva with an area of about 582 km²
International license plate CH
Currency Swiss franc
Difference to CET 0 h
International phone code +41
Mains voltage, frequency 230 volts, 50 hertz
Internet Top Level Domain (TLD) .ch

Switzerland: history

Until around the year 1000

The Celts fell around 400 BC. Chr. In the territory of modern Switzerland and settled there. From 15 BC Chr., The area was a colony of the Romans. The Roman rule only ended in 455 with the invasion of the Alemanni and Burgundians, who settled in the area. The two tribes were subjugated by the Franks in the 5th and 6th centuries, and the area was annexed to the Frankish Empire under Charlemagne. After the fall of the Franconian Empire, individual noble families such as the Savoy, the Habsburg, the Zähringer and Kyburg held individual rule. This order lasted until the 13th century.

From the year 1000 to the 17th century

According to Abbreviationfinder website, Rütlischwur allegedly contributed in 1291 the men of Uri, Schwyz and Walden on Lake Lucerne to berühmmten Rütlischwur. At the end of the 19th century, a document dated August 1291 was elevated to the status of a “founding document” of the Confederation as a “federal letter”. The oath in Wilhelm Tell by Friedrich Schiller:

“We want to be a united people of brothers

in no need or danger.

We want to be free like the fathers were,

rather death than live in bondage.

We want to trust in the highest God

and not be afraid of Power of people. ”

Between 1264 and 1291, Rudolf I (1218 – 1291) of Habsburg, who had been Roman-German king, gained power over large parts of Switzerland and, among other things, introduced a tight administration. Incidentally, Rudolf I was the first of the Habsburg dynasty that ruled large parts of Europe for centuries. The rule as Habsburg-Lothringer did not end until 1918 in Austria. After Rudolf’s death, according to the myth, in the Rütli oath by emissaries from the areas of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden the confederation of today’s Switzerland was founded in an “Eternal League” (see also “Rütli oath” under short form, summary). From 1332 to 1353The Swiss Confederation expanded to include Lucerne, the imperial city of Zurich, Glarus and Zug and the imperial city of Bern. When the House of Habsburg wanted to subjugate Switzerland to its home country Austria in 1439, the Confederation separated itself from the Empire and thus maintained its independence after the Old Zurich War (1436 to 1450).

From 1474 the Swiss entered foreign military service as mercenaries, which ultimately led to the Swiss fighting against the Swiss. In 1515 the mercenary partnership was therefore eliminated again.

In 1481 Freiburg and Solothurn were accepted into the Confederation. After the victory over the Swabian Federation took place in 1499Finally, in the Peace of Basel, the Swiss Confederation was replaced by the Holy Roman Empire of German Nations. In 1501, Basel and Schaffhausen joined the federal government. After the peace with France in 1516, the confederates swore complete neutrality and the renunciation of power in the event of war. The Swiss successfully tried this vow in the Thirty Years War (1618 – 1638), in which they did not interfere. In the Peace of Westphalia, Switzerland was recognized as a European state.

In the 18th and 19th centuries

In 1798 the whole of Switzerland was occupied by the French and the old Confederation was dissolved and converted into the Helvetic Republic, a unitary state based on the French model. The mediation act (mainly founded by Napoleon) converted Switzerland back into a confederation of 19 cantons with equal rights in 1803.

After the fall of Napoleon, the file was dissolved again in 1813 and, at the Congress of Vienna, three cantons were added to form a federation of 22 cantons. In the Peace of Paris in 1815, Switzerland’s neutrality was assured and Geneva’s borders were recognized as a duty-free zone. 1845The Catholic-conservative cantons of Lucerne, Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, Zug, Friborg and Valais separated into a special league. The situation escalated in the Sonderbund War of 1847, in which the Sonderbund was defeated. In a referendum in 1848, a new federal constitution was passed, which made the federation a federal state again.

In the Geneva Convention in 1864, an international agreement on land warfare was adopted.

20th century until today

Switzerland maintained complete neutrality in both World War I and World War II and organized comprehensive aid for those in need of all nations. In 1963 Switzerland became the 17th member of the Council of Europe. It was not until 1971 that women’s suffrage was introduced. In 1981 a referendum ensured equality between men and women. In 1986, well over half of the population voted against Switzerland’s accession to the UN. This is why Switzerland has only been a member of the United Nations (UN) since 2002.

In the Swiss parliamentary elections on October 21, 2007, the controversial chairman of the SVP (Swiss People’s Party) Christoph Blocher (born 1940) won the election with 28%. The Social Democrats got 19.1%, the Christian Democrats 14.6% and the Greens 9.5%. So far there has always been a kind of all-party coalition in the Swiss Federal Council, the country’s government. But since the left-wing parties did not want Blocher back as a Federal Councilor, they nominated Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf (born 1956) – a party colleague of his – and voted her too. The consensus model is (for the time being) saved.

From 2004 to 2007 Blocher was a member of the Federal Council – a position that is comparable to a minister in Germany – in the function of the “Federal Council of the Federal Justice and Police Department”. Widmer-Schlumpf now holds the office.

In 1782 the maid Anna Göldi was executed in the canton of Glarus as the last witch in Europe. In 2008, she was rehabilitated by the canton’s parliament and named the verdict as a judicial murder.

Women’s suffrage

On February 7, 1971, women were given federal voting rights. In a referendum in which only men were entitled to vote, around 66% voted in favor. At the cantonal level, women in Basel and Geneva had been entitled to vote since the 1960s. Equality between men and women was not legally established until 1981 through a constitutional amendment. And in 1984 there was the first woman in a ministerial office.

Switzerland Facts