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  Transnational Issues

In general, information available as of 1 January 2002
was used in the preparation of The World Factbook 2002.

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003

Map of Switzerland

Legend: Definition Definition Field Listing Field Listing
   Introduction    Switzerland
Definition Field Listing
Switzerland's independence and neutrality have long been honored by the major European powers and Switzerland 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.
   Geography    Switzerland
Definition Field Listing
Central Europe, east of France, north of Italy
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
47 00 N, 8 00 E
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing
total: 41,290 sq km
water: 1,520 sq km
land: 39,770 sq km
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
slightly less than twice the size of New Jersey
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
total: 1,852 km
border countries: Austria 164 km, France 573 km, Italy 740 km, Liechtenstein 41 km, Germany 334 km
Definition Field Listing
0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
none (landlocked)
Definition Field Listing
temperate, but varies with altitude; cold, cloudy, rainy/snowy winters; cool to warm, cloudy, humid summers with occasional showers
Definition Field Listing
mostly mountains (Alps in south, Jura in northwest) with a central plateau of rolling hills, plains, and large lakes
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: Lake Maggiore 195 m
highest point: Dufourspitze 4,634 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
hydropower potential, timber, salt
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 10.57%
permanent crops: 0.61%
other: 88.82% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
250 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
avalanches, landslides, flash floods
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
air pollution from vehicle emissions and open-air burning; acid rain; water pollution from increased use of agricultural fertilizers; loss of biodiversity
Environment - international agreements:
Definition Field Listing
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulphur 85, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Law of the Sea
Geography - note:
Definition Field Listing
landlocked; crossroads of northern and southern Europe; along with southeastern France, northern Italy, and southwestern Austria, has the highest elevations in the Alps
   People    Switzerland
Definition Field Listing
7,301,994 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 16.8% (male 629,513; female 597,472)
15-64 years: 67.7% (male 2,512,273; female 2,433,396)
65 years and over: 15.5% (male 461,722; female 667,618) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
0.24% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing
9.84 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing
8.79 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
1.37 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing
4.42 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing
total population: 79.86 years
female: 82.89 years (2002 est.)
male: 76.98 years
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing
1.47 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing
0.46% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing
17,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing
150 (1999 est.)
Definition Field Listing
noun: Swiss (singular and plural)
adjective: Swiss
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing
German 65%, French 18%, Italian 10%, Romansch 1%, other 6%
Definition Field Listing
Roman Catholic 46.1%, Protestant 40%, other 5%, none 8.9% (1990)
Definition Field Listing
German (official) 63.7%, French (official) 19.2%, Italian (official) 7.6%, Romansch 0.6%, other 8.9%
Definition Field Listing
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99% (1980 est.)
male: NA%
female: NA%
   Government    Switzerland
Country name:
Definition Field Listing
conventional long form: Swiss Confederation
conventional short form: Switzerland
local short form: Schweiz (German), Suisse (French), Svizzera (Italian)
local long form: Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft (German), Confederation Suisse (French), Confederazione Svizzera (Italian)
Government type:
Definition Field Listing
federal republic
Definition Field Listing
Administrative divisions:
Definition Field Listing
26 cantons (cantons, singular - canton in French; cantoni, singular - cantone in Italian; kantone, singular - kanton in German); Aargau, Appenzell Ausser-Rhoden, Appenzell Inner-Rhoden, Basel-Landschaft, Basel-Stadt, Bern, Fribourg, Geneve, Glarus, Graubunden, Jura, Luzern, Neuchatel, Nidwalden, Obwalden, Sankt Gallen, Schaffhausen, Schwyz, Solothurn, Thurgau, Ticino, Uri, Valais, Vaud, Zug, Zurich
Definition Field Listing
1 August 1291 (Founding of the Swiss Confederation)
National holiday:
Definition Field Listing
Founding of the Swiss Confederation, 1 August (1291)
Definition Field Listing
29 May 1874
Legal system:
Definition Field Listing
civil law system influenced by customary law; judicial review of legislative acts, except with respect to federal decrees of general obligatory character; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
Definition Field Listing
chief of state: President Pascal COUCHEPIN (since 1 January 2003); Vice President Ruth METZLER (since 1 January 2003); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Pascal COUCHEPIN (since 1 January 2003); Vice President Ruth METZLER (since 1 January 2003); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Federal Council or Bundesrat (in German), Conseil Federal (in French), Consiglio Federale (in Italian) elected by the Federal Assembly usually from among its own members for a four-year term
elections: president and vice president elected by the Federal Assembly from among the members of the Federal Council for one-year terms that run concurrently; election last held NA December 2002 (next to be held NA December 2003)
election results: Pascal COUCHEPIN elected president; percent of Federal Assembly vote - NA%; Ruth METZLER elected vice president; percent of legislative vote - NA%
Legislative branch:
Definition Field Listing
bicameral Federal Assembly or Bundesversammlung (in German), Assemblee Federale (in French), Assemblea Federale (in Italian) consists of the Council of States or Standerat (in German), Conseil des Etats (in French), Consiglio degli Stati (in Italian) (46 seats - members serve four-year terms) and the National Council or Nationalrat (in German), Conseil National (in French), Consiglio Nazionale (in Italian) (200 seats - members are elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve four-year terms)
elections: Council of States - last held NA 1999 (each canton determines when the next election will be held); National Council - last held 24 October 1999 (next to be held NA October 2003)
election results: Council of States - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - FDP 18, CVP 15, SVP 7, SPS 6; National Council - percent of vote by party - SPS 22.5%, SVP 22.6%, FDP 19.9%, CVP 15.8%, other small parties all under 5%; seats by party - SPS 51, SVP 44, FDP 43, CVP 35, Green Party 9, other small parties 18
Judicial branch:
Definition Field Listing
Federal Supreme Court (judges elected for six-year terms by the Federal Assembly)
Political parties and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
Christian Democratic People's Party (Christichdemokratische Volkspartei der Schweiz or CVP, Parti Democrate-Chretien Suisse or PDC, Partito Democratico-Cristiano Popolare Svizzero or PDC, Partida Cristiandemocratica dalla Svizra or PCD) [Philipp STAEHELIN, president]; Green Party (Grune Partei der Schweiz or Grune, Parti Ecologiste Suisse or Les Verts, Partito Ecologista Svizzero or I Verdi, Partida Ecologica Svizra or La Verda) [Ruth GENNER and Patrice MUGNY, co-presidents]; Radical Free Democratic Party (Freisinnig-Demokratische Partei der Schweiz or FDP, Parti Radical-Democratique Suisse or PRD, Partitio Liberal-Radicale Svizzero or PLR) [Gerold BUEHRER, president]; Social Democratic Party (Sozialdemokratische Partei der Schweiz or SPS, Parti Socialist Suisse or PSS, Partito Socialista Svizzero or PSS, Partida Socialdemocratica de la Svizra or PSS) [Christiane BRUNNER, president]; Swiss People's Party (Schweizerische Volkspartei or SVP, Union Democratique du Centre or UDC, Unione Democratica de Centro or UDC, Uniun Democratica dal Center or UDC) [Ueli MAURER, president]; and other minor parties
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
International organization participation:
Definition Field Listing
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Christian BLICKENSTORFER
consulate(s): Boston
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco
FAX: [1] (202) 387-2564
telephone: [1] (202) 745-7900
chancery: 2900 Cathedral Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
Diplomatic representation from the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Mercer REYNOLDS III
embassy: Jubilaeumsstrasse 93, 3001 Bern
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [41] (031) 357 70 11
FAX: [41] (031) 357 73 44
Flag description:
Definition Field Listing
red square with a bold, equilateral white cross in the center that does not extend to the edges of the flag
   Economy    Switzerland
Economy - overview:
Definition Field Listing
Switzerland is a prosperous and stable modern market economy with low unemployment, a highly skilled labor force, and a per capita GDP larger than that of the big western European economies. The Swiss in recent years have brought their economic practices largely into conformity with the EU's to enhance their international competitiveness. Although the Swiss are not pursuing full EU membership in the near term, in 1999 Bern and Brussels signed agreements to further liberalize trade ties. They continue to discuss further areas for cooperation. Switzerland remains a safe haven for investors, because it has maintained a degree of bank secrecy and has kept up the franc's long-term external value. Reflecting the anemic economic conditions of Europe, GDP growth dropped in 2001 to about 0.8% and to about 0% in 2002.
Definition Field Listing
purchasing power parity - $231 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
2% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
Definition Field Listing
purchasing power parity - $31,700 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 2%
industry: 34%
services: 64% (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: 3%
highest 10%: 25% (1992)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
Definition Field Listing
33 (1992)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing
0.5% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing
4 million (2001)
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
services 69%, industry 26%, agriculture 5% (1998)
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing
1.9% (2002 est.)
Definition Field Listing
revenues: $30 billion
expenditures: $30 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2001 est.)
Definition Field Listing
machinery, chemicals, watches, textiles, precision instruments
Industrial production growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
3.2% (2001)
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing
64.182 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
Definition Field Listing
fossil fuel: 4%
hydro: 57%
other: 2% (2000)
nuclear: 37%
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing
52.62 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
31.4 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
24.33 billion kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
grains, fruits, vegetables; meat, eggs
Definition Field Listing
$100.3 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
machinery, chemicals, metals, watches, agricultural products
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
EU 61% (Germany 22.2%, France 9%, Italy 8%, UK 5.3%), US 10.6%, Japan 3.9% (2001)
Definition Field Listing
$94.4 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
machinery, chemicals, vehicles, metals; agricultural products, textiles
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
EU 79.9% (Germany 32.2%, France 11%, Italy 10.2%, Netherlands 5.9%, UK 4.6%), US 5.1% (2001)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing
Economic aid - donor:
Definition Field Listing
ODA, $1.1 billion (1995) (1995)
Definition Field Listing
Swiss franc (CHF)
Currency code:
Definition Field Listing
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
Swiss francs per US dollar - 1.6668 (January 2002), 1.6876 (2001), 1.6888 (2000), 1.5022 (1999), 1.4498 (1998), 1.4513 (1997)
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing
calendar year
   Communications    Switzerland
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing
4.82 million (1998)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing
1.967 million (1999)
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
general assessment: excellent domestic and international services
domestic: extensive cable and microwave radio relay networks
international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
AM 4, FM 113 (plus many low power stations), shortwave 2 (1998)
Definition Field Listing
7.1 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
115 (plus 1,919 repeaters) (1995)
Definition Field Listing
3.31 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
Definition Field Listing
44 (Switzerland and Liechtenstein) (2000)
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing
3.85 million (2002)
   Transportation    Switzerland
Definition Field Listing
total: 4,406 km
standard gauge: 3,440 km 1.435-m gauge
dual gauge: 56 km 1.435-m and 1.000-m gauges (3 rail system)
note: Swiss railways are virtually all electrified (2001)
narrow gauge: 900 km 1.000-m gauge; 10 km 0.800-m gauge
Definition Field Listing
total: 71,059 km (including 1,638 km of expressways)
paved: 71,059 km
unpaved: 0 km (1999)
Definition Field Listing
65 km
note: The Rhine carries heavy traffic on the Basel-Rheinfelden and Schaffhausen-Bodensee stretches; there are also 12 navigable lakes
Definition Field Listing
crude oil 314 km; natural gas 1,506 km
Ports and harbors:
Definition Field Listing
Merchant marine:
Definition Field Listing
total: 26 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 509,943 GRT/896,309 DWT
ships by type: bulk 15, cargo 6, chemical tanker 4, petroleum tanker 1
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience:, United Kingdom 6, United States 1 (2002 est.)
Definition Field Listing
66 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 41
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 9
under 914 m: 14 (2002)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 10
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 25
under 914 m: 24 (2002)
Definition Field Listing
1 (2002)
   Military    Switzerland
Military branches:
Definition Field Listing
Army, Air Force, Frontier Guards, Fortification Guards
Military manpower - military age:
Definition Field Listing
20 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 1,841,867 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 1,561,689 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
Definition Field Listing
males: 42,597 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Definition Field Listing
$2.548 billion (FY01)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing
1% (FY01)
   Transnational Issues    Switzerland
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
Illicit drugs:
Definition Field Listing
because of more stringent government regulations, used significantly less as a money-laundering center; transit country for and consumer of South American cocaine and Southwest Asian heroin

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003

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