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STUDY IN Switzerland - About SwiTZERLAND


General Information | Geography    |    Government    |    Communication


General Information

Area: 41,284 sq km (15,940 sq miles)

Population: 7,301,994 (July 2002 est.)

Population Density: 173.5 per sq km

Capital: Bern

Ethnicity / Race: German 65%, French 18%, Italian 10%, Romansch 1%, other 6%

Language: German (official) 63.7%, French (official) 19.2%, Italian (official) 7.6%, Romansch 0.6%, other 8.9%

Currency: The Swiss currency is called theSwiss franc. The code for the currency is CHF. Swiss Franc (SFr) = 100 rappen or centimes. Notes are in denominations of SFr1000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20 and 10. Coins are in denominations of SFr5, 2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10 and 5 centimes.

Religion: Roman Catholic (43 per cent) and Protestant (47 per cent).

Time: GMT + 1 (GMT + 2 from last Sunday in March to Saturday before last Sunday in October)

Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz

Health: Health insurance is essential. Medical facilities in Switzerland are among the best in Europe, but treatment is expensive. Various leaflets giving information on health spas and clinics are available from Switzerland Tourism.

Customs: It is customary to give unwrapped flowers to the hostess when invited for a meal. Avoid red roses; never give chrysanthemums or white asters as they are considered funeral flowers. Informal wear is widely acceptable. First-class restaurants, hotel dining rooms and important social occasions may warrant jackets and ties. Black tie is usually specified when required. Tipping: A service charge is included in all hotel, restaurant, cafe, bar, taxi and hairdressing services by law: further gratuities are not usualy required.


Telephone system: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)





Location: Central Europe, east of France, north of Italy

Geographic coordinates: 47 00 N, 8 00 E


total: 41,290 sq km
Water:1,520 sq km
Land: 39,770 sq km

Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims: none (landlocked)

Irrigated land: 250 sq km (1998 est.)

Climate: temperate, but varies with altitude; cold, cloudy, rainy/snowy winters; cool to warm, cloudy, humid summers with occasional showers

Terrain: mostly mountains (Alps in south, Jura in northwest) with a central plateau of rolling hills, plains, and large lakes

Elevation extremes: lowest point: Lake Maggiore 195 m
highest point: Dufourspitze 4,634 m

Natural resources: hydropower potential, timber, salt

Natural hazards: avalanches, landslides, flash floods

Environment - current issues: air pollution from vehicle emissions and open-air burning; acid rain; water pollution from increased use of agricultural fertilizers; loss of biodiversity

Geography - note: landlocked; crossroads of northern and southern Europe; along with southeastern France, northern Italy, and southwestern Austria, has the highest elevations in the Alps




Swiss Government


The present constitution dates back to 1874.

There are 26 cantons (three of which are subdivided) and more than 3000 communes. The Federal Assembly is bicameral, comprising a Council of State (upper house) with 46 members and a 200-strong National Council (lower house) whose members are elected every 4 years.

Executive power is vested in the seven-member Federal Council, elected by the Assembly and headed by an annually elected president. Whatever the legislators decide, however, the Swiss people are aware that they can take the issue to referendum by raising 100,000 signatures. Popular referenda are a routine feature of Swiss political life.





Telephone: Full IDD is available. Country code: 41. Outgoing international code: 00. Phonecards are available for use in payphones.

Mobile telephone: GSM 900/1800 networks cover the whole country. Single band networks also in Basle, Zurich and Geneva.

Operators include:

Fax: Facilities are available in all telegraph offices, most major hotels and post offices.

Internet: Internet access is available in phone booths operated by Swisscom. Charges are payable by phonecard or credit card. ISPs include SwissOnline (website:

Telegram: These can be sent from post offices and most hotels or arranged by dialling 110 on the telephone.

Post: Airmail within Europe takes 3 days. Poste Restante is available at all post offices. Post office hours: Mon-Fri 0730-1200 and 1345-1830. Saturday closing is at 1100 except in major cities.

Press: The high level of interest in local politics throughout Switzerland has led to a large number of regional newspapers. However, the most popular dailies are Blick, Neue Zürcher Zeitung and Tages-Anzeiger Zürich. European and international newspapers in English, including The Herald Tribune and USA Today, are also widely available.

Radio: BBC World Service (website: From time to time the frequencies change and the most up-to-date can be found online.


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