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The earliest inhabitants of Switzerland are said to be those of hunter-gatherers that resided in the region some 150,000 years ago. From the years 450-50BC, it was settled by Celtic tribes, that dominated much of Europe. By 58 BC, the region was conquered by the Roman Empire.
The Frank empire was divided and split among Charlemagne's descendants, with Switzerland under the rule of the Austrian Hapsburg family by the 13th century.
In 1291, the Swiss Confederate, which was formed by the 3 cantons of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden, was formed as an alliance against the Hapsburgs. They declared the region free from the ruling family, but formal independence wasn't acknowledged by the Holy Roman Empire until 1499.
Switzerland is a landlocked country with Italy bordering to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east.
Known for having the Alps to the country's south, and the Jura mountains to the northwest, Switzerland is also known for its central plateau, where most of the population reside.
There are over 1500 lakes in the country, making up 6% of the fresh water stock of Europe.
Switzerland is the first and only country to have a direct democracy, with a unique system of government based on the administration of the people.
There are 26 cantons or federal states in the country, each with its own constitution, government, courts, and legislative.
The country is also one of the oldest constitutions of the world, with its Federal Constitution established in 1848. A new constitution was adopted in 1999, but very few notable changes were made.
They have 3 main governing bodies, which are the Bicameral Parliament, which takes charge of the legislative; the Federal Council, which holds the executive power; and the Federal Court, which is in charge of the judiciary.
Switzerland's cities offer the unique mix of history, art, and modern culture. Basel is most famous for hosting the largest art fair in the world, which is the Art Basel, with millions of visitors each year, making it the ultimate art mecca. For the country's center of art and culture, Geneva offers the most varied choices of museums and galleries.
For historical sites, Bellinzona offers medieval castles that are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. For wine-lovers, Lausanne has a fantastic wine county, with equally incredible scenery and plenty of options for dining and dancing.
For those seeking adventure, the outdoor and sports capital of Switzerland is Interlaken - the best place to offer a wide range of extreme activities such as skydiving, bungee jumping, and white water rafting. The gateway to glitzy ski and hiking resorts is Chur - a charming old town which is located southeast.
For the best city with the best nightlife, Zurich is home to the biggest European street rave party, which is the Street Parade held every month of August. It is also home to several major international banking and national companies, making it the perfect playground for the wealthy.
Education is delegated to each of the 26 cantons in the country. The minimum age for primary education is 6 years old.
There are 12 universities in Switzerland, with the University of Zurich the biggest in terms of student number, which has an average population of over 25,000 every year.
As a country home to many international organizations, its universities are also renowned worldwide, with Switzerland having the 2nd highest number of international students studying in its universities. About 18% of the country's student population in tertiary education is made up of international students.
- Switzerland is the watch-making capital of the world, home to luxury brands such as Rolex and Cartier.
- The International Commission of Red Cross was founded in Geneva in 1863, with the organization's flag the same one as the country's flag but with the colors interchanged.
- Switzerland is home to the large Nestle food company.
- Swiss chocolate is in rivalry with Belgium as being the producers of the world's best chocolates.
- Zurich and Geneva are one of the world's top cities with the highest qualities of living, but also rate high as among the most expensive cities to live in.
Last Updated : October 31, 2014
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