switzerland

Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in western Europe, where it is bordered by Germany to the north, France to...

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Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in western Europe, where it is bordered by Germany to the north, France to the west, Italy to the south, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east.

Switzerland is a landlocked country geographically divided between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura, spanning an area of 41,285 km2. While the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of approximately 8 million people is concentrated mostly on the Plateau, where the largest cities are to be found. Among them are the two global cities and economic centres of Zurich and Geneva. The Swiss Confederation has a long history of armed neutrality—it has not been in a state of war internationally since 1815—and did not join the United Nations until 2002. It pursues, however, an active foreign policy and is frequently involved in peace-building processes around the world. Switzerland is also the birthplace of the Red Cross and home to a large number of international organizations, including the second largest UN office. On the European level, it is a founding member of the European Free Trade Association and is part of the Schengen Area – although it is notably not a member of the European Union, nor the European Economic Area.

Switzerland is one of the richest countries in the world by per capita gross domestic product, and has the highest wealth per adult of any country in the world. Zurich and Geneva have respectively been ranked as the cities with the second and eighth highest quality of life in the world. It has the world's nineteenth largest economy by nominal GDP and the thirty-sixth largest by purchasing power parity. It is the twentieth largest exporter and eighteenth largest importer of goods.

some cities

experiences (4)

have you spent time in switzerland? share your experiences

4

switzerland - anonymous' thoughts after months there in their 20s

posted by anonymous on 09/30/13.

My wife and I moved to Switzerland in January 2011 and stayed through December of the same year… so about a year. Work brought me there (biotech). We moved from the Boston, Massachusetts area of the US. We lived on lake Geneva in a city called Lausanne. It’s about 40 minutes by train from Geneva. The area surrounding Lausanne is absolutely stunning. There is, of course, the glacial lake Geneva (also known as Lac Leman). The lake is surrounded by mountains on all sides. Along the shoreline, there are beautiful vineyards and seriously breathtaking views.

The people of Switzerland (the actual Swiss) were a little bit ethnocentric. They were generally cold to outsiders. In that regard, they aren’t all that different from Americans I suppose. It just felt a little different being the outsider for a change. One thing I really loved about them, though, was their emphasis on living and enjoying life. They really support the arts, they take classes and seem to always want to learn something.

Switzerland has a HUGE ex-pat community and is, more or less, a melting pot of all kinds of different people and cultures. The work there, especially in biotech, brings in people from many...

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4

switzerland - anonymous' reflections after years there in their 20s

posted by anonymous on 10/10/13.

What brought you to Switzerland? Where were you before?

I am from the US. I had previously lived in Florida and California before moving to Switzerland to pursue a PhD.

Describe the city you live in in Switzerland and your impressions of it.

Basel is a smallish city (~300,000 people). You can bike clear across the city in 20 minutes. The Rhine runs through the city. During the summer everyone spends their free time at the Rhine swimming, barbecuing, and drinking. During the winter the fun stuff starts happening in the cities many squares. Whether it's the Herbstmesse, the Weihnachtsmarkt, Art Basel, it seems there is always something going on despite the city's small size.

How does the city you live in compare to other cities in Switzerland? What drew you to the city you live in over other cities in Switzerland?

I think Basel is a very under-rated city in Switzerland. When people think about popular expat destinations in Switzerland they definitely think first of Geneva and Zurich. But, Basel has as big or bigger an expat population than those cities thanks to the huge demand for scientists and architects. In Basel every one you meet is a scientist or an architect....

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4

switzerland - anonymous' reflections after years there in their 20s

posted by anonymous on 10/13/13.

I have lived here for a little over 3 years and came here on vacation twice before. I am in my late 20s and was in my mid-20s when I first visited. Back in 2008 I "met" my now-husband online via a gaming forum. We started emailing each other and eventually progressed to talking on the phone and eventually meeting in person. We hit it off right away. At the time I lived in Sacramento, CA and my husband lived in Minnesota. However, originally he is from Switzerland. He was born and raised in Bern and moved to the US when he was 20 or so.

Originally the plan was that he would move to California but we eventually decided to move to Switzerland together instead. After he took me on vacation here I pretty much fell in love with it, plus because of his educational experiences he is able to get a much better paying job here whereas he barely made above minimum wage in the US.

We first lived in a little bit bigger of a city- Amrisvil, Thurgau- which I never actually considered to be a big city when we lived there. Looking back though, it was a pretty large town compared to other places in Switzerland and especially compared to where we live now. People there were not overly friendly;...

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3

switzerland - anonymous' reflections after years there in their 30s

posted by anonymous on 10/13/13.

What brought you to Switzerland? Where were you before?

A few reasons, we decided there was nothing left for us in America, also I have other family living in Switzerland and with the threat of unemployment and an undiagnosed health condition we decided to liquidate our assets and move, we used to live in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Describe the city you live in in Switzerland and your impressions of it.

We currently live in a small town of approximately 4500 people called Jegenstorf. It is about a 15 minute train ride to the capital city of Bern and another 15 minutes to Solothurn. It is a relaxing town that is a stark contrast to the bustle of Bern.

How does the city you live in compare to other cities in Switzerland?

In many cases Jegenstorf is quite similar to other locations in Switzerland that aren't ideal tourist attractions, we have one Bahnauf (train stop), schools, a church, some farms, government and social services buildings.

What drew you to the city you live in over other cities in Switzerland?

The primary draw to Jegenstorf was the fact that it is approximately half-way between Solothurn and Bern, I have a health condition that requires frequent trips to...

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demographics

population

7,925,517 (July 2012 est.)

ethnic groups

German 65%, French 18%, Italian 10%, Romansch 1%, other 6%

languages

German (official) 63.7%, French (official) 20.4%, Italian (official) 6.5%, Serbo-Croatian 1.5%, Albanian 1.3%, Portuguese 1.2%, Spanish 1.1%, English 1%, Romansch (official) 0.5%, other 2.8% (2000 census)

religions

Roman Catholic 41.8%, Protestant 35.3%, Muslim 4.3%, Orthodox 1.8%, other Christian 0.4%, other 1%, unspecified 4.3%, none 11.1% (2000 census)

age structure

0-14: 0-14 years: 15.2% (male 621,785/ female 586,205)

15-64: 15-64 years: 67.6% (male 2,696,392/ female 2,665,191)

65+: 65 years and over: 17.1% (male 584,809/ female 771,135) (2012 est.)

urbanization

74% of total population (2010)

life expectancy

81.17 years

obesity rate

8.2% (2007)

literacy rate

99%

average years of education

16 years

economics

cost of living

11/10 (very-high)

economic overview

Switzerland is a peaceful, prosperous, and modern market economy with low unemployment, a highly skilled labor force, and a per capita GDP among the highest in the world....

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Switzerland is a peaceful, prosperous, and modern market economy with low unemployment, a highly skilled labor force, and a per capita GDP among the highest in the world. Switzerland's economy benefits from a highly developed service sector, led by financial services, and a manufacturing industry that specializes in high-technology, knowledge-based production. Its economic and political stability, transparent legal system, exceptional infrastructure, efficient capital markets, and low corporate tax rates also make Switzerland one of the world's most competitive economies. The Swiss have brought their economic practices largely into conformity with the EU's, to enhance their international competitiveness, but some trade protectionism remains, particularly for its small agricultural sector. The fate of the Swiss economy is tightly linked to that of its neighbors in the euro zone, which purchases half of all Swiss exports. The global financial crisis of 2008 and resulting economic downturn in 2009 stalled export demand and put Switzerland in a recession. The Swiss National Bank (SNB) during this period effectively implemented a zero-interest rate policy to boost the economy as well as prevent appreciation of the franc, and Switzerland's economy recovered in 2010 with 2.7% growth. The sovereign debt crises currently unfolding in neighboring euro-zone countries pose a significant risk to Switzerland's financial stability and are driving up demand for the Swiss franc by investors seeking a safehaven currency. The independent SNB has upheld its zero-interest rate policy and conducted major market interventions to prevent further appreciation of the Swiss franc, but parliamentarians have urged it to do more to weaken the currency. The franc's strength has made Swiss exports less competitive and weakened the country's growth outlook; GDP growth fell to 2.1% in 2011. Switzerland has also come under increasing pressure from individual neighboring countries, the EU, the US, and international institutions to reform its banking secrecy laws. Consequently, the government agreed to conform to OECD regulations on administrative assistance in tax matters, including tax evasion. The government has renegotiated its double taxation agreements with numerous countries, including the US, to incorporate the OECD standard, and in 2011 it reached deals with Germany and the UK to resolve outstanding issues, particularly the possibility of imposing taxes on bank deposits held by foreigners. These steps will have a lasting impact on Switzerland's long history of bank secrecy.

major industries

machinery, chemicals, watches, textiles, precision instruments, tourism, banking, and insurance

machinery, chemicals, watches, textiles, precision instruments, tourism, banking, and insurance

gdp per capita

$44,500 (2011 est.)

gdp growth rate

1.9% (2011 est.)

gdp composition by sector

agriculture: 1.3% industry: 27.5% services: 71.2% (2011 est.)

unemployment rate

2.8% (2011 est.)

population below poverty line

6.9% (2010)

gini index

33.7 (2008) country comparison to the world: 94 33.1 (1992)