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E-mail: latvia@baltcham.ch


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E-mail: lithuania@baltcham.ch

Swisscham

SEC

Switzerland

 

General information

Switzerland is a stable and modern market economy with a high GDP. It is a federal state in Europe, which borders Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein. The country has a strong tradition of political and military neutrality, but also of international co-operation, and is home to many international organizations. Its' political system is unique in Europe. Switzerland voted against membership in the European Economic Area in December 1992 and has since maintained and developed its relationships with the European Union and European countries through bilateral agreements.

Geography

Switzerland is a small, landlocked country in the heart of Europe. It borders to France, Germany, Liechtenstein and Italy and has a strategic location at the crossroads of central Europe with many easily traversable passes. The small country hosts about 20% of the Alps. Approximately 100 peaks are close to or higher than 4000 meters (13125 feet) above sea level. Switzerland also hosts many lakes, from the large Lake Geneva to hundreds of tiny little lakes in the mountains. There are also many dammed-up lakes, mainly to drive water turbines of power plants

Area

41,285km2

Population

7,952,600

Borders

France 572 km, Germany 345km, Italy 734 km, Austria 165 km and Liechtenstein 41 km

Capital

Bern

Official languages

German (Swiss German, 63.7%), French (20.4%), Italian (6.5%) and Romansh (0.5%)

Time zone

Central European Time (UTC+1), summer – Central European Summer Time (UTC+2)

Structure

26 Cantons, 2485 municipalities

Religion

Roman Catholics 38.8%, Protestants 30.9%, No religion 20,1%, Muslims 4.5%, other religions 5.7%

Nature

Three basic topographical areas: the Swiss Alps, the Swiss plateau and the Jura mountains.

Climate

Generally temperate, but can vary greatly between the localities, from harsh conditions on the high mountains to the often pleasant Mediterranean climate at Switzerland's southern tip.

Democracy

Turbulent times have come and gone since the original oath was sworn on the Rütli in 1291. The decisive step from an alliance of states to a confederation came in 1848. Nowadays, the Swiss electorate has a direct or indirect say in all sectors of political life. Switzerland's federal structure with no strong central power encourages politics close to the people and establishes identity. In almost no other sovereign state do the people enjoy such an extensive right of participation, as do the citizens in Switzerland. The long democratic tradition, the relatively small size and total population, together with the high level of literacy and extensive media choose, are the vital factors for this particular type of state to function.

Foreign Policy

Swiss foreign policy pursues five main goals, namely the peaceful coexistence of nations, respect for human rights and promotion of democracy, safeguarding the interests of the Swiss economy abroad, alleviation of need and poverty in the world, and preservation of natural resources. Switzerland has been a full member of the United Nations since 2002. As a result, Switzerland can now better safeguard its own interests in the world and work more effectively for the most important UN concerns. Switzerland concluded the Free Trade Agreement with the EU in 1972 and there have also been numerous sectorial agreements, including the "Bilateral Agreements" in 2002. These strengthen Switzerland's position as a centre of economic activity and provide easier access to the European internal market.

State

The Swiss Confederation or Switzerland (Latin: Confoederatio Helvetica)

Form of government

Direct democracy

National day

1st of August

Head of State

The Federal Council

Parliament

The bicameral Swiss parliament, including the Council of States and the National Council.

Economy

Industrial development in most countries started with the exploitation of natural resources such as iron and coal. Switzerland has no such traditional raw materials. Only hydroelectricity is plentiful. Industry in Switzerland is therefore centred on processing imported basic materials. Specialised or high-quality brand products soon became a characteristic feature of the Swiss economy. In view of the small home market most, and in some sectors almost all, products manufactured in Switzerland have to be sold abroad. The same factors govern the broad range of services supplied. 

 

Currency

1Swiss Franc = 100 Rappen

GDP (PPP, 2011)

339,890 billion USD

GDP per capital (PPP, 2011)

43,369 billion USD

Real GDP growth (2012)

0.8% (estimate)

External trade (2011)

Exports: 308.3 billion USD; Imports: 299.6 billion USD

Unemployment rate (2012)

3.4%

Inflation (2012)

-0.5%

Major industries

Chemicals, machinery, electronics

Bilateral Treeties

Double Taxation Treaty Lithuania - Switzerland (Lithuanian)

Double Taxation Treaty Lithuania - Switzerland (German)

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Switzerland Global Enterprise

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