Essential Info for Switzerland
Official name: Swiss Confederation
Population: Approximately 8.4 million
Capital city: Bern
Other major cities: Zurich (largest), Geneva, Basel, Lausanne
Neighbouring countries: Switzerland is a landlocked country in Western and Central Europe. It shares borders with Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east.
Geography: Switzerland is a mountainous country and is famous for the Alps in south and southeast of the country. The Swiss Plateau runs along the east-west axis of the country. The smaller Jura Mountains are located on the north west side of this plateau. Much of the northern border with Germany follows the Rhine River. The eastern border with Germany and some of Austria is connected to Switzerland through Lake Constance, and Lake Geneva is located on the southwest border with France.
Political system: Switzerland is a federal semi-direct democracy under multi-party parliamentary directorial republic.
Major religions: Christianity is the main religion in Switzerland, but the country is quite tolerant of other faiths and all religions can be practised freely.
Main languages: Switzerland is home to four national languages. Depending on the area of the country, the predominant language spoken will be either Swiss German, French, Italian or Romansch.
Money: Switzerland is not part of the EU and has retained its own currency, the Swiss Franc (CHF). The Swiss Franc is subdivided into 100 rappen (German) or 100 centimes (French). Credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are readily available.
Tipping: While there is no obligation to tip in Switzerland, many people do, especially in Zürich, where a 10 to 20 percent tip is common. In other areas, it is acceptable to round up your bill to the nearest five or ten francs.
Time: GMT+1 (GMT+2 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October)
Electricity: 230 volts, 50Hz. Plugs have two or three round pins.
Internet domain: .ch
International dialling code: +41
Emergency numbers: There are three different emergency numbers in Switzerland: 117 (police), 144 (ambulance), 118 (fire). The European emergency number (112) can also be used.
Transport and driving: The Swiss drive on the right-hand side of the road. Road conditions and signage are generally good. Expats from certain countries can drive in Switzerland for up to a year, but excellent public transport means that cars aren't necessary.