Switzerland is located at the crossroads of Europe. Although a small country, it is the meeting point for three of Europe's major cultures—German, French and Italian. It is a country known for its stability, multiculturalism, and prosperity.
Archeological evidence shows that the area that is now Switzerland was inhabited as early as 40,000 BC . The development of modern Switzerland can be traced back to a confederation (loose political grouping) of several Alpine valley communities and states in the Middle Ages. These original communities were called cantons, and today Switzerland's twenty-six provinces are called by the same name. Swiss history is unique in Europe since the Swiss never had a monarchy. Instead, the different members of the confederation governed political affairs. In today's political system, many powers are still left in the hands of the cantons. Switzerland's present boundaries were fixed in 1815 at the Congress of Vienna. Switzerland was neutral (refused to take sides) in World War I (1914–1918) and World War II (1939–1945). Its neutral stance has also kept it from joining the United Nations.
The four national languages of Switzerland are German, French, Italian and Romansh. All but Romansh maintain equal status as official languages at the national level within the Federal Administration of the Swiss Confederation. In some situations, Latin is used, particularly as a single language to denote the country. In 2015, the population of Switzerland was 63.0% native speakers of German (59.5% speak Swiss German and/or 10.4% Standard German at home); 22.7% French (mostly Swiss French, but including some Arpitan dialects); 8.4% Italian (mostly Swiss Italian, but including Lombard dialects); and 0.6% Romansh. The German region (Deutschschweiz) is roughly in the east, north and center; the French part (la Romandie) in the west and the Italian area (Svizzera italiana) in the south. There remains a small Romansh-speaking native population in Graubünden in the east. The cantons of Fribourg, Bern and Valais are officially bilingual; the canton of Graubünden is officially trilingual.
Four major European climates affect Switzerland. From the west, influenced by the North Atlantic Drift, come mild and moist air masses; dry and cold air arrives from the North Arctic areas; continental air from the east brings dry colder air in winter and warmer air in summer; and relatively moist and warm air flows northward from the Mediterranean. The mixing of these air masses over Switzerland produces weather patterns that not only change according to which air masses are involved but also are characterized by great variation in temperature and precipitation because of local relief.
Switzerland is a semi-direct democratic federal republic. The federal legislative power is vested in the two chambers of the Federal Assembly, the National Council and the Council of States. The Federal Council holds the executive power and is composed of seven power-sharing Federal Councillors elected by the Federal Assembly. The judicial branch is headed by the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, whose judges are elected by the Federal Assembly.
The Federal Chancellor is the head of the Federal Chancellery, which acts as the general staff of the Federal Council. The Chancellery is divided into three distinct sectors. The Chancellor is the formal head of the Federal Chancellor Sector, comprising the planning & strategy section, the Internal Services section, the political rights section, the federal crisis management training unit of the Federal Administration, and the Records and Process Management section
Switzerland's public transport network is safe and efficient. Trains, trams, buses and boats cover the entire country. There are also extensive cycling routes Public transport in Switzerland With a reliable, efficient, clean and safe public transport network, it is easy to get around without a car in Switzerland. Train, tram and bus networks cover the entire country, and there are also extensive cycling routes, with bicycles easy to organise. Buses, boats, trams, trains, and cable cars are all part of a coordinated and well organised infrastructure, with information and timetables available online and from tourism information centres. Switzerland is one of the most environmentally conscious nations in the world, so being green is an integral part of life. The alpine nation's central European location makes destinations throughout Europe easy to reach, by air, rail or road. A day trip to Milan, a weekend in Paris or a break in Barcelona are all easy options with public transport.
1. High quality education
All Swiss universities share a drive for quality in teaching and research, resulting in their consistent ranking among the best universities in the world. In fact, so many Swiss universities are ranked amongst the top 200 universities worldwide that around 50% of all students in Switzerland can claim to attend one of those top institutes. The Swiss higher education landscape comprises academic studies at the ten Cantonal Universities and the two Federal Institutes of Technology. In addition, there are seven public and two private Universities of Applied Sciences that take a more professionally-oriented focus.
2. At affordable costs
Switzerland prides itself on its high standard of a publicly funded education system that is affordable for both Swiss and non-Swiss students. In fact, the average cost for a year’s tuition is approximately CAD1,300 for Swiss, and CAD1,500 for international students.
3. World champion in innovation
Switzerland is consistently ranked as one of the most innovative and competitive economies in the world; this is made possible thanks to the universities’ cutting-edge research and considerable investments by the public and private sectors. Did you know that in terms of Nobel Prizes per capita, since 1950, Switzerland scores at the top of the international table? Swiss researchers continue to produce a high number of scientific papers with considerable impact in their respective disciplines. This is supported by excellent infrastructures, such as the world-renowned CERN in Geneva. In addition, the private sector invests heavily in research, particularly in the pharmaceutical, chemical and engineering sectors.
4. At the crossroads of cultures and languages
Switzerland is in the heart of Europe and at the crossroads of several languages and cultures, attracting people from all over the world. Many UN organizations and international NGOs are located in Geneva, and over 10,000 multinational companies are headquartered in Switzerland. Similarly, Swiss universities are very international. Over half of the PhD students and post-docs, and 45% of the faculty members at Swiss universities, come from another country. At the same time, Switzerland is an excellent starting point to discover Europe. Thanks to international airports in Basel, Geneva and Zurich, and train stations in almost every town, cities such as Paris, Rome, Vienna or Berlin are only a few hours away.
5. High living standard
On a worldwide scale, the cost of living in Swiss cities is not cheap; however, the quality of life is correspondingly high. In an international quality-of-living comparison of 350 cities, Zurich and Geneva ranked second and third, while Bern, Switzerland’s capital, ranked ninth.