Switzerland’s administrative capital is Bern, while Lausanne serves as its judicial centre.
Switzerland’s small size—its total area is about half that of Scotland—and its modest population give little indication of its international significance.
Typical Swiss Landscape.
A landlocked country of towering mountains, deep Alpine lakes, grassy valleys dotted with neat farms and small villages, and thriving cities that blend the old and the new, Switzerland is the nexus of the diverse physical and cultural geography of western Europe, renowned for both its natural beauty and its way of life.
Switzerland remains wealthy and orderly, but its mountain-walled valleys are far more likely to echo the music of a local rock band than a yodel or an alphorn. Most Swiss live in towns and cities, and these cities have emerged as international centres of industry and commerce connected to the larger more inward-looking past.
As a consequence of its remarkably long-lived stability and carefully guarded neutrality, Geneva, has been selected as headquarters for a wide array of governmental and nongovernmental organisations, including many associated with the United Nations (UN)—an organisation the Swiss resisted joining until the early 21st century.
Ordinary citizens are able to participate at every level of politics and regularly exercise their will in referendums and initiatives, through which Swiss citizens directly make numerous policy decisions at the national and sub-national level. Two effects of this popular involvement are evident: Swiss taxes are rather low by European standards, because voters are able to review and approve a broad range of expenditures, and political decision making tends to be slow, because contending individual claims and opinions must be allowed to be expressed at every step.
It is also a major economic power, thanks to its long tradition of financial services and high-quality, specialised manufactures of items such as precision timepieces, optics, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals, as well as of speciality foodstuffs such as Emmental cheese and milk chocolate.