Switzerland, which is officially known as the Swiss Confederation, is a country in west-central Europe. The capital city is Bern, but the largest city is actually Zurich. The climate in Switzerland varies greatly from near-arctic temperatures on the mountaintops to pleasant temperatures at the southern tip.
Switzerland recognizes four distinct official languages. These include: German, French, Italian and Romansh. Latin is also still used on many government documents.
- Switzerland was the first country, and is currently the only country, to adopt a direct democracy where people’s rights are considered ultimate, and the process involves constitutional initiative and referendum.
- Switzerland is made up of 26 districts called cantons. Each is regionally independent, with its own constitution, government, courts and legislature.
- The two main religious denominations in Switzerland are Protestantism and Roman Catholicism.
- Switzerland is the home of the Red Cross which uses a cross very similar to the one on the Swiss flag for its logo.
- Zurich and Geneva are both ranked among the highest in quality of life anywhere in the world, making Switzerland one of the most sought after places to live.
- World-famous scientist and noble laureate Albert Einstein was born in Germany, but studied at and taught in Swiss institutions for much of his academic career.
- Because of the prevalence of mountains in Switzerland it is no surprise that skiing, snowboarding and mountaineering are among the most popular sports in the country.