Switzerland 1997Switzerland

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Switzerland - Introduction 1997
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Background: Switzerland's independence and neutrality have long been honored by the major European powers and Switzerland did not participate in either World War I or II. The political and economic integration of Europe since World War II may be rendering obsolete Switzerland's concern for neutrality.

Switzerland - Geography 1997
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Location: Central Europe, east of France

Geographic coordinates: 47 00 N, 8 00 E

Map referenceEurope

Total: 41,290 km²
Land: 39,770 km²
Water: 1,520 km²
Comparative: slightly less than twice the size of New Jersey

Land boundaries
Total: 1,852 km
Border countries: (5) Austria 164 km; , France 573 km; , Italy 740 km; , Liechtenstein 41 km; , Germany 334 km

Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims: none (landlocked)

Climate: temperate, but varies with altitude; cold, cloudy, rainy/snowy winters; cool to warm, cloudy, humid summers with occasional showers

Terrain: mostly mountains (Alps in south, Jura in northwest) with a central plateau of rolling hills, plains, and large lakes

Extremes lowest point: Lake Maggiore 195 m
Extremes highest point: Dufourspitze 4,634 m

Natural resources: hydropower potential, timber, salt
Land use

Land use
Arable land: 10%
Permanent crops: 2%
Permanent pastures: 28%
Forests and woodland: 32%
Other: 28% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 250 km² (1993 est.)

Major rivers

Major watersheds area km²

Total water withdrawal

Total renewable water resources

Natural hazards: avalanches, landslides, flash floods

Note: landlocked; crossroads of northern and southern Europe; along with southeastern France and northern Italy, contains the highest elevations in Europe

Switzerland - People 1997
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Population: 7,240,463 (July 1997 est.)
Growth rate: 0.33% (1997 est.)

Noun: Swiss (singular and plural)
Adjective: Swiss

Ethnic groups: total population - German 65%, French 18%, Italian 10%, Romansch 1%, other 6%
Note: Swiss nationals - German 74%, French 20%, Italian 4%, Romansch 1%, other 1%

Languages: German 63.7%, French 19.2%, Italian 7.6%, Romansch 0.6%, other 8.9%
Note: figures for Swiss nationals only:German 74%, French 20%, Italian 4%, Romansch 1%, other 1%

Religions: Roman Catholic 46.7%, Protestant 40%, other 5%, no religion 8.3% (1990)

Demographic profile
Age structure

Age structure
0-14 years: 17% (male 643,301; female 614,913)
15-64 years: 68% (male 2,501,705; female 2,412,165)
65 years and over: 15% (male 429,754; female 638,625) (July 1997 est.)

Dependency ratios

Median age

Population growth rate: 0.33% (1997 est.)

Birth rate: 11.05 births/1000 population (1997 est.)

Death rate: 9 deaths/1000 population (1997 est.)

Net migration rate: 1.23 migrant(s)/1000 population (1997 est.)

Population distribution


Major urban areas

Current issues: air pollution from vehicle emissions and open-air burning; acid rain; water pollution from increased use of agricultural fertilizers; loss of biodiversity

Air pollutants

Sex ratio
At birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.67 male(s)/female
Total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (1997 est.)

Mothers mean age at first birth

Maternal mortality ratio

Infant mortality rate: 5 deaths/1000 live births (1997 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
Total population: 78.77 years
Male: 75.59 years
Female: 82.11 years (1997 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.45 children born/woman (1997 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

Drinking water source

Current health expenditure

Physicians density

Hospital bed density

Sanitation facility access


Major infectious diseases

Obesity adult prevalence rate

Alcohol consumption

Tobacco use

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

Education expenditures

Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 99% (1980 est.)
Male: NA%
Female: NA%

School life expectancy primary to tertiary education

Youth unemployment

Switzerland - Government 1997
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Country name
Conventional long form: Swiss Confederation
Conventional short form: Switzerland
Local long form: Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft (German), Confederation Suisse (French), Confederazione Svizzera (Italian)
Local short form: Schweiz (German), Suisse (French), Svizzera (Italian)

Government type: federal republic

Capital: Bern

Administrative divisions: 26 cantons (cantons, singular - canton in French; cantoni, singular - cantone in Italian; kantone, singular - kanton in German; Aargau, Ausser-Rhoden, Basel-Landschaft, Basel-Stadt, Bern, Fribourg, Geneve, Glarus, Graubunden, Inner-Rhoden, Jura, Luzern, Neuchatel, Nidwalden, Obwalden, Sankt Gallen, Schaffhausen, Schwyz, Solothurn, Thurgau, Ticino, Uri, Valais, Vaud, Zug, Zurich

Dependent areas

Independence: 1 August 1291

National holiday: Anniversary of the Founding of the Swiss Confederation, 1 August (1291)

Constitution: 29 May 1874

Legal system: civil law system influenced by customary law; judicial review of legislative acts, except with respect to federal decrees of general obligatory character; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations

International law organization participation


Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch
Chief of state: President Arnold KOLLER (since 1 January 1997); Vice President Flavio COTTI (since 1 January 1997); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
Head of government: President Arnold KOLLER (since 1 January 1997); Vice President Flavio COTTI (since 1 January 1997); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
Cabinet: Federal Council or German - Bundesrat, French - Conseil Federal, Italian - Consiglio Federale elected by the Federal Assembly from among its own members for a four-year term
Elections: president and vice president elected by the Federal Assembly from among the members of the Federal Council for one-year terms that run concurrently; election last held 4 December 1996 (next to be held NA December 1997)
Election results: Arnold KOLLER elected president; percent of Federal Assembly vote - NA; Flavio COTTI elected vice president; percent of legislative vote - NA

Legislative branch: bicameral Federal Assembly or German - Bundesversammlung, French - Assemblee Federale, Italian - Assemblea Federale consists of the Council of States or German - Standerat, French - Conseil des Etats, Italian - Consiglio degli Stati (46 seats; members are elected two from each canton and one from each half canton to serve four-year terms) and the National Council or German - Nationalrat, French - Conseil National, Italian - Consiglio Nazionale (200 seats; members are elected by popular vote on a basis of proportional representation to serve four-year terms)
Elections: Council of States - last held throughout 1995 (each canton determines when the next election will be held); National Council - last held 20 October 1995 (next to be held NA October 1999)
Election results: Council of States - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PRD 17, PDC 16, UDC 5, PSS 5, LPS 2, LdU 1; National Council - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PRD 45, PSS 55, PDC 34, UDC 29, Greens 10, LPS 7, FPS 6, LdU/EVP 5, SD 3, PdAdS 3, Ticino League 2, EDU 1

Judicial branch: Federal Supreme Court, judges elected for six-year terms by the Federal Assembly

Political parties and leaders

International organization participation: AfDB, AG (observer), AsDB, Australia Group, BIS, CCC, CE, CERN, EBRD, ECE, EFTA, ESA, FAO, G- 8, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, MTCR, NAM (guest), NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OSCE, PCA, UN (observer), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNMIBH, UNMOP, UNMOT, UNOMIG, UNPREDEP, UNTAES, UNTSO, UNU, UPU, WCL, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, ZC

Diplomatic representation
In the us chief of mission: Ambassador Alfred DEFAGO (since April 1997)
In the us chancery: 2,900 Cathedral Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20,008
In the us telephone: [1] (202) 745-7,900
In the us FAX: [1] (202) 387-2,564
In the us consulates general: Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Pago Pago (American Samoa), and San Francisco
From the us chief of mission: Ambassador Madeleine May KUNIN (since 8 August 1996)
From the us embassy: Jubilaeumstrasse 93, 3,005 Bern
From the us mailing address: use embassy street address
From the us telephone: [41] (31) 357 70 11
From the us FAX: [41] (31) 357 73 44

Flag descriptionflag of Switzerland: red square with a bold, equilateral white cross in the center that does not extend to the edges of the flag

National symbols

National anthem

National heritage

Switzerland - Economy 1997
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Economy overview: Switzerland, a fundamentally prosperous and stable modern economy with a per capita GDP roughly 10% above that of the big West European economies, is experiencing continued economic difficulties. GDP has dropped for five consecutive quarters, unemployment is reaching record levels, and the fiscal deficit is again above 3% of GDP. In 1997, growth may reach barely 0.6%; a recovery is not likely before mid to late 1997. Weak domestic consumer demand is partly at fault; declining real disposable income is combining with a reluctance to reduce saving rates in the face of an uncertain employment outlook. Switzerland's leading sectors, including financial services, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and special-purpose machines, will therefore be more reliant on export markets at the same time they are being squeezed by the strong franc. Consequently, growth in machinery and equipment investment, for example, is expected to taper off. On the other side, import growth in 1997 also is likely to be lower than the 1995 rate of 6.6%, but higher than 1996's expected 1.9%.

Real gdp purchasing power parity

Real gdp growth rate: -0.75% (1996 est.)

Real gdp per capita ppp

Gross national saving
Gdp composition by sector of origin

Gdp composition by end use

Gdp composition by sector of origin
Agriculture: 2.8%
Industry: 31.1%
Services: 66.1% (1995)

Agriculture products: grains, fruits, vegetables; meat, eggs

Industries: machinery, chemicals, watches, textiles, precision instruments

Industrial production growth rate: -2% (1996 est.)

Labor force
Total: 3.776 million (939,000 foreign workers, mostly Italian)
By occupation services: 67%
By occupation manufacturing and construction: 29%
By occupation agriculture and forestry: 4% (1994)
Labor force

Unemployment rate: 5.3% (December 1996)

Youth unemployment

Population below poverty line

Gini index

Household income or consumption by percentage share

Distribution of family income gini index

Revenues: $31 billion
Expenditures: $36.9 billion, including capital expenditures of $N/A (1995)

Public debt

Taxes and other revenues


Fiscal year: calendar year

Current account balance

Inflation rate consumer prices

Central bank discount rate

Commercial bank prime lending rate

Stock of narrow money

Stock of broad money

Stock of domestic credit

Market value of publicly traded shares

Current account balance

Total value: $81.35 billion (f.o.b., 1995)
Commodities: manufactures 94.74%, agricultural products 2.99%, raw materials 2.05%, fuels 0.15% (1995)
Partners: EU countries 62.1%, US 8.7%, Japan 4.0% (1996 est.)

Total value: $80.05 billion (c.i.f., 1995)
Commodities: manufactures 86.81%, agricultural products 6.44%, raw materials 3.65%, fuels 2.93% (1995)
Partners: EU 80.2%, US 6.6% (1996 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

Debt external: $NA

Stock of direct foreign investment at home

Stock of direct foreign investment abroad

Exchange rates: Swiss francs, franken, or franchi (SFR) per US$1 - 1.3936 (January 1997), 1.2360 (1996), 1.1825 (1995), 1.3677 (1994), 1.4776 (1993), 1.4062 (1992)

Switzerland - Energy 1997
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Electricity access

Electricity production: 62.2 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity consumption
Per capita: 6,810 kWh (1995 est.)

Electricity exports

Electricity imports

Electricity installed generating capacity

Electricity transmission distribution losses

Electricity generation sources


Refined petroleum

Natural gas

Carbon dioxide emissions

Energy consumption per capita

Switzerland - Communication 1997
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Telephones fixed lines

Telephones mobile cellular

Telephone system: excellent domestic and international services
Domestic: extensive cable and microwave radio relay networks
International: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean)

Broadcast media

Internet country code

Internet users

Broadband fixed subscriptions

Switzerland - Military 1997
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Military expenditures
Dollar figure: $3.74 billion (1995)
Percent of gdp: 1.4% (1995)

Military and security forces

Military service age and obligation

Terrorist groups

Switzerland - Transportation 1997
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National air transport system

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

Airports: 67 (1996 est.)
With paved runways total: 66
With paved runways over 3047 m: 4
With paved runways 2438 to 3047 m: 4
With paved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 13
With paved runways 914 to 1523 m: 5
With paved runways under 914 m: 40 (1996 est.)
With unpaved runways total: 1
With unpaved runways 914 to 1523 m: 1 (1996 est.)

Airports with paved runways
Total: 66
Over 3047 m: 4
2438 to 3047 m: 4
15-24 to 2437 m: 13
914 to 1523 m: 5
Under 914 m: 40 (1996 est.)

Airports with unpaved runways
Total: 1
914 to 1523 m: 1 (1996 est.)


Pipelines: crude oil 314 km; natural gas 1,506 km

Total: 5,719 km (1,432 km double track)
Standard gauge: 3,283 km 1.435-m gauge (99% electrified; 310 km nongovernment owned)
Narrow gauge: 1,255 km 1.000-m gauge (99% electrified; 1,181 km nongovernment owned)
Other gauge: 1,181 km NA-m gauge (1995)


Waterways: 65 km; Rhine (Basel to Rheinfelden, Schaffhausen to Bodensee; 12 navigable lakes

Merchant marine
Total: 23 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 378,871 GRT/665,519 DWT
Ships by type: bulk 13, cargo 1, chemical tanker 6, oil tanker 1, roll-on/roll-off cargo 1, specialized tanker 1 (1996 est.)

Ports and terminals

Switzerland - Transnational issues 1997
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Disputes international: none

Refugees and internally displaced persons

Illicit drugs: money-laundering center; transit country for and consumer of South American cocaine and Southwest Asian heroin

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