Switzerland Openarms!



Celene from Mexico, her mother, Lucy & Ericka (her sisters) with the overview to Lake Geneva. Laussane Openarms!

Area: 41,285 sq. km. (15,941 sq. mi.); about the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined.

Thank you to The European Snowsport Ski School. Verbier, Zermatt & St Moritz Ski School Openarms!

Languages: German 63.7%, French 20.4%, Italian 6.5%, Romansch 0.5%, other 9.4%.

Freddie Mercury Statue. Montreaux Openamrs!

Cities: Capital–Bern (population about 123,000). Other cities–Zurich (359,000), Geneva (180,000), Basel (164,000), Lausanne (119,000).

Switzerland Openamrs!

Terrain: 40% mountains, the remainder hills and plateau. Switzerland straddles the central ranges of the Alps.

Stefano from Italy. Swiss Alpes Openamrs!

Climate: Temperate, varying with altitude and season.

Gruyères Openarms!

Nationality: Noun and adjective–Swiss (singular and plural).

Essertines-sur-Rolle, Lausanne Openarms!

Population (year-end 2009): 7.8 million.

Ethnic groups: Mixed European.

Religions: Roman Catholic 42%, Protestant 33%, Muslim 4.3%, others 5.4%, no religion 11%.

Education: Years compulsory–9. Attendance–100%. Literacy–100%.

Health: Infant mortality rate–3.9/1,000. Life expectancy–men 79.4 yrs., women 84.2 yrs.

Work force (4.0 million in second quarter 2010): Agriculture and forestry–4.0%. Industry and construction–23.5%. Services sector and government–72.5%.

Type of Goverment: Federal state.

Independence: The first Swiss Confederation was founded in August 1291 as a defensive alliance among three cantons. The Swiss Confederation established independence from the Holy Roman Empire in 1499.

Constitution: 1848; extensively amended in 1874; fully revised in 2000.

Branches: Executive–Federal Council, a collegium of seven members, headed by a rotating 1-year presidency. Legislative–Federal Assembly (bicameral: Council of States, 46 members; National Council, 200 members). Judicial–Federal Tribunal.

Administrative subdivisions: 26 cantons (states) with considerable autonomy.

Political parties: Swiss People’s Party (SVP), Social Democratic Party (SP), Free Democratic Party (FDP), Christian Democratic Party (CVP), and several smaller parties representing localities or views from extreme left to extreme right.

Suffrage: In federal matters, universal over 18.

GDP (2010): $475.8 billion (495.8 billion Swiss francs [CHF]).

Government expenses (in GDP%, 2008): 38.3% (federal, cantonal, and local).

Annual growth rate (2010): 2.6%.

Unemployment (March 2011): 3.4%.

Per capita income (2010 est.): $66,367.

Avg. inflation rate: 0.7% (2010); 1.1% (2011 est.).

Natural resources: Water power, timber, salt.

Agriculture (1% of GDP): Products–dairy (21%), livestock (25%), grains (4%), fruit and wine (10%), and vegetables (14%). Arable land (1999)–26%.

Industry (est. 29% of GDP): Types–machinery, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, time pieces, precision instruments, textiles and clothing, pigment, transportation equipment.

Services (70% of GDP).

Trade: Merchandise exports (2010)–$195 billion (official exchange rate): food, beverages, and tobacco (4%; +8%); metal and chemical industries (44%; +10%); precision instruments (15%; +18%); watches (8%; +27%); machinery and electronics (22%; +12%); clothing (1.5%; -3%). Major markets–EU, United States, Canada, CIS, India, Brazil, Japan. Merchandise imports (2010)–$176 billion (official exchange rate): consumer goods (38%); equipment (19%); energy (7.1%); raw materials (28%). Major suppliers–EU, U.S., Canada, CIS, South Africa.

Exchange rate (March 2011): $1 U.S. = 0.9191 CHF or SFr.

Switzerland sits at the crossroads of several major European cultures, which have heavily influenced the country’s languages and cultural practices. Switzerland has four official languages–German, French, Italian, and Romansch (based on Latin and spoken by a small minority in the Canton Graubunden). The German spoken is predominantly a Swiss dialect, but newspapers and some media broadcasts use High German. Many Swiss speak more than one language. English is widely spoken, especially among the university educated.

More than 75% of the population lives in the central plain, which stretches between the Alps and the Jura Mountains and from Geneva in the southwest to the Rhine River and Lake Constance in the northeast.

We are waiting for your pictures. You can send them to theopenarms@ymail.com


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