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Switzerland

Visa Requirements:

Visa required/ Visa on arrival for EU citizens

Languages Spoken:

German, French, Italian

Currency Used:

Swiss Franks

General Information

Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a federal republic in Europe. It consists of 26 cantons, and the city of Bern is the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western-Central Europe,[note 4] and is bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. Switzerland is a landlocked country geographically divided between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura, spanning an area of 41,285 km2 (15,940 sq. mi). While the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of approximately eight million people is concentrated mostly on the plateau, where the largest cities are to be found: among them are the two global cities and economic centers Zürich and Geneva.

Skiing, snowboarding and mountaineering are among the most popular sports in Switzerland, the nature of the country being particularly suited for such activities. Winter sports are practiced by the natives and tourists since the second half of the 19th century with the invention of bobsleigh in St. Moritz. The first world ski championships were held in Mürren (1931) and St. Moritz (1934). The latter town hosted the second Winter Olympic Games in 1928 and the fifth edition in 1948. Among the most successful skiers and world champions are Pirmin Zurbriggen and Didier Cuche.

The cuisine of Switzerland is multifaceted. While some dishes such as fondue, Raclette or Rösti are omnipresent through the country, each region developed its own gastronomy according to the differences of climate and languages. Traditional Swiss cuisine uses ingredients similar to those in other European countries, as well as unique dairy products and cheeses such as Gruyère or Emmental, produced in the valleys of Gruyères and Emmental. The number of fine-dining establishments is high, particularly in western Switzerland.

Chocolate has been made in Switzerland since the 18th century but it gained its reputation at the end of the 19th century with the invention of modern techniques such as tempering which enabled its production on a high quality level. Also a breakthrough was the invention of solid milk chocolate in 1875 by Daniel Peter. The Swiss are the world's largest consumers of chocolate.

Switzerland

Places To Go

Switzerland is a quiet oasis at the crossroads of Europe. On the north, it shares its border with Germany, on the east with France, on the south with Italy and on the west with Austria and Liechtenstein. It is a perfect example of a country where multiple nations live and respect the customs of each other. On each corner of Switzerland, you will meet the traces of historic civilizations. About Romans remind the ancient ruins in Nyon and Avenches.

Zurich

The financial hub of Switzerland, Zurich is most often associated with money and banks. The medieval city often surprises visitors with its trendy neighborhoods and natural beauty. Located on Lake Zurich, with easy access to skiing in the Swiss Alps, the city serves as an ideal destination for nature lovers. Zurich mixes old and new: it's not uncommon to catch a Zurich banker on a segway speeding past medieval church steeples in the historical old town. Host to Europe's largest annual street party, Zurich has a buzzing nightlife to match

Lucerne

In north-central Switzerland, Lucerne represents a small city boasting a well-preserved old town. Visitors to the German-speaking city delight in getting lost in the medieval old town's maze of narrow streets and charming squares, as they find murals painted on nearly every building around. Located on Lake Lucerne with Mount Pilatus and Rigi overlooking it, the city is a popular location to try paragliding. As the cultural center of a rural region, Lucerne hosts many cultural and folk festivals regularly throughout the year.

Zermatt

Best known as home the Matterhorn mountain, Zermatt serves as a chic ski resort town of the Swiss Alps. Matterhorn was one of the last Alpine peaks to be conquered and it gained international attention following the attempt by British mountaineer Edward Whymper to scale its 4,478 m (14,692 ft) height. At the foot of Switzerland's tallest mountain range, Zermatt's economy revolves around tourism; its population surges during the summer and winter seasons and slows in the off-season. Skiers and snowboarders flock here for challenging terrain in winter, while mountain bikers and road cyclists take advantage of the location in summer. Hikers also love Zermatt because it provides connection into Italy and France.

Interlaken

Nestled between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz in the heart of the Jungfrau region, Interlaken became popular for its proximity to the mountains and lakes of the Bernese Oberland region. Outdoor sports enthusiasts arrive here in droves to access the mountains in the surrounding area. The city is backpacker-friendly, offering up party hostels and adrenaline-inducing activities like skydiving, canyoning, hang gliding, paragliding, skiing, and snowboarding

Geneva

Geneva brings the world to one small city with a huge expat population and the highest number of international organizations in any one city. In the French-speaking region of Romandy, it's easy to overhear the city's residents slip into multiple languages. The cosmopolitan city is known for exquisite Swiss chocolate, luxury jewelry, and fine watch-making. A center of international diplomacy, Geneva is often referred to as the Capital of Peace. It offers visitors an insight into many influential governmental and non-governmental organizations.

Swiss Alps

The stunning Swiss Alps cover 65 percent of the Switzerland's surface area with dramatic mountain scenery. Its spectacular peaks and valleys are the result of tectonic thrusts, among them the Jungfrau-Aletsch region, the first World Heritage Site in the Alps. Connected by a network of trains and cable cars, this majestic vacation spot is accessible for all. The Swiss Alps are home to some of the highest mountains in the Alps, including the Monte Rosa, which stands at 4,634 m (15,203 ft). Pristine white snow and perfect blue skies await you, and ski sports and hiking trails aplenty top the list of things to do

Canton of Bern

The Canton of Bern is home to a diverse landscape of plateaus, breathtaking mountains, waterfalls, and lakes. In the capital city you'll find the Old Town, built in a loop of the river Aare. Its sandstone houses, narrow streets, fountains, and medieval atmosphere have earned it World Heritage Status. Sightseeing stops on your itinerary include the 101 m (331 ft) high platform at the Rose Garden, the bear family at Bear Park, and the Houses of Parliament that often open their doors to tourists. Shop the 6 km (3.7 mi) long covered medieval promenade, the longest shopping arcade in Europe. The boutiques, bars, and cabaret stages, some housed in vaulted cellars, are among Bern's other tourist attractions. Outside of the capital city, hike valleys and foothills, or take on the staggeringly steep mountain cliffs by ski or snowboard.

Switzerland

Climate

The Swiss climate is generally temperate, but can vary greatly between the localities, from glacial conditions on the mountaintops to the often pleasant near Mediterranean climate at Switzerland's southern tip. There are some valley areas in the southern part of Switzerland where some cold-hardy palm trees are found. Summers tend to be warm and humid at times with periodic rainfall so they are ideal for pastures and grazing. The less humid winters in the mountains may see long intervals of stable conditions for weeks, while the lower lands tend to suffer from inversion, during these periods, thus seeing no sun for weeks.

A weather phenomenon known as the föhn (with an identical effect to the chinook wind) can occur at all times of the year and is characterized by an unexpectedly warm wind, bringing air of very low relative humidity to the north of the Alps during rainfall periods on the southern face of the Alps. This works both ways across the alps but is more efficient if blowing from the south due to the steeper step for oncoming wind from the south. Valleys running south to north trigger the best effect. The driest conditions persist in all inner alpine valleys that receive less rain because arriving clouds lose a lot of their content while crossing the mountains before reaching these areas. Large alpine areas such as Graubünden remain drier than pre-alpine areas and as in the main valley of the Valais wine grapes are grown there.

The wettest conditions persist in the high Alps and in the Ticino canton which has much sun yet heavy bursts of rain from time to time. Precipitation tends to be spread moderately throughout the year with a peak in summer. Autumn is the driest season, winter receives less precipitation than summer, yet the weather patterns in Switzerland are not in a stable climate system and can be variable from year to year with no strict and predictable periods.

Switzerland

Safety Tips

Traveling in Switzerland is safe, it’s highly ranked on the list of the safest and most dangerous countries. Switzerland is in top 10 of the safest countries on the planet. Violent crime is very rare in the country.

Petty crimes like pickpocketing and phone snatching are on the rise in recent years particularly in the big cities like Geneva. Another distracting area of concern is thefts of vehicles of all kind including cars, scooters, and bikes.

For emergencies call the toll free European emergency No. 112

Risk Ratings

OVERALL RISK : LOW
Switzerland is an excellent pattern of imitation where security measures are meticulously taken by the government. It is ranked 7 out of 162 of the safest and most dangerous cities. Be vigilant, use common sense and follow the same safety precautions as you’ll be used in your own country.

PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
More than 10 million tourists come to Switzerland yearly. They are the easy target for a professional thief. However, if you look after your belongings and do not leave your staff unattended you are almost out of danger.

MUGGING RISK : LOW
Kidnapping doesn’t exist in Switzerland. Mugging is rare.

SCAMS RISK : LOW
There are a lot of scammers and con-artists trying to take advantage of tourists, particularly in large cities and around major landmarks in Mexico. Be aware of “gold ring” tricks, fake petitions, groups of teenagers acting strangely or trying to distract you; and people offering help with your luggage.

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
There are no taxi risks in a taxi, except the fact, that it’s pretty expensive. If you want to drive in the country’s alpine areas, take into account all potential dangers, be equipped with winter tires or have snow-chains with you. We advise checking the weather prior your journey as driving on a narrow mountains roads require reductions of the speed during the winter period.

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
The following alpine hazards exist throughout the year:

•avalanches and snow drifts
•landslides and flooding
•glacial crevasses and hollows
•rock fall
•thunder storms and lightning
•altitude sickness
•sun exposure
•sudden weather changes

Be aware of avalanche risks and check regularly Swiss Federal Commission for Snow and Avalanche Research. While skiing is advised never do off-piste skiing.

TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Terrorism is a threat around the world. Although there are no recent incidents of terrorism in the country.

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : N/A
There is no threat for female visitors in Switzerland. We advise to use common sense and avoid public drunkenness places if you are alone, as well as other silliness.