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Switzerland is a small yet well-known federated country in the heart of Europe. Its administrative capital is Bern, referred to by the Swiss as their “Federal City”, while Lausanne serves as its judicial centre. It is known as Confoederatio Helvetica, abbreviated as CH. “Confoederatio” means “confederation”, and “Helvetica” derives from the Latin word “Helvetier” – the name of the people who lived in the area which later became Switzerland. The country is a famous tourist destination for its ski resorts and hiking trails. Banking and finance are key industries, and Swiss watches and chocolate are world-renowned.
See the fact file below for more information on the Switzerland or alternatively, you can download our 27-page Switzerland worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Originally inhabited by the Helvetians, or Helvetic Celts, the territory comprising modern Switzerland came under Roman rule in the 1st century B.C.
- The area flourished under Roman rule with roads being built between major cities allowing for trade and commerce to grow.
- After the decline of the Roman Empire, Switzerland was invaded and settled by Germanic tribes, such as the Alemanni in central and northeastern Switzerland, and the Burgundians, who ruled western Switzerland.
- In 800, the country became part of Charlemagne’s empire for many years.
- The Swiss Confederation was founded in 1291 as a defensive alliance among three cantons (states) from Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden, where the ruling families signed a charter making Switzerland an independent country.
- The anniversary of the charter’s signature (August 1, 1291) is celebrated as Switzerland’s National Day.
- The Swiss remained neutral during wars. However, Napoleon invaded the country in 1797, but was defeated.
- In 1815, the Congress of Vienna gave Switzerland the status of permanent armed neutrality in international law.
- Switzerland was able to maintain their neutrality through both World Wars and the Cold War despite being centrally located.
- The Swiss amended their Constitution extensively in 1874, establishing federal responsibility for defense, trade, and legal matters as well as introducing direct democracy by popular referendum.
Flag of Switzerland
- The flag of Switzerland displays a white cross in the centre of a red shield, known as the Swiss cross.
- It was from the coat of arms of canton Schwyz and was introduced as the common national flag in 1840.
- On Swiss National Day, 1 August, the streets and buildings are traditionally festooned in celebration with Swiss flags and banners.
Geography and Climate
- Switzerland is a landlocked mountainous country in South Central Europe, bordered by Austria, France, Germany, Italy, and Liechtenstein.
- It has an area of 41,285 km². The country is only slightly smaller than the Netherlands.
- The largest city of Switzerland is Zürich.
- Geographically, the country is divided between the Alpine region of the Swiss Alps in the south, the Swiss Plateau with its rolling hills, plains, and large lakes, and the mountainous Jura in the northwest.
- The Swiss Alps comprise almost all the highest mountains of the Alps, such as Dufourspitze (4,634 m), the Dom (4,545 m), the Liskamm (4,527 m), and the Matterhorn (4,478 m).
- Many mountain areas are developed – there are trains, cog railways, aerial cable cars, and other means of transportation.
- Swiss mountains are famous for climbing, skiing, snowboarding, biking, hiking, and other recreational activities.
- It has a strategic location at the crossroads of central Europe with many easily traversable passes (Alpenpässe).
- These passes are important pathways between the northern and southern part of Europe.
- The rivers of Switzerland lead to three different seas: the Rhein, with its tributaries – Aare and Thur – drain 67.7% of water into the North Sea.
- The Rhone and the Ticino (a tributary to the river Po in Italy) drain 18% into the Mediterranean Sea. The Inn (a tributary to the river Donau in Germany/Austria) drains 4.4% into the Black Sea.
- There are many lakes in Switzerland. The biggest lakes are all in the north and west: Lake Geneva (Lac Léman), Lake Zürich, Lake Neuchâtel, and Lake Constance (Bodensee).
- The climate in Switzerland north of the Alps is temperate, but varies with altitude, wind exposure, and other factors.
- Generally, the areas to the west and north of the Alps have a cool, rainy climate, with winter averages near or below freezing and summer temperatures seldom above 21° C (70° F).
- South of the Alps has a warm, moist, Mediterranean climate, and frost is almost unknown.
- The climate of the Alps and of the Jura uplands is mostly raw, rainy, and snowy, with frost occurring above 1,830 m (6,000 ft).
People and Culture
- According to the World Happiness Report 2015, the Swiss Confederation is officially the happiest nation on Earth.
- The current population of Switzerland is 8,566,597 as of Thursday, November 1, 2018, based on the latest United Nations estimates.
- The religion of people in Switzerland is Roman Catholic 42%, Protestant 33%, Orthodox 1.8%, Christian 0.4%, Muslim 4.3%, others 5.4%, and no religion 11%.
- Three of the continent’s major languages, German, French, and Italian, are the national languages of Switzerland.
- Switzerland lies at the crossroads between several major European cultures. That is why Swiss culture is characterized by diversity, which is reflected in a wide range of traditional customs.
- All mountain areas of Switzerland have a strong skiing and mountaineering culture, and are associated with folk arts such as the alphorn and yodeling. Other Swiss cultural icons include Swiss chocolate, Swiss cheese, watches, cowbells, banking, and Swiss Army knives.
- The Swiss currency is called the Schweizer Franken (Swiss Francs) or more commonly “Franken”.
- The Swiss enjoy an impressive standard of living. Those living in the Alpine or forest regions traditionally live in wooden houses with shingled or tiled roofs and carved gables.
- Western-style clothing is the norm. However, traditional costumes can still be seen at local festivities and parades.
- Most Swiss literature was written in German from 1291 until 1798. Heidi, a book for children by Johanna Spyri, is the most famous book from Switzerland.
- Because of the large mountain range and cold weather, skiing, snowboarding, and mountaineering are among the most popular sports.
Politics and Government
- The Swiss Confederation is a federal republic made up of 26 cantons (member states).
- These in turn are divided into more than 3,000 communes, or municipalities, for local government. Each canton has its own constitution, legislature (parliament), government, and courts.
- The government is composed of seven Federal Councillors from several Swiss political parties, which are elected by the Federal Assembly every four years and share the duties of the head of state. Federal Councillors rotate and every year, one takes on the role of president.
- The federal government supervises the country’s security, transportation, forestry, and water conservation. It is also responsible for foreign policy, the monetary system, the military, and social insurance programs.
- The fundamental principle of direct democracy is that all citizens over the age of 18 take part in decision-making, and there’s a strong respect for minorities.
- The people of Switzerland can collect signatures if they do not like a law or a law change. This is called a referendum. If enough people sign a referendum, the people vote.
- The people can also collect signatures to change the constitution. This is called an initiative. The constitution is the basic law of a country.
- The name Switzer is from the Alemannic Schwiizer, in origin an inhabitant of Schwyz and its associated territory, one of the Waldstätten cantons which formed the nucleus of the Old Swiss Confederacy.
- Switzerland is located in the Central European Time zone (CET), also known as Middle European Time zone (MET). It is one hour ahead of Greenwich Time (GMT+1).
- Swiss people drive on the right side of the road as people do in all continental European countries. In Europe, only people in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Cyprus drive on the left side of the road.
- There are more than 3000 km² of glaciers and firn in Switzerland. Most of the glaciers are decreasing.
- Switzerland’s Gotthard tunnel is the longest in the world.
- Albert Einstein developed his famous formula E=MC² while living in Bern, Switzerland.
- Switzerland has the tallest dams in Europe, among which is the Mauvoisin Dam in the Alps. Hydroelectricity is the most important domestic source of energy in the country.
- Women did not gain the vote at federal level until 1971.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Switzerland across 27 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Switzerland worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Switzerland which is a small yet well-known federated country in the heart of Europe. Its administrative capital is Bern, referred to by the Swiss as their “Federal City”, while Lausanne serves as its judicial centre. It is known as Confoederatio Helvetica, abbreviated as CH. “Confoederatio” means “confederation”, and “Helvetica” derives from the Latin word “Helvetier” – the name of the people who lived in the area which later became Switzerland. The country is a famous tourist destination for its ski resorts and hiking trails. Banking and finance are key industries, and Swiss watches and chocolate are world-renowned.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Switzerland Facts
- Neighbors of Switzerland
- Episode in History
- Helvetica’s Profile
- Divided but United
- Simply Swiss
- Dream Vacay
- Thumbs Up or Down?
- Swiss Rulers
- The Thinking Hats
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Link will appear as Switzerland Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, November 7, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.