Switzerland is all about classy nightlife, art & culture, Alps, castles and cosmopolitan lifestyle. With a model railway network and railway cars, blissful and fully organised town centres and heavenly mountains, the country is at the centre of it all.
Total area: 41 285 km² (15,940 sq. miles)
Population: 7,870,100 million (2010)
Switzerland is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It borders FRANCE to the west, AUSTRIA and Liechtenstein to the east, GERMANY to the north and Italy to the south. Switzerland is worldwide known for its mountains (Alps in south, Jura in northwest); it must however be mentioned that it also boasts a central plateau of large lakes, plains, and rolling hills. The highest point is Dufourspitze at 4,634 m while Lake Maggiore is only 195 m above sea level. Bern is the capital of Switzerland, and also the capital of the canton of the same name.
In terms of its extended area, Switzerland measures 220 kilometers (137 miles) from north to south and 350 km (217 miles) from east to west. The Jura, the Plateau and the Alps form the three main geographic regions of the country. Whether visiting the remotest Ticino villages or sampling the finest of Valais wines, you'll find that Switzerland is a feast full picnic box, bursting with unexpected flavors.
Known as a summer and winter sports paradise (take a peak at those glistening white 4000m-plus Alpine peaks and glittering lakes), Switzerland is where people first skied for fun. Illustrious names evoke all the romance and glamorous drama of the mountain high life: Zermatt, Gstaad, the Jungfrau, St Moritz, Interlaken, Verbier and more. The Rhine Falls, a few kilometers downstream of Schaffhausen, are the largest in Europe. They are 150 m (450 ft) wide and 23 m (75.4 ft) high. Switzerland retains 6 per cent of Europe's stock of fresh water. The Rhine, Rhone and Inn rivers all take their source here, although their waters flow into three seas: the Mediterranean, the North and the Black Seas.
In addition, Switzerland boasts over 1,500 lakes. Its largest two, Lake Geneva and Constance, lie on its borders. Lake Constance is shared with Germany and Austria whereas Lake Geneva is shared with France. Lake Geneva, which lies on the course of the Rhone, is the largest freshwater lake in central Europe. The biggest lake which lies wholly within Switzerland is Lake Neuchâtel with an area of 218.4 square km (84.3 square miles). Probably the best known lake is Lake Lucerne in Central Switzerland (113.7 square km / 44 square miles).
From a climate point of view, Switzerland is located in a transition zone. In its eastern parts, there lies an almost continental climate, offering lower temperatures and less precipitation. In the west, there is a strong influence of the Atlantic ocean. Mild winds bring a lot of moisture into Switzerland and cause rainfall. On the other hand, the alps - which run from the east to the west of the country, act as a natural barrier and thus create a climatic divide. South of the alps, there is an almost Mediterranean climate, with significantly higher temperatures to experience, but also a lot of precipitation.
Generally speaking, spring is wet and cool, April is well known for fast and often changing weather conditions. Summer is supposed to be warm and dry with maximum temperature up to 35°C (95°F). The temperature depends primarily on the elevation, the zero line (0°C or 32°F) may raise as high as 4,000 meters above sea level (13,125 feet). Fall is usually dry, but cool. The temperature will drop significantly in September or October, with the zero line around 2,000 meter above sea level (6,560 feet). Winter is supposed to be cold and dry. The temperature may drop below 0°C (32 F) everywhere in Switzerland, especially at night. In the alps, they usually get a lot of snow, but even at lower elevations, there is a good chance that they will get a foot of snow every now and then.
A range of temperatures is more than possible, as the mountains create a variety of local and regional microclimates. That said, most of the country has a central European climate, with daytime temperatures around 18° to 28°C (64.4 F to 82.4 F) in the summer months (June to August) and -2° to 7°C (28.4 F to 44.6 F) during the winter period. The coldest area is one called the Jura, the Brevine Valley to be more exact. By contrast, Ticino located the south, has a hot Mediterranean climate.
Summer tends to bring a lot of sun, but also assumes the most rain, with some extreme floods in the years back to 1999 and 2005.
When to Visit
Switzerland generally experiences brief Summers. The Summer season lasts roughly from June to September and offers the most pleasant climate for outdoor pursuits and adventures. Canoeing is a top sport during this period. The peak period is July and August, when accommodation prices are high and fully booked most of the time and the sights packed. You'll find better deals, and fewer people, in the shoulder seasons either side of summer: in April, May and October. With the exception of the busy Easter break, spring is a beautiful time of year to explore the blooming and much rewarding countryside.
Sources: Wikipedia, About.ch, Lonely Planet
Switzerland is a peaceful, prosperous, and stable modern market economy with low unemployment, a highly skilled labor force, and a per capita GDP larger than that of the big Western European economies. Swiss companies are extremely competitive in world markets. In some branches, more than 90% of goods and services are exported. The best-known export items are watches, chocolate and cheese, but in fact mechanical and electrical engineering and chemicals together account for over half Swiss export revenues.
Most of the people working in Switzerland are employed by small and medium-sized enterprises, which play an extremely important role in the Swiss economy. The economy is based on a highly qualified labour force performing highly skilled work. The main areas include pharmaceuticals, microtechnology, hitech, and biotechnology, as well as banking and insurance know-how. The service sector currently employs the greatest number of people.
The mechanical and electrical engineering industries – known collectively in German as the MEM industries - are one of the major branches of the Swiss economy. The output of today's MEM industries includes household goods, machine tools, construction plant, and highly specialised microelectronic apparatus.
The Swiss are friends to the environment to the extreme, as opposed to other neighboring countries; they are increasingly concerned that economic activity should have as little impact as possible on the environment. Switzerland's energy and transport policies aim to be environmentally friendly.
The Swiss in recent years have brought their economic practices largely into conformity with the EU's to enhance their international competitiveness. Switzerland remains a safe haven for investors, because it has maintained a degree of bank secrecy and has kept up the franc's long-term external value. Unemployment has remained at less than half the EU average.
Switzerland is the 29th most visited country in the world (Source: World Tourism Organization UNWTO, 2008 Data). The number of International arrivals in Switzerland was 8,294,000 people in 2009, according to a World Bank report, published in 2010. (2009 arrivals, Source: Trading Economics)
The nationalities of international visitors to Switzerland for Overnight Stays and by country of residence (see below Chart) vary greatly, but the top 15 countries providing tourists to Switzerland in 2010 were:
1. Germany – 5.8 million
2. United Kingdom – 1.9 million
3. USA – 1.5 million
4. France – 1.4 million
5. Italy – 1.1 million
6. Netherlands – 1.0 million
7. Belgium – 0.7 million
8. Nordic Countries – 0.6 million (Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Norway)
9. Russia – 0.5 million
10. Japan – 0.5 million
11. China – 0.5 million
12. Spain – 0.4 million
13. Austria – 0.4 million
14. India – 0.4 million
15. Canada – 0.2 million
(2010 Overnight Stays in Switzerland by Country of Residence, Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office)
It has to be mentioned that local Tourism far exceeds even Germany in overnight stays by about 3 times (15,8 Million overnight stays) expressing that Swiss people love travelling and exploring their country.
Car Hire in Switzerland with MisterHire.Com
Switzerland has a great deal to offer: cultural diversity, multilingualism, stunning scenery and the warm heart and hospitality of its people. The chance to discover what "Life in Switzerland" is really all about, rests on the places you see, the friends you meet and the influences experienced in this magnificent country. Renting a car to help you go about comfortably with a sense of freedom, becomes extremely important.
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Motorways in Switzerland (called Autobahnen), are limited to 120 km/h (75 mph) and semi-motorways (Autostrassen), are limited to 100 km/h. Other highways are limited to 80 km/h. The limit in built-up areas is 50 km/h (31 mph).
The blood/alcohol limit in Switzerland is 50 milligram's of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood (0.5 grams/litre). Please do bear in mind that the police have the right to perform spot breathalyser tests and both currenlt legislation and alcohol limit has been in place since January 2005. Drivers with an alcohol level between 0.5 g/l and 0.79 g/l will be charged with a fine and could be taken to jail. If the intoxication level is higher than 0.8 g/l, in addition to the fine and the possibility of being arrested, the driver's licence will be confiscated for at least three months. And if a passenger or co-driver of a drunk driver has a driving licence, they are held equally responsible.
Kindly be advised that the cost of Diesel is generally higher than Petrol in Switzerland.
Sources: geneva.angloinfo, wikipedia