Switzerland Geography and Population

Switzerland – geography

Switzerland is surrounded by Germany to the north, Austria and Liechtenstein to the east, Italy to the south and France to the west. The country does not have direct access to the sea.


Switzerland is divided in terms of landscape into three regions: the Jura Mountains to the NW with 10% of the area and approximately 15% of the population, Mittelland or the Swiss Hill Country north of the Alps between Lake Geneva and Lake Constance with 30% of the area and approximately 65% of the population and finally the Alpine region, which includes southeastern Switzerland.

The Jura Mountains consist mainly of limestone rocks that have been folded up from the SE during the formation of the Alps. Towards the NW on the border with France, the area is weakly folded and heavily eroded to a smoothly wavy land surface (Plateaujura). SW of this, the area is more strongly folded in clearly elongated arches up to 300 km long (Kettenjura). Between the arches run parallel valleys, which are connected by short, narrow transverse valleys. Farthest to the north, the area is not folded. Along fault zones, the surface is resp. raised and lowered into larger or smaller blocks (Tafeljura). The highest points in the Swiss Jura Mountains are Mont Tendre (1679 m) and La Dole (1677 m).

Mittelland is located at an altitude of 200-700 m and rises evenly from the Jura Mountains to the foot of the Alps. The region, which geologically forms the Swiss Plateau, is made up of centier, soft, greenish sandstone and accompanying marl, as well as conglomerates, molasses, which consist of degradation products from the growing Alps. These deposits are locally covered by moraine and river deposits. The soil is fertile in most places, and the region is Switzerland’s most important agricultural area.

The country’s third region comprises approximately 20% of the Alps. The longitudinal valleys of the Rhône and Rhine (Vorderrheins) divide the mountain range into a northern and southern part, and the transverse valleys of Reuss and Ticino into an eastern and western part. The Northern Alps consist of the Bernese Alps to the NW with Finsteraarhorn (4274 m) and the Glarner Alps to the NE, the Southern Alps of the Valais Alps (Pennine Alps) to the SW with the Matterhorn (4478 m) and the Lepon Alps and Rätiske Alps to the south and SE. The average elevation of the Swiss Alps is approximately 1700 m, but about 100 peaks reach around the 4-km level. The Dufourspitze in the Monte Rosa massif is with its 4634 m the highest point in Switzerland. Many alpine peaks are covered by perpetual snow and glaciers, the 117 km2 large and 23.6 km long Aletsch glaciers.


Switzerland is located in the humid, cold-temperate climate belt, but there are, especially due to the mountains, large regional differences: the Jurassic area and the alpine north side are under the influence of humid, relatively warm winds from the west and NW, which provide abundant precipitation (1500-2000 mm in Jurassic, up to 1500 mm in the Alps). The central and eastern Mittelland are partly covered by rainfall of the Jura Mountains, and the rainfall here is lower (eg Geneva 900 mm, Zurich 1100 mm). On the south side of the Alps, the climate is Mediterranean but humid. The air masses coming from the south give off precipitation here when crossing the mountains. On the north side, the air mass is dry and warm, and the often strong wind (blow dryer) can give rise to storm damage, sudden snowmelt and avalanches. The tree line is located at an altitude of 1700-2300 m.


Switzerland has 7.3 million residents and the annual population growth is 0.6%. The population is very unevenly distributed in the mountainous country: The northern lowlands, the Mittelland region, are most densely populated, while in the alpine area in the south is very sparsely populated, only 30 residents / km2. Over 60% live in cities with more than 10,000 residents, but even the largest cities have a relatively modest size: Zurich 376,000 residents, Basel 170,600, Geneva 192,400 and the capital Bern 125,700 (2011). Over 20% of the population are of foreign origin, mainly guest workers from Spain, Italy and France. Problems with this have led to tightening of the rules for obtaining Swiss citizenship.

  • Countryaah: Do you know how many people there are in Switzerland? Check this site to see population pyramid and resident density about this country.


In the field of insurance and banking, Switzerland is an international leader, just as the country is home to several large trading companies. Tourism has since the late 1800-t. been one of the country’s most important sources of income; in total approximately 300,000 jobs are directly or indirectly related to the tourism industry. It is especially in the mountains and their peripheral areas that tourism plays a dominant role. Here, the occupation has supplemented or completely replaced the original occupations, agriculture and forestry.

Compared to the other occupations, agriculture is of less importance. The country estates are small; with approximately 30% is larger than 10 ha. Only 3.7% of the population works in agriculture. The mountain areas are difficult to utilize rationally. Climatic conditions favor grass production in particular, which is why cattle breeding is Switzerland’s most important form of agriculture, and milk the most important agricultural product. Former farmsteads are maintained in only a few places, mostly for the sake of the tourists. Different types of cheese and chocolate are also important exports. Especially in the Mittelland region, agricultural crops are more varied, and in addition to grass, wheat, barley, oats, sugar beets and potatoes are grown. Viticulture is widespread in mild and sunny areas, for example in the canton of Valais and on the shores of Lake Genevaand Neuenburger See as well as in the Rhine Valley. Despite the harsh growing conditions, Switzerland is able to cover more than half of its food needs through its own production. This is not least due to a strong subsidy of the agricultural industry by the state.

Industry. Despite small area, pronounced shortage of raw materials and therefore great dependence on imported raw materials and semi-finished products, industrial production is relatively large. The industry employs approximately 30% of the working population and contributes approximately 35% to GDP. Industrial products account for almost 4/5 of Switzerland’s total export value. The country has many small businesses, and only a few have more than 500 employees. No real heavy industry or large industrial agglomerations have settled here, but several Swiss chemical and pharmaceutical groups have global significance. Industry centers are Basel (chemical and pharmaceutical industry), Sankt Gallen (textile industry), Zürich, Schaffhausenand Winterthur (metal and armaments industry) and La-Chaux-de-Fonds(watchmaking). Important industrial goods are also other fine mechanics, graphic products and food and beverages. Swiss industrial products compete on quality, as a high wage level, scarcity of raw materials and high transport costs lead to high costs. Some products are famous for their quality and reliability, which can be explained by a combination of technical know-how, entrepreneurship, a stable labor market, large investments and business talent. The Swiss watch industry is a good example of a production based on quality, which over time has been able to adapt to a very fluctuating demand. After a period of decline in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, the industry has regained its former market. The level of education is very high and Switzerland spends more money per capita.


Switzerland is dependent on energy imports. An exception is electricity, which for 60% comes from the country’s many hydropower plants and the rest from the country’s five nuclear power plants. Some electricity is used to make aluminum, some is exported to neighboring countries.


The mountainous landscape places great demands on the infrastructure, and the construction and maintenance of the traffic connections is costly. More than 30 pass roads at an altitude of over 1000 m direct traffic across the Alps in Switzerland. Six railway tunnels lead through the mountains, the approximately 20 km long Simplon tunnel between Switzerland and Italy. The 19.1 km long Vereina railway tunnel, which connects the town of Klosters with the Engadine Valley in Graubünden in eastern Switzerland, was inaugurated in 1999. Three road tunnels, Store Sankt Bernhard, San Bernardino and Sankt Gotthard, direct car traffic through the Alps; the latter is with its 16 km the world’s second longest road tunnel. In order to reduce the disadvantages of transit traffic through Switzerland, the government has implemented restrictions which mean that heavy lorries must be transported by rail.

Switzerland – economy

The commodity-poor Switzerland was for a long time Europe’s richest country; prosperity was based on highly developed industry and large foreign trade. Business activity is very high and the labor market is traditionally quite conflict-free. Slow growth from the 1990’s has, however, meant that it has been overtaken by, for example, Norway and Iceland. The country has a small open economy, as since2. World War II has become increasingly integrated into the world economy, despite the fact that Switzerland (partly through triple-income subsidies) has based its agricultural policy on a high degree of self-sufficiency, and has not or has only recently become a member of a number of international economic and political organizations. Thus, Switzerland chose to stand outside the EC at its formation in 1958; in turn, the country co-founded EFTA in 1960. The close economic ties with the EU,European Economic Area, EEA, in a referendum in 1993. The government then froze its application for EU membership, which had been submitted in 1992, when Switzerland also became a member of the IMF and the World Bank. In 2001, voters voted against entering EU negotiations -membership; legislation is continuously adapted to the conditions in the EU, and in 2003 Switzerland and the EU an agreement on the EU citizens’ savings in Swiss banks to be taxed, and that 3/4 of which must be transferred to that country. For culture and traditions of Switzerland, please check aparentingblog.

Since 1959, it has been a major objective of the government to base fiscal policy on a balanced budget. In an international comparison, corporation tax and tax burden are generally low, which in combination with the country’s strict banking secrecy has contributed to Switzerland developing into a leading financial center, where many multinational companies have chosen to locate their headquarters. Monetary policy is designed to maintain price stability over the medium term. The exchange rate of the Swiss franc is flowing freely, but has historically been closely linked to developments in the D-Mark. The status of the Swiss franc as an escape currency has meant that the currency has often strengthened significantly during major international financial crises, such as the crisis in Asia 1997-98.

While economic growth was high in the latter half of the 1980’s, developments reversed in the early 1990’s. Weak economic development in the main trading partners, weakened competitiveness due to a strong Swiss franc and a restrictive monetary policy resulted in economic stagnation, and unemployment, which in 1988-92 was only 1% on average, rose to over 5% in 1997; in 2004 and 2005 it was between 3% and 4%. Vha. work permits, foreign labor is used as a buffer, and unemployment and the associated public expenditure can be kept at a fairly low level. Nevertheless, from the 1990’s onwards, the government had to record annual government budget deficits (although only 1.5% of GDP in 2005), and government debt increased to 52% of GDP (2005); proposals for social cuts were rejected in a referendum in 2004.

Although Switzerland has at times had a trade deficit, this has been fully covered by large surpluses in connection with other foreign transactions. As a result, the country has a large annual surplus on the current account of the balance of payments, which in 2005 was estimated at 16% of GDP. The country’s most important trading partners are Germany, France, Italy and the USA, which together account for approximately half of foreign trade.

In 2005, Denmark exported DKK 4.9 billion. DKK to Switzerland, while imports from there were 5.5 billion. kr.