Switzerland's independence (1291) and neutrality have long been honored by the major European powers. The political and economic integration of Europe over the past half century, as well as Switzerland's role in many UN and international organizations, has strengthened Switzerland's ties with its neighbors. However, the country did not officially become a member of the United Nations until 2002. The capital is Bern.
Country name: Swiss Confederation. Short form: Switzerland. Local: Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft (German), Confederation Suisse (French), Confederazione Svizzera (Italian).
Administrative divisions: 26 cantons (cantons, singular - canton in French; cantoni, singular - cantone in Italian; kantone, singular - kanton in German); Aargau, Appenzell Ausser-Rhoden, Appenzell Inner-Rhoden, Basel-Landschaft, Basel-Stadt, Bern, Fribourg, Geneve, Glarus, Graubunden, Jura, Luzern, Neuchatel, Nidwalden, Obwalden, Sankt Gallen, Schaffhausen, Schwyz, Solothurn, Thurgau, Ticino, Uri, Valais, Vaud, Zug, Zurich.
Terrain: mostly mountains (Alps in south, Jura in northwest) with a central plateau of rolling hills, plains, and large lakes. Switzerland has the highest elevations in the Alps.
Total area: 41,290 km².
Highest point: Dufourspitze 4,634 m.
Climate: temperate, but varies with altitude; cold, cloudy, rainy/snowy winters; cool to warm, cloudy, humid summers with occasional showers.
Population: 8.3 million (2018).
Religions: Roman Catholic 36.5%, Protestant 24.5%, other Christian 5.9%, Muslim 5.2%, other 1.4%, Jewish 0.3%, none 24.9%, unspecified 1.3% (2015 est.).
Ethnic groups: Swiss 70.3%, German 4.2%, Italian 3.2%, Portuguese 2.6%, French 2%, Kosovar 1%, other 18.7% (2017 est.).
Languages: German (or Swiss German) (official) 62.8%, French (official) 22.9%, Italian (official) 8.2%, English 5.1%, Portuguese 3.7%, Albanian 3.1%, Serbo-Croatian 2.4%, Spanish 2.3%, Romansch (official) 0.5%, other 7.5% (2016 est.).
Main source: CIA - The World Factbook.
Bern and Aare River, Switzerland.
Mount Pilatus, Swiss Alps.
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Saint Moritz, Alps.