The oldest known farming settlements in Switzerland, which were found at Gächlingen, have been dated to around 5300 BC.
La Tène culture developed and flourished during the late Iron Age from around 450 BC, possibly under some influence from the Greek and Etruscan civilisations.
Around 260 AD, the fall of the Agri Decumates territory north of the Rhine transformed today's Switzerland into a frontier land of the Empire.
In the Early Middle Ages, from the end of the 4th century, the western extent of modern-day Switzerland was part of the territory of the Kings of the Burgundians.
400, 499, 700, 799
The Alemanni settled the Swiss plateau in the 5th century and the valleys of the Alps in the 8th century, forming Alemannia.
500, 504, 599
The entire region became part of the expanding Frankish Empire in the 6th century, following Clovis I's victory over the Alemanni at Tolbiac in 504 AD, and later Frankish domination of the Burgundians.
Switzerland in years
The Population is about 8 million, resulting in an average population density of around 195 people per square kilometre (500/sq mi).
600, 699, 700, 799
Throughout the rest of the 6th, 7th and 8th centuries the Swiss regions continued under Frankish hegemony (Merovingian and Carolingian dynasties).
The territories of present-day Switzerland became divided into Middle Francia and East Francia until they were reunified under the Holy Roman Empire around 1000 AD.
1200, 1291, 1299
The precursors of Switzerland established a protective alliance at the end of the 13th century (1291), forming a loose confederation of states which persisted for centuries.
By 1200, the Swiss plateau comprised the dominions of the houses of Savoy, Zähringer, Habsburg, and Kyburg.
Switzerland in decades
Practised only among the alpine population since prehistoric times, it is recorded to have taken place in Basel in the 13th century.
With the extinction of its male line in 1263 the Kyburg dynasty fell in AD 1264; then the Habsburgs under King Rudolph I (Holy Roman Emperor in 1273) laid claim to the Kyburg lands and annexed them extending their territory to the eastern Swiss plateau.
The Federal Charter of 1291 agreed between the rural communes of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden is considered the confederacy's founding document, even though similar alliances are likely to have existed decades earlier.
As the Confederation, from its foundation in 1291, was almost exclusively composed of German-speaking regions, the earliest forms of literature are in German.
1300, 1399, 1499
The Swiss began to adopt the name for themselves after the Swabian War of 1499, used alongside the term for "Confederates", Eidgenossen (literally: comrades by oath), used since the 14th century.
Switzerland in centuries
1353, 1400, 1499
By 1353, the three original cantons had joined with the cantons of Glarus and Zug and the Lucerne, Zürich and Bern city states to form the "Old Confederacy" of eight states that existed until the end of the 15th century.
Afterwards the town hall at Baden, where the annual accounts of the common people had been held regularly since 1426, became the most frequent, but not the sole place of assembly.
1460, 1470, 1479
By 1460, the confederates controlled most of the territory south and west of the Rhine to the Alps and the Jura mountains, particularly after victories against the Habsburgs (Battle of Sempach, Battle of Näfels), over Charles the Bold of Burgundy during the 1470s, and the success of the Swiss mercenaries.
The first university in Switzerland was founded in 1460 in Basel (with a faculty of medicine) and has a tradition of chemical and medical research in Switzerland.
The name was extended to the area dominated by the canton, and after the Swabian War of 1499 gradually came to be used for the entire Confederation.
The Old Swiss Confederacy had acquired a reputation of invincibility during these earlier wars, but expansion of the confederation suffered a setback in 1515 with the Swiss defeat in the Battle of Marignano.
Traditionally, Switzerland avoids alliances that might entail military, political, or direct economic action and has been neutral since the end of its expansion in 1515.
From 1526, the Catholic conferences were held mostly in Lucerne, the Protestant conferences from 1528 mostly in Aarau, the one for the legitimation of the French Ambassador in Solothurn.
The success of Zwingli's Reformation in some cantons led to inter-cantonal religious conflicts in 1529 and 1531 (Wars of Kappel).
Geneva converted to Protestantism in 1536, just before John Calvin arrived there.
In 1541, he founded the Republic of Geneva on his own ideals.
One canton, Appenzell, was officially divided into Catholic and Protestant sections in 1597.
1600, 1672, 1699
Helvetia appears as a national personification of the Swiss confederacy in the 17th century with a 1672 play by Johann Caspar Weissenbach.
Swiss independence from the Holy Roman Empire was formally recognized in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.
It was not until more than one hundred years after these internal wars that, in 1648, under the Peace of Westphalia, European countries recognised Switzerland's independence from the Holy Roman Empire and its neutrality.
During the Early Modern period of Swiss history, the growing authoritarianism of the patriciate families combined with a financial crisis in the wake of the Thirty Years' War led to the Swiss peasant war of 1653.
In the background to this struggle, the conflict between Catholic and Protestant cantons persisted, erupting in further violence at the First War of Villmergen, in 1656, and the Toggenburg War (or Second War of Villmergen), in 1712.
In the 18th century, French became the fashionable language in Bern and elsewhere, while the influence of the French-speaking allies and subject lands was more marked than before.
1700, 1799, 1800, 1899
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 conching and tempering which enabled its production on a high quality level.
Prominent French-speaking writers were Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) and Germaine de Staël (1766–1817).
1797, 1819, 1854, 1890
Among the classic authors of Swiss German literature are Jeremias Gotthelf (1797–1854) and Gottfried Keller (1819–1890).
In 1798, the revolutionary French government conquered Switzerland and imposed a new unified constitution.
The fierce French suppression of the Nidwalden Revolt in September 1798 was an example of the oppressive presence of the French Army and the local population's resistance to the occupation.
Yet however minor the Sonderbundskrieg appears compared with other European riots and wars in the 19th century, it nevertheless had a major impact on both the psychology and the society of the Swiss and of Switzerland.
In common with other developed countries, the Swiss population increased rapidly during the industrial era, quadrupling between 1800 and 1990.
Winter sports are practised by the natives and tourists since the second half of the 19th century with the invention of bobsleigh in St. Moritz.
Due to the popularisation of processed foods at the end of the 19th century, Swiss health food pioneer Maximilian Bircher-Benner created the first nutrition-based therapy in form of the well-known rolled oats cereal dish, called Birchermüesli.
In 1803 Napoleon organised a meeting of the leading Swiss politicians from both sides in Paris.
After the Helvetic Republic and during the Mediation from 1803 until 1815 the Confederal Diet of the 19 Lieus met at the capitals of the directoral cantons Fribourg, Berne, Basel, Zurich, Lucerne and Solothurn.
It is also central to the Unspunnenfest, first held in 1805, with its symbol the 83.5 stone named Unspunnenstein.
6 April 1814, 31 April 1814, August 1815
After the Long Diet from 6 April 1814 to 31 August 1815 took place in Zurich to replace the constitution and the enhancement of the Confederation to 22 cantons by the admission of the cantons of Valais, Neuchâtel and Geneva to full members, the directoral cantons of Lucerne, Zurich and Berne took over the diet in two-year turns.
The country has a history of armed neutrality going back to the Reformation; it has not been in a state of war internationally since 1815 and did not join the United Nations until 2002.
Its policy of neutrality was internationally recognised at the Congress of Vienna in 1815.
Her creator, Johanna Spyri (1827–1901), wrote a number of other books on similar themes.
After a period of unrest with repeated violent clashes, such as the Züriputsch of 1839, civil war (the Sonderbundskrieg) broke out in 1847 when some Catholic cantons tried to set up a separate alliance (the Sonderbund).
1848, 1879, 1902, 1948
The Latin name Confoederatio Helvetica was neologized and introduced gradually after the formation of the federal state in 1848, harking back to the Napoleonic Helvetic Republic, appearing on coins from 1879, inscribed on the Federal Palace in 1902 and after 1948 used in the official seal. (for example, the ISO banking code "CHF" for the Swiss franc, and the country top-level domain ".ch", are both taken from the state's Latin name).
Switzerland has existed as a state in its present form since the adoption of the Swiss Federal Constitution in 1848.
The Federal Constitution adopted in 1848 is the legal foundation of the modern federal state.
The 1848 and 1999 Swiss Constitutions define a system of direct democracy (sometimes called half-direct or representative direct democracy because it is aided by the more commonplace institutions of a representative democracy).
In 1848, the federal constitution provided that details concerning the federal institutions, such as their locations, should be taken care of by the Federal Assembly (BV 1848 Art. 108).
The Swiss Constitution of 1848, under the recent impression of the clashes of Catholic vs.
28 November 1848
Thus on 28 November 1848, the Federal Assembly voted in majority to locate the seat of government in Berne.
1854, 1912, 1917
And, as a prototypical federal compromise, to assign other federal institutions, such as the Federal Polytechnical School (1854, the later ETH) to Zurich, and other institutions to Lucerne, such as the later Suva (1912) and the Federal Insurance Court (1917).
Swiss troops still served foreign governments until 1860 when they fought in the Siege of Gaeta.
Article 11 of the constitution forbade sending troops to serve abroad, with the exception of serving the Holy See, though the Swiss were still obliged to serve Francis II of the Two Sicilies with Swiss Guards present at the Siege of Gaeta in 1860, marking the end of foreign service.
Publicly organised collection by volunteers and economical railway transport logistics started as early as 1865 under the leadership of the notable industrialist Hans Caspar Escher (Escher Wyss AG) when the first modern Swiss paper manufacturing plant was built in Biberist.
The first one was held on the occasion of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71.
An early draft was rejected by the population in 1872 but modifications led to its acceptance in 1874.
According to these living fundamental federalistic feelings further federal institutions were subsequently attributed to Lausanne (Federal Supreme Court in 1872, and EPFL in 1969), Bellinzona (Federal Criminal Court, 2004), and St.
In 1875, a law (RS 112) fixed the compensations owed by the city of Bern for the federal seat.
Also a breakthrough was the invention of solid milk chocolate in 1875 by Daniel Peter.
1878, 1887, 1947, 1961
More recent authors include Charles Ferdinand Ramuz (1878–1947), whose novels describe the lives of peasants and mountain dwellers, set in a harsh environment and Blaise Cendrars (born Frédéric Sauser, 1887–1961).
In 1891, the constitution was revised with unusually strong elements of direct democracy, which remain unique even today.
Strict immigration and asylum policies as well as the financial relationships with Nazi Germany raised controversy, but not until the end of the 20th century.
For much of the 20th century, Switzerland was the wealthiest country in Europe by a considerable margin (by GDP – per capita).
The role played by dialects in each linguistic region varies dramatically: in the German-speaking regions, Swiss German dialects have become ever more prevalent since the second half of the 20th century, especially in the media, such as radio and television, and are used as an everyday language for many, while the Swiss variety of Standard German is almost always used instead of dialect for written communication (c.f. diglossic usage of a language).
Conversely, in the French-speaking regions the local dialects have almost disappeared (only 6.3% of the population of Valais, 3.9% of Fribourg, and 3.1% of Jura still spoke dialects at the end of the 20th century), while in the Italian-speaking regions dialects are mostly limited to family settings and casual conversation.
1900, 1911, 1921, 1990, 1991, 1999, 2001
The undisputed giants of 20th-century Swiss literature are Max Frisch (1911–91) and Friedrich Dürrenmatt (1921–90), whose repertoire includes Die Physiker (The Physicists) and Das Versprechen (The Pledge), released in 2001 as a Hollywood film.
The second was in response to the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914.
During the war, the Swiss Air Force engaged aircraft of both sides, shooting down 11 intruding Luftwaffe planes in May and June 1940, then forcing down other intruders after a change of policy following threats from Germany.
Concessions reached a peak after a crucial rail link through Vichy France was severed in 1942, leaving Switzerland (together with Liechtenstein) entirely isolated from the wider world by Axis controlled territory.
Some 1000 museums are distributed through the country; the number has more than tripled since 1950.
Switzerland hosted the 1954 FIFA World Cup, and was the joint host, with Austria, of the UEFA Euro 2008 tournament.
Motorsport racecourses and events were banned in Switzerland following the 1955 Le Mans disaster with exception to events such as Hillclimbing.
Some Swiss cantons approved this in 1959, while at the federal level it was achieved in 1971 and, after resistance, in the last canton Appenzell Innerrhoden (one of only two remaining Landsgemeinde) in 1990.
The Swiss government has been a coalition of the four major political parties since 1959, each party having a number of seats that roughly reflects its share of electorate and representation in the federal parliament.
The classic distribution of 2 CVP/PDC, 2 SPS/PSS, 2 FDP/PRD and 1 SVP/UDC as it stood from 1959 to 2003 was known as the "magic formula".
1960, 1990, 2010
The expenditures of the Swiss Confederation have been growing from 7% of GDP in 1960 to 9.7% in 1990 and to 10.7% in 2010.
Financial problems with the defence budget and ethical considerations prevented the substantial funds from being allocated, and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968 was seen as a valid alternative.
Some traditionally Protestant cantons and cities nowadays have a slight Catholic majority, not because they were growing in members, quite the contrary, but only because since about 1970 a steadily growing minority became not affiliated with any church or other religious body (21.4% in Switzerland, 2012) especially in traditionally Protestant regions, such as Basel-City (42%), canton of Neuchâtel (38%), canton of Geneva (35%), canton of Vaud (26%), or Zürich city (city: >25%; canton: 23%).
In addition it was one of the 10 founders of the European Space Agency in 1975 and is the seventh largest contributor to the ESA budget.
In 1979 areas from the canton of Bern attained independence from the Bernese, forming the new canton of Jura.
18 April 1979
On 18 April 1999 the Swiss population and the cantons voted in favour of a completely revised federal constitution.
Switzerland - Air Force McDonnell Douglas FA-18C Hornet - cropped
A 1980 initiative calling for the complete separation of church and state was rejected by 78.9% of the voters.
1984, 1989, 1999
After obtaining suffrage at the federal level, women quickly rose in political significance, with the first woman on the seven member Federal Council executive being Elisabeth Kopp, who served from 1984 to 1989, and the first female president being Ruth Dreifuss in 1999.
In 1988, the Paul Scherrer Institute was founded in his name to explore the therapeutic uses of neutron scattering technologies.
All remaining plans for building nuclear weapons were dropped by 1988.
11 September 1989
A similar referendum, called for before, but held shortly after the 11 September attacks in the US, was defeated by over 78% of voters.
SKdt-Fahrzeug - Schweizer Armee - Steel Parade 2006
26 November 1989
A notable referendum on the subject, launched by an anti-militarist group, was held on 26 November 1989.
Switzerland is not a member of the European Union; the Swiss people have consistently rejected membership since the early 1990s.
1990, 1999, 2000, 2009
The slow growth Switzerland experienced in the 1990s and the early 2000s has brought greater support for economic reforms and harmonisation with the European Union.
1990, 2010, 2015
While the sectors social welfare and finance & tax have been growing from 35% in 1990 to 48.2% in 2010, a significant reduction of expenditures has been occurring in the sectors of agriculture and national defence; from 26.5% in to 12.4% (estimation for the year 2015).
From 1990, a steady increase can be observed, reflecting the high costs of the services provided.
An application for membership in the European Union was sent in May 1992, but not advanced since the EEA was rejected in December 1992 when Switzerland was the only country to launch a referendum on the EEA.
Switzerland voted against membership in the European Economic Area in a referendum in December 1992 and has since maintained and developed its relationships with the European Union (EU) and European countries through bilateral agreements.
Switzerland, together with Liechtenstein, has been completely surrounded by the EU since Austria's entry in 1995.
Switzerland has one of the best environmental records among nations in the developed world; it was one of the countries to sign the Kyoto Protocol in 1998 and ratified it in 2003.
A new Swiss Constitution was adopted in 1999, but did not introduce notable changes to the federal structure.
The 1999 new constitution, however, does not contain anything concerning any Federal City.
These agreements were signed in 1999 and took effect in 2001.
Traditionally, the first foreign language in school was always one of the other national languages, although recently (2000) English was introduced first in a few cantons.
18 May 2003, 2000
On 18 May 2003, two anti-nuclear initiatives were turned down: Moratorium Plus, aimed at forbidding the building of new nuclear power plants (41.6% supported and 58.4% opposed), and Electricity Without Nuclear (33.7% supported and 66.3% opposed) after a previous moratorium expired in 2000.
The agency is supporting the 2000-watt society initiative to cut the nation's energy use by more than half by the year 2050.
The Swiss autobahn/autoroute network has a total length of 1,638 km (1,018 mi) (as of 2000) and has, by an area of 41,290 km2 (15,940 sq mi), also one of the highest motorway densities in the world.
In the 2000s, domestic and international institutions expressed concern about what was perceived as an increase in xenophobia, particularly in some political campaigns.
As of the 2000 census other Christian minority communities included Neo-Pietism (0.44%), Pentecostalism (0.28%, mostly incorporated in the Schweizer Pfingstmission), Methodism (0.13%), the New Apostolic Church (0.45%), Jehovah's Witnesses (0.28%), other Protestant denominations (0.20%), the Old Catholic Church (0.18%), other Christian denominations (0.20%).
1 June 2000, 4 December 2000
The unemployment rate increased from a low of 1.7% in June 2000 to a peak of 4.4% in December 2009.
In March 2001, the Swiss people refused in a popular vote to start accession negotiations with the EU.
In 2002 Switzerland became a full member of the United Nations, leaving the Vatican City as the last widely recognised state without full UN membership.
Only in 2002 did Switzerland become a full member of the United Nations and it was the first state to join it by referendum.
In 2002 a tripartite committee has been asked by the Swiss Federal Council to prepare the "creation of a federal law on the status of Bern as a Federal City", and to evaluate the positive and negative aspects for the city and the canton of Bern if this status were awarded.
The reform "Army XXI" was adopted by popular vote in 2003, it replaced the previous model "Army 95", reducing the effectives from 400,000 to about 200,000.
Switzerland has the second highest rate (almost 18% in 2003) of foreign students in tertiary education, after Australia (slightly over 18%).
A second series covering nine areas was signed in 2004 and has since been ratified, which includes the Schengen Treaty and the Dublin Convention besides others.
Swiss motorcycle racer Thomas Lüthi won the 2005 MotoGP World Championship in the 125cc category.
5 June 2005
On 5 June 2005, Swiss voters agreed by a 55% majority to join the Schengen treaty, a result that was regarded by EU commentators as a sign of support by Switzerland, a country that is traditionally perceived as independent and reluctant to enter supranational bodies.
Geneva is the birthplace of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and the Geneva Conventions and, since 2006, hosts the United Nations Human Rights Council.
In 2006, Switzerland approved 1 billion francs of supportive investment in the poorer Southern and Central European countries in support of cooperation and positive ties to the EU as a whole.
Housing and food price levels were 171% and 145% of the EU-25 index in 2007, compared to 113% and 104% in Germany.
Switzerland also won the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in 2007–08 with driver Neel Jani.
27 November 2008, 12 December 2008
On 27 November 2008, the interior and justice ministers of European Union in Brussels announced Switzerland's accession to the Schengen passport-free zone from 12 December 2008.
In 2009, Switzerland hosted the IIHF World Championship for the 10th time.
29 March 2009
The land Border checkpoints will remain in place only for goods movements, but should not run controls on people, though people entering the country had their passports checked until 29 March 2009 if they originated from a Schengen nation.
The Swiss Federal budget had a size of 62.8 billion Swiss francs in 2010, which is an equivalent 11.35% of the country's GDP in that year; however, the regional (canton) budgets and the budgets of the municipalities are not counted as part of the federal budget and the total rate of government spending is closer to 33.8% of GDP.
2010, 2011, 2012
The economy grew at 3% in 2010, 1.9% in 2011, and 1% in 2012.
However, spending on health is particularly high at 11.4% of GDP (2010), on par with Germany and France (11.6%) and other European countries, but notably less than spending in the USA (17.6%).
In 2011 it was ranked as the wealthiest country in the world in per capita terms (with "wealth" being defined to include both financial and non-financial assets), while the 2013 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report showed that Switzerland was the country with the highest average wealth per adult in 2013.
GDP per hour worked is the world's 16th highest, at 49.46 international dollars in 2012.
It also became World Vice-Champion in 2013 and 2018.
Nevertheless, according to the 2014 Environmental Performance Index, Switzerland ranks first among 132 nations in safeguarding the environment, due to its high scores on environmental public health, its heavy reliance on renewable sources of energy (hydropower and geothermal energy), and its control of greenhouse gas emissions.
2014, 2015, 2016
The unemployment rate decreased to 3.2% in 2014 without further decrease in 2015 and 2016.
The 2014 Global Green Economy Index ranked Switzerland among the top 10 green economies in the world.
In 2014 almost two-thirds (64.4%) of the permanent resident population indicated speaking more than one language regularly.
On 9 February 2014, Swiss voters narrowly approved by 50.3% a ballot initiative launched by the national conservative Swiss People's Party (SVP/UDC) to restrict immigration, and thus reintroducing a quota system on the influx of foreigners.
Following the 2015 Federal Council elections, the seven seats in the Federal Council were distributed as follows:
The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ) and the University of Zurich are listed 20th and 54th respectively, on the 2015 Academic Ranking of World Universities.
The most dense rail network in Europe of 5,250 kilometres (3,260 mi) carries over 596 million passengers annually (as of 2015).
In 2015, each Swiss resident travelled on average 2,550 kilometres (1,580 mi) by rail, which makes them the keenest rail users.
During this period, the country still produced successful racing drivers such as Clay Regazzoni, Sébastien Buemi, Jo Siffert, Dominique Aegerter, successful World Touring Car Championship driver Alain Menu, 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Marcel Fässler and 2015 24 Hours Nürburgring winner Nico Müller.
31 May 2015
On 31 May 2016 the world's longest and deepest railway tunnel and the first flat, low-level route through the Alps, the 57.1-kilometre long (35.5 mi) Gotthard Base Tunnel, opened as the largest part of the New Railway Link through the Alps (NRLA) project after 17 years of realization.
The application for membership of the EU was formally withdrawn in 2016, having long been frozen.
Switzerland has four national languages: mainly German (spoken by 62.8% of the population in 2016); French (22.9%) in the west; and Italian (8.2%) in the south.
In 2016, the languages most spoken at home among permanent residents aged 15 and older were Swiss German (59.4%), French (23.5%), Standard German (10.6%), and Italian (8.5%).
Christianity is the predominant religion of Switzerland (about 68% of resident population in 2016 and 75% of Swiss citizens), divided between the Roman Catholic Church (37.2% of the population), the Swiss Reformed Church (25.0%), further Protestant churches (2.2%) and other Christian denominations (1.3%).
In November 2016, Swiss voters rejected a proposal by the Green Party to accelerate the phaseout of nuclear power (45.8% supported and 54.2% opposed).
In December 2016, a compromise with the European Union was attained effectively canceling quotas on EU citizens but still allowing for favorable treatment of Swiss-based job applicants.
11 December 2016
It started its daily business for passenger transport on 11 December 2016 replacing the old, mountainous, scenic route over and through the St Gotthard Massif.
In 2017, average gross household income in Switzerland was 9,946 francs per month (equivalent to US$10,720 per month), though 61% of the population made less than the average income.
The cantons comprise a total of 2,222 municipalities as of 2018.
In 2018, Switzerland's population slightly exceeded 8.5 million.
Growth has since stabilised, and like most of Europe, Switzerland faces an ageing population, albeit with consistent annual growth projected into 2035, due mostly to immigration and a fertility rate close to replacement level.
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