Switzerland, historically neutral, has played a significant role in European politics. Located at the “Crossroads of Western Europe,” Switzerland has kept its borders open to its neighbors even during times of war. To this day, citizens vote to remain neutral and free of any international affiliations. Switzerland maintains a permanent observer status at the UN. In a 1986 vote, consideration of UN membership was overwhelmingly rejected even though UN European headquarters are located in Geneva. Although it lacks mineral and agricultural raw materials, Switzerland has obtained prosperity through technical skill and export manufacturing. They rely on exporting finished products such as pharmaceuticals, watches, jewelry, chemicals, machinery, and food (cheese and chocolate) to pay for the imports of raw materials. Its central location, privacy laws, and political stability have helped make Switzerland one of the world’s most important financial centers. Their currency has never been devalued and has remained among the most stable throughout world history.
Interesting Facts about Switzerland
Size: 15,941 square miles (approx. 1/2 the size of Scotland.
Four Official Languages: German, Italian, French, and Romansh.
26 cantons comprise the Swiss Confederation.
Federal Constitution modeled after that of the United States.
International headquarters: International Committee of the Red Cross.