History of Switzerland

Switzerland facts: A brief history

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A brief introduction to Swiss history.

The Swiss Confederation was founded in 1291 as a defensive alliance among three cantons.  In succeeding years, other localities joined the original three.  The Swiss Confederation secured its independence from the Holy Roman Empire in 1499.  A constitution of 1848, subsequently modified in 1874, replaced the confederation with a centralised federal government.  Switzerland's sovereignty and neutrality have long been honoured by the major European powers and the country was not involved in either of the two world wars.

The political and economic integration of Europe over the past half century, as well as Switzerland's role in many UN and international organisations, has strengthened Switzerland's ties with its neighbours, however, the country did not officially become a UN member until 2002.  Switzerland remains active in many UN and international organisations but retains a strong commitment to neutrality.

Unlike most of its neighbours, Switzerland is not a member of NATO or the European Union (EU).  However, on 12 December 2008 it implemented the Schengen Agreement in which border controls with other Schengen members were eliminated while at the same those with non-Schengen countries were strengthened.  Switzerland has the Swiss Franc (CHF) as its currency.


CIA World Factbook / Expatica


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