Home Moving to Switzerland About Switzerland An introduction to Switzerland
Last update on March 20, 2020

Facts on the geography, people and society of Switzerland.


Location: Central Europe, east of France, north of Italy, west of Austria and Liechtenstein and south of Germany.

Geographic coordinates: 47 00 N, 8 00 E

Area: Total: 41,277 sq km
Country comparison to the world: 136

Land: 39,997 sq km
Water: 1,280 sq km

Land boundaries: 1,852 km
Border countries: Austria 164 km, France 573 km, Italy 740 km, Liechtenstein 41 km, Germany 334 km.

Coastline: 0 km.

Climate: Temperate, but varies with altitude; cold, cloudy, rainy and snowy winters; cool to warm, cloudy, humid summers with occasional showers.

Terrain: Mostly mountains (Alps in south, Jura in northwest) with a central plateau of rolling hills, plains, and large lakes.

Elevation extremes:
Lowest point: Lake Maggiore 195 m.
Highest point: Dufourspitze 4,634 m

Natural resources: Hydro-electric power potential, timber, salt.

People and Society

Noun: Swiss (singular and plural)
Adjective: Swiss

Ethnic groups: German 65 percent, French 18 percent, Italian 10 percent, Romansch 1 percent, other 6 percent

Languages: German 63.7 percent, French 20.4 percent, Italian 6.5 percent, Serbo-Croatian 1.5 percent, Albanian 1.3 percent, Portuguese 1.2 percent, Spanish 1.1 percent, English 1 percent, Romansch 0.5 percent, other 2.8 percent.
N.B. German, French, Italian, and Romansch are all national and official languages.

Religions: Roman Catholic 41.8 percent, Protestant 35.3 percent, Muslim 4.3 percent, Orthodox 1.8 percent, other Christian 0.4 percent, other 1 percent, unspecified 4.3 percent, none 11.1 percent.

Population: 7,655,628 (July 2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 96

Age structure:
0-14 years: 15.2 percent (male 602,894/female 560,175)
15-64 years: 67.8 percent (male 2,612,557/female 2,569,318)
65 years and over: 17 percent (male 543,074/female 751,943)

Median age:
Total: 41.7 years
Male: 40.6 years
Female: 42.8 years

Population growth rate: 0.199 percent (2012 ext.)
Country comparison to the world: 176

Birth rate: 9.51 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 199

Death rate: 8.8 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 74

Major cities – population: Basel 830,000, Berne (capital) 346,000, Geneva 1.240 million, Lugano 145.000 and Zurich 1.143 million.

Health expenditures: 11.3 percent of GDP
Country comparison to the world: 15

Doctors’ density: 4.07 doctors/1,000 population
Country comparison to the world: 11

Hospital bed density: 5.31 beds/1,000 population
Country comparison to the world: 36

Education expenditures: 5.2 percent of GDP
Country comparison to the world: 53