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(swĭt`sərlənd), Fr. Suisse, Ger. Schweiz, Ital. Svizzera, officially Swiss Confederation, federal republic (2005 est. pop. 7,489,000), 15,941 sq mi (41,287 sq km), central Europe. It borders on France in the west and southwest, with the Jura Mts. and the Lake of Geneva (traversed by the Rhône River) forming the frontier; in the north it is separated from Germany by the Rhine River and Lake Constance; its eastern neighbors are Austria and Liechtenstein; in the southeast and south it is divided from Italy by the Alpine crests, the Lake of Lugano, and Lago Maggiore. The federal capital is Bern, and the largest city is Zürich.

Land and People

Between the Jura and the Central Alps, which occupy the southern section (more than half) of the country, there is a long, relatively narrow plateau, crossed by the Aare River and containing the lakes of Neuchâtel and Zürich. Alpine communications are assured by numerous passespass,
opening or way by which a natural or artificial barrier can be crossed. The term pass is usually applied to a relatively narrow passage through a mountainous region.
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 and by railroad tunnels, notably those of Lötschberg, St. Gotthard, and Simplon. Switzerland consists of 26 federated states, of which 20 are called cantons and 6 are called half cantons. The cantons are ZürichZürich
, canton (1993 pop. 1,158,100), 668 sq mi (1,730 sq km), N Switzerland. The most populous Swiss canton, Zürich is bounded in part by the Lake of Zürich in the south and Germany in the north.
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, BernBern
or Berne
, canton (1990 pop. 937,365), 2,658 sq mi (6,883 sq km), W central Switzerland. The second most populous and second largest canton of the country, Bern comprises three sections—the Bernese Alps, or Oberland [Ger.
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, LucerneLucerne
, Ger. Luzern , canton (1993 pop. 331,800), 576 sq mi (1,492 sq km), central Switzerland. Drained by the Reuss and Kleine Emme rivers, Lucerne is mainly an agricultural and pastoral region, with orchards and large forested areas.
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, UriUri
, canton (1993 pop. 35,500), 415 sq mi (1,075 sq km), central Switzerland, one of the Four Forest Cantons. Altdorf is the capital. The most sparsely populated of the Swiss cantons, Uri is an Alpine region of glaciers and pastures, with forests and meadows in the Reuss River
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, SchwyzSchwyz
, canton (1993 pop. 116,100), 351 sq mi (909 sq km), central Switzerland, one of the Four Forest Cantons. Bordering on the Lake of Zürich in the north and the Lake of Lucerne in the southwest, Schwyz is a mountainous and forested region, with meadows supporting
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, GlarusGlarus
, Fr. Glaris, canton (1993 pop. 39,000), 264 sq mi (684 sq km), E central Switzerland. Located in the basin of the Linth River, it is a mountainous and pastoral region, with forests and meadows in the valleys.
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, ZugZug
, canton (1993 pop. 87,100), 93 sq mi (241 sq km), N central Switzerland. The smallest canton in Switzerland, it is a forested and mountainous region with orchards, meadows, and pastures in the valleys.
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, FribourgFribourg
, Ger. Freiburg, canton (1990 pop. 204,328), 645 sq mi (1,671 sq km), W Switzerland. Located on the Swiss Plateau and amid the foothills of the Alps, Fribourg is an agricultural region known for its cattle and cheese (notably Gruyère).
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, SolothurnSolothurn
, Fr. Soleure, canton (1993 pop. 234,900), 306 sq mi (793 sq km), NW Switzerland. Very irregular in shape, Solothurn lies mostly in the Jura Mts. It is an important road and rail center.
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, SchaffhausenSchaffhausen
, canton (1993 pop. 73,000), 115 sq mi (298 sq km), N Switzerland. Entirely on the right (northern) bank of the Rhine River, the canton consists of three noncontiguous agricultural and forested areas, which are largely surrounded by German territory.
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, Saint GallSaint Gall
, Ger. Sankt Gallen, canton (1993 pop. 432,800), 777 sq mi (2,012 sq km), NE Switzerland. Bordering on Lake Constance in the north and on the Rhine River in the east, it surrounds the entire canton of Appenzell.
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, the GrisonsGrisons
, Ger. Graubünden, Ital. Grigioni, Romansch Grischun, canton (1990 pop. 169,005), 2,746 sq mi (7,112 sq km), E Switzerland, bordering on Italy and Austria. Chur is the capital.
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 (Graubünden), AargauAargau
, Fr. Argovie, canton (1993 pop. 512,000), 542 sq mi (1,404 sq km), N Switzerland. Aarau is the capital. It is traversed by the Aare and Reuss rivers. Its fertile hills and valleys are used to raise fruit and cereal as well as for other agriculture and dairying.
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, ThurgauThurgau
, canton (1993 pop. 213,200), 388 sq mi (1,005 sq km), NE Switzerland. Bordered in the north by Lake Constance and watered by the Thur River, Thurgau is a fertile and cultivated region. Cereals and fruit are grown, cattle are raised, and wine is produced.
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, TicinoTicino
, Fr. and Ger. Tessin, canton (1993 pop. 294,100), 1,086 sq mi (2,813 sq km), S Switzerland, on the southern slope of the central Alps, bordering on Italy. Bellinzona is the capital.
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, VaudVaud
, Ger. Waadt, canton (1993 pop. 593,000), 1,239 sq mi (3,209 sq km), W Switzerland. Lausanne is the capital. Bordering on France in the west, it lies roughly between the Lake of Geneva, the Lake of Neuchâtel, the Jura Mts., and the Bernese Alps.
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, ValaisValais
, Ger. Wallis, canton (1993 pop. 262,400), 2,021 sq mi (5,234 sq km), S Switzerland. Sion is the capital. Bordering on France and Italy, the Valais extends from the Bernese Alps in the north to the Pennine Alps in the south, with the fertile upper Rhône
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, NeuchâtelNeuchâtel
, Ger. Neuenburg, canton (1993 pop. 162,600), 309 sq mi (800 sq km), NW Switzerland, in the Jura Mts. It is a forested region with pastures. Cattle are raised, and cheese and wine are produced.
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, GenevaGeneva
, Fr. Genève, canton (1990 pop. 373,019), 109 sq mi (282 sq km), SW Switzerland, surrounding the southwest tip of the Lake of Geneva. One of the smallest cantons, Geneva is in the plain between the Jura and the Alps. It borders on Vaud canton for 3.5 mi (5.
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, and JuraJura
, canton (1993 pop. 68,300), 3,256 sq mi (840 sq km), NW Switzerland. In the Jura Mts., bordered by the Swiss cantons of Bern on the south and Solothurn in the east and by France in the north and west.
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. Of the half cantons, Obwalden and Nidwalden together form UnterwaldenUnterwalden
, canton, central Switzerland, one of the Four Forest Cantons. A mountainous, forested, and chiefly pastoral region, Unterwalden is divided into the half cantons of Obwalden (1993 pop.
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, Basel-Land and Basel-Stadt form BaselBasel
or Basle
, Fr. Bâle, canton, N Switzerland, bordering on France and Germany. It is bounded in the N by the Rhine River (which becomes navigable in the canton) and in the S by the Jura Mts.
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, and Ausser-Rhoden and Inner-Rhoden form AppenzellAppenzell
, canton, NE Switzerland. A rural and sparsely populated region, it is mainly a meadowland dotted with small farms. Appenzell retains many ancient customs and has been famous for centuries as a textile and embroidery center. It was ruled after the 11th cent.
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German, French, and Italian are Switzerland's major and official languages; Romansh (a Rhaeto-Roman dialect spoken in parts of the Grisons) was designated a "semiofficial" language in 1996, entitled to federal funds to help promote its continued use. German dialects (Schwyzerdütsch) are spoken by about 65% of the inhabitants. French, spoken by about 18% of the population, predominates in the southwest; Italian, spoken by about 10%, is the language of Ticino, in the south. The few Romansh-speakers are in the southeast. Over 40% of the population is Roman Catholic and 35% is Protestant; there is a small Muslim minority, and 11% of the people professes no religion. Although the country absorbed many foreign industrial workers after World War II, especially from Italy, social tensions in the late 20th cent. led the government to restrict immigration.


Switzerland has a highly successful market economy based on international trade and banking. Its standards of living, worker productivity, quality of education, and health care are higher than any other European country. Inflation is low, and unemployment is negligible. The economy is heavily dependent on foreign guest workers, who represent approximately 20% of the labor force. Agriculture employs less than 5% of the population, and since only 10% of the land is arable, the primary agricultural products are cattle and dairy goods (especially cheeses); grains, fruits, and vegetables are also grown, and there is a large chocolate-processing industry. Mineral resources are scarce, and most raw materials and many food products must be imported. Tourism adds significantly to the economy. Electricity is generated chiefly from hydroelectrical and nuclear power sources.

Switzerland has a worldwide reputation for the high quality of its export manufactures, which include machinery, chemicals, watches, textiles, precision instruments, and diverse high-tech products. Centered in Basel, the chemical-pharmaceutical industry exports around the globe. Due to its central location in Europe and the stability of its politics and currency, Switzerland has become one of the world's most important financial centers. The banking, insurance, shipping, and freighting industries accommodate the enormous amount of international trade going through Switzerland. Banking has also benefited secrecy laws, which have led wealthy foreigners to evade taxes by hiding assets with Swiss banks. In recent years, however, that secrecy reduced as a result of pressure from foreign governments seeking to prosecute tax cheats. Imports include manufactured goods, vehicles, and clothing and textiles. Its most important trading partners are Germany, Italy, France, the United States, and Great Britain.


Switzerland is a confederation governed under the constitution of 1874 as revised in 1998. The president, who is both head of state and head of government, is elected annually by the legislature. The cabinet, or Federal Council, is the main executive body; it is composed of seven members elected for four years by the legislature. The bicameral legislature, or Federal Assembly, consists of the 46-seat Council of States, with two members from each canton and one from each half canton, and the 200-seat National Council, whose members are popularly elected. All legislators serve four-year terms. Switzerland frequently employs the referendum as well as the popular initiative to achieve political change. Switzerland's 20 cantons and 6 half cantons remain sovereign in many respects; cantonal constitutions differ widely. In Unterwalden, Glarus, and Appenzell the entire electorate legislates directly in yearly outdoor meetings called Landsgemeinden; elsewhere a unicameral legislative council and an elected executive council are common.


Emergence of the Swiss Nation

In 58 B.C. the Helvetii who inhabited the country (see HelvetiaHelvetia
, region of central Europe, occupying the plateau between the Alps and the Jura mts. The name is derived from the Roman term for its inhabitants, the predominantly Celtic Helvetii, who were defeated (58 B.C.) at Bibracte by Julius Caesar in the Gallic Wars.
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) were conquered by the Romans. Invaded (5th cent. A.D.) by the Alemanni and by the Burgundii, the area passed to the Franks in the 6th cent. Divided (9th cent.) between SwabiaSwabia
, Ger. Schwaben, historic region, mainly in S Baden-Württemberg and SW Bavaria, SW Germany. It is bounded in the east by Upper Bavaria, in the west by France, and in the south by Switzerland and Austria. It includes the former Prussian province of Hohenzollern.
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 and Transjurane BurgundyBurgundy
, Fr. Bourgogne , historic region, E France. The name once applied to a large area embracing several kingdoms, a free county (see Franche-Comté), and a duchy. The present region is identical with the province of Burgundy of the 17th and 18th cent.
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, it was united (1033) under the Holy Roman Empire. The expanding feudal houses, notably ZähringenZähringen
, noble German family. It took its name from a now ruined castle near Freiburg im Breisgau, Baden, and can be traced to the 10th cent. The family held extensive fiefs in Baden and W Switzerland, and Duke Berthold V, one of the most powerful nobles of his era,
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 and Kyburg, were supplanted (13th cent.) by the houses of HapsburgHapsburg
or Habsburg
, ruling house of Austria (1282–1918). Rise to Power

The family, which can be traced to the 10th cent., originally held lands in Alsace and in NW Switzerland. Otto (d.
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 and of SavoySavoy
, Fr. Savoie, Alpine region of E France. The boundaries of old Savoy have changed with time, but presently the region comprises the departments of Savoie and Haute-Savoie.
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. Hapsburg encroachments on the privileges of the three mountainous localities of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden resulted in the conclusion (1291) of a defensive league among them. The legendary hero of this event is William TellTell, William,
legendary Swiss patriot. According to legend, Tell was a native of Uri, one of the Swiss forest cantons. Gessler, the canton's Austrian bailiff, decreed that Swiss citizens must remove their hats before his hat, which he had posted on a stake in the canton's
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. The league triumphed at Morgarten (1315) and, joined by Lucerne, Zürich, Zug, Glarus, and Bern, decisively defeated the Hapsburgs at SempachSempach
, town (1990 pop. 3,096), Lucerne canton, N central Switzerland, on the Lake of Sempach. Near Sempach the Swiss decisively defeated the Austrians in 1386.
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 (1386) and Näfels (1388).

In the 15th cent. the Swiss league rose to the first rank as a military power. The conquest of Aargau, Thurgau, and the valleys of Ticino, which were ruled as subject territories until 1798, was followed by Swiss victories over Charles the BoldCharles the Bold,
1433–77, last reigning duke of Burgundy (1467–77), son and successor of Philip the Good. As the count of Charolais before his accession, he opposed the growing power of King Louis XI of France by joining (1465) the League of Public Weal.
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 of Burgundy (1476–77) and over Emperor Maximilian I, who in 1499 granted Switzerland virtual independence. By 1513, the admission to the confederation of Fribourg, Solothurn, Basel, Schaffhausen, and Appenzell had raised the number of cantons to 13, and this number was maintained until 1798. The conquest by Bern of Vaud from Savoy (1536), and close alliances with the Grisons, Geneva, St. Gall, and other towns and regions, further increased the Swiss orbit, but Switzerland's importance as a European power was broken in 1515 when the French defeated the Swiss at MarignanoMarignano, battle of
, 1515, in the Italian Wars, fought by Francis I of France and his Venetian allies against the Swiss Confederates, who then controlled the duchy of Milan. It was fought (Sept. 13–14) near the town of Marignano (now Melegnano), 10 mi (16.
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 (see also Italian WarsItalian Wars,
1494–1559, series of regional wars brought on by the efforts of the great European powers to control the small independent states of Italy. Renaissance Italy was split into numerous rival states, most of which sought foreign alliances to increase their
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A "perpetual alliance" with France (1516) and neutrality became the basis of Swiss policy. Swiss mercenaries, however, continued to serve abroad for three centuries (see Swiss GuardsSwiss Guards,
Swiss mercenaries who fought in various European armies from the 15th cent. until the 19th cent. These mercenaries, who were not volunteers, were put at the disposal of foreign powers by treaties (called capitulations) between the Swiss diet, the separate cantons,
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). The cantons, loosely bound by a federal diet and by individual treaties and often torn by internal feuds, were seriously split by the ReformationReformation,
religious revolution that took place in Western Europe in the 16th cent. It arose from objections to doctrines and practices in the medieval church (see Roman Catholic Church) and ultimately led to the freedom of dissent (see Protestantism).
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, preached by ZwingliZwingli, Huldreich or Ulrich
, 1484–1531, Swiss Protestant reformer. Education of a Reformer
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 at Zürich and by CalvinCalvin, John,
1509–64, French Protestant theologian of the Reformation, b. Noyon, Picardy. Early Life

Calvin early prepared for an ecclesiastical career; from 1523 to 1528 he studied in Paris.
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 at Geneva. The Catholics, led by the Four Forest CantonsFour Forest Cantons, the,
Ger. Die Vier Waldstätten, in central Switzerland, the cantons of Unterwalden, Schwyz, Uri, and Lucerne, the first Swiss communities to win their freedom against the Hapsburgs.
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, defeated the Protestants in battle; the Treaty of Kappel (1531) preserved Catholicism in Lucerne, Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, Zug, Fribourg, and Solothurn. National unity almost disappeared for more than two centuries, but religious divisions did not prevent the Swiss (except the Grisons) from remaining neutral throughout the Thirty Years War. Switzerland was an island of prosperity when, in 1648, at the end of the war, its formal independence was recognized in the Peace of Westphalia.

Internal Conflict and Consolidation

In the following century and a half, government in many cantons became the exclusive business of a small oligarchy. While Switzerland became insignificant politically in the 18th cent., its wealth steadily increased, and its scientists and writers (von Haller, von Mühler, Pestalozzi, Rousseau) made it an intellectual center. The Swiss oligarchies strongly opposed the French Revolution. Invading French armies established the Helvetic RepublicHelvetic Republic
, 1798–1803, Swiss state established under French auspices. In Sept., 1797, several exiled Swiss leaders in France (notably Frédéric César de La Harpe) formally urged the French Revolutionary government (the Directory) to help in
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 (1798–1803) and in 1799 clashed with Austrian and Russian forces. Napoleon's Act of Mediation (1803) partially restored the old confederation, and, at the Congress of Vienna, the Pact of Restoration (1815) substantially reestablished the old regime, except that the confirmation of nine new cantons brought the total to its present number.

By the Treaty of Paris (1815), Swiss neutrality was guaranteed for all time. A subsequent economic depression, which caused large-scale emigration to North and South America, and generally reactionary rule contributed to widely successful demands for revision of the cantonal constitutions and the rise of the Radical party, which favored greater centralization. Opposition to centralization centered in the Catholic rural cantons, which in 1845 formed the SonderbundSonderbund
[Ger.,=separate league], 1845–47, defensive league of seven Roman Catholic cantons of Switzerland; it was formed to protect Catholic interests and prevent the establishment of a more centralized Swiss government.
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, a defensive alliance. After a brief and almost bloodless civil war (1847) the victorious Radicals transformed the confederation into one federal state under a new constitution adopted in 1848 (and recast in 1874). National unity grew, and much socialist legislation (such as railroad nationalization and social insurance) was enacted.

Armed neutrality was maintained throughout World Wars I and II. Switzerland was a member of the League of Nations, and although it has long participated in many activities of the United Nations, it did not become a UN member until 2002 for fear that its neutrality would be compromised. From 1959 Switzerland was governed by a four-party coalition that began as a center-right coalition and subsequently became a broader grouping. Also in 1959 Switzerland became a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA); in 1972 it signed an industrial free-trade agreement with the European Community (EC; since 1993 the European Union).

In the 1950s, French-speaking inhabitants of the Jura region of Bern canton unsuccessfully demanded, with some violence, the creation of a Jura canton. In 1977 a constitution was accepted, and in 1979 it officially became the twenty-third canton of the Swiss Confederation. In 1971, after a referendum was passed by male voters, women were given the right to vote and be elected at the federal level; subsequently, Elisabeth Kopp of the Radical Democratic party became the first woman government minister (1984–88).

In a 1986 plebiscite, a parliamentary proposal to join the United Nations was rejected by Swiss voters. In 1992, Swiss voters also rejected participation in the European Economic Area, an EFTA-EC common market, but did approve joining the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The rejection of the European Economic Area led to negotiations that resulted in a package of accords that established closer economic links with the European Union; voters approved the agreements in 2000.

Following charges that stolen assets deposited in Swiss banks by Nazis during World War II had not been properly returned, the country's two largest banks agreed in 1998 to pay $1.25 billion to the families of HolocaustHolocaust
, name given to the period of persecution and extermination of European Jews by Nazi Germany. Romani (Gypsies), homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, the disabled, and others were also victims of the Holocaust.
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 victims; the banks had been facing lawsuits in the United States and were under international political pressure. Ruth Dreifuss, Switzerland's first woman president, served in the annually rotated post during 1999. In elections in 1999, the right-wing, nationalist People's party made sizable gains; this was regarded in part as a reaction to international criticism of Switzerland's role in World War II

Despite the turn to the right, Swiss voters in 2002 approved joining the United Nations, becoming the one of the last nations to seek membership in that organization (only Vatican City is not a member). In the 2003 and 2007 elections the People's party made further gains, becoming the largest party in the national council. In 2011 the People's party again won the largest share of the vote, but it was less than in 2007. A referendum to limit immigration, which was championed by the People's party, passed by a slim margin in 2014. The implications of the referendum, which required the government to impose limits on immigration and foreigners in the workforce, were unclear, but restrictions on free movement between Switzerland and the European Union would contravene a 2000 agreement, and under the 2000 accords the termination of one agreement could render all the accords null and void. The 2015 national council elections again saw the People's party win the largest share of the vote, this time exceeding its 2007 share.


See E. Bonjour et al., Short History of Switzerland (2d ed. 1955, repr. 1985); J. L. Murray, History of Switzerland (1985); I. Robertson, Switzerland (1987); R. Wildblood, What Makes Switzerland Tick? (1988); J. E. Hilowitz, Switzerland in Perspective (1991).



Swiss Confederation (German, Schweizer-ische Eidgenossenschaft; French, Confédération Suisse; Italian, Confederazione Svizzera).

Switzerland is a Central European state located in the Alps and bordered by France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, and Italy. Area, 41,300 sq km. Population, 6.3 million (1977). The capital is the city of Bern. The Swiss Confederation comprises 23 cantons (as of Jan. 1, 1979), three of which are divided into demicantons (see Table 1).

Switzerland is a federal republic. The present constitution was adopted in 1848 and revised in 1874. The federal government has jurisdiction over such matters as war and peace, foreign relations, the army, railroads, communications, the minting of coins, and approval of the federal budget.

The head of state is the president, elected from among the members of the Federal Council for a one-year term by the Federal Assembly. Legislative power is vested in the bicameral Federal Assembly, which comprises a lower house—the National Council—and an upper house—the Council of States. The National Council is made up of 200 deputies popularly elected by a system of proportional representation for four-year terms. The Council of States is made up of 46 deputies, two from each canton and one from each demicanton, popularly elected for four-year terms (three-year terms in certain cantons). All citizens who have reached the age of 20 are eligible to vote.

Executive power resides in the Federal Council, comprising seven members, each of whom heads a department. The members of the Federal Council are elected at a joint session of the legislature; all the members of the council take turns occupying the posts of president and vice-president.

Each canton and demicanton has its own constitution; legislative and executive authority are exercised by a great council (Landrat) and a cantonal council, which are popularly elected for terms ranging from one to five years. The districts, which are headed by a prefect appointed by the cantonal council, and the communes have two forms of self-government: in the German cantons, citizens gather together and vote in a general assembly known as the Landsgemeinde; in the French cantons, the body of local government is the commune council. The executive bodies in the communes are the lesser councils, headed by mayors or syndics.

Table 1. Administrative-territorial divisions of Switzerland (1976)
Cantons and demicantons1Area (sq km)PopulationCapital
1 Cantons are given inthe official order, which in most cases corresponds to the entry of the canton into the Confederation
2ln 1979 the demicanton of Jura, which had been formed from the canton of Bern, was made a canton
3 Demicanton
Zürich ...............1,7001,120,000Zürich
Bern2 ...............6,900991,100Bern
Luzern ...............1,500292,800Luzern
Uri ...............1,10034,200Altdorf
Schwyz ...............90092,800Schwyz
Unterwaiden ...............   
Obwalden3 ...............50025,300Sarnen
Nidwalden3 ...............30026,500Stans
Glarus ...............70036,000Glarus
Zug ...............20073,600Zug
Fribourg ...............1,700181,900Fribourg
Solothurn ...............800224,100Solothurn
Basel ...............   
Basel-Stadt3 ...............40213,700Basel
Basel-Land3 ...............400220,400Liestal
Schaffhausen ...............30070,200Schaffhausen
Appenzell ...............   
Appenzell-Ausserhoden3 ...............20047,200Herisau
Appenzell-lnnerrhoden 3 ...............20013,400Appenzell
St. Gallen ...............2,000385,400St. Gallen
Graubünden ...............7,100164,800Chur
Aargau ...............1,400443,600Aarau
Thurgau ...............1,000184,500Frauenfeld
Ticino ...............2,800264,700Bellinzona
Vaud ...............3,200523,900Lausanne
Valais ...............5,200213,700Sion
Neuchâtel ...............800164,600Neuchâtel
Genève ...............300337,900Geneva

Switzerland’s judicial system includes federal and cantonal courts. The supreme judicial body is the Federal Tribunal, its members are elected by the Federal Assembly for six-year terms, and it comprises ten sections. Justice is administered in the cantons through a three-level court system made up of local, district, and cantonal courts.


Terrain. Most of Switzerland is occupied by the Alps. In the south lie the Pennine Alps, which rise to an elevation of 4,634 m at Dufourspitze, the highest point in Switzerland; also in the south are the Lepontine Alps and the Rhaetian Alps, which include the Bernina Massif. Deep longitudinal valleys of the upper Rhöne and middle Rhine separate the Pennine and Lepontine Alps from the Bernese Alps (highest point, the Finsteraarhorn, approximately 4,274 m) and the Glarus Alps, which form a system of mountain ranges that runs southwest to northeast through the entire country. Ranges of peaked mountains, formed primarily of crystalline rocks and deeply eroded, predominate; there are numerous glaciers and glacial landforms. The principal passes—the Great St. Bernard, Simplön, St. Gotthard, and Bernina—are at elevations above 2,000 m.

In the north and the northwest, where the Alps decrease in elevation, gentler landforms prevail; glaciers are encountered in the area, and karst has developed.

Approximately one-third of Switzerland, the area northwest of the Alps, is occupied by the Swiss Plateau, which gradually descends from 1,000–1,200 m to 400 m in the Rhine and Aar valleys. The plateau is characterized by piedmont shingle plains, outwash plains, basket-of-eggs topography, terminal moraines, and deep lake basins. In the northwestern part of the country are the folded Jura Mountains, which rise to an elevation within Switzerland of 1,679 m at Mont Tendre; the Jura give way in the west to tableland karst plateaus of the same name.

Climate. Switzerland’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and its complex orographic structure account for its predominantly wet, temperate climate and clearly demarcated altitudinal zones. In the plateau regions the average January temperature is approximately 0°C in Geneva, – 1.5°C in Zürich, –7°C at elevations of about 1,500 m (Davos), and – 14°C at elevations of 2,500 m (the foot of Mount Jungfrau). The average July temperature is 19°C in Geneva, 17°C in Zürich, 12°C in Davos, and 0°C at the foot of Mount Jungfrau.

Annual precipitation is 800–1,200 mm in the Swiss Plateau, 2,500 mm on the windward slopes of the Alps (3,000 mm on certain summits), and 1,000–1,500 mm on the leeward slopes and in the deep valleys of southern Switzerland (500–600 mm in certain areas of the upper Rhöne valley). At lower elevations the snow cover is not permanent: snow covers the ground for about 3 months at 700 m, 4.5 months at 1,000 m, 8 months at 1,880 m, and 10.5 months at 2,500 m. The snow line is at an elevation of 2,800–3,300 m. The characteristic mountain and valley winds and foehns cause sharp drops in temperature and avalanches.

The total area covered by glaciers is approximately 2,000 sq km; there are about 140 large valley glaciers, notably the Aletsch Glacier, as well as numerous cirque and hanging glaciers.

Rivers and lakes. Switzerland has a dense network of deep rivers that includes the Rhine, which flows for 375 km within the country’s borders, and its tributary the Aare, as well as the upper courses of the Rhöne, Inn, and Ticino rivers; all rise in the Alps and are fed by melting snow and rain. High water is in spring. Intensive glacial melting causes summer freshets, and flooding occurs during winter thaws. The rivers descend abruptly, forming numerous waterfalls. Extensive use is made of the country’s considerable hydroelectric potential: many rivers have hydroelectric power systems.

The largest of Switzerland’s many lakes are Lakes Geneva, Constance (Bodensee), and Maggiore (part of which lies in Italy), as well as the western part of the Lake of Neuchâtel. The lakes, most of which lie in depressions scoured by ancient glaciers, are elongated and quite deep. At high elevations in the Alps are numerous cirque lakes. The Rhine and Aare rivers and the large lakes are used for navigation.

Soil and flora. Switzerland has a predominance of mountain brown forest and mountain-meadow soils, often coarsely textured; rendzinas are encountered in the Jura Mountains and in those areas of the Alps where flysch prevails. Forests cover more than one-fourth of the country. On the Swiss Plateau, where up to an elevation of 800 m cultivated vegetation predominates, modest tracts of broad-leaved forests—oak, beech, ash, elm, maple, and linden—have been preserved on brown forest soils.

At elevations ranging from 500–600 m to 1,000 m, the most common tree is the beech; in some areas, notably in the Jura, beech trees are found at 1,500 m. At 1,000–1,500 m mixed forests of beech, spruce, fir, and pine predominate; at higher elevations (1,800–2,400 m) there are coniferous forests of spruce, fir, pine, and larch. The valleys have thickets of alder. At still higher elevations (up to 2,800 m), there are found subalpine and alpine meadows, along with thickets of rhododendron, azalea, and juniper.

Fauna. Mammals encountered in the mountains include the chamois, marten, blue hare, alpine marmot, ibex, and fox. Birds include the golden eagle, capercaillie, thrush (Turdus), creeper, red-billed chough, snowy reel, and swift; gulls are found along the riverbanks and lakeshores. The rivers and lakes are inhabited by such fish as trout, whitefish, grayling, and char.


Gutersohn, H. Geographie der Schweiz, vols. 1–3. Bern, 1958–69.
Egli, E. Die Schweiz: Eine Landeskunde. Bern, 1970.
Schweizer Brevier. Bern, 1976.

Switzerland’s indigenous population is made up of four ethnic groups: the German Swiss, French Swiss, Italian Swiss, and Rhaeto-Roman Swiss (Rhaeto-Romance-speaking peoples).

The German Swiss, who number 4.3 million (figures here and below are 1975 estimates), inhabit the central and eastern cantons; they speak Upper German dialects, and their literary language is German. The majority are Protestants, though some are Roman Catholics.

The French Swiss, who number 1.3 million, live in the western cantons; they inhabit the canton of Bern together with the German Swiss. They speak southern French (Provençal) dialects, and their literary language is French. They are Protestants (Cal-vinists) and Roman Catholics.

The Italian Swiss, who number 200,000, live in the southern cantons of Ticino and Graubünden; they inhabit certain regions together with the German Swiss. They speak Italian and profess Roman Catholicism.

The Rhaeto-Roman Swiss, who number 50,000, comprise the Ladins and the Romansh-speaking peoples; they inhabit the high-mountain regions of Graubünden Canton. They speak their own languages, as well as German and Italian. They are Protestants and Roman Catholics.

Approximately 1 million foreigners live in Switzerland, including Italians, Spaniards, Germans and Frenchmen. The official languages are German, French, and Italian. The Gregorian calendar is used.

Until 1975, increases in population resulted from natural growth (about 0.5 percent annually) and immigration, primarily the influx of foreign workers. In response to the economic crisis, the number of foreign workers has been reduced, from 676,000 in 1965 to 425,000 in 1975. The proportion of the population under 15 years of age is 23.4 percent; 15.1 percent are over 60.

The average population density is about 152 persons per sq km. Four-fifths of the population live on the Swiss Plateau, where nearly all the major cities are located. The population of the Alpine mountain regions is decreasing. According to the 1970 census, the economically active population numbers 2,995,800, including 2,683,100 wage earners (89.6 percent), of whom approximately one-fourth are foreign. In 1975, 2.7 million persons were employed, 15 percent of whom were foreign.

The breakdown of employment according to sectors of the economy in 1975, with the figures for 1965 given in parentheses, is as follows: industry, construction, and handicrafts employed 44.4 percent (51.2 percent); agriculture, 6.2 percent (9 percent); transportation, 5.7 percent; commerce, banking, and insurance, 16.2 percent, and the hotel industry, 4.5 percent. Overall, 49.4 percent (39.8 percent) of the economically active population is employed in the service sector.

In 1970 approximately 77.7 percent of the population was urban, a city being defined as a community of more than 2,000 inhabitants. The principal cities are Zürich, Basel, Geneva, Bern, and Lausanne.

Numerous habitation sites of the earliest settlers in Switzerland have been preserved, including the Paleolithic caves of Drachenloch and Birseck, Mesolithic sites, and pile dwellings. The first written references to the inhabitants of Switzerland date from the second century B.C., when most of Switzerland was inhabited by a Celtic tribe, the Helvetians; the eastern part of the country was inhabited by the Rhaetians. The Helvetians, who had been defeated by Julius Caesar at Bibracte, became foederati in 58 B.C. and were eventually completely subjugated by Rome; the Rhaetians were conquered in 15 B.C. Switzerland then entered a period in which it underwent considerable romanization.

Feudal period (fifth century to the end of the 18th century). In the fifth century most of Switzerland was conquered by the Alamanni (406–407); western Switzerland was conquered by the Burgundi-ans circa 450, and southeastern Switzerland by the Ostrogoths in 493. In the part of the country seized by the Alamanni, the language and social system that had existed among the Germans became established. The southeastern and the western parts of the country remained Roman in language and culture.

In 496 the Alamanni were conquered by the Franks, who defeated the Burgundian kingdom in 534 and the Rhaetian kingdom in 536; thus, nearly all Switzerland became part of the Frankish state. During the late sixth and seventh centuries the population was converted to Christianity. Under the Treaty of Verdun of 843, the southern and western parts of the country were given to the emperor Lothair, and the eastern part to Louis the German. Eastern Switzerland became part of the duchy of Alamannia (Swabia), formed in the tenth century within the Kingdom of Germany; both the duchy and the Kingdom of Germany became part of the Holy Roman Empire in 962. Between 1032 and 1034 western Switzerland was annexed by the empire as part of the Burgundian kingdom.

Feudal relations developed in Switzerland. The country was divided into numerous counties, seignories, ecclesiastical principalities, rural communities (Länder and cantons), and urban republics. The most important feudal lords were the dukes of Zähringen, who ruled at the end of the 11th and the beginning of the 12th centuries, and the counts of Kyburg, Savoy, and Hapsburg. The Hapsburgs, after inheriting the lands of the extinct Kyburg family in 1264, became the most important rulers in Switzerland.

The Hapsburgs sought to gain complete control of the forest cantons (Schwyz, Uri, and Unterwalden), which controlled the Alpine mountain passes connecting Central Europe with Italy. During the struggle against the Hapsburgs that developed in the mid-13th century, the forest cantons in August 1291 formed a perpetual alliance, which laid the foundation of the Swiss Confederation as a de facto independent state within the Holy Roman Empire; on August 1, Independence Day, the Swiss celebrate the founding of the confederation. The Holy Roman emperors kept the cantons within the empire but freed them from the control of the Hapsburgs through charters granted in 1291, 1297, and 1309. The Hapsburgs’ attempts to subjugate the forest cantons ended in the utter defeat of an army of Austrian knights at Morgarten in 1315, after which the forest cantons reaffirmed their alliance in a new treaty signed at Brunnen.

In the 14th and 15th centuries the Swiss Confederation increased its territory and developed as a military and political power. Luzern, which had been ruled by the Hapsburgs, joined the confederation in 1332; Zürich in 1351; Glarus and Zug, which had been wrested from the Hapsburgs, in 1352; and Bern in 1353. The confederation waged continual war with the Hapsburgs, who renewed their efforts to exert control over the liberated lands. The Hapsburgs, defeated by the confederation at Sempach in 1386 and at Näfels in 1388, were compelled to recognize the independence of the eight confederated cantons in 1389.

As allies of the French king Louis XI, the Swiss took part in the Burgundian Wars of 1474–77, in which their victory over the duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold, enhanced the military reputation of the Swiss infantry. In 1481 the confederation was joined by Fribourg and Solothurn. The Swabian War of 1499 ended in the establishment of Switzerland’s de facto independence from the Holy Roman Empire. In 1501, Basel and Schaffhausen were admitted into the confederation and accorded the rights of cantons. In 1513, Appenzell joined, thereby creating the Federal Union of the Thirteen Cantons, which existed until 1798.

In addition to the cantons, which exercised complete independence in domestic matters and in foreign policy, the confederation included allied districts, such as St. Gallen, Graubünden, and Geneva, whose autonomy was restricted, particularly in the area of foreign policy. The confederation also included subject districts, such as Aargau, Thurgau, and Vaud, which had no rights. Until 1798, Switzerland had no permanent central government: confederation-wide diets, known as Tagsatzungen, were convened periodically; only the cantons enjoying full rights were allowed to vote. There was no confederation-wide administrative body, army, or financial system.

Switzerland has undergone a unique socioeconomic development. Throughout the Middle Ages, large areas of the cantons did not experience the development of feudal relations; communes, or marks, were preserved for a long period, as was a peasantry that was free in terms of both personal bonds and ties to the land. The economy was agricultural and patriarchal. Many cantons, especially the backward cantons with a relative surplus rural population, developed mercenary armies as part of the economy.

In the urban cantons of Zürich, Basel, and Bern, and in such allied districts as St. Gallen and Geneva, the economy was based on handicrafts and trade. The cities of Bern, Geneva, Basel, and Zürich were important centers of handicraft production and banking, and the fairs at Basel and Geneva were known throughout Europe. In certain instances, land cultivation in the rural areas of the urban cantons assumed highly developed commodity forms. Serf and semiserf relations were steadfastly maintained in the subject districts.

Beginning in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, feudal relations disintegrated, primarily in the most developed urban cantons and in certain allied territories. Capitalist manufacture developed in textile production, book printing, and papermaking in Basel, Geneva, Bern, and Zürich. Wine growing was organized in several areas as a commodity enterprise. Dairyfarming was organized on a commercial basis. The development of new socioeconomic relations was hindered, however, by Switzerland’s division into numerous political units, by the lack of protection for industry from the patricians and the guild leaders in the cities, by the mercenary system, which diverted the population from productive labor, and by the existence of feudal landholding.

In the cities, a struggle was waged between the urban landowners and patricians on the one hand and the craft guilds and the rising bourgeoisie on the other. The peasantry opposed not only the feudal lords, but also the cities, which exploited the rural areas. The social struggle, exacerbated in the early 16th century, set the stage for the Reformation, which in Zürich was initiated by H. Zwingli. Between 1523 and 1525, Zwingli instituted a series of religious reforms: clerical property was secularized, the monasteries were closed down, and images and pictures were removed from the churches. At the same time, usury was outlawed, as was the mercenary system. The patricians and gentry were almost completely forced out of municipal government, and the newly created church organization was made subordinate to the municipal magistrates.

The Reformation, which spread to St. Gallen, Basel, Schaffhausen, Solothurn, and Bern, was accompanied by antifeudal peasant uprisings in 1524 and 1525, notably in the areas of Zürich, Bern, and Basel and in Schaffhausen, St. Gallen, Solothurn, Thurgau, and Aargau. Nearly everywhere the peasant revolts were supported by the urban lower classes, which were often led by the Anabaptists. The defeat of the peasants in the Peasant War in Germany made it easier for the Swiss authorities to subdue the peasantry and urban lower classes, which they were able to crush almost completely by 1526.

Zwinglianism continued to spread and became established in Bern, St. Gallen, Schaffhausen, Glaurus, Biel, and Basel at the end of the 1520’s and in Geneva between 1532 and 1535. The Protestant cantons formed an alliance, and Zwingli evolved a plan to propagate the Reformation throughout Switzerland, which was to be united under Zürich’s leadership. Zwingli was opposed by the economically backward cantons, which had remained Roman Catholic, and by Bern, which itself laid claim to hegemony in Switzerland. The Wars of Kappel, waged between the Protestant and Catholic cantons in 1529 and 1531, ended in the defeat of the Protestants and Zwingli’s death.

In the mid-1530’s the center of the Reformation shifted to Geneva, where J. Calvin became active in 1536; he took up permanent residence in the city in 1541. At the beginning of the 1540’s, Calvinism was introduced into Geneva, which became the center of the Calvinist Reformation in Europe. During the second half of the 16th century, Calvinism supplanted Zwinglianism in the other Protestant cantons.

During the second half of the 16th and in the 17th century, the Protestant cantons experienced an economic upsurge, which encouraged an influx of Protestant emigrants from Catholic countries, especially France, into Switzerland. This wave of immigration led to the development of new branches of industry, notably the production of clocks and watches, and lay behind Switzerland’s refusal to take part in the ruinous Thirty Years’ War of 1618–48. Under the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648, the Swiss Confederation was formally recognized as an independent state by the rest of Europe.

The country was torn by internal religious and political differences. In 1586 the Catholic cantons of Schwyz, Uri, Unterwal-den, Luzern, Freibourg, Zug, and Solothurn formed an alliance for the protection of Catholicism, thereby essentially dividing the country into Catholic and Protestant blocs. The conflicts between the two blocs reflected in religious form the efforts of the bourgeois elements in the economically developed cantons to change Switzerland’s outmoded governmental system, which ensured that the backward Catholic cantons would remain dominant. Rivalry soon took the form of open warfare, notably in the First and Second Villmergen wars in 1656 and 1712.

Oligarchies of patricians and guild leaders had seized power in many urban magistracies and sought to maintain the backward sociopolitical system. They were opposed by the exploited peasants of the urban districts, notably in the Peasant War of 1653, who were supported by the urban lower classes and the bourgeois townspeople. The struggle against the urban oligarchic regimes became particularly intense in the 18th century, which witnessed such manifestations of unrest as the uprising of 1707 in Geneva, led by P. Fatio, and the Henzi conspiracy of 1749 in Bern.

Late 18th century and early 19th century; the rise and establishment of capitalism and the creation of a centralized bourgeois state. By the end of the 18th century, industry—the production of cotton in Zürich, silk in Basel, and clocks and watches in western Switzerland—had undergone considerable development in Switzerland, as had trade. The French Revolution encouraged the bourgeoisie in Switzerland to put an end to feudal relations and oligarchic government. The revolutionary struggle was given further impetus by the Club of Swiss Patriots, formed in Paris in 1790 (seeHELVETIAN CLUB).

In 1792 revolutionary disturbances took place in Geneva, Valais, and Vaud; in Basel the Rauracian Republic was formed, only to be annexed by France in May 1793. The French Army entered Switzerland in spring 1798 and captured Bern on March 5; the Federal Confederation of the Thirteen Cantons collapsed. With the support of France, the Helvetian Republic was proclaimed on April 12 in Aargau; it included, in addition to the 13 cantons, Valais, Léman, Aargau, Bellinzona, Lugano, Rhaetia, Sargans, Thurgau, and St. Gallen. A constitution modeled after the French Constitution of 1795 was introduced, and Switzerland became a centralized, unitary state.

A defensive and offensive alliance concluded with France in August 1798 involved Switzerland in a war against the Second Coalition, during which Switzerland became a battlefield (seeSWISS CAMPAIGN OF SUVOROV). A struggle developed in Switzerland between the Unionists, who emphasized the indivisibility of the republic, and the Federalists, who favored local self-government. In February 1802 the Constitution of Malmaison was adopted. The new constitution, named after the city of Malmaison, where negotiations between the Unionists and Federalists had taken place, granted self-rule to the cantons. On Feb. 19, 1803, Napoleon I issued the Act of Mediation, which restored (with certain changes) the governmental structure of Switzerland as it had existed before 1798. Six new cantons were added to the former 13: Graubünden, Aargau, Thurgau, St. Gallen, Vaud, and Ticino.

After the defeat of the Napoleonic empire, the Confederation of Switzerland abrogated the Act of Mediation and proclaimed on Dec. 29,1813, that Switzerland intended to observe strict neutrality. The new constitution, drafted in September 1814 and ratified by the Diet in August 1815, was approved by the Congress of Vienna (1814–15), which also recognized in a special declaration on Mar. 20, 1815, Switzerland’s eternal neutrality. To Switzerland was joined, in addition to Valais and Geneva, Neuchâtel, which until 1857 formally had been a personal possession of the king of Prussia; all became cantons. Switzerland was now an association of 22 independent, loosely interconnected cantons; supreme authority was vested in the Diet.

At the turn of the 1830’s a movement headed by liberal bourgeois groups developed that sought to completely eliminate feudal relations, democratize the political system, and centralize the country. The revolutionary events of 1830 in France led to increased demands in Switzerland for a review of the Federal Pact of 1815, and in March 1832 seven cantons in which the liberal bourgeoisie was in power formed the Concordat of Seven. In response, six cantons in which the clerical faction was dominant created the League of Sarnen in November 1832. A plan for a new federal treaty was worked out by the Diet in 1832 but was rejected by a majority of the economically backward cantons. Between 1843 and 1845 seven Catholic cantons established a reactionary bloc, the Sonderbund.

In the civil war provoked by the leaders of the Sonderbund in 1847, the federal army was victorious. The military and political victory of the bourgeoisie was affirmed in the Constitution of 1848. A unified, federal state was established, with a central legislative body, the Federal Assembly, consisting of two houses: the National Council and the Council of States. Executive power was vested in the Federal Council, which was empowered to represent Switzerland in dealings with foreign states, to mint coins, and to collect customs duties. The post office and the customs office were combined, and systems of measures, weights, and money were standardized. Bern was named the national capital.

The constitution adopted on May 29, 1874, which remains in effect today, extended the jurisdiction of the central government to such areas as the armed forces, established the principle of the referendum, placed limitations on the church’s activities, and created a federal court in Lausanne.

Once accomplished, centralization facilitated the country’s economic development and the establishment of capitalism. An important prerequisite of industrialization was the accumulation of capital, which was made possible by Switzerland’s role as a middleman in international trade and by the development of the resort and hotel industry, which became a separate sector of the economy in the 19th century. Light industry underwent substantial development in the 1840’s and 1850’s, and agricultural production became more specialized: Swiss butter and cheeses became important export products. Between 1825 and 1874 the length of the railroad system increased from 25 km to 1,500 km; the opening of the St. Gotthard Tunnel in 1882 led to an increase in freight and passenger traffic through Switzerland. At the end of the 1890’s many branches of the manufacturing industry were established; in 1898 a law was passed under which the railroads were bought up by the state from private companies.

In the course of industrialization, an industrial bourgeoisie and a factory proletariat were formed. During the 1860’s and 1870’s the Geneva section and other sections of the First International were created. As early as 1858, craft organizations were founded, and in 1880 the Federation of Swiss Trade Unions was created. In 1888 the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland (SDPS) was founded. Political émigrés from the Russian Empire, Italy, France, and other countries found refuge in Switzerland, where the Russian Section of the First International was created in 1870 and the Liberation of Labor group in 1883.

The period of monopoly capital.END OF THE 19TH CENTURY TO 1918. At the end of the 19th century various new industries underwent development in Switzerland, including machine building and the chemical and electrical-engineering industries. Industry became oriented toward machine-tool building and the production of pharmaceuticals, watches, dyes, and toxic chemicals. Between 1888 and 1910 the number of persons employed in industry rose from 543,000 to 811,000; the influx of foreign manpower increased substantially, from 100,000–150,000 persons in the 1890’s to 300,000–500,000 in the period 1910–14.

By the beginning of the 20th century banking capital had become highly concentrated, and the Swiss National Bank was founded in 1905. Switzerland became a major exporter of capital in the world market: at the beginning of the 20th century the annual export of capital from Switzerland was more than 3 billion francs, and by 1914, Swiss assets abroad amounted to 7.5 billion francs. By the beginning of the 20th century, monopoly capitalism had become firmly entrenched in Switzerland.

The first mass expressions of working-class discontent occurred in Switzerland, the largest being the general political strike in Zürich in 1912. Under pressure from the working-class movement, the country’s first law insuring workers against work-related diseases and accidents was adopted in 1911. The SDPS divided into a right wing and a revolutionary wing, led by F. Platten.

On Aug. 3,1914, at the beginning of World War I, Switzerland declared its neutrality. The monopolistic Swiss bourgeoisie took advantage of the war to reap profits by providing war matériel to both sides. A decline in the workers’ standard of living (real wages fell by almost 30 percent during the war years) led to an increase in strikes during the summer and autumn of 1917 in such cities as Bern, Zürich, and Geneva. International socialist conferences were held on Swiss territory in Zimmerwald in 1915 and Kiental in 1916. The revolutionary wing of the SDPS took part in the Zimmerwald Left, which was directed by V. I. Lenin, who lived in Switzerland off and on for a total of about seven years.

FROM 1918 TO 1939. The strike movement grew in Switzerland under the influence of the October Socialist Revolution in Russia. From Nov. 12 to 14, 1918, a general political strike took place; involving about 400,000 persons, it was suppressed by the army, which was called in by the government. The government, however, met some of the workers’ demands: proportional representation in the assembly and a 48-hour workweek were introduced. In March 1921 the revolutionary wing, which had left the SDPS, merged with communist groups that had been founded in Switzerland in 1917 and 1918 to form the Communist Party of Switzerland (CPS).

In March 1918 the government of Switzerland established diplomatic relations with Soviet Russia, and in June a Soviet diplomatic mission headed by Ia. A. Berzin arrived in Bern. On Nov. 12,1918, however, the mission was expelled from Switzerland on the false charge that it had taken part in demonstrations by Swiss working people; the Swiss government then broke off diplomatic relations with Soviet Russia. On May 10,1923, White Guards assassinated V. V. Vorovskii, the general secretary of the Soviet delegation to the Lausanne Conference; owing to the anti-Soviet policy of the country’s ruling circles, Switzerland did not resume relations with the USSR until 1946.

In 1920, Switzerland joined the League of Nations, having stipulated that it would take part only in the economic and financial sanctions outlined in the league’s Covenant. In 1923 it signed an agreement creating a customs union with Liechtenstein, which Switzerland has represented in dealings with foreign states ever since.

In 1931 the Swiss economy was gripped by the world economic crisis of 1929–33. In 1932 about 2,500 bankruptcies were recorded in Switzerland, and there were 124,000 unemployed. The class struggle became exacerbated, with strikes in such cities as Basel, Zürich, and Geneva. On Nov. 9,1932, troops put down a demonstration in Geneva in which 13 workers were killed and 39 wounded. There followed a wave of arrests of Communists and left-wing Socialists; the task of combatting “subversive” activity was entrusted to the federal police, established in 1935. Fascist groups became active in the 1930’s, the largest of which, the National Front, had some 10,000 members. Membership in the Swiss branches of German and Italian fascist organizations, which operated legally among the Germans and Italians living temporarily in Switzerland, numbered in the tens of thousands. The CPS helped the left-wing forces set up antifascist committees, which resisted the attempts of the National Front to hold marches in Zürich and Basel in 1938.

The Swiss economy experienced an upsurge between 1936 and 1939, brought on, for the most part, by prewar world market conditions. Swiss industry filled the orders of the fascist German and Italian war machines. Swiss trusts and concerns established branches abroad: in 1937 the Nestlé trust had 86 branches. The trade unions, influenced by the SDPS, cooperated with the bourgeoisie. In 1937 the entrepreneurs and the trade unions in the metalworking industry signed an agreement calling for an industrial peace under which, among other provisions, the workers agreed not to strike and arbitration was recognized as the sole means for resolving labor conflicts; similar agreements were soon signed in other industries. In 1938 the government proclaimed the doctrine of “integral neutrality,” which in fact signaled Switzerland’s refusal to take part in economic and financial sanctions against fascist Germany and Italy.

FROM 1939 TO 1945. On Aug. 31, 1939, Switzerland reaffirmed its neutrality. Measures were nevertheless taken to strengthen the country’s defenses: a system of fortifications was built along the borders and, especially, in the heartland, the National Redoubt. In 1939 rationing of food and industrial raw materials was introduced, and emergency laws were passed: freedom of assembly was abolished, censorship was established, and the right of political asylum for foreigners was restricted.

On June 25, 1940, a policy was announced by which Switzerland would adapt to the “new order” in Europe. The government banned the CPS in 1940 and the organization of the left-wing socialists—the Swiss Socialist Federation—in 1941. Meanwhile, fascist groups continued to operate legally; the National Front, which had disbanded in March 1940, was revived in June as the Rassemblement Federal and remained in existence until the second half of 1943.

Switzerland supplied fascist Germany with strategic raw materials, equipment, weapons, war matériel, and electric power; German and Italian military freight was transported on the country’s railroads. Fascist Germany and Italy, as well as the USA and Great Britain, set up intelligence services on Swiss territory, notably the American espionage center headed by A. Dulles.

When fascist Germany was on the brink of defeat, profascist groups were disbanded in Switzerland, and the CPS was legalized in 1944. On Oct. 14 and 15,1944, the Constituent Congress of the Swiss Labor Party (SLP), which included members of the CPS and the Swiss Socialist Federation, was held in Zürich. In February 1945, Switzerland cut off supplies to fascist Germany and ceased providing transit for German and Italian war matériel; it also froze German assets in Swiss banks, although not the private accounts of the fascist leaders.

SINCE 1945. During World War II, Switzerland’s industrial capacity increased, and gold reserves in the Swiss National Bank rose from 2.2 billion francs in 1940 to 4.8 billion francs in 1945. Increases were registered in capital investment, construction, production, level of employment, commodity turnover, and credit operations; capital became further concentrated. To a considerable extent, the growth of Swiss industrial production has been achieved by exploiting the workers, notwithstanding the reduction of the workweek from 47.5 hours in 1950 to 43.2 hours in 1975. This is especially true with regard to foreign workers, who numbered 215,000 in 1950, 435,000 in 1960, 659,000 in 1970, and 342,000 in 1976.

Exploitation and the drop in the standard of living, which declined during the war years by 10–13 percent, led to renewed strikes in 1946 and 1947. Under pressure from the workers, Switzerland enacted in 1947 its first law providing for old-age and disability pensions. Government pensions represented approximately 20 percent of wages, and although a small increase was passed in 1972, the Swiss pension system remains one of the least generous in the capitalist world.

In the atmosphere of the cold war a campaign was launched to harass activist members of the working-class movement and the Swiss Labor Party; it reached its peak in 1956 and 1957, when the occupational blacklist (Berufsverbot) was introduced. In order to ensure domestic political stability, Switzerland’s bourgeois parties sought to broaden their cooperation with the reformist leadership of the SDPS. As of 1959, pursuant to an agreement reached by the various Swiss political parties, the Federal Council was to comprise two representatives from the Radical Democratic Party of Switzerland, which had sat on the council since 1848; two from the Christian Democratic Party, which had sat on the council since 1891; two from the SDPS, which had sat on the council from 1943 to 1953; and one from the Party of Peasants, Artisans, and Burghers, which had sat on the council since 1929 (in 1971 it was renamed the Swiss People’s Party). This coalition was supported by approximately 80 percent of the deputies in the Federal Assembly.

In the mid-1960’s the nationalist groups renewed their activities; organizations such as the Republican Movement, led by J. Schwarzenbach, and the National Campaign for People and Homeland staged demonstrations in 1970 and 1974 demanding restrictions on the number of foreigners living in Switzerland. At the end of the 1960’s the labor peace that had been concluded between the trade unions and the entrepreneurs was renewed. The working-class movement experienced an upsurge in 1971 (there had been a rash of strikes in 1952 and 1953 and in 1963) and gathered momentum in 1973 and 1974.

In the 1970’s Berufsverbot was, in effect, lifted, and political restrictions on foreign workers were removed. In 1971 women were granted equal civil rights with men, including the right to vote and to be elected to the Federal Assembly; women continued to receive lower wages than men, however. From 1974 to 1976 the Swiss economy suffered a severe crisis. In 1977 about 25,000 persons were registered as unemployed (between 1945 and 1973 there had been virtually no unemployment), and 136,000 persons were underemployed. From 1974 to 1976 more than 200,000 foreign workers who had lost their jobs left the country. In 1974 the Swiss Labor Party proposed the imposition of controls on prices and capital investment and urged the adoption of various measures, including a proposal to limit the unrestricted power of the monopolies. In 1975 approximately 100,000 signatures were gathered in support of the Labor Party’s program.

In foreign policy, in 1945 the Swiss Political Department proclaimed the principle of “active,” or “solidary,” neutrality; this meant that Switzerland would not formally join the military and political blocs of the imperialist states but would express solidarity with their policies. On Mar. 18, 1946, diplomatic relations with the USSR were resumed. The first Soviet-Swiss trade agreement was concluded on Mar. 17,1948, but Soviet-Swiss relations developed little until the end of the 1960’s.

Since the late 1960’s the principle of universal neutrality has been central to Swiss foreign policy; although it considers its political and economic relations with the leading capitalist states to be of primary importance, Switzerland has, at the same time, actively pursued relations with the socialist and developing countries. Since the late 1960’s Soviet-Swiss trade has increased, government officials of both countries have exchanged visits, and scientific, technical, and cultural cooperation has developed. In 1974 a consulate general of the USSR was opened in Geneva. As of 1976, Switzerland maintained diplomatic relations with all the socialist countries.

Switzerland joined the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (since 1961, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) in 1948, the European Free Trade Association in 1959, and the European Council in 1963. In 1972, Switzerland signed an agreement with the European Economic Community (EEC) concerning the reciprocal elimination of tariffs on industrial goods by 1977 but refused to join the EEC on the grounds that participation in the EEC would compromise its neutrality.

Switzerland has not joined the United Nations, stating that its neutral status is incompatible with articles in the UN Charter that oblige member states to join forces to repel aggression and, in some instances, to apply economic sanctions. At the same time, Switzerland is a member of almost all the specialized organizations of the UN, and various international organizations are located on Swiss territory; many international conferences are held in Switzerland. Switzerland signed the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty in 1963 and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 1969 (ratified 1977). In 1972 it signed a convention banning the development, production, and stockpiling of bacteriological (biological) and toxic weapons and calling for their destruction. Switzerland took part in the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, whose Final Act it signed on Aug. 1, 1975. As of 1981, Switzerland maintained diplomatic relations with almost 140 states.


Engels, F. “Grazhdanskaia voina v Shveitsarii.” In K. Marx and F. Engels. Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 4.
Engels, F. “Politicheskoe polozhenie Shveitsarskoi respubliki.” Ibid., vol. 9.
Lenin, V. I. “V Shveitsarii.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 22.
Lenin, V. I. “Zadachi levykh tsimmerval’distov v shveitsarskoi s.-d. partii.” Ibid., vol. 30.
Lenin, V. I. “Otkrytoe pis’mo k Sharliu Nenu.” Ibid.
Lenin, V. I. “Proshchal’noe pis’mo k shveitsarskim rabochim.” Ibid., vol.31.
Materiaty X s”ezda Shveitsarskoi partii truda. Moscow, 1975.
Van Muyden. Istoriia shveitsarskogo naroda, vols. 1–3. St. Petersburg, 1898–1902. (Translated from French.)
Chistozvonov, A. “Ocherki po istorii Shveitsarii XIII-XVI vekov.” Istoricheskii zhurnal, 1941, no. 5.
Mazokhin, V. A. Ocherki noveishei istorii Shveitsarii (1917–1975 gg). Moscow, 1976.
Dierauer, J. Geschichte der schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft, 4th ed., vols. 1–5. Gotha, 1919–24.
Gagliardi, E. Geschichte der Schweiz von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart, 3rd ed., vols. 1–3. Zürich-Leipzig, 1938.
Martin, W. Histoire de la Suisse, 7th ed., Lausanne [1974].
Hauser, A. Schweizerische Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte. Erlenbach-Zürich-Stuttgart, 1961.
Aubert, J. F. Petite Histoire constitulionelle de la Suisse. Bern, 1974.
Meyer, K. Der Ursprung der Eidgenossenschaft. Zürich, 1941.
Bonjour, E. Geschichte der Schweizerischer Neutralität, 2nd ed., vols. 1–9. Basel, 1965–76.
Le Mouvement ouvrier suisse: Document de 1800 à nos jours. Geneva, 1975.
Bodenmann, M. Zum 40. Jahrestag der Gründung der Kommunistischen Partei der Schweiz. Zürich, 1961.
Die Schweiz seit 1945. Bern, 1971.
Dictionnaire historique et biographique de la Suisse, vols. 1–7 and supplements. Neuchâtel, 1921–34.
A. N. CHISTOZVONOV (to the end of the 18th century), G. P. DRAGUNOV (from the end of the 18th century to the end of the 19th century), G. P. DRAGUNOV and D. Z. IAKUKHIN (from the end of the 19th century to 1945), and D. Z. IAKUKHIN (since 1945)

Political parties. The Radical Democratic Party of Switzerland (Radikal-Demokratische Partei der Schweiz; Parti Radical Démocratique Suisse), founded in 1848, had about 120,000 members in 1976. The party represents the interests of the big bourgeoisie.

The Christian Democratic People’s Party of Switzerland (Christlich-demokratische Volkspartei der Schweiz; Parti Démocrate-Chrétien Suisse) was founded in 1881 and until 1970 was called the Conservative Christian Social Party; it had about 60,000 members in 1976. It represents the interests of the big and middle bourgeoisie, as well as clerical groups.

The Social Democratic Party of Switzerland (Sozialdemokra-tische Partei der Schweiz [SPS]; Parti Socialiste Suisse), founded in 1888, had about 60,000 members in 1976. It includes workers, white-collar employees, and part of the petite and middle bourgeoisie; it is a member of the Socialist International.

The Swiss People’s Party (Schweizerische Volkspartei; Parti Suisse de l’Union Démocratique du Centre), founded in 1971 as a result of the merger of the Party of Peasants, Artisans, and Burghers (founded 1919) and the Democratic Party of Switzerland (founded 1941), had approximately 50,000 members in 1976. It includes peasants, artisans, and part of the petite and middle bourgeoisie.

The Independent Party (Landesring der Unabhängigen; Alliance des Indépendants), founded in 1935, had about 10,000 members in 1974. It is a right-wing, petit bourgeois party. The Liberal Democratic Union of Switzerland (Liberalne Partei der Schweiz; Parti Libéral Suisse), founded in 1913, had about 10,000 members in 1976: it is a bourgeois party.

The Swiss Labor Party (Partei der Arbeit der Schweiz; Parti Suisse du Travail), founded in 1944, is the successor to the Communist Party of Switzerland.

In addition to the groups mentioned above, Switzerland has numerous small parties and political factions.

Trade unions and other public organizations. The Swiss Federation of Trade Unions, founded in 1880, comprises 19 affiliated trade unions and has 455,000 members; if the membership of seven unions that belong to both the SFTU and the Federal Union of Employees of State Institutions and Enterprises is counted, the organization has 562,000 members (1974). It is influenced by the SDPS and is a member of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. The Federal Union of Employees of State Institutions and Enterprises includes ten affiliated unions, seven of which also belong to the SFTU; it had 122,000 members in 1974. It is influenced by the SDPS.

The Federation of the Swiss Unions of Salaried Employees includes 12 affiliated unions that represent white-collar workers and technical personnel employed in the private sector; it had 128,000 members in 1974. It is influenced by the SDPS.

The Federation of Christian Trade Unions includes 11 affiliated unions and had 99,800 members in 1974; it is influenced by the Christian Democratic People’s Party. In addition to the groups listed above, there are numerous national independent professional organizations.

The Swiss Communist Youth League operates under the auspices of the Swiss Labor Party. The Swiss Young Socialist Association operates under the auspices of the SPS. The Swiss Peace Movement is part of the World Peace Council. The Swiss Council of Peace Associations unites 15 pacifist organizations. The Swiss Women’s Federation for Peace and Progress belongs to the Women’s International Democratic Federation. The Association for the Development of Cultural Ties between Switzerland and the USSR (the Switzerland-USSR Society) was founded in 1945.

General state of the economy. Switzerland, a developed capitalist country, is highly industrialized and has an intensive agriculture. Trade, finance, and tourism play an important role in the economy.

In 1976, Switzerland accounted for about 1 percent of the capitalist world’s industrial production and 1.7 percent of its exports. The country occupies a leading position in the world in terms of foreign trade generated per capita ($4,628 in 1976) and per capita gross national product. In 1976 the gross national product was $148 billion, with exports accounting for about 25 percent of the total.

Switzerland has long made use of its traditional neutral status; it has assumed the role of a middleman in international trade, a role for which it is suited by virtue of its location in central Europe. Other sources of Switzerland’s considerable capital include a constant influx of foreign capital, foreign tourism, and the health-resort industry. The guaranteed secrecy of Swiss bank accounts and the country’s neutral status have attracted capital from many foreign countries to Swiss banks; foreign depositors often circumvent the laws of their own countries.

In 1976, Switzerland had direct investments abroad of an estimated 45.5 billion Swiss francs and was among the world’s leaders both on a per capita basis and in absolute volume. Two-thirds of the direct investments abroad are controlled by seven large concerns. The country exports most of its capital in the form of loans, 80–85 percent of which go to the developed capitalist countries, primarily the USA, Canada, and the countries of Western Europe (especially the Federal Republic of Germany).

Although the Swiss economy is notable for the extent to which capital is centralized, production is relatively little concentrated. In a number of industries, such as the textile, clock and watch, and clothing industries, there is a numerical predominance of medium-sized and small enterprises. In 1975 the country had 9,989 industrial enterprises, with a total of 715,000 employees; enterprises with fewer than 100 employees, or 85 percent of all enterprises, employed about 35 percent of the labor force, and enterprises with 1,000 or more employees, or 0.6 percent of all enterprises, employed 20 percent of the labor force. Most small enterprises are controlled by large concerns.

In 1976 more than half the joint-stock capital of 32,005,600,000 Swiss francs was controlled by 699 joint-stock companies, each of which owned capital of 10 million Swiss francs or more; these companies constituted 0.7 percent of all joint-stock companies. Concerns are the principal form of monopolistic association, many of which have become multinational firms with numerous enterprises outside Switzerland. Leading concerns are Nestlé Alimentana, a food-processing concern with 127,800 employees; Brown Boveri, an electrical equipment concern with 95,500 employees; and the Ciba-Geigy and Hoffmann-La Roche, chemical and pharmaceutical concerns with 73,300 and 35,000 employees, respectively.

Switzerland’s numerous banking monopolies include the Swiss Bank Corporation (Schweizerischer Bankverein), the Union de Banques Suisses (Schweizerische Bankgesellschaft), and the Schweizerische Kreditanstalt (Crédit Suisse); leading insurance monopolies are the Zürich Versicherungs-Gesellschaft and the Schweizerische Rückversicherungs-Gesellschaft.

In the mid-1970’s, Switzerland’s economic situation deteriorated, and industrial production declined. The crisis of 1974–75, the gravest since 1949, led to a decrease in the total number employed in the manufacturing industry from 879,900 in 1970 to 714,900 in 1975; industrial production fell by 13 percent in 1975. In 1976 there was a slowdown in industrial production.

Industry. Swiss industry specializes in the manufacture of high-quality products, often of unique type. The leading branches of industry are machine building and the chemical industry; however, basic branches have been insufficiently developed (see Table 2).

Table 2. Percentages, for each industry, of those employed in manufacturing, excluding handicrafts
Food processing (including tobacco products) ...............
Textiles ...............
Clothing, footwear, and leather goods ...............
Wood products ...............
Toys, sports equipment, and musical instruments ...............
Paper ...............
Printing ...............
Chemical (including the production of rubber, the processing of synthetic materials, and petroleum refining ...............
Building materials ...............
Metallurgy and metalworking ...............13.813.813.5
Machine building ...............30.030.432.1
Clocks and watches ...............
Jewelry ...............

Almost all raw materials and mineral fuels, especially petroleum, are imported. The leading branches of industry produce primarily for export.

A steady decline in the proportion of the labor force employed in the textile, clothing, footwear, wood-products, and building-materials industries and an increase in the proportion in the machine-building, chemical, and pharmaceuticals industries reflect structural changes in Swiss industry brought about by the scientific and technological revolution. The reduction of the proportion of employees in the clock and watch industry has been caused primarily by stiffer competition on the world capitalist clock and watch market.

MINING AND POWER ENGINEERING. Switzerland’s industrially useful minerals are rock salt, of which 311,600 tons were extracted in 1976 in the Basel area, and building materials. Switzerland produces substantial electric power, primarily hydroelectric power. Less than one-fifth of the country’s energy needs are met by domestic sources; the remainder is met through imported fuel, chiefly petroleum (4 million tons in 1976), petroleum products (8 million tons), coal, and natural gas. Nuclear fuel is taking on increasing importance. Petroleum refineries in Aigle and Cressier, with a total installed capacity of about 8.5 million tons, are supplied by international pipelines from the ports of Genoa (Italy) and Marseilles (France). Natural gas is transported via gas pipeline from the Netherlands through Basel.

In 1976, Switzerland had 435 hydroelectric power plants in operation with a total installed capacity of 10.5 million kW. The share of electricity produced by the hydroelectric plants has declined from 98 percent of the total in 1965 to 74 percent in 1975–76. Atomic power plants and fossil-fuel-fired steam power plants produce about 26 percent of the total electricity. The most important atomic plants are in Mühlenberg (effective capacity of more than 300,000 kilowatts [kW]) and Beznau (effective capacities of 300,000 kW and 1.2 million kW, respectively). In 1975, Switzerland imported 7.4 billion kilowatt-hours (kW-hr) of electricity and exported 9.6 billion kW-hr.

MANUFACTURING. Switzerland does not have a large iron and steel industry. The aluminum industry, with plants in the Rhône valley and in Steg and Chippis, uses imported bauxites. Ferrous and nonferrous metals, with the exception of aluminum, are for all practical purposes totally imported.

Machine building specializes in the production of precision metalworking machine tools and forging and pressing equipment (Switzerland ranks third among the capitalist world in exports in this area, behind the Federal Republic of Germany and the USA), electrical equipment, textile machinery, printing machinery, equipment for the chemical industry, internal-combustion engines, transportation equipment, and measuring instruments. The major centers of the machine-building industry are the cities of Zürich, Winterthur, Baden, Geneva, Basel, and Schaffhau-sen.

Switzerland is known throughout the world for its watches and clocks, produced primarily in western Switzerland—in the cities of Biel, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Le Locle, Grenchen, and Geneva and in several small towns. Watches and clocks are produced, for the most part, at medium-sized enterprises that are controlled by the monopolistic groups ASUAG, or Allgemeine Schweizerische Uhren (General Society of the Swiss Watch Industry), and SSIH, or Société Suisse Pour I’Industrie Horlogère (Association of the Swiss Watch Industry); the latter group includes the firms Omega and Tissot. About 95 percent of the clock and watch industry’s output—clocks, watches, and parts—is exported. Switzerland accounts for more than one-fifth of the world clock and watch production.

The chemical industry uses domestic rock salt and imported organic intermediates. Development has been concentrated on the pharmaceutical industry and the production of dyes, synthetic fibers, and plastics. The principal centers of the chemical industry are the cities of Basel and Visp.

Light industry is represented by various branches. The textile industry produces fine cottons, silk fabrics and ribbons, various types of knitwear, and embroidery. Among other light industries are the clothing industry and the footwear industry, which includes the Bally concern. The main center of the cotton industry is the city of St. Gallen; silk production is concentrated, for the most part, in the cities of Zürich and Basel.

The food-processing industry is heavily dependent on imported raw materials. Swiss cheeses, chocolate, and food concentrates are known throughout the world. Other well-developed branches of Swiss industry are the wood-products, paper and printing, and building-materials industries.

Figures on the output of principal industrial products are given in Table 3.

Table 3. Output of principal industrial products
Electric power (billion kW-hr) ...............15.625.343
Steel (thousand tons) ...............347420
Primary aluminum (thousand tons) ...............67.279
Metal-cutting and press-forge equipment (million dollars) ...............132494
Textile equipment (million dollars) ...............200660
Wrist and pocket watches, including mechanisms (million units) ...............34.454.765.8
Dyes and paints (million francs) ...............1,193
Organic chemical products (million francs) ...............2,818
Pharmaceuticals (million francs) ...............1,655
Paper and paper-board (thousand tons) ...............345610600
Cotton fabrics (million meters) ...............151146115
Woolen andmixed fabrics (million tons) ...............
Cement (million tons) ...............
Footwear (million pairs) ...............
Chocolate (thousand tons) ...............
Sugar (thousand tons) ...............301.2409.9594.4

Agriculture. Agricultural holdings have gradually become concentrated in large capitalist farms, each with an area of more than 20 hectares (ha). Between 1955 and 1975 the number of farms declined from 206,000 to 133,000, primarily at the expense of small farms of less than 5 ha. The country is nearly self-sufficient in livestock production, but it produces only one-third of the required breadgrains. More than 50 percent of the land is used for agriculture: 9 percent, or 366,000 ha, is plowland; 41 percent, or 1,630,000 ha is meadows and pastures; and about 0.5 percent, or 18,000 ha, is set aside for perennial plantings.

Livestock raising, the principal branch of agriculture, accounts for 80 percent of the value of agricultural output; crop cultivation accounts for 20 percent. Agriculture is highly intensive; in 1975, Swiss farms had 83,900 tractors, 122,000 electric motors, and 5,000 combines. In 1977 there were 2,004,800 head of cattle (including about 900,000 dairy cows), 2,065,000 swine, 368,400 sheep, and more than 6 million chickens. The cattle are mainly of the Simmental and Schwyz breeds; the average annual milk yield per cow is 3,890 kg. Milk production accounts for about 40 percent of the output produced by livestock raising (3.5 million tons of milk, 35,000 tons of butter, and 111,000 tons of cheese in 1976), beef for 27 percent, swine raising for 24 percent, and poultry farming more than 5 percent.

Grain farming accounts for about 30 percent of the value of the total crop (half the grain produced is for fodder), fruit growing for 25 percent, viticulture for about 20 percent, and vegetable growing for about 16 percent, 10 percent of which is accounted for by the potato crop (see Table 4 for the principal crops).

Table 4. Area and yield of major crops
 Area (thousand hectares)Yield (thousand tons)
1Annual average
2Wine production totaled 77,200 tons
Grains ...............178182583842
wheat ...............10982355320
barley ...............3148102180
Potatoes ...............46211,145907
Sugar beets ...............711270480
Grapes ...............12131221092

Transportation. Switzerland’s complex road system, a necessary consequence of the mountainous terrain, includes numerous tunnels, bridges, and viaducts. The railroad system, which has a total track length of about 5,000 km, is entirely electrified. Mountain aerial cableways total 617 km in length, funiculars 55 km, and cog railways 97 km. Switzerland has 18,500 km of highways. As of 1976 there were 1,864,000 passenger cars, 43,000 trucks, and 4,338 buses.

There is navigation on the Rhine (from Basel) and on the lakes. The country’s river fleet has a cargo capacity of 558,000 tons. More than one-fifth of Switzerland’s foreign cargo passes through the major river port of Basel, which handled 8.2 million tons of cargo in 1975. In 1976 the merchant fleet had a total tonnage of 243.4 gross registered tons (Swiss ships are registered in the ports of other countries). Swissair provides service primarily on international routes; the principal airport is at Zürich. About one-fourth of the freight transported consists of transit goods. Switzerland has approximately 240 km of pipelines.

Foreign trade. In 1976 imports amounted to 36.2 billion Swiss francs, and exports totaled 36.4 billion francs; for the first time since 1953 the country enjoyed a favorable balance of trade. Deficits are covered by income from the export of capital, the import of foreign capital, revenues from foreign tourism, customs duties, and services provided to foreigners working in international organizations.

In 1976 raw materials and semifinished products, including foodstuffs requiring further processing, made up 41.5 percent of imports and 41.3 percent of exports; energy sources accounted for 10.3 percent and 0.1 percent respectively; machinery, equipment, and vehicles were responsible for 14.9 percent and 34.6 percent; consumer goods, including food commodities, beverages, and tobacco, accounted for 33.3 percent and 24.0 percent.

In 1976 trade with Europe accounted for 79.7 percent of imports and 67.2 percent of exports; trade with the member nations of the European Economic Community made up 66.5 percent and 45.1 percent, respectively. The socialist countries accounted for 3.7 percent of imports and 6.7 percent of exports, Asia for 7.9 percent and 14.3 percent, Africa for 2.3 percent and 4.7 percent, and North America for 7.8 percent and 8.5 percent. Switzerland’s principal trading partners are the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), France, Italy, the USA, Great Britain, and Austria. Trade with the USSR has increased: imports from the USSR rose from 24.6 million rubles in 1970 to 108 million rubles in 1976; in the same period exports to the USSR rose from 70.5 million rubles to 263 million rubles.

The monetary unit of Switzerland is the Swiss franc. According to the rate of exchange set by the State Bank of the USSR in March 1978,100 Swiss francs equal 35.53 rubles.

Foreign tourism. The provision of services to tourists, sportsmen, and patients at health resorts constitutes a special branch of the economy: the tourist industry. Switzerland has more than 8,000 hotels and numerous pensions, sanatoriums, automobile service stations, and camping sites. As a source of foreign currency, tourism ranks third, after the export of machine-building products and of chemicals and pharmaceuticals. In 1976, Switzerland provided services to 5.9 million foreign tourists and earned 5.5 billion Swiss francs. The climatic health resorts in the mountains are renowned throughout the world.


Mogutin, V. B. Shveitsariia: Bol’shoi biznes malen’koi strony. Moscow, 1975.
Sabel’nikov, L. V. Shveitsariia: Ekonomika i vneshniaia torgovlia. Moscow, 1962.
Iudanov, Iu. I. Mezhdunarodnye monopolii Shveitsarii. Moscow, 1961.
Barth, A. Die wirtschaftliche Verflechtung der Schweiz mit dem Ausland. Winterthur, 1966.
Bickel, W. Die Volkswirtschaft der Schweiz: Entwicklung und Struktur. Aarau-Frankfurt am Main, 1973.
Früh, J. Geographie der Schweiz, vols. 1–3. St. Gallen, 1945.
Kompass: Informationswerk für die Wirtschaft der Schweiz und Liechtenstein. Zürich-Gockhausen [1975].
Statistisches Jahrbuch der Schweiz (yearbook). Basel.

The armed forces consist of an army and an air force, which includes an antiaircraft force. The post of commander in chief is held by the president. The head of the Military Department, the chief of the General Staff (who is also the commander of the army), and the commander of the air force and antiaircraft force are in direct command. In 1977 the armed forces numbered about 46,500 men, who are called up under the law on compulsory military service in accordance with the territorial-militia system. Conscripts undergo basic training for a four-month period, after which they are transferred to the reserves. Reservists are called up for annual three-week repetition courses over the next eight years, two-week courses for the following three years, and one-week courses for the following two years.

The army of about 37,500 men includes an alpine corps, comprising three mountain infantry divisions, and three army corps, each consisting of two infantry divisions and one tank division. In addition, the army is made up of 23 detached frontier brigades, a detached armored regiment, three detached heavy-artillery regiments, two detached engineer regiments, two communications regiments, and other units and subunits concerned with combat security and services.

The air force of about 9,000 men comprises 24 squadrons, with a total of 345 combat aircraft; two helicopter squadrons; an antiaircraft missile regiment, consisting of two antiaircraft missile battalions, with a total of 64 launching installations for Bloodhound surface-to-air missiles; and seven antiaircraft artillery regiments.

Medicine and public health. In 1976, Switzerland had a birth rate of 11.7 per 1,000 inhabitants and a death rate of 9 per 1,000 inhabitants; the infant death rate was 11 per 1,000 live births. For the period 1968–73 the average life expectancy was 70.3 years for men and 76.2 years for women. Among the principal causes of death are cardiovascular diseases, malignant tumors, accidents, and diseases of the respiratory organs. The most common infectious diseases are influenza, children’s infectious diseases, tuberculosis, and infectious hepatitis.

The administration of health care is decentralized: the federal government, through the Federal Office of Public Health (Bun-desamt für Gesundheitswesen) of the Interior Department, merely monitors morbidity (for example, the incidence of infectious diseases and rheumatism), the training of physicians, and environmental protection; it also directs the campaign against alcoholism and the narcotics trade. The cantonal health care agencies are directly responsible for such areas as the management of hospitals, the organization of nonhospital care, and the administration of health services in the schools. Switzerland’s social insurance system covers 90 percent of the population.

In 1975 there were 474 hospitals, with a total of 72,400 beds (11 beds per 1,000 inhabitants), of which more than 43,000 beds were in state medical institutions. Nonhospital care is provided, for the most part, by private physicians working with the social insurance agencies, as well as by the polyclinic divisions of certain hospitals. In 1976 there were 10,400 physicians (one physician per 680 inhabitants), 2,600 dentists, and about 17,000 secondary medical personnel. Doctors are trained at the medical schools of five universities; secondary medical personnel receive their training at 80 schools.

Switzerland has climatic health resorts in the mountain cities of St. Moritz, Davos, Leysin, and Vevey, balneological health resorts at Aigle, Weggis, Bad Ragaz, and Baden, and peloid health resorts at such cities as Acquarossa and Lavey-les-Bains.

In 1976, expenditures on health care made up 10 percent of the state budget.


Veterinary services. In 1976 there were two new cases of anthrax, 1,761 of rabies, two of Newcastle disease, three of cattle brucellosis, 18 of bovine and sheep tuberculosis, 159 of acariasis of bees, and 21 of blackleg. Cases of enterotoxemia and braxy of sheep, infectious agalactia of sheep and goats, malignant catarrhal fever of cattle, and myxsomtosis have also been reported. Veterinary services are directed by the Veterinary Administration, subordinate to the Federal Council. The network of veterinary services encompasses all cantons; the country has a unified code of veterinary laws. In 1976, Switzerland had 1,100 veterinarians, who trained at the veterinary schools of the universities of Zürich and Bern. Research in veterinary medicine is carried on at the two schools and at other veterinary institutions.


Switzerland has no standardized system of public education. Each canton has its own educational legislation and administration. In all cantons education is compulsory for children from 6–7 to 15–16 years of age. There are kindergartens for children from 3–4 to 6–7 years of age. The primary school offers a period of instruction that ranges from seven to nine years and comprises two levels; depending on the canton, primary education lasts four years plus three years, four years plus four years, or four years plus five years. At the first level of instruction all pupils receive the same general-education training. In the senior grades of the primary school, the pupils are given, in addition to a general education, specialized vocational training for entry into vocational-technical schools or trade schools and for work in agriculture. In the 1972–73 academic year, primary schools had an enrollment of more than 526,100 pupils: the various vocational-technical schools had more than 165,200 pupils.

Switzerland’s secondary schools vary widely in type and curriculum. They may be divided, nevertheless, into two basic categories: general-educational and specialized. The secondary schools, like the primary schools, have two levels: junior and intermediate. The junior level is a four-year pregymnasium, which accepts pupils who have completed four grades of primary school and have passed entrance exams in their native language (German, French, or Italian) and mathematics. The senior level is a four- or five-year Gymnasium, which has three divisions: classical languages, modern languages, and natural sciences and mathematics; upon graduation, the student may enter a technical higher educational institution or the law school or school of economics at a university, provided that the student has passed an additional exam in Latin. The junior level of a specialized secondary school, which has a two-year course of study, prepares students to work in various branches of the economy. In the 1972–73 academic year, 344,000 students were enrolled in secondary schools of all types, including 300,700 at the junior level and 43,300 at the senior level.

Higher educational institutions offer courses of instruction that range in length from three to five years (in some departments, six years). The system of higher education includes the universities of Basel (founded 1460), Lausanne (founded 1537), Geneva (founded 1559), Zürich (founded 1833), Bern (founded 1834), Neuchâtel (founded 1909), and Fribourg (founded 1889), as well as such institutions as the federal institutes of technology in Zürich and Lausanne and the Hochschule for Economics, Business, and Public Administration in St. Gallen. In the 1974–75 academic year, approximately 45,000 students were enrolled in higher educational institutions.

The largest of Switzerland’s 33 libraries and archives are the Public Library of the University of Basel (more than 2 million volumes in 1977) and the Swiss National Library in Bern (1.5 million volumes). Museums include the Historical Museum, the Museum of Art, and the Museum of Natural History in Bern; the Public Art Collection, the Museum of Ethnography, and the Historical Museum in Basel; the Museum of Art and History in Geneva; the Cantonal Museum of Fine Art in Lausanne; and the Museum of Art and History in Fribourg.


Natural and technical sciences.NATURAL SCIENCES PRIOR TO THE 1840’s. From the ninth through 11th centuries, the center for the study of natural sciences was the Abbey of St. Gallen, which was the most important cultural center in Switzerland during the Middle Ages. In 1465 the first printing press in the country began operating in the city of Muri. The first universities appeared during the 15th and 16th centuries—in Basel, Lausanne, and Geneva.

Paracelsus and M. Servetus influenced the development of biology and medicine in Switzerland during the Renaissance, and K. von Gesner wrote A History of Animals (vols. 1–5,1551–87). The development of mathematics and mechanics was largely due to the Huguenots, who emigrated to Switzerland at the end of the 16th century; the Huguenots also fostered the local manufacture of watches and precision instruments. At the beginning of the 17th century, the Swiss mathematician J. Burgi invented logarithms independently of J. Napier. Another Swiss mathematician, P. Guldin, is credited with developing theorems on the volumes and surface areas of bodies of revolution. In botany, J. Bauhin is important for his work (published 1650–61) describing 5,000 plants. His brother G. Bauhin was one of the first to apply binary nomenclature in the systematic classification of plants. The anatomical works of T. Bonet and J. Wepfer were noteworthy contributions to 17th-century medicine.

During the first half of the 18th century, international recognition was accorded to the works of Swiss mathematicians. The brothers Jakob and Johann Bernoulli laid the foundations for the calculus of variations. Jakob Bernoulli was also one of the founders of the theory of probability, and he discovered the simplest form of the law of large numbers. Johann Bernoulli, who was made a foreign honorary member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences in 1725, created the first systematic textbook of differential and integral calculus. In algebra, G. Cramer laid the foundations of the theory of determinants.

The work of Swiss mathematicians in other countries, including Russia, facilitated recognition of Swiss mathematical achievements. In 1725, J. Hermann (la. German) became the first professor of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. In the same year, Johann Bernoulli’s sons Daniel and Nikolaus also became professors at the academy, as did Daniel’s nephew Jakob in 1787. Daniel became a foreign honorary member of the academy in 1733. Another Swiss mathematician, L. Euler, gained worldwide recognition through his work at the St. Petersburg Academy; named an adjunct in 1726, he was appointed a professor in 1731 and 1766 and was a foreign honorary member of the academy from 1742 to 1766. Also elected as foreign honorary members of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences were J. Gessner (1764), E. Develey (1808), and S. A. l’Huilier (1782).

J. Mallet-Favre founded the department of astronomy at the University of Geneva and established an observatory there. He carried out a number of projects in Russia and in 1776 became a foreign honorary member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. On I. F. Kruzenshtern’s round-the-world expedition from 1803 to 1806, meteorological studies were conducted by J. K. Horner, who became a foreign corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences in 1808. G. L. le Sage the Younger, P. Prévost, and A. de la Rive contributed to the development of physics.

The study of the Alps gave rise to a number of branches of science in Switzerland. As a result of travel and exploration in the mountains, J. J. Scheuchzer was able to publish descriptions of many types of fossil animals and plants between 1731 and 1735. M. Kappeler was the author of several works on general crystallography. H. B. de Saussure was the first to study the geologic structure of the Alps; he laid the foundations of descriptive geology and of glaciology. The foundations of the study of glacial epochs were laid by J. L. R. Agassiz’ works on glaciology (published 1840–47). Agassiz moved to the USA in 1846. In 1835, J. Thurmann identified the Neocomian stage in the Cretaceous system. Between 1786 and 1802, J. R. Meyer compiled the first geographic atlas of Switzerland.

Biology in the 18th century developed under the influence of the doctrine of preformation. A. Haller, one of the founders of experimental physiology, was the first to devote detailed research to the phenomena of excitability and sensitivity; Haller became a foreign honorary member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences in 1776. The science of entomology was furthered by C. Bonnet, who became a foreign honorary member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences in 1764. F. Huber’s studies contributed to the formation of a scientific approach to beekeeping. The works of A. Trembley aided the acceptance of the experimental method in biology. Discoveries made by J. Senebier and N. T. de Saussure led to the beginning of the study of plant physiology in the 19th century and to an understanding of photosynthesis. A. P. de Candolle, who became a foreign honorary member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences in 1835, was the founder of comparative plant morphology. In 1804, J. P. E. Vaucher became the first to study algae through a microscope.

Contributions to medicine were made in the 18th century by T. Tronchin in therapy and J. G. Zimmermann in medical diagnosis; in the first half of the 19th century, F. K. Stadlin’s work on physiology and surgery was important. The research of C. Schönbein at the University of Basel beginning in 1828 aided the development of modern chemistry in Switzerland.

FROM THE LATE 1840’S TO THE FIRST HALF OF THE 20TH CENTURY. After Switzerland adopted a federal constitution in 1848, a number of educational institutions were opened, including federal institutes of technology in Lausanne and Zürich (1853 and 1855, respectively), universities in Fribourg and Neuchâtel (1889 and 1909, respectively), and a college in St. Gallen (1898). The Geneva National Institute was founded in 1853.

The works of J. Tralles on mathematics and its applications to astronomy gained widespread recognition; A. Speiser made important contributions to group theory, and L. Schläfli founded multidimensional geometry. The research of J. J. Balmer on atomic spectroscopy and the experiments of R. P. Pictet, who obtained liquid oxygen in 1877, made a great contribution to physics in the second half of the 19th century. Also of importance were C. E. Guillaume’s inventions and theoretical works on metrology; Guillaume received a Nobel Prize in 1920 and became a foreign corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in 1924.

An enormous influence was exerted on modern science by A. Einstein, who was a professor at the University of Zürich from 1909 to 1911 and from 1912 to 1914. Einstein formulated the special theory of relativity, the quantum theory of light, and the theory of Brownian movement. Beginning in the late 1920’s the development of physics in Switzerland was associated with the research of W. Pauli, who helped develop quantum mechanics and the relativistic quantum field theory; Pauli received a Nobel Prize in 1945. R. Wolf established a connection between solar activity and variations in the Earth’s magnetic field.

In chemistry, A. Werner received a Nobel Prize in 1913 for his investigation of inorganic-complex coordinated compounds. C. E. Guye and his brother P. A. Guye, who became a foreign corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences in 1913, laid the foundations of electrochemical research in Switzerland. An important contribution to organic chemistry was made by A. Pictet, who carried out research on heterocyclical compounds. In 1934 and 1935, L. Ruzicka synthesized androster-one and testosterone; he received a Nobel Prize in 1939 and became a foreign member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in 1958. H. Staudinger, one of the founders of macromolecular chemistry, was a professor in Zürich from 1912 to 1926. The fundamentals of the stereochemistry of crystalline compounds and a genetic classification for magmatogenic ores were worked out by P. Niggli, who became a foreign corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in 1924. A major school of chemistry was founded by P. Karrer; in 1937, Karrer shared a Nobel Prize with W. Haworth for his studies on carotinids, flavins, and certain vitamins. Biochemical research advanced under the direction of E. Abderhalden, who became a foreign corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in 1925. P. H. Müller studied the insecticidal properties of DDT and received a Nobel Prize in 1948.

Niggli, F. de Quervain, and R. Winterhalter compiled a survey, published in 1930, of the chemical compositions of the rocks found in Switzerland. Important figures in minerology were U. Grubenmann, L. Duparc, and G. A. Kenngott; Kenngott became a foreign corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences in 1884, and Duparc, in 1912. In the mid-19th century, A. Gressly set forth the principles of faciès analysis, and at the end of the 19th century, F. A. Forel laid the foundations of limnology. A. Heim, who was a foreign honorary member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR from 1925, studied the tectonic structure and glacial history of the Alps. C. W. M. Dorno conducted the first research in Switzerland in bioclimatol-ogy and radiation climatology. In 1931 and 1932, A. Piccard carried out flights for scientific purposes in a stratosphere balloon of his own design.

During the second half of the 19th century, the traditions of excellence in Swiss botany were continued by P. E. Boisier and A. de Candolle, who became a foreign corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences in 1858. Noted botanists in the early 20th century included J. Briquet, C. de Candolle, E. Cramer, and R. Chodat, who became a foreign corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in 1924. Fossil Flora of the Arctic (1868–83) by O. Heer laid the foundations for the systematic study of the extinct vegetation of the arctic regions; Heer became a foreign corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences in 1876. One of the first paleontologists to adopt the Darwinian point of view was L. Rütimeyer, who became a foreign corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences in 1882.

A milestone in biology was F. Miescher’s discovery of nucleic acids in 1868, and a considerable influence on biology and medicine in Switzerland was exerted by A. H. Forel, who wrote works on psychotherapy, sexology, entomology, and the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system. An important role in Swiss medicine was also played by M. Schiff, who became a foreign corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences in 1895, and by H. Sahli; both Schiff and Sahli studied clinical physiology and diagnosis. F. de Quervain and C. Roux made notable contributions to surgery, and E. Bleuler, to psychiatry. Widespread recognition was gained by T. Kocher’s achievements in the study and treatment of diseases of the thyroid gland; Kocher received a Nobel Prize in 1909. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, health resort science, balneology, and physiotherapy began developing, and during the first half of the 20th century, a Swiss school of ecology took shape; the foremost scientists of the school were J. Braun-Blanquet, E. Rübel, and E. Schmid.

Progress in the technical sciences in Switzerland was fostered by widespread transportation construction and industrialization. In 1852, J. D. Colladon proposed a design for a pneumatic drill, and in 1862, J. Lechaux invented the diamond drill bit. To help with the driving of tunnels, such engineers as A. Heim, K. Brandau, and R. Meyer studied problems of the strength of various types of tunnels. Geodetic surveys were conducted under the direction of C. Guillaume, and outstanding works on the technology of tunnel construction were contributed by L. Favre, C. Baeschlin, and C. Koppe. The St. Gotthard Tunnel was opened in 1882, and the Simplon Tunnel, the longest in the world, was opened in 1906; a second tunnel, parallel to the first was completed in 1922.

Such Swiss engineers as R. Abt and N. Riggenbach occupied a prominent place in the design and construction of cog railways; Swiss engineers also made important contributions to the design and construction of mountain cableways. J. Ackeret built one of the first supersonic wind tunnels. T. Turrettini, E. Biirgin, and V. Boveri formed a Swiss school of electrical engineering.

SECOND HALF OF THE 20TH CENTURY. In 1944 a governmental commission was organized in Bern to encourage scientific research and coordinate research in the applied sciences. In 1952, the Swiss National Science Foundation was established, and during the 1960’s the National Research Council was founded under its auspices. In 1969 a science division was organized in the Interior Department.

In basic research in Switzerland, mathematics occupies a prominent place, with recognition being accorded to J. Burckhardt, E. Trost, and G. de Rham, as well as to R. Wavre and his school. Research in physics has been continued by W. Pauli and his school; in 1955, Pauli formulated the CPT theorem. Major studies on antibiotics and other physiologically active compounds have been carried out by V. Prelog, who became a foreign member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in 1966. A broad program of scientific research is being conducted in the interests of the chemical and pharmaceutical monopolies.

In geology and geography, an important role has been played by the deep-sea studies begun in the 1940’s by A. Piccard and continued since 1966 by his son J. Piccard; the Piccards designed new bathyscaphes. Research is also being carried on in volcanol-ogy, alpine geology, tectonics, geodesy, geophysics, and meteorology; A. Rittmann has performed especially valuable investigations in volcanology, R. Staub in alpine geology, and E. Begman in tectonics.

In biology, great achievements have been made by W. R. Hess in the physiology of the nervous system, by T. Reichstein in endocrinology, and by G. Aebi in biochemistry; Hess and Reichstein both received a Nobel Prize—in 1949 and 1950, respectively. G. Zop, E. Müller, and C. Baehni have made important contributions to botanical taxonomy, and the works of A. Frey-Wyssling on plant physiology have gained recognition. Experimental embryology has been developed by E. Hadorn and his school. Important medical research is being conducted in neurophysiology by K. Akert, and in neuropathology and psychiatry by scientists at the C. G. Jung Institute in Zürich. In the agricultural sciences, outstanding works have been contributed by the Lausanne school of agronomy, especially R. Halle and F. Ober.

Research and development technology have mainly been connected with the manufacture of precision instruments, machine tools, and turbines. Important studies have been carried out by such engineers as R. Braun in an attempt to develop safeguards against landslides and avalanches. Among Switzerland’s major achievements in engineering are the Mauvoisin Dam (237 m; constructed 1950’s), the Great St. Bernard Tunnel (opened 1967), and a system of freight-bearing cableways (some of them up to 200 km long).


Fueter, E. Forschungsorganisation und Forschungsaufwendungen in der Schweiz. Zürich, 1959.
Luck, J. M. Science in Switzerland. New York-London, 1967.
Schwarz, D. W. H. Die Kultur der Schweiz. Frankfurt am Main, 1967.
Die Schweiz und die Forschung. Edited by W. Staub and A. Hinderberger, vols. 1–2. Bern, 1943–44.
Social sciences.TO THE MID–18TH CENTURY. In the ninth and tenth centuries The Encyclopedia of Literary Sciences, the anonymous Life of Charlemagne, and the Chronicle of the Abbey of St. Gallen by Ratpert and Ekkehard were compiled at the Abbey of St. Gallen, where the scholar-monks Notker Balbulus (“the Stammerer”) and Notker Labeo (“the Thick-lipped”) were active. A prominent representative of the ecclesiastical and monastic culture of a later period was the mystic nun Elizabeth Stagel (14th century), a disciple of H. Suso’s.
The principal achievements of medieval Swiss social science came with the development of an urban culture in the 14th and 15th centuries. Numerous urban chronicles were written, chiefly in Bern, where the Bern chronicles of K. Justinger and D. Schilling were compiled in the 15th century. The development of the social sciences and the dissemination of knowledge was facilitated by the establishment of printing houses and universities. At the University of Basel jurisprudence underwent considerable development as early as the second half of the 15th century; a leading figure in this field was P. von Andlau.
In the 16th century numerous scholars and thinkers were associated with the Swiss universities, notably Erasmus of Rotterdam, who from 1521 to 1528 lived in Basel, where many of his works were published by J. Froben. Other important figures included J. Sichardt, the founder of the Basel school of historical textual criticism, and K. von Gesner, the author of the Universal Library (1545–55). The Swiss humanists continued the tradition of compiling local chronicles; noteworthy examples are the Bern Chronicle of Valerius Anselmus and the Geneva Chronicles of F. Bonivard. The first attempts to write a systematic history of Switzerland were made by J. Stumpf and A. Tschudi.
During the 16th century Switzerland became a leading center of Protestant theology, primarily through the work of H. Zwingli and his followers Vadianus (J. von Watt), J. Oecolampadius, and H. Bullinger, as well as J. Calvin and his successor T. Bèze. The Reformation sparked an awakening of interest in the historical and legal questions of the confederative state structure, which were dealt with by J. Simmler in the second half of the 16th century.
Many French Protestant scholars and journalists who had fled religious persecution were active in Switzerland, notably M. Cordier, S. Castalion, and F. Hotman. In the first half of the 18th century the ideas of natural law as advanced by H. Grotius and S. von Pufendorf were disseminated by J. Barbeyrac, J.-J. Burlamaqui, and E. Vattel. Philosophical problems of scientific cognition were dealt with by G.-L. Lesage, who was influenced by B. Pascal, and by J.-P. Crousaz, who subscribed to a late Cartesianism. The work of J.-J. Rousseau, a native of Geneva who lived in Switzerland until 1741 and during the 1760’s, and later of Voltaire, who lived in Switzerland from 1754 to 1758, played a major role in spreading the ideas of the Enlightenment in Switzerland.
SINCE THE MID–18TH CENTURY. Philosophy, pedagogy, and law. Swiss social thought, whose development has been closely connected with the philosophy and culture of neighboring countries, chiefly Germany and France, is characterized by a particular interest in problems of education and of social and legal systems. In the mid-18th century attempts were made to put pedagogy and Enlightenment aesthetics, as seen from a Wolffian standpoint, on a rationalist basis; prominent in these efforts were J. G. Sulzer, as well as J. J. Bodmer and J. Breitinger, the teachers and predecessors of J. H. Pestalozzi. The democratic theory and practice of education developed by Pestalozzi, which was based on visual instruction, gained international recognition. K. von Bonstetten, who was active in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, studied the role that differences in geographic environment and in systems of public education play in the formation of individual and national character.
After Switzerland’s neutral status was formally recognized in 1815, there was an increased interest in philosophical and legal questions, reflected in the works of K. L. von Haller, I. Troxler, O. Huber, and J. K. Bluntschli, a theorist of the organic school of law. Such figures as C. Secretan, J.-E. Naville, and K. Hebler discussed the issues of liberal reform, the democratization of the electoral system, and the emancipation of women. Several social and ethical problems pertaining to relations among states were posed by J. H. Dunant, who was the founder of the International Red Cross, E. Ducommun, and A. Gobat. In the 20th century the theory of the state and the law has been studied by C. Borgeaud, K. Diirr, U. Lampert, and E. Ruck.
In the first half of the 19th century, Swiss philosophy was dominated by German idealism. Secretan and Troxler further developed Schelling’s philosophy of nature and put forward a spiritualistic concept of freedom. The end of the 19th century was marked by the influence of positivism, particularly in the works of H. Naville, and neo-Kantianism.
In the early 20th century the neo-Fichtean philosophy of activism, as elaborated by R. Eucken, gained popularity; it was applied to ethics and aesthetics by E. Grisebach and P. Häberlin and to pedagogy by A. Ferrière and Grisebach. E. Jaques-Delacroze developed a pedagogic system based on a wide-ranging interpretation of rhythm as an educative principle that permeated all areas of life and art.
From 1910 through the 1930’s religious and mystical trends became increasingly influential, notably in the anthroposophy of R. Steiner, which was applied to various disciplines, including pedagogy, and in the dialectical theology of K. Barth. Neo-Thomism, represented by J. Bochénski and the Fribourg group, which was associated with the journal Divus Thomas (1923–53), gained a certain influence, as did the existentialism of H. Barth.
An important school developed in the philosophic analysis of works of literature and art; its representatives—J. Gebser, E. R. Curtius, W. Muschg, K. Schmid, and E. Staiger, the principal exponent of the “school of interpretation”—were influenced primarily by phenomenology and, to a degree, by German existentialism.
Of some importance in the history of psychology in the second half of the 18th century were J. Zimmermann and J. Lavater; the latter attempted to revive the science of physiognomy. In the 19th century valuable work was done by P. Scheitlin in animal psychology, A. Forel in hypnotism, and E. Bleuler in psychiatry. H. Rorschach’s test for use in the study of personality, first presented in 1921, gained widespread acceptance. From the 1920’s to 1940’s work in military psychology was done by E. Bircher and U. Wille. K. G. Jung, the founder of the trend in depth psychology known as analytic psychology, developed a classification of psychological types and a methodology for the associative experiment. Another school of depth psychology is the existential analysis of L. Binswanger, F. Kaune, and W. Keller.
Important work in experimental psychology was carried out by E. Claparède, who wrote on child psychology and occupational psychology; his version of functional psychology greatly influenced J. Piaget’s genetic epistemology and operational conception of the intellect.
Marxist philosophy gained currency in Switzerland in the second half of the 19th and the early 20th centuries, particularly after the founding of the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland in 1888 and the Communist Party of Switzerland in 1921; of major importance were the contacts of the Swiss socialists with V. I. Lenin and G. V. Plekhanov when the two lived in Switzerland. The works of Swiss Marxists of the 1920’s to 1940’s, notably S. Bamatter, J. Mimiola, F. Platten, and W. Trostel, expressed the ideas of internationalism and dialectical and historical materialism. After the founding of the Swiss Labor Party in 1944, its leaders, who included E. Woog, J. Vincent, and K. Farner, actively disseminated the teachings of Marxism-Leninism.
In Switzerland, research in philosophy, psychology, pedagogy, and law has traditionally been carried out at the universities.
Swiss philosophical journals include Freidenker (since 1918), Studia philosophica (since 1941), Dialéctica (since 1947), and Freiburger Zeitschrift für Philosophic und Théologie (since 1954). The major psychological journals are Archives de psychologie (since 1902), Action et pensée (since 1925), Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Psychologie und ihre Anwendungen (since 1942), and Der Psychologe (since 1949).
Historical scholarship. The development of Swiss historical scholarship in the second half of the 18th century is closely linked with the ideas of the Enlightenment. The members of the Helvetian Club (founded 1761), notably I. Iselin and F. Balthasar, developed the notion of bourgeois civilization as the summit of human progress. J. von Müller’s A History of the Swiss Confederation, which was influenced by Enlightenment ideas, provided a heroic view of the history of the Swiss people and long remained the principal textbook on medieval Swiss history; it was continued by various historians, including R. Glutz-Blotzheim and L. Vuillemin, who imparted a romantic coloring to the work.
In the first half of the 19th century the ideas of German romanticism were reflected in historical works that supported the Restoration, notably those of F. D’Ivernois and H. Zschokke, and in a new interest in local history. The first historical societies were established at this time. In the 1830’s, J. Kopp became the first to critically study the chronicles and other Swiss historical sources; he showed that much of their information was based on legends.
The development of European history of culture was considerably influenced by J. Burckhardt, who specialized in the culture of ancient Greece and the Renaissance and founded the cultural-historical school, and later by H. Wölfflin. A major figure in the development of cultural anthropology was J. J. Bachofen, whose works initiated the study of the matriarchal system and the evolution of the family. In the mid-19th century F. Keller was the first to study systematically Swiss pile dwellings.
The information accumulated throughout the 19th century on all periods of Swiss history made it possible to write, at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, large, comprehensive works covering the entire course of Swiss history (K. Dändliker, J. Dierauer, T. van Muyden, and E. Gagliardi), as well as survey works dealing with Swiss military history and with the study of sources (W. Oechsli). Notable studies on the medieval period were written during this period by R. Wacker-nagel and by G. Caro, who conducted a polemic with the adherents of the patrimonial estate theory. The works of E. Fueter constitute an important contribution to European historiography.
The history of the working-class movement and socialist ideas in Switzerland was dealt with by R. Grimm, the leader of the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland. Important works in the fields of ethnography and archaeology, both those limited to Switzerland and those of a broader purview, were written by such scholars as E. Pittard, H. Bechtold, E. Baechler, and O. Tschumi.
Dominant among the trends in Swiss historiography is the liberal school, which indiscriminately applies the historical methodologies of such trends as neopositivism, phenomenology, and the historiography of A. Toynbee to issues in Swiss and world history; representatives of this school include P. Bessire, P. Dürrenmatt, V. Martin, E. Müller-Büchi, L. Binz, E. Gruner, and W. Hofer. The most important studies on Swiss history are those of H. Nabholz, who wrote on the medieval and modern periods, and K. Meyer, who revealed the historical basis of a number of legends pertaining to the formation of the Swiss Confederation whose authenticity had been cast into doubt by 19th-century historians.
Several historians, notably H. Weilemann, E. Bonjour, and R. Feller, subscribe to the notion of Helvetianism; they have attempted to put forward the social and political structure of the Swiss Confederation as the ideal organization of the state. A sociological school has been developed that relies primarily on the comparative historical method, as in the works of S. Stelling-Michaud, in An Economic and Social History of Switzerland (1961), and in studies on patterns of migration carried out in the late 1960’s by H. Hoffmann-Nowotny; in a number of instances the works of this school lean toward an approach in which ethnology plays an important role.
The materialist interpretation of history is represented by a relatively small number of works of a Marxist tendency, such as those by M. Bodenmann, M. Pianzola, K. Farner, and H. Egger, which study specific and general phenomena in the historical development of Switzerland, as well as the history of the class struggle and working-class movement. The works of the progressive Swiss scholar A. Bonnard on the history of Greek civilization have gained widespread recognition.
The departments of philosophy and history, as well as the departments of political and social sciences, at various universities, including those at Basel, Bern, Geneva, Lausanne, and Zürich, are the principal centers of historical scholarship. Historical studies are published in the proceedings of historical societies; these organizations exist in all cantons and belong to the Swiss Historical Society (founded 1841), which publishes the Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Geschichte. Problems of domestic history are treated in such journals as Beitrage zur Heimatkunde (since 1927), Blatter zur Heimatgeschichte (since 1963), and Bollettino storico delta Svizzera italiana (since 1879). The leading journal dealing with problems of world history is Schweizer Beitrage zur allgemeinen Geschichte (since 1943).
ECONOMICS. Economics emerged as an independent discipline in Switzerland in the second half of the 18th century, when the Swiss economist J. Waser set forth his theory of prices and price formation. A prominent representative of Swiss economics of the first half of the 19th century was J. C. L. S. de Sismondi, a seminal figure in petit-bourgeois political economy.
In the first half and beginning of the second half of the 19th century, W. Schulz-Bodner studied the role of the labor force in an economy based on free competition. In the same period, A. E. Cherbuliez subjected capitalism to a petit bourgeois critique similar to that of Sismondi’s: he proposed that the state abolish private ownership of the land and appropriate rent, which would be used to replace taxes. Despite these radical demands, Cherbuliez was a fierce opponent of socialism. In the second half of the 19th century, L. Walras founded the mathematical school of political economy, which saw in mathematics the basic means of comprehending economic phenomena.
At the beginning of the 20th century Swiss economists attached great importance to the study of trade, money circulation, and the banking system. A prominent Swiss economist of the 20th century, W. Röpke, studied problems of international commercial and currency-credit relations, economic crises, market conditions, and inflation. Röpke, who helped create the theory of the social market economy, was an advocate of neoliberalism.
Most modern Swiss economists are Keynesians and concentrate in their works on questions of economic statistics and the construction of economic models. Since the late 1950’s econometrics has undergone considerable development in Swiss economic scholarship. Many Swiss economists work on a continuing basis with the international organizations located in Switzerland and take part in the research sponsored by these organizations.
The chief centers of economic science in Switzerland are the universities of Geneva, Bern, Zürich, and Fribourg and their affiliated scientific research institutes.
The principal Swiss economics journals are Wirtschaft und Verwaltung (since 1942), Revue économique et sociale (since 1943), Gewerbliche Rundschau (since 1956), Archiv für schweizerische Wirtschaft und Wirtschaftspolitik (since 1960), Aussen-wirtschaft (since 1946), and Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Volk-swirtschaft und Statistik (since 1865).
LINGUISTICS. Beginning in the 19th century, linguistic science developed in three areas: Indo-European linguistics, general linguistics, and linguistic geography. Indo-European studies have been represented by works on general problems, Celtic linguistics (A. Piktet), Indie linguistics (J. Wackernagel and A. Debrun-ner), Baltic linguistics (M. Niedermann), and classical languages (Debrunner and Niedermann). Piktet wrote on problems of linguistic paleontology.
The contributions to general linguistics by the Geneva school, primarily F. de Saussure, and by C. Bally and A. Séchehaye greatly influenced the development of linguistics in many countries throughout the world. The ideas of the Geneva school were further developed by S. O. Kartsevskii, O. Frei, and R. Godel. The study and publications of Saussure’s manuscripts is proceeding under the direction of Godel and R. Engler. In 1941 the Geneva Linguistic Society initiated the occasional publication Cahiers F. de Saussure, of which 30 volumes had appeared as of 1976.
The foundations of linguistic geography were laid at the end of the 19th century. J. Gilliéron, K. Jaberg, and J. Jud, all of whom took a historical approach to the study of linguistic geography, compiled A Dialect Atlas of Italy and Southern Switzerland (1928–40). In 1932, Jud founded the journal Vox románica, an organ of the Society of Romance Languages in Basel. W. von Wartburg also dealt with problems of linguistic geography.
Dialectology has undergone development by H. Morf and L. Gauchet; the latter published A Dictionary of the Dialects of French Switzerland (1924–25). Dictionaries of German dialects have appeared since 1873 and of Rhaeto-Romance dialects since 1904. H. Baumgartner and R. Hotzenköcherle initiated the publication of An Atlas of the German Dialects of Switzerland in 1962. Applied linguistics has undergone development in Basel, Zürich, and Neuchâtel.
The principal linguistic societies are the Geneva Linguistic Society (1940–57), the Swiss Linguistic Society (Basel, founded 1947), the Society for the Study of German Language and Literature (Zürich, founded 1894), and the Rhaeto-Romance Society (Chur, Graubünden Canton; founded 1870).


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Feller, R., and E. Bonjour. Geschichtsschreibung der Schweiz, vols. 1–2. Basel-Stuttgart, 1962.
Busino, G., and S. Stelling-Michaud. Matériaux pour une histoire des sciences sociales à Genève (1873–1915). Geneva, 1965.
Philosophic in der Schweiz: Beitràge von P. Hàberlin, K. Diirr, H. Barth. Erlenbach-Zürich, 1946.
Meyer, W. Demokratie und Câsarismus: Konservatives Denken in der Schweiz. Bern, 1975.
Schwarz, D. Die Kultur der Schweiz. Frankfurt am Main, 1967.
Die Schweiz und die Forschung, vols. 1–2. Edited by W. Staub and A. Hinderberger. Bern, 1943–44.
B. A. STAROSTIN, I. A. BOECHIN (economics), and N. A. SLIUSAREVA (linguistics)
Scientific institutions. The Geneva National Institute (founded 1853) coordinates scientific research in Switzerland. An important role in organizing scientific research is played by the Swiss National Science Foundation (1952), which includes the National Research Council, an organization made up of scientists. Most scientific work is carried out at the universities and polytechnic institutes. A number of research programs are sponsored by various governmental institutions, such as the Science Division (1969) of the Interior Department and the Study Commission for Atomic Energy (1945). The state finances the work of the Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanches Research (1942), certain observatories, scientific stations, and some scientific research institutes under the jurisdiction of the Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich, including the Swiss Reactor Center (1955) in Würenlingen.
Private research institutes and planning and design organizations are generally run by the large monopolies in such branches of industry as machine building (Brown Boveri and others) and the pharmaceutical industry (Ciba-Geigy, Hoffman-La Roche, and Sandoz). Research in the humanities is conducted, for the most part, at the universities.
In the mid-1970’s about 22,000 persons, including approximately 16,000 scientists and engineers, were employed in research and development. Expenditures on science totaled some 3 million Swiss francs (about 2.5 percent of the gross national product), of which one-fifth comes from the state budget.

As of 1980,115 newspapers, with a total circulation of approximately 2.5 million, were being published in Switzerland. The most important German-language newspapers are Blick (published since 1959 in Zürich; circulation in 1980, 272,000), Tages Anzeiger (since 1893 in Zürich; circulation 261,000), Neue Zurcher Zeitung (since 1780 in Zürich; circulation 115,000), Berner Zeitung (since 1979 in Bern, the result of a merger of Berner Nachrichten and Berner Tagblatt; circulation 120,000), Basler Zeitung (since 1977 in Basel, the result of a merger of Bas-ler Nachrichten, since 1845, and National Zeitung since 1842, circulation 110,000), Vaterland (since 1833 in Luzern; circulation 68,000), and the weekly Die Weltwoche (since 1933 in Zürich; circulation 127,000).

The most important French-language newspapers are Journal de Genève (published since 1826 in Geneva; circulation 18,700), La Suisse (since 1898 in Geneva; circulation 64,500), the evening newspaper La Tribune de Genève (since 1879 in Geneva, circulation 70,700), and La Tribune-le matin (since 1862 in Lausanne; circulation 49,700).

The most important Italian-language newspapers are Corriere del Ticino (published since 1890 in Lugano; circulation more than 27,000) and Giornale del popolo (since 1926 in Lugano; circulation 18,000).

The organs of the Swiss Labor Party are the daily French-language newspaper Voix ouvrière (published since 1944 in Geneva; circulation 8,000), the weekly German-language newspaper Vorwärts (since 1920 in Basel; circulation 12,000), and the weekly Italian-language newspaper Il lavoratore (Lugano; circulation 1,000).

The Swiss Telegraph Agency is a joint-stock company, founded in Bern in 1894. The Swiss Society for Radio and Television Broadcasting, which is also based in Bern, is a commercial organization, but it is controlled to a considerable extent by the government. Radio broadcasting was begun in Switzerland in 1923; as of 1980, programs were being broadcast in nine languages. There have been regular television broadcasts since 1958.


The literature of the Swiss people has developed in the German, French, Italian and Rhaeto-Romance languages. The literature of each linguistic region of Switzerland, except the Rhaeto-Romance-speaking area, is linked with that of the neighboring country of the same language.

German. A literature that was distinctly Swiss began emerging at the end of the 13th century, when the forest cantons of Schwyz, Uri, and Unterwalden concluded a perpetual alliance. This literature, which featured historical chronicles and folk songs glorifying the struggle for independence, made use of legends about William Tell and Arnold von Winkelried (14th century). The minnesingers B. Steinmar (13th century) and J. Hadlaub (died c. 1340) combined traditional motifs of courtly love with realism. From the 14th through 16th centuries, poetry that was both satirical and didactic enjoyed popularity, most commonly taking the form of a fable. A unique encyclopedia of medieval life is H. von Wittenweiler’s comic narrative poem The Ring (c. 1410), which makes use of elements of the grotesque.

By the end of the Middle Ages, Switzerland had made its final political break with the Holy Roman Empire, but intellectual ties with Germany remained the most important influence in the literary life of the German-speaking cantons. During the Reformation, religious drama was the most popular literary genre, and the works of N. Manuel (1484–1530) and P. Gengenbach (1480-c. 1525) were especially important.

The first Swiss Enlightenment figure was the patrician B. L. de Muralt (1665–1749), who lived in Bern; his Letters About the English and the French (in French; written 1698, published 1725) had an influence on A. von Haller and J.-J. Rousseau. An important place in the Swiss Enlightenment is also occupied by the literary critics J. J. Bodmer (1698–1783) and J. J. Breitinger (1701–76), who together founded one of the first German-language Enlightenment weeklies, Die Diskurse der Mahlern, in 1721. The ideas of the scholar and poet A. von Haller evolved from an enlightened opposition to the oligarchic regime (Swiss Poems, 1732) to a defense of orthodox religiosity and a social structure that had outlived its time (the historical novels Usong [1771] and Fabius and Cato [1774]). Sentimentality and moderate conservatism marked The Idylls by S. Gessner (1730–1788).

The interests of the democratic strata were expressed by the outstanding pedagogue J. H. Pestalozzi (1746–1827), the author of the novel Leonard and Gertrude (1780–87). The Life and Adventures of a Poor Man in Tockenburg, the autobiography of U. Bráker (1735–98), shows that the ideas of the Enlightenment penetrated the consciousness of the peasantry; the book is permeated with hatred for the feudal order and capitalist exploitation.

Neither romanticism nor classicism took root among the Swiss petite bourgeoisie. Although not distinguished by depth or originality, the works of G. G. de Salis-Seewis (1762–1834), M. Usteri (1763–1827), H. Zschokke (1771–1848), and J. Stutz (1801–77) laid the foundations for the realism of J. Gotthelf (1797–1854), G. Keller (1819–90), and C. F. Meyer (1825–98). These three Swiss writers were the first to be widely read outside of Switzerland; their works were a realistic embodiment of the growing conflict between a rejection of capitalist development and the faith of the humanist writers in the limitless potential of the people. Particularly noteworthy are Keller’s novel Martin Salander (1886) and Gotthelfs novel Uli the Tenant Farmer (1849). The poems of H. Leuthold (1827–79) and F. Dranmor (real name, L. F. Schmid, 1823–88) were also marked by pessimism and a lack of faith in the bourgeois path of development. In his epic narrative poems Prometheus and Epimetheus (1880–81) and Olympian Spring (1900–07), C. Spitteler (1845–1924) attempted to create a type of modernized, humanist myth, in which ancient mythology was interwoven with modern cosmic images.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the idyllic works of J. V. Widmann (1842–1911), the Alpine romanticist E. Zahn (1867–1952), J. Heer (1859–1925), and H. Fédérer (1866–1928) were popular. A form of pochvennichestvo (a “grass-roots” literary and social movement in Russia) also appeared in Swiss literature; it is exemplified by M. Lienert and R. von Tavel, both of whom made use of local dialects. The “intellectual defense of the fatherland,” which was essentially a reaction against the expansionism of fascist Germany in the sphere of culture, aided the growth of regional literature.

The rejection of Swiss reality was continued by R. Walser (1878–1956), A. Zollinger (1895–1941), and J. Schaffner (1875–1944), all three of whom revealed the contradictions within society and its lack of historical perspectives. Especially important are Walser’s novels The Assistant (1907) and Jakob von Gunten (1908) and Zollinger’s Haifa Man (1929) and Great Unrest (1939). J. Bührer (1882–1975) was associated with the socialist movement; in his novels Kilian (1922) and It Is Impossible (1932) and his drama Galileo Galilei (1933), he asserted the need for a radical restructuring of the unjust social system.

After World War II, M. Frisch (born 1911) and F. Diirrenmatt (born 1921) created in their dramas and comedies readily understandable “models of the world,” thus leading Swiss literature out of the dead end of regionalism and isolationism. Their best works are marked by a strong interest in sociopolitical problems, social criticism, and an unceasing quest for the human in men. Most noteworthy are Frisch’s novels Stiller (1959) and Homo Faber (1957) and Dürrenmatt’s dramas The Visit (1956) and The Meteor (1965).

During the 1950’s and 1960’s, Swiss literature witnessed an increase in social criticism, political themes, and stated rejections of petit bourgeois society. In such novels as The Interrogation of Harry Wind (1964) by W. M. Diggelmann (born 1927), The Weaver of Wreaths (1964) by H. Loetscher (born 1929), The Mute (1959) and Herr Towel (1962) by O. F. Walter (born 1928), and Antidotes to Enchantment (1967) by A. Muschg (born 1934), the traditions of realism are combined with a use of modern descriptive techniques. The short stories of such authors as P. Bichsel, (born 1935), F. Federspiel (born 1931), U. Eggli, and F. Hohler show that these writers have studied motives of social behavior in a changing world; through the use of irony, skepticism, and elements of the irrational and fantastic, they undermine faith in the stability of the existing system. The novels The Discovery Place (1974) by W. Schmidli (born 1939) and The Nightmare by W. Kauer (born 1935) testify to a revival of interest in the life and struggle of the Swiss working class.

French. The beginnings of the intellectual and literary life of the French-speaking cantons—Genève, Neuchâtel, Vaud, and Valais—coincide with the Reformation. The most prominent writer in French during the 16th century was F. Bonivard (1493–1570), who is known for his Geneva Chronicles. Ties with the progressive wing of the Huguenots had a favorable effect on T. de Beze (1519–1605), who wrote the tragedy Abraham’s Sacrifice (1550). During the 17th century, Swiss literature written in French, or romande literature, was entangled in religious controversies and was propagandistic in nature. Les Tragiques (parts 1–7; 1616) by T. A. d’Aubigné (1552–1630), who had come from France, reflected the age of Calvinism.

From the Protestant camp came the first signs of the intellectual awakening that weakened the hold of Calvinist dogma and paved the way for the Enlightenment. A bourgeois-democratic patriotic movement arose; the belief in a vital link between the German and French cantons of Switzerland was affirmed in the activities of the Helvetian societies. Nevertheless, the humanist traditions that were espoused by J.-J. Rousseau (1712–78) and B. Constant (1767–1830) and that grew out of ties with French culture did not find the necessary ground for development. Moral-philosophical literature of a religious nature prevailed. Of the 19th-century writers, only R. Töpffer (1799–1846) was a literary artist in the proper sense of the term; Töpffer was known for such works as Geneva Short Stories (1841).

In the 20th century, such writers as P. Budry (1883–1948), C. A. Cingria (1883–1954), R. de Traz (1884–1951), and A. Spiess (1876–1940) continued the process of liberating literature from religious moralizing. The most talented writer of this group was the novelist, poet, and essayist C. F. Ramuz (1878–1947), whose influence is still seen in such contemporary writers as G. Haldas, M. Dentan, J. Chessex, and M. Chappaz. Because of close contacts between literary developments in France and French-speaking Switzerland, romande literature was influenced by the Resistance. Thus, such Swiss poets as G. Trollier, P. L. Matthey, and J. Cuttat exhibited social concerns and enriched Swiss literature with civic motifs.

Since the early 1950’s, active humanism has again given way to traditional, abstract humanism, as seen in G. Roud and M. Raymond and later in P. Jacotte and V. Godel. The change is also clearly noticeable in the novel / (1959) by Y. Veland (born 1925), the collection of poems Freedom at Dawn (1967) by A. Voisard (born 1930), the drama Captain Karagheuz (1967) by L. Gaulis (born 1932), and the play Sun and Death (1966) by B. Liegme (born 1927).

Italian. Swiss literature in the Italian language has developed in the canton of Ticino. Beginning in 1803, when Ticino joined the Swiss Confederation with the rights of an independent canton, the themes of national uniqueness and Swiss patriotism appear in its literature; the leading writers using these themes include G. Zoppi (1869–1952), V. Abbondio (1891–1958), and G. Motta (1871–1940). The literary tastes of several generations in Ticino have been molded by F. Chiesa (1871–1973), who wrote the collection of poems Calliope (1907), the collection Children’s Stories (1920), and the novel March Weather (1925).

Fidelity to the realistic traditions of Italian-language literature has been preserved by P. Bianconi (born 1899), P. Scanziani (born 1908), and A. Jenni (born 1911); the influence of modernism is seen in such works as the novels Evening Spider (1950) by F. Filippini (born 1917) and The Hostages (1954) by G. Bonalumi (born 1920). Noteworthy poets include F. Menghini (born 1909), G. Orelli (born 1909), A. Nessi, R. Fasani, and G. Mascioni.

Romansh. Rhaeto-Romance languages are spoken in less than one-third of the canton of Graubünden; the principal Rhaeto-Romance language is Romansh. The first works of literature in the language date from the 16th century and include The Song of the Battle of Müs Castle (1527) by J. Travers. During the 17th and 18th centuries, didactic works of a religious and political nature appeared.

The pride of Romansh literature is its folkloric works—folk songs, folktales, legends, proverbs, and sayings that have been collected and reworked by the canton’s professional writers. Calls for the preservation of the individuality of the Romansh language and literature were made by such poets as G. C. Muoth (1844–1906). Of the writers and poets from the turn of the 20th century, P. Lansel (1863–1943) is particularly noteworthy. Since 1938, Romansh has been Switzerland’s fourth official language.

Enjoying renown among contemporary writers are the prose writers T. Halter (born 1914) and C. Biert (born 1920), the dramatist T. Murk (born 1915), the poet A. Peer (born 1921), and the author of children’s stories S. Chönz (born 1911). Romansh is gradually being supplanted by German.

The Society of Swiss Writers, which was founded in 1912, includes representatives from all the linguistic regions. In 1969, 22 writers, including Frisch and Diirrenmatt, left the organization in a protest against its lack of political activity; they subsequently formed the Olten Group, which exists alongside the reformed Society of Swiss Writers.


General surveys
Literatura Shveitsarii. Moscow, 1969.
Die zeitgenossischen Literaturen der Schweiz. Zürich-Munich, 1974.
Literature in German
Fringeli, D. Dichter im Abseits. Zürich-Munich, 1974.
Fringeli, D. Von Spitteler zu Muschg. Basel, 1975.
Literature in French
Berchtold, A. La Suisse romande au cap du XXe siècle. Lausanne, 1963.
Literature in Italian
Calgari, G. Ticino degli uomini. Locarno [1966].
Literature in Romansh
Mützenberg, H. Destin de la langue et de la littérature rhéto-romanes. Lausanne, 1974.
Literary theory and criticism. The most important Swiss literary critics of the 18th century were J. J. Breitinger and J. J. Bodmer, who argued against the normative poetics of classicism. Breitinger was the author of A Critical Examination of the Miraculous in Poetry (1740; preface by Bodmer). In the mid-19th century, such critics as J. K. Mörikofer and J. Bachdold began showing an interest in Swiss literature. A prominent representative of the intellectual-historical school was E. Ermatinger (1873–1953), who wrote Poetry and the Intellectual Life of German Switzerland (1933). In the 20th century, Switzerland has had many comparative philologists, including F. Ernst (1889–1958), who distinguished Helvetian studies from the general field of Romance and Germanic philology; Ernst saw Swiss culture essentially as an intermediary between the German, French, and Italian cultures.
By the early 1940’s, the Zürich school (also known as the school of interpretation) had been formed, including such scholars as E. Staiger (born 1908), who wrote The Art of Interpretation (1955), M. Wehrli (born 1909), who wrote General Literary Theory and Criticism (1951), and W. Kaiser. Members of the Zürich school analyze literary works outside the social and historical contexts in which the works were written. In his Tragic History ofLiterature, W. Muschg contrasted a romantic longing for the “old” Europe to his view of the disintegration of contemporary bourgeois culture.

The art of Switzerland, although it has developed in close connection with that of France, Germany, and Italy, has nevertheless retained a distinctive national style. The earliest works of art found on the territory of Switzerland date to the period of the La Tène culture and to Roman times. The oldest monuments of Switzerland’s architecture are linked with the art of the Merovingians, for example, the baptistery at Riva San Vitale (fifth-sixth centuries). Structures of the Carolingian Renaissance, including the Abbey of St. Gallen (founded seventh century, retains the plan of the ninth century), are impressive in size and tend toward a complex reworking of architectural forms.

In the monumental art of the Carolingian period, artists revived certain devices of visual illusion from classical painting, for example, the frescoes from the Church of St. Johann in Munster (ninth century). Structures in the Romanesque style include the Grossmiinster in Zürich; the transitional Romano-Gothic style is represented by the cathedrals in Basel (mainly 1185–1200), and in Chur (1171–1282). These buildings closely resemble the architecture of France and Germany. Gothic structures from the 13th through the 15th centuries are marked by weak articulation of mass and restraint in the use of sculptural decoration, for example, the cathedral in Lausanne (1175–1275). From the late 13th through 15th centuries, Gothic sculpture and painting developed. Important examples are the fresco cycle of the church in Winter-thur (c. 1336), book miniatures executed at the school of St. Gallen, and stained-glass windows, including those of the church in Königsfelden (1325–30). Easel painting was represented by the works of K. Witz.

In the 16th century, the Renaissance style reached Switzerland, as seen in the arcaded street in Lugano (16th century) and the city hall in Basel (1504–14). Decorative painted facades were typical of urban architecture during the 16th and 17th centuries, for example, the paintings on the Knights’ House in Schaffhausen by T. Stimmer (1557). The traditions of the Renaissance were maintained in 17th-century architecture, notably in the town hall in Zürich (1694–98).

Painting and the graphic arts reflected the everyday life of the Swiss, especially the works of U. Graf and N. Manuel Deutsch. H. Holbein the Younger, who worked in Basel, had a considerable influence on 17th-century Swiss portrait painting. The baroque style predominated in the religious architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries, one good example being a church in St. Gallen (begun 1755).

Of special interest in 18th-century art are the pastels of J.-E. Liotard, the landscapes and engravings of S. Gessner, and the portraits of A. Graff and I. G. Fiissli, which combine classicist austerity with romantic fantasy. The Swiss minor masters, who produced genre scenes, landscapes, and historical paintings, included I. L. Aberli and S. Freidenberger. Classicism prevailed in Swiss architecture at the end of the 18th century. The facades of public and residential buildings were modeled on the classical structures of France. Typical examples are the town hall in Neuchâtel (1782–90, architect P. A. Paris) and the railroad station in Zürich (1847). Eclecticism took root in the mid-19th century, and art nouveau became popular toward the end of the century. Neither classicism nor romanticism attained any significant development in the representational art of the early 19th century. Working in the mainstream of German romanticism were G. L. Vogel and H. Hess, as well as the graphic artists R. Töpffer and M. Disteli. The painter L. Rober belonged to the romantic school, while C. Gleyre belonged to the academic trend; both worked in France.

In the mid-19th century, Switzerland’s artists turned to subjects from the life of the people and strove to convey the beauty of the Swiss countryside. Realistic landscapes were painted by A. Calame, and genre scenes by F. Buchser, A. Anker, and B. Vautier, the last of whom worked in Germany. At the turn of the 20th century, Swiss painting was strongly influenced by the works of A. Boecklin. F. Hodler depicted scenes from Swiss history in the style of national romanticism. Beginning in the late 19th century, impressionism, postimpressionism, and symbolism developed in Swiss painting. Outstanding painters included F. Vallotton, T. Steinlen (both of whom worked in France), C. Amiet, R. Auberjonois, and A. Giacometti.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Swiss architects employed new materials while retaining traditional architectural forms, for example, in the University of Zürich (1911–14, architect K. Moser). In the mid-1920’s a renewed interest in folk architecture was reflected in urban and suburban buildings modeled after the traditional chalet. During the 1920’s, the devices and methods of functionalism were introduced in the designs of O. Salvisberg and A. Meili, and in the 1930’s elements of rationalism took hold. Le Corbusier was a native of Switzerland.

Residential districts of the major Swiss cities, built during the 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970’s, were situated among greenery, far from main roads and industrial enterprises. Such settlements include Letzigraben, near Zürich (1952–55, architects A. H. Steiner and others), and Halen, near Bern (1959–61, architects S. Gerber and others). The growth of industrial centers in various regions of Switzerland created a need for satellite cities, such as Le Ligon, near Geneva (1962–70, architects H. Ammann, P. Ammann, and others). In Switzerland’s mountain regions, terrace apartments have been built on the sunny slopes of the mountains, for example, the cities of Klingnau and Brugg.

During World War I (1914–18), dadaism arose in Switzerland, and expressionism was represented in the works of P. Klee. In monumental painting, prominence was gained by a group of masters of religious church paintings, headed by H. Altherr and A. Cingria. The monumentalist A. Blansch turned to subjects drawn from the labor and life of the Swiss people. Abstractionism was the predominant trend in Swiss painting from the 1930’s to the 1950’s, particularly in the sculptures of Taeuber-Arp and the paintings of J. Arp and R. P. Lohse. Swiss pictorial art of the 1960’s and 1970’s has reflected the basic trends and schools of European art. Of special note is the painter and graphic artist H. Erni, a representative of the progressive wing of Swiss art. In 20th-century sculpture, O. C. Bänninger and J. Probst have created psychologically complex works, while H. Haller is known for his impressionistic pieces.

Swiss folk art is renowned for its carved wooden articles, often decorated with ornamental or narrative paintings. Ceramics, woven goods, and leather and metal articles are also of high quality.


Traz, G. de. Histoire de la peinture suisse. Geneva, 1945.
Schmid, A. A. Die Buchmalerei des 16. Jahrhunderts in der Schweiz. Olten, 1954.
Carl, B. Klassizismus, 1770–1860. Zürich. (Die Architektur der Schweiz I.)
Altherr, A. Neue Schweizer Architektur. Teufen [1965].

The music of Switzerland is based on various national traditions. Both folk and written music manifest, in addition to traits that are common to other national traditions, characteristics that are distinctive of Swiss music as a whole. Important folk-song genres include the songs that developed in various regions of the country between the 13th and 16th centuries, which were patriotic, primarily antifeudal, in nature, and a genre peculiar to the Alpine mountaineers—the yodel. Related to the folk song are the calls performed by herdsmen on alpenhorns. Swiss folk dances include the Vögelschottisch and round dances.

The musical art that emerged in the medieval monasteries was connected with liturgical music. The monk Notker Balbulus (“the Stammerer”), who wrote on music theory, introduced sequences in the tenth century; Tuotilo introduced tropes. Glar-eanus (16th century), in his treatise Dodecachordon, classified the 12 basic church modes. Secular music was represented by the minnesingers U. von Singenberg and B. Steinmar in the 13th century and by J. Hadlaub in the beginning of the 14th century.

Notable figures of the 16th century included the masters of choral polyphonic church music L. Senfle, who lived for a time in Munich, L. Bourgeois of Geneva, J. Wannemacher of Bern, and G. Meyer of Basel. In addition to J. U. Sulzberger, important composers of the 17th century included V. Molitor, who also wrote secular music. In the 17th century a type of musical association known as the collegium musicum was established in the cities.

In the 18th century a variety of genres underwent development. Instrumental music and music for the theater were represented by the Singspiels of J. Meyer von Schauensee, which were staged in Luzern. Overtures and trio sonatas were written by H. Albicastro (H. Weissenberg), and piano compositions by J. K. Bachofen and J. H. Egli.

The first operas—German and Italian—were staged in Zürich in 1788. Operas by such Swiss composers as F. Schnyder von Wartensee and H. Götz were staged periodically in the 1820’s in Zürich and on a regular basis beginning in 1834. Beginning in the mid-19th century the operas of R. Wagner dominated the stage. In the late 19th century the operas of H. Huber (five operas) and O. Schoeck were staged; both composers also wrote symphonies and other works.

In the 19th century a music education movement, inspired by the educational theories of J. G. Pestalozzi (late 18th to early 19th centuries), became widespread; several choral societies and music educational institutions were established. Prominent Swiss composers of this period were also teachers or served as the directors of choral societies or schools; in addition to F. Hegar, they included E. Jaques-Delacroze, who devised an educational system based on rhythm.

The leading Swiss musical figures of the early 20th century were G. Doret, V. Andreae, E. Bloch (later a resident of the USA), H. Gagnebin, H. Suter, and E. Ansermet, who in 1918 founded and became director of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. The music of this period combined the traditions of the late German romantics, notably R. Wagner and R. Strauss, with the musical devices of C. Debussy and M. Ravel; this synthesis is especially evident in F. Martin’s work, in a variety of genres, in the 1920’s and 1930’s. A. Honneger, also active in this period, was of Swiss origin. Musicologists included M. Lussy, K. Nef, A. Moser, and J. Handschin.

Prominent composers of the mid-1930’s were W. Burkhard, P. Müller, C. Beck, and A.-F. Marescotti. In the 1940’s, W. Vogel became the first Swiss composer to use serial technique; he was followed by various composers, including R. Liebermann, in such works as the opera Leonora 40/45 and the Concerto for Jazz Band and Orchestra, and H. Sutermeister, in the operas The Enchanted Isle and Raskolnikoff and in instrumental and choral works. Musicologists of this period included W. Schuh and A.-E. Cherbuliez.

The most widely known musical figures since the 1950’s have been A. Schibler, J. Wildberger, K. Huber, and R. Kelterborn. The latest experimental music has been written by such composers as H. Holliger, J. Wittenbach, U. P. Schneider, and R. Moser. Certain types of jazz have made inroads in Switzerland, and folk-influenced light music is performed, notably by the singer and yodeler F. Liechti.

The musical life of Switzerland’s cities has been shaped, since the first decade of the 20th century, by the presence of some of Europe’s greatest musical figures, notably F. Busoni, S. V. Rachmaninoff, I. V. Stravinsky, R. Strauss, P. Hindemith, B. Martinû, and E. Petri. Major international music organizations are located in Switzerland, which is the site of music festivals, symposia, and competitions, including the international Concours d’Exécution Musicale.

In the 1970’s, Switzerland, in addition to more than ten symphony orchestras, had chamber orchestras and ensembles (notably Basel’s chamber orchestra and string quartet), opera companies, and choral societies. Prominent Swiss performers include the conductors E. Appia and N. Aeschbacher, the pianists E. Fischer and N. Magaloff, the violinists A. Pochon and F. Hird, the singers E. Haefliger, H. J. Rehfuss, L. Delia Casa-Debeljevic, and E. Mathis, and the church organists K. W. Senn, E. Kaufmann, and H. Funk.

Learned societies and educational institutions include the Association of Swiss Musicians and Composers, the Union of Swiss Musicians, the Basel Academy of Music, the Conservatory and Higher School for Music in Zürich, and conservatories in Geneva and Lausanne. The universities, as well as many municipal and church schools, have music departments. The major Swiss music publications are the Schweizerische Musikzeitung and Acta musicologica, an international scholarly journal.


Becker, G. La Musique en Suisse. Geneva, 1923.
Refardt, E. Musik in der Schweiz. Bern, 1952.
40 Schweizer Komponisten der Gegenwart. Amriswil, 1956.

The theater in Switzerland developed simultaneously in French, German, and Italian. The traditions of folk amateur productions are still drawn upon and stem from the mystery plays, Shrovetide plays, and other dramatic forms of the Middle Ages; in the 16th century, folk drama became the leading genre, and from the time of the Reformation it gave voice to popular movements. Owing to persecution by the church in the 17th century for its use of political satire and for the secular themes and farcical nature of its productions, the theater lost ties with reality.

The first professional troupes in Switzerland appeared at the turn of the 19th century—in St. Gallen and later in such cities as Lausanne and Geneva. They staged primarily plays by German and French authors. Until the late 1930’s, the abundance of foreign touring companies retarded the development of Switzerland’s own companies. In the 1940’s, however, the Swiss theater, which for the most part used the German language, experienced a rebirth, largely as a result of an influx of actors from Nazi Germany and countries occupied by the Nazis. After World War II, the works of the playwrights M. Frisch and F. Dürrenmatt brought new life to the Swiss theater.

Among individual theaters, one of the most important was the Schauspielhaus in Zürich (founded 1908). Another Zürich theater, the Theater am Neumarkt, was noted for dealing with the political problems of the day and for experimenting with new forms of communication with the audience. Under the direction of W. Duggelin, the theater in Basel became a bastion of progressive ideas during the 1960’s. In addition to works by such established authors as B. Brecht, J. Anouilh, and Dürrenmatt, it staged plays by the younger generation of Swiss playwrights; the theater also arranged discussion sessions dealing with political topics, such as the general strike of 1918.

Other cities with professional troupes include St. Gallen, Lu-zern, Chur, Biel, and Solothurn. Many of the medium-sized amateur theaters stage productions that are notable for their innovations and originality. In the French-speaking cantons, there are five major theaters—the drama center in Lausanne, the theater in Carouge, the folk theater in La Chaud-de-fonds, La Comédie in Geneva, and the Nouveau Theatre de Poche in Geneva. Many professional troupes originated as amateur groups.

International theater festivals are held in June in Lausanne.


Circus. For generations, tightrope walkers have performed at fairs in Switzerland, and there have been traveling troupes of various kinds. The brothers Friedrich, Rolf, Karl, and Eugen Knie, who were members of the oldest family of tightrope walkers in Switzerland, opened a big top circus in Bern in 1919. The Knie Brothers’ Swiss National Circus is a traveling circus, and for part of the year it appears in countries other than Switzerland; foreign performers also appear with the company. The Knie Circus is noted for its exotic animal acts and for the quality of its equestrian acts.


Hässler, A. A. Knie: Die Geschichte einer Circus-Dynastie. Bern, 1968.

The first full-length dramatic film made in Switzerland was The Origins of the Confederation (1924), directed by E. Harder. Until the 1960’s, Swiss motion pictures were primarily in German. In addition to drawing-room comedies, melodramas, short scenic films, and advertising pictures, Switzerland produced films of greater merit, such as the works of the progressive documentary film-makers L. Wechsler and E. Leiser, as well as the patriotic dramatic films The Archer Wipf (1938) and The Last Chance (1945) by L. Lindtberg. Among the best-known French-speaking film-makers are the documentary directors C. Duvanel and H. Brandt, who began directing political documentaries in the 1950’s.

In 1967 the young directors C. Champion, F. Reusser, J. Sandoz, and Y. Yersin created the film Four Women, which comprised four stories describing the destinies of four simple women of various ages. In 1968 the directors A. Tanner, C. Coretta, J. L. Roys, M. Soutter, and J. J. Lagrange (later replaced by Yersin) formed the Group of Five, which opposed the aestheticizing of reality practiced by many directors. Tanner depicted ordinary people and the difficulties of real life in films such as Salamander (1971), Return From Africa (1973), and The Middle of the World (1975), as did Goretta in The Invitation (1972) and Not as Wicked as That (1976). Among the noteworthy German-speaking directors of the 1970’s were R. Lyssy, who directed The Confrontation (1975), T. Koerfer, and D. Schmid.

Between 16 and 18 dramatic films are produced annually in Switzerland. The Swiss cinema centers in Zürich and Lausanne are popular, and there is a motion-picture department in the Schauspiel Academy. Since 1946, international film festivals have been held in Locarno.



Official name: Swiss Confederation

Capital city: Bern

Internet country code: .ch

Flag description: Red square with a bold, equilateral white cross in the center that does not extend to the edges of the flag

National anthem: “Schweizerpsalm” (Swiss Psalm)

Geographical description: Central Europe, east of France, north of Italy

Total area: 15,941 sq. mi. (41,285 sq. km.)

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

Nationality: noun: Swiss (singular and plural); adjective: Swiss

Population: 7,554,661 (July 2007 CIA est.)

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

Languages spoken: German (official) 63.7%, French (offi­cial) 20.4%, Italian (official) 6.5%, Serbo-Croatian 1.5%, Albanian 1.3%, Portuguese 1.2%, Spanish 1.1%, English 1%, Romansch (official) 0.5%, other 2.8%

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

Legal Holidays:

Christmas DayDec 25
Easter MondayApr 25, 2011; Apr 9, 2012; Apr 1, 2013; Apr 21, 2014; Apr 6, 2015; Mar 28, 2016; Apr 17, 2017; Apr 2, 2018; Apr 22, 2019; Apr 13, 2020; Apr 5, 2021; Apr 18, 2022; Apr 10, 2023
Good FridayApr 22, 2011; Apr 6, 2012; Mar 29, 2013; Apr 18, 2014; Apr 3, 2015; Mar 25, 2016; Apr 14, 2017; Mar 30, 2018; Apr 19, 2019; Apr 10, 2020; Apr 2, 2021; Apr 15, 2022; Apr 7, 2023
New Year's DayJan 1
Swiss National DayAug 1


a federal republic in W central Europe: the cantons of Schwyz, Uri, and Unterwalden formed a defensive league against the Hapsburgs in 1291, later joined by other cantons; gained independence in 1499; adopted a policy of permanent neutrality from 1516; a leading centre of the Reformation in the 16th century. It lies in the Jura Mountains and the Alps, with a plateau between the two ranges. Official languages: German, French, and Italian; Romansch minority. Religion: mostly Protestant and Roman Catholic. Currency: Swiss franc. Capital: Bern. Pop.: 7 163 000 (2004 est.). Area: 41 288 sq. km (15 941 sq. miles)
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