A little country at the heart of Europe
Eight million inhabitants, three geographical regions, four national languages, 26 cantons: that is Switzerland.
A little country at the very heart of Europe, Switzerland remains a veritable mosaic in many respects. The Swiss Confederation prides itself first and foremost on being one of the world’s greatest democracies. It is multi-ethnic with a long tradition of hospitality while its grandiose landscapes are known and admired far and wide.
A great democracy
Thanks to the rights enjoyed by its people, Switzerland is probably the country whose citizens participate most directly in political life.
Swiss direct democracy is often envied: citizens in fact have an opportunity to express their views without going through their representatives in the Federal Assembly. Since the foundation of modern Switzerland in 1848, nearly 600 referendums and initiatives have been organised at Federal level. The same rights also exist at cantonal and municipal levels.
A crossroads of peace
As host to important international organisations, Switzerland, and more specifically the city of Geneva, are ambassadors of peace acknowledged all over the world. In fact, Switzerland has a long tradition of good offices, which enables it to play an active part in peace processes and so contribute to peaceful conflict resolution.
Within the country, social peace requires negotiation between the social partners. Political stability and social stability make a decisive contribution to the economic dynamism of the country where the quality of life in terms of social progress, security, to say nothing of protection of the environment, is particularly high and appreciated.
A competitive nation
Confronted with high production costs, maintenance of competitiveness is an ongoing challenge in the industrial, scientific, financial and commercial sectors. Switzerland is therefore one of the countries which invest the highest proportion of gross domestic product (over 3%) in research and development, more than two-thirds of this sum being put up by the private sector of the economy.
The quality of the training system is another great asset. Dual training, higher educational establishments and universities are often cited as examples internationally.
Switzerland’s rapid economic growth is also explained by the diversity and reputation of its industrial fabric, in terms both of supply and of structures. Machine tools, pharmaceuticals, watches, to name but a few, have been in demand from an exacting international clientele for a very long time.
Taken as a whole, the Swiss economy is an aggregate of many talents and different types of expertise, associated with constantly renewed innovation capacities and a particularly effective optimisation of resources.
INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS AND INSTITUTIONS
For over 100 years, Switzerland has hosted a great many international organisations and institutions on its territory, especially in Geneva, Bern and Basel.
Some 250 non-governmental organisations with consultative status at the United Nations are also based in Switzerland, as are many international sports federations and others.
SWITZERLAND IN FIGURES
Switzerland cannot be summed up in just a few figures, but they do exemplify a small country with great performance.
Switzerland lacks natural resources but is not short on ideas. With its particularly strong performance, it ranks among the leaders, and even at the very top of many international comparisons, notably in respect of the number of scientific publications and the number of patents in relation to the size of the population.
Innovation is the foundation of economic growth and strengthens international competitiveness. For a very long time, many Swiss researchers and enterprises have achieved distinction by making regular scientific progress or proposing products or processes that are innovative or even revolutionary.