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Switzerland Geography and Environment

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Switzerland is a landlocked country whose location is in the central and the Western part of Europe characterized by mountainous regions (Bewes, 2010). Essentially, the country is known for the Alps that run South of the country, while to the north there is the Swiss Plateau that cuts across the state along the east west axis. The country also boasts of its richness in natural resources that include country having 6% fresh water cover that act as reserves for the Europe. Essentially, Switzerland is the source for a number of European rivers where some of them drain into the Black Sea, the North sea, and the Mediterranean Sea. Switzerland also has sources of freshwater and also has a large number of lakes scattered across the Swiss regions.

There is a small percentage of natural resources in Switzerland, but the Swiss population is primarily engaged in grain processing and other modes of agriculture. This implies that, thanks to soil variance and relief runoff, the Swiss soil is durable, rendering a large part of the country useful for agriculture and the remainder for mountain grazing. Some of the minerals extracted in Switzerland include iron and manganese, the heavy deposits of which are in Jura, although coal deposits are also not in the region. One of Switzerland’s major problems is that building land is not sufficient, but the country focuses more on preserving the appearance of villages and towns that have already been developed. A third of the remainder of the Swiss people reside in the country’s metropolitan areas, which include Zurich, Bern, Lausanne, Basel and Geneva, thanks to the favourable facilities available in those towns. In essence, in pursuit of employment prospects, citizens migrate from the mountain regions and into the suburbs, but a large portion of the population still resides in the mountain-covered regions.

Switzerland Geography and Environment

The climate in Switzerland is also marked by the melting of glaciers, especially as the global threat of global warming makes it increasingly unsafe to live in mountain regions. The central plateau, however, is also distinguished by a high population in which, due to the limited space, individuals in this region participate in what activities they can participate in.

History and Wars

Switzerland is also the birthplace and headquarters of the Geneva-based International Red Cross Group, established in Bern in the same country in 1866. The Old Swiss Confederacy endured a time of turmoil that involved civil, political, and theological elements, however after their conquest of the state in 1798, the French brought reforms. Essentially, this invasion led to changes in the system of government that ushered in the Helvetic Republic whose lease of life was not too long. The birth of the fully fledged state of Switzerland required that adoption of a federal constitution that served as the lifetime foundations for retaining the country’s cultural diversity and linguistic attributes. In order for Switzerland to experience growth into a state, the country had to participate in several wars that were part of its liberation quest.

Switzerland as the Old Swiss Confederacy went to war with Austria at the battle of Morgaten and Sempach on two separate occasions in which the Swiss emerged victorious. The war was fought between 1315 and 1386 that led to the expansion of the Old Swiss Confederacy. Other significant was that  Switzerland, engaged in include the Old Zurich war of 1440, the Swabian war of 1499, the Burgandian war of 1477 and the War of the League thaws fought in 1511.

Strangely, Switzerland remained neutral during the 1st  World War as much as Germany and its allies violated the Swiss airspace, but later took an active position in the 2nd World War under the leadership of Guisan Henri who was commanding the force. Switzerland also has a rich military history as to date, the country sends its troops to help in solving conflicts across the globe and also in peacekeeping missions. Over the years, Switzerland has maintained neutrality, meaning that the country does not participate in any war involving other nations, which was influenced by the advice given by Nicholas of Flue who was a popular saint in the 15th century. Switzerland began to apply the neutrality concept fully in 1515 to which other European nations followed suit much later. As much as this country has continued to operate under the guise of neutrality, the country has been significant in facilitating Swiss mercenaries that served in foreign armies and states that were inclined to the Holy Roman Empire. Another arm of the Swiss military is the Swiss Guard that began in 1506, which was an elite wing whose Specialty was in protecting Pope Julius II.

Part of Switzerland’s rich history is the Federal Charter of 129, which is a constitutional document that was a pact between Schwyz, Uri, Central Switzerland, and Nidwalden. The pact was formed as a pledge for the involved parties to assist one another to resist violence and injustice against each of them. The document is preserved at the Museum of the Swiss Charters of Confederation located in Schwyz and is regarded as the foundation of the Swiss Confederation.

Contrary to the beliefs of many, the Swiss Knife was not initially a product developed in Switzerland, but the term the Swiss Army Knife was begun by soldiers from the US who could not pronounce the German name fro the knife, which was  Schweizer Offiziersmesser. Later, the Swiss developed their own Swiss Army Knife in 1891 through the Karl Elsner Company that later became the Victorinox Company that won the tender to produce the 1891 Modell of the Swiss Army Knife. The Victorinox Company is located in Ibach town within the Canton of Schwyz in the same country and has grown since 2005 after acquiring Wenger its chief rival to become the only supplier of knives that serve multiple  purposes to the Swiss army. Presently, the company stands as the largest pocket knife manufacturer in the globe. Essentially, the Swiss Army Knife consists of tools such as a blade, can opener, screwdrivers among a list of other tools that come in handy to a military man.

Economy

            On the other hand, scholars have characterized Switzerland as one of the countries in the world that have the most stable economies. This is as a result of the increasing number of investors who are encouraged by the county’s policies. Having established long-term monetary security, investors are assured of high return as the country is also experiencing political stability. The economic freedom of the country is currently at 81.6 from 81 in 2013 index. 

The Switzerland economy is subdivided into 3 sectors. The primary sector, commonly know to the people as “Landwirtschaft” meant to mean agriculture employs 10% of the entire population[1]. Since it is a small sector, the government is actively involved in supporting its progress. The second sector is the secondary sector. This is also known as “Industrie” meaning industry and employs approximately 40% of the population. In this sector, trade (Gewerbe) and Handicraft (Handwerk) comes in. It also includes the textile industry as well as machine and the metal industry. The products from these sectors are exported to other countries which confirms the suffering due to the expensive country’s currency (Swiss Franc). This is also faced by a drawback as the country is not part if the European Union hence getting market for products becomes a challenge. The third sector is “Dienstleistungen” meaning the service industry, also known as the tertiary sector[2]. This is the largest in the country as it employs approximately 50% of the population. It is in this industry where banking and the tourism industry come in.

Due to its economic growth, the country contributes heavily to the foreign trade and transacts mostly with the industrialized countries. Though it does not belong to the EU, it imports from and exports to countries in the union. Among the countries that Switzerland trades heavily with include, but not limited to Germany, Italy, France, USA and Great Britain.

[1] Information about the economy of Switzerland (2013). Retrieved on 10 December 2014 from http://www.about.ch/economy/index.html

[1] Information about the economy of Switzerland (2013). Retrieved on 10 December 2014 from http://www.about.ch/economy/index.html

Switzerland Geography and Environment

Retrieved from http://www.economywatch.com/files/u15/Swizterland-economic-structure1.jpg

            The country is among the richest with regard to natural resources. This is confirmed by the fact that forest, lakes and mountains cover two thirds of the entire country. As such, the country has limitation in mineral resources, which thus means that the only alternative is to import. However, the country used the imported raw materials to process and resell as finished products. This does not give the country much returns, but supplements the returns from the services. They capitalize on banking, assurance and the tourism industry. Due to the high rate of economic growth, the banking system in the country has been highly developed. Through the FINMA regulation, the banking sector has grown tremendously. This is confirmed by the statistics in 2011 which shown that out of the total value added in the country’s financial sector, 59.4% was from the banks.

            Switzerland has existed as a modern federal state since 1848. According to Bewes (2010), the country is a confederation of 26 cantons, who are the federation’s member states enjoying autonomy. From the current structure, the Federal Assembly elects 7 members in the Federal Council who make up the government. From the members, an individual becomes the federal president, but carries no special powers. There exists the Federal Chancellery who directs the councils on the best ways of undertaking business. Due to the fact that federal administration is not directed to a specific individual, the states rank high in terms of administering direct democracy. The alter the current constitution, a referendum must be conducted.

Furthermore, Switzerland has a high rate of salaries and it is among the top countries, which are rich in the world. Therefore, it becomes more attractive, hence pull more migrants. Because of the high rate of migration to Switzerland, there are some rules, which have been laid down. That is, the government has allowed an extension of a certain period only if the person requiring the extend has been living there for a whole year. 

Politics

The government of Switzerland operates under three levels that are the federal, communal and the cantonal of 26 constitutions. As much as Switzerland adopted a constitution in 1848 and went through several ammendments in the years that followed, women were not allowed to participate in elections until 1971 where their right to vote was introduced in the country and within the cantons. The presidential system of Switzerland is quite queer as compared to other nations of the world as the president does not serve on a full time basis where a team member of the government is elected as the federal president in every year. The president of Switzerland has minimal special powers, meaning that they are never above the law, hence supporting the notion of the demystification of power. Switzerland is also one of the most stable democracies in the world because its is a direct democracy with opinion opinion polls and thar are fomalized and and also referendums conducted on a frequent basis. However, there is the existence of left and right parties that have influenced a divide between the political class in Switzerland as much as they purport to be a system build on consensus. The differences between the Christain democrats and Radicals in Switzerland have influenced the decision making in parliament to be based on compromises that are usually informal.

Education

Due to lack of natural resources, the Switzerland citizen takes education and knowledge as their main resources. Therefore, it makes it be known to have the best education because it has a decentralized education system. In fact, they do not have misters of education, but they have cantons, which deal with issues of education in any level. Moreover, most of the children of Switzerland do attend schools, which are public because the private’s schools tend to be more expensive than the public school. However, the other tends to say that the reason is that the students who school at private schools were not able to make it to the public schools. Some of the public schools include Kindergarten and Volksschule, which are the elementary schools, secondary schools that are reffered to as Gymnasium and the universities are, are referred to as Universitaten.  Furthermore, there are eleven universities in Switzerland.

Sports

In Switzerland sport are very popular in the extent of changes of climate are still done, which are done for both leisure and for money.  This because Switzerland has a perfect and different landscape so it make it accommodate different type of sports. For instance, during the winter season both professional players and even amateurs play throughout football. In fact, there is also women’s football, which is licensed though, they experience a lot of challenges in advertising themselves because the media concentrates to the male football. Ice hockey is the most popular sport in Switzerland though it is more dominated by professional players.

Medicine and Health Care

In Switzerland medication and health care is so important hence, it is renewed each time so that they may be able to provide the best quality medicine service. In addition, in the political purposes the country is able to spend more than 10% on health. In Switzerland, health care insurance is compulsory to the citizens. Moreover, babies they are supposed to be insured in the period of three month below after birth.

Culture

Switzerland’s name comes from Schwyz that is one of the three founders of cantons. It is a country, which consist of twenty-six estates called cantons. Moreover, it contains four linguistic regions that is the German- speaking, whereby they are located in the northern, centre and the east part, the French-speaking, which are located in the west, and the Romansh-speak whereby there are located in a small area in the southeast. The population in Switzerland has increased in a high rate. However, the birthrate has decreased since the nineteenth centaury but the immigration has increased therefore affecting the population.

Family

Marriages have decreased and are rear arranged. In fact, most of people who marry, they do so at their late age. Moreover, cases of divorcés have increased and even remarriages are highly tolerated. In addition, people do not pay dowry so that they get married. There is a nuclear family whereby it replaced the extended family, which lived together. Therefore, both the mother and father are responsible for the family. In inheritance, children who survive and are in the same kinship have a priority to inherited property. Furthermore, all the children receive the same shares. However, though kin’s do not live in the same homes they still have their social rights. This is because they usually take part in taking care of the old parents after they have retired.

Punctuality

In Switzerland they value punctuality and it is well appreciated. They are organized and efficient, hence  ensure that their rules are followed so that they may be able to put up a household. According to their culture they are people who take time before acting that is they usually say something only if it is important.

Conclusively, this paper has brought a comprehensive analysis to Switzerland. It is evident that the country is rich in its economy that has proven to be growing tremendously. Due to the country’s unique features, the country attracts tourists remaining a good holiday and vacation place for foreigners. This paper has also brought forth the political stability that exists in the country. It is therefore to argue that if the trend continues, the economy of the country shall be at the top.

Reference 
  • Bewes, D. (2010). Swiss watching: Inside Europe’s landlocked island. London: N. Brealey.
  • Information about the Economy of Switzerland, retrieved on Dec 10, 2014 from http://www.about.ch/economy/index.html
  • [1] Information about the economy of Switzerland (2013). Retrieved on 10 December 2014 from http://www.about.ch/economy/index.html
  • [2] Information about the economy of Switzerland (2013). Retrieved on 10 December 2014 from http://www.about.ch/economy/index.html

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