Switzerland is a confederation of 26 cantons, each a sovereign state which have independent ever since 1291 and even during the reign of the Austrian Empire under the Habsburg Dynasty.  It does not have an identity in same sense as many other countries, but it is formed from the foundations of shared values. Bern is the capital or seat of Federal Authorities. It has a history of neutrality hence the large number of international organisations headquartered there including the UN and the Red Cross (where it was founded). Notably, Switzerland is not part of the European Union, nor is it an adopter of the Euro. It is however part of the Schengen Agreement which allows free movement of people across borders.

The two world cities of Geneva and Zurich are big draws for foreign visitors but Switzerland will always be known for its position within the Alps. It has some of the world’s most exclusive ski resorts in Klosters, Zermatt, Davos and Gstaad, with some of the best snow due to their altitude. In the summertime, the same resorts receive thousands of walkers attracted to the fresh mountain air and spectacular scenery.

Three different languages are spoken in Switzerland, German (predominant), French and Italian and you could add a fourth if you include Romansh. Even Napoleon failed to get the Swiss to fight the Austrians and during the World Wars the country was left alone. Lenin lived in Switzerland until it was time to start the Revolution in 1917.

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