Switzerland is a small, landlocked country in the heart of Europe. It has a strategic location at the crossroads of central Europe with many easily traversable passes ("Passstrasse", short term "Pass"). Switzerland is a major player in international trade and follows a liberal trade policy so, while this is not an ideal market for companies new to exporting, it has potential for more established exporters. The Swiss, who enjoy one of the world's highest levels of income per person, have a taste for well-designed, quality products. The climate is temperate but varies with altitude.
The mention of Switzerland immediately brings up vivid images of mouth-watering chocolates, cheeses, swiss watches, world-renowned banks, the red cross, and the breathtakingly beautiful Swiss Alps. A country with a rich history, Switzerland has the advantages of a blended culture, built on the combined historical influence of the French, German as well as the Italians.
Since Switzerland has no raw materials, it must import, process and resell them as products. The service industries are arguably the most important part of the economy. These include banking, insurance and tourism. It is considered No.1 in Hotel Management and education , Finance and Dairy Products.
Switzerland has a high quality system of education that is relatively accessible to foreign students. The student population of some universities, for example, consists of over 40% foreign students, and this trend is on the upswing.
GEOGRAPHY & CLIMATE : The weather in Switzerland varies greatly between different places. The highest snow received at Rochers de Nave, a mountain near Montreux (VD) with approximately 260 cm per year.
CURRENCY : The Swiss currency is called "Schweizerfranken" ("Swiss Francs") or short "Franken". One hundred "Rappen" make up one Swiss Franc. CHF is the ISO representation for Swiss francs; however, the old notation sFr. Is still used quite often.
EDUCATION : There are eight Universitäten ("universities") in Switzerland, six of them are run by a canton, and two are run by the confederation. In general, the universities run by the cantons provide non-technical subjects, whereas the universities run by the confederation provide technical subjects. The later are therefore called "Swiss federal institutes of technology". To be able to attend a university, a student must own a graduation diploma. The study at a university usually lasts four and a half years.
MAJOR CITIES : Altenrhein, Basel, Bern Chiasso Chur, Geneva, Lausanne, Lugano, Luzern, St. Gallen, Zürich.
CULTURE : Swiss folk culture includes yodeling, playing the alp horn and Swiss wrestling. Switzerland is a linguistic melting pot with three official federal languages. German mostly spoken by 66% of the population, French by 18% and Italian by 10%.Cheeses form an important part of the Swiss diet. Emmenthaler and Gruyère are combined with white wine to create fondue, which is served up in a vast pot and eaten with bread cubes. Rosti (crispy, fried, shredded potatoes) is German Switzerland's national dish. Fresh fish from the numerous lakes frequently crop up on menus, especially perch and trout. Swiss chocolate, excellent by itself, is often used in desserts and cakes.