Demography and Switzerland Essay

4807 Words Mar 24th, 2005 20 Pages
Switzerland is best described by conveying an understanding of its geography, political, economic, cultural and social environments. The geography of the country has had a significant impact on its way of life. Switzerland is bordered by Germany in the north, Austria and the Principality of Liechtenstein in the east, Italy in the south and France in the west. This represents many significant European cultures converging on Switzerland – the German speaking region, the French and the Italian. Two thirds of the Swiss population lives in the Plateau, between Lake Geneva and Lake Constance, in 30 percent of the country's surface area. There are 450 people to every 1 km2 (1,166 per square mile). This makes the country one of the most densely …show more content…
Each canton also sets its own level of taxation.
Each of the 26 cantons and half-cantons has a parliament elected by universal suffrage, and a government the organization of which varies from canton to canton. In two cantons the principle of universal sovereignty is exercised directly through assemblies of all voters. The cantons are sovereign in all areas that are not specifically entrusted to the federal government.
The cantons are divided into communes, which make up the local authorities. All Swiss are first and foremost citizens of a commune. It is from this status that they automatically derive citizenship of a canton and of the country as a whole. Foreigners wishing to become Swiss citizens have to apply to the commune where they live.
Switzerland has a firmly anchored tradition of service to the community, under which citizens take on public office which they perform alongside their normal jobs. This is referred to by the Swiss as the militia system. Its best known manifestation is the army, which is largely non-professional, even as far as most of its officers are concerned.
Since the Swiss Confederation was surrounded by large countries, that is, Germany, France, Austria and Italy, the goal of its foreign policy between 1848 and 1945 was – and still is – not to be drawn into military conflicts. Instead, Switzerland pursued a realistic and – in the positive sense – modest foreign policy. Therefore the country is not
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