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Travel Guide Switzerland

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Switzerland Overview

Country Switzerland
Area 41,285 km²
Currency Swiss franc

Switzerland is a mountainous Central European country, home to numerous lakes, villages and the high peaks of the Alps. The climate is temperate, but varies with altitude. Switzerland has cold, cloudy, rainy/snowy winters and cool to warm, cloudy, humid summers with occasional showers.

Switzerland's independence and neutrality have long been honored by the major European powers and Switzerland has not been involved in any military conflict since 1815. The political and economic integration of Europe over the past half century, as well as Switzerland's role in many UN and international organizations has strengthened Switzerland's ties with its neighbors. However, the country did not officially become a UN member until 2002. Switzerland remains active in many UN and international organizations, but retains a strong commitment to neutrality.

Switzerland showcases three of Europe's most distinct cultures. To the northeast is the clean and correct, 8-to-5-working, stiffer Swiss-German-speaking Switzerland; to the southwest you find the wine drinking and laissez-faire style known from the French; in the southeast, south of the Alps, the sun warms cappuccino-sippers loitering in Italian-style piazzas; and in the center: classic Swiss alphorns and mountain landscapes. Binding it all together is a distinct Swiss mentality.

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