Switzerland

Switzerland

History: Since 1291, Switzerland (called Helvetia in ancient times) has remained a completely independent country, and has not been involved in a foreign war since 1515. The president is elected to a non renewable one year term. It is a multi-lingual state with most people speaking more than one language. It has 1.24 million foreign residents. In a referendum in 1986, the electorate voted against joining the UN. In 1971, women were given the vote in federal elections and the right to hold federal office. Switzerland joined (June ’97) NATO’s security cooperation pact called the Partnership for Peace.

Economy: The Swiss terrain offers little scope for farming. Nearly half the nation’s food has to be imported. Mountain slopes provide pasture for beef and dairy cattle. Crops include grains, potatoes, sugar beets, vegetables, fruits and wine. Forests help by providing plenty of wood. From the earliest times, Switzerland has been famous for its cottage industries-high quality products but no large scale production. Agricultural sector forms only 3.2% of GNP.

Swiss-make watches and clocks are famous the world over. Precision tools and machines form another specialised industry. Fabrics and lace are part of Switched against joining the UN. In 1971, women were given the vote in federal elections and the right to hold federal office. Switzerland joined (June ’97) NATO’s security cooperation pact called the Partnership for Peace.

Economy: The Swiss terrain offers little scope for farming. Nearly half the nation’s food has to be imported. Mountain slopes provide pasture for beef and dairy cattle. Crops include grains, potatoes, sugar beets, vegetables, fruits and wine. Forests help by providing plenty of wood. From the earliest times, Switzerland has been famous for its cottage industries-high quality products but no large scale production. Agricultural sector forms only 3.2% of GNP.

Swiss-make watches and clocks are famous the world over. Precision tools and machines form another specialised industry. Fabrics and lace are part of Switzerland’s image. Other industries: steel, textiles, food-stuffs (cheese, chocolate), chemicals, drugs, banking. The engineering, electrical and metal industry accounts for 45% of total exports. Minerals: Salt. The availability of electric power in every cottage has fostered growth of all kinds of small industries throughout Switzerland. Domestic and international tourism are important factors in the Swiss economy. Of a total revenue of 22.4 billion Swiss Francs in 2001, 9.7 billion (or 43%) came from domestic tourism. Expenditure by foreign visitors in Switzerland added some 12.7 billion Swiss Francs (3% of GDP). Switzerland is a leading world banking centre and the seat of many UN and other international agencies. The nation’s strict bank-secrecy rules have been eased since 1990. Geneva was the headquarters of the League of Nations.

Swiss voters approved the modernization of the country’s 125 year old constitution in April, 99. The new document enshrined new rights, including the right to strike.

Recent Events: Switzerland joined the UN in Sept. 2002. World Economy Forum was held at Davos in January 2005, with 2250 representatives from 96 countries.

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