The ancient Helvetia of the Romans is to-day the Swiss Republic, embracing 15,981 square miles, with a population of 2,933,334. Switzerland is the highest country in Europe. One-third of the whole republic lies above the line of perpetual snow. The poet aptly says:
' Upon the heights of Alpine lands The Swiss Republic proudly stands."
The surface of Switzerland exceeds in sublimity and ruggedness every other part of Europe. The immense mass of Mt. St. Gothard forms the centre or nucleus of a system of mountains, covered with perennial snow, the peaks of which rise from 5,000 to 15,000 feet above the sea level. The chief passes are St. Bernard, 8,120 feet; Cervin, 10,938 feet; Simplon, 6,595 feet; St. Goth-ard, 6,936 feet; Splugen, 6,945 feet. Religion - 58 percent. Protestants ; 44 per cent. Roman Catholics. Government - Federal Republic of twenty-two Cantons. Executive, Federal Council of seven, including the President. Legislative, the State Council of forty-four members, and the National Council, of 143 Representatives. Education - Compulsory. There are four universities (Basle, Berne, Zurich, and Geneva), with 1,500 students, and 5,500 elementary and secondary schools with 500,000 pupils.
The Swiss are a simple, brave people, and the security of the mountain recesses has fostered their independent spirit. The St. Gothard's Tunnel through the Alps gives Switzerland a direct outlet into Italy. This tunnel represents the most stupendous work of engineering known in the world.
Berne, the capital of the Republic, is a thriving city, and one of the handsomest in Europe. It is celebrated for its numerous fountains. Geneva is the largest city, and is noted for its manufacture of watches.