Switzerland, a confederation or republic of twenty-two cantons, three being divided into half-cantons, situated in the centre of Europe between France, Germany, Austria, and Italy. The greatest length (E. to W.)is 216 miles, the width being 137 miles; area, 15,981 sq. m. The pop. in 1850 was 2,392,740; in 1900, 3,325,023. In the following table of the census of 1898, the ordinary name is put first, followed by the French name in the German cantons, or by the German in the French ones. F. or G. or F.G. indicates that the majority speak French, or German, or both. When neither P. nor R.C. is appended, it is to be understood that the canton is partly Protestant and partly Catholic.
Date of Admission.
Area in sq. m.
Pop. in 1898.
Aargau (fr. Argovie), G.................................
Outer, G., P....................
Inner, G., R.C...................................
Town, G., P....................
Country, G., P..................................
Geneva (Fr. Geneve, Ger. Genf), F...
Glarus (Fr. Glaris), G., P...........
Graubunden (Fr. Grisons), G.F......
Neuchatel (Ger. Neuenburg), G., P...............
St Gallen (Fr. St Gall), G...........
Schaffhausen (Fr. Schaffhouse), G., P.
Schwyz, G., R. C...................................
Solothurn (Fr. Soleure), G., R.C.....
Thurgau (Fr. Thurgovie), G.................
Ticino (Fr. and Ger. Tessin), Ital..................
Upper, G., R. C..................................
Lower, G., R. C..................................
Valais (Ger. Wallis), F.G............
Vaud (Ger. Waadt), F..................................
Zug (Fr. Zoug), G., R. C................................
Zurich (Fr. Zurich), G., P...............................
The area of Switzerland (15,981 sq. m., of which 11,443 are classed as 'productive' and 4538 as 'Unproductive') is distributed over four river-basins - those of the Rhine, the Rhone, the Inn, and the Ticino, a tributary of the Po. The Confederation is bounded S. by a part of the main chain of the Eastern Alps, W. and NW. by the Jura, and N. by the Rhine. The Pennine Alps lie to the south of the valley of the Rhone, on the north of which are the Bernese Alps extending from the Lake of Geneva to the Grimsel. Bast of the Bernese Alps is the St Gothard group. The RhAetian Alps are east of the Pennine Chain (see Alps, Jura, etc.). A broad fertile plain extends from the Lake of Geneva to the Lake of Constance. The lowest level on Swiss territory is 646 feet on the banks of Lake Lugano; the highest is 15,217, the summit of Monte Rosa. Of the 4538 sq. m. of land classed as ' unproductive,' 3229 are covered by rocks, moraine, etc., 711 by glaciers, 535 by lakes, and 63 by towns and villages. The largest lakes are those of Geneva and Constance; fifteen cover an area of over 3 sq. m. each. Of some 470 glaciers (more in Valais than in any other canton) the largest is the Gross Aletsch, 15 miles long. In the Central Alps the limit of perpetual snow varies from 9250 to 9020 feet. Few metallic deposits are found; those which exist cannot be worked. Some salt is obtained. In a country where the height above the sea-level is from 646 feet - where the almond, the fig, and the olive ripen in the open air - to the region of perpetual snow, there is inevitably great variety in the climate. There is a variation of about 34 1/2° in the mean temperature - between 54 1/2° F. at Bellinzona, and 20° on the Theodule Pass. The population is composed of four distinct ethnical elements. The language of 71.3 per cent. of the population is German; of 21.8, French; of 5.3, Italian; of 1.6, Romansch or Ladin. There is no federal church, each canton has its own ecclesiastical constitution, and liberty of belief is inviolable. Of the inhabitants, 58.8 per cent. are Protestants, 40.5 Catholics, and 0.3 Jews. The republic of Switzerland became a federal state (Bundestaat) in 1848: previously it consisted of a league of semi-independent states or cantons. The political structure is built up in three tiers - the Commune, the Canton, and the Federal Assembly. In the communes all local matters are administered by two governing bodies - the Communal Assembly (which is purely legislative), composed of all male citizens who have attained the age of twenty, and the Communal Council, the executive of the former body, by whom it is elected. Each canton has its own constitution and local government. The constitutions of the several cantons vary considerably, but all are based on the sovereignty of the people, and are subject also to the ratification of the Confederation. In Uri, the two half-cantons of Appenzell, and in Glarus there still exists the ancient Lands-gemeinde, an open-air gathering of all those possessing votes, who meet every spring to legislate on cantonal affairs. These cantons possess a representative power in their Landrath, and an executive power in the Regierungsrath. In other cantons the citizens elect representatives to the cantonal council from electoral districts. The supreme legislative authority of the Confederation is vested in a parliament of two chambers, the Council of the States (Standerath) and the National Council (Nationalrath), which represent the supreme government of the country, under reserve of the referendum or vote of the people. The Council of the States consists of forty-four members, each canton having two representatives, and each half-canton one. The National Council consists of 147 members, elected in each canton in the proportion of one deputy for every 20,000 of the population. These two chambers each elect a president and vice-president, and meet at Bern at least twice a year, in June and December, together forming the Federal Assembly. This body controls the general administration of the Confederation; they alone can declare war, make peace, or conclude treaties with foreign powers. The executive authority of the Federal Assembly is deputed to the Federal Council composed of seven members, elected for a period of three years. The president of the Federal Council, who is also president of the Confederation, is chosen annually at a united meeting of the Council of the States and the National Council from among the members of the Federal Council. By means of the referendum all legislative acts passed in the Federal or Cantonal Assemblies may be referred to the people en masse. In the majority of cantons 5000 signatures are required in order to obtain a referendum for cantonal laws. The compulsory referendum regarding federal legislation, established in 1848, was then limited to the revision of the constitution. That of 1874 contains an article extending it, when demanded by 30,000 citizens or eight cantons, to all laws and resolutions of a general nature passed by the Federal Assembly. Initiative is the exercise of the right granted to voters to initiate proposals for the enactment of new laws or for the alteration or abolition of old ones. Fifty thousand signatures are required to obtain the initiative for federal legislation, and in most cantons 5000 for cantonal matters.
The revenue for 1905 was £4,629,000, the expenditure £4,672,000. The revenue is chiefly derived from customs, postal and telegraph services, the tax for exemption from military service, and from real property. The public debt in 1905 amounted to £4,763,000. The total cantonal debts do not exceed £10,000,000. The French metric system of money, etc. is in use throughout the Confederation. Every Swiss is liable to military service; and the total strength of the army (essentially a citizen force, designed only for defensive purposes), not including the Landsturm, is: Elite, 125,620; Landwehr, 80,715; total, 206,335. Primary instruction is compulsory, unsectarian, and provided gratuitously at the cost of each canton. There are five universities on the German model - Basel, Bern, Zurich, Geneva, Lausanne, and (for Catholics only) Freiburg; there is also an academy at Neuchatel, and a great federal technical college, the Polytechnic, at Zurich, besides several smaller technical colleges elsewhere.
More than one-half of the arable land is devoted to cereals. Cattle-breeding is an industry of great importance. There are upwards of 5500 cheesemaking establishments. Tobacco is grown chiefly in the cantons of Valais, Vaud, Freiburg, Bern, and Aargau; the quality is by no means good, but the exports (including cigar3 and cigarettes) amount to £90,000 a year. The average annual production of wine amounts to 31,266,400 gallons. Little or no coal is mined, there are no canals or navigable rivers, the country is situated far from the sea-coast, and nearly all the raw material and half-finished goods have to be imported. Yet there is a large general trade. The textile industries are the most important, the chief centres being Zurich, Basel, Glarus. Next comes watchmaking, established at Geneva in .
1587, which has since spread to the cantons of Neuchatel, Bern, and Vaud. Machinery (weaving-looms, etc.) is also largely exported. Embroidery is carried on chiefly in St Gall and Appenzell. Wood-carving, introduced in the Oberland about 1820, employs some 4000 persons. The exports range from £26,760,000 to £29,000,000 in value per annum, the imports from £28,000,000 to over £40,000,000. The gross amount of money brought annually by tourists into the 'Playground of Europe' is estimated at £4,000,000.
The original inhabitants of Switzerland were the Celtic Helvetii, and the RhAetii of doubtful affinity; both were conquered by Julius Caesar and the generals of Augustus, and Romanised. Overrun by the Burgundians in the west, and their Germanic kinsmen the Alemannians in the east, Helvetia became subject to the Frankish kings and christianised in the 7th century. Most of the country was subsequently part of the Holy Roman Empire; and in 1273 a Swiss noble, Rudolf of Hapsburg in Aargau, became German Emperor. Soon after his death (in 1291) the inhabitants of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden formed a league to defend their common interests, and in 1315 crushed an Austrian army at Mor-garten. In 1332 Lucerne joined the alliance, and in 1353, Bern, Zurich, Glarus, and Zug. The Austrians were again routed at Sempach in 1386, and in 1388 at Nafels. The Swiss next had a fierce but triumphant struggle with Charles the Bold of Burgundy, whom they routed at Grandson and Morat in 1476, and finally at Nancy (where Charles was slain) in 1477. When the Reformation began there were thirteen cantons, and the cantons took opposite sides from the beginning, not without serious turmoil and bloodshed. The treaty of Westphalia in 1648 recognised Switzerland as an independent state. Some of the cantons were strictly aristocratic and some highly democratic, and there was much discontent long before the French Revolution, when, in 1798, between civil strife and French armies, the old republic (or rather alliance) came to an end. The Helvetic Republic of nineteen cantons, under French auspices, endured till 1805; then a new republican constitution was adopted, the Federal Pact of twenty-two cantons. On Napoleon's downfall Valais, Neuchatel, and Geneva, which had been incorporated with France, were restored, and Swiss neutrality and inviolability were recognised by the treaty of Vienna in 1815. Religious troubles led to a Catholic league in 1844, which was suppressed by the Federal forces in 1847. The present constitution was adopted in 1848, but revised in 1874.
See, besides Murray, Baedeker, and other guidebooks, works on the constitution by Adams and Cunningham (1889), Moses (Oakland, U.S. 1889), Vincent (1891), Winchester (1891); or the history by Hug ('story of the Nations,' 1890), and Swiss life by Symonds (1892).