Title: The Swiss Confederation

Population: 8,453,550

Population Change: 0.74

National Average Age: 43

Urban Percentage: 74

Christian Population: 5,700,000

Christian Percentage: 69.1

Introduction: Switzerland is a mountainous Central European country home to numerous lakes villages and the high peaks of the Alps. Its cities contain medieval quarters with landmarks like capital Bern’s Zytglogge clock tower and Lucerne’s wooden chapel bridge. The country is also known for its ski resorts and hiking trails. Banking and finance are key industries and Swiss watches and chocolate are world renowned.

Overview: The Swiss Confederation was founded in 1291 as a defensive alliance among three cantons. In succeeding years other localities joined the original three. The Swiss Confederation secured its independence from the Holy Roman Empire in 1499. A constitution of 1848 subsequently modified in 1874 replaced the confederation with a centralized federal government. Switzerland's sovereignty and neutrality have long been honored by the major European powers and the country was not involved in either of the two world wars. 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.