Swiss Confederation

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Flag of Switzerland Flag of Switzerland
Red square with a bold, equilateral white cross in the center that does not extend to the edges of the flag.

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. 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. - CIA World Factbook.

Map of Switzerland

Switzerland Coat of Arms Switzerland Coat of Arms

Filled or Closed Cross -
The filled or closed cross with short arms of equal length was a common sign in ancient Greece.

History of Switzerland's Flag
Where does the cross on the Swiss flag come from?

Switzerland - Fotw
The Swiss cross on a red field ultimately derives from a similar banner of the Holy Roman Empire, and thus has strong Christian connotations.

Switzerland -
Switzerland is multilingual and has four national languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh. Switzerland has a long history of neutrality it has not been at war since 1815 and hosts many international organizations, including the Red Cross, the WTO and one of the U.N.'s two European offices.

Switzerland - U.S. Department of State
Switzerland sits at the crossroads of several major European cultures, which have heavily influenced the country's languages and cultural practices. Switzerland has four official languages--German, French, Italian, and Romansch (based on Latin and spoken by a small minority in the Canton Graubunden). The German spoken is predominantly a Swiss dialect, but newspapers and some broadcasts use High German. Many Swiss speak more than one language. English is widely known, especially among professionals.
        More than 75% of the population lives in the central plain, which stretches between the Alps and the Jura Mountains and from Geneva in the southwest to the Rhine River and Lake Constance in the northeast. Resident foreigners and temporary foreign workers make up about 20% of the population.
        Almost all Swiss are literate. Switzerland's 13 university institutes enrolled 111,100 students in the academic year of 2004-05. About 25% of the adult population holds a diploma of higher learning.
        The Constitution guarantees freedom of worship, and the different religious communities co-exist peacefully.
        Switzerland consistently ranks high on quality of life indices, including highest per capita income, one of the highest concentrations of computer and Internet usage per capita, highest insurance coverage per individual, and high health care rates. For these and many other reasons, it serves as an excellent test market for businesses hoping to introduce new products into Europe.