Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a landlocked country located at the confluence of Western, Central and Southern Europe. It is a federal republic composed of 26 cantons, with federal authorities based in Bern.Switzerland is bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. It is geographically divided among the Swiss Plateau, the Alps and the Jura, spanning 41,285 km2 (15,940 sq mi) with land area comprising 39,997 km2 (15,443 sq mi). The Alps occupy the greater part of the territory.
The Swiss population of approximately 8.7 million is concentrated mostly on the plateau, where the largest cities and economic centres are located, including Zürich, Geneva and Basel. These three cities are home to the headquarters or offices of international organisations such as the WTO, the WHO, the ILO, FIFA, and the United Nations's second-largest office.
Switzerland originates from the Old Swiss Confederacy that was established in the Late Middle Ages following a series of military successes against Austria and Burgundy. The Federal Charter of 1291 is considered the country's founding document, which is celebrated on Swiss National Day. Since the Reformation of the 16th century, Switzerland has maintained a policy of armed neutrality. Swiss independence from the Holy Roman Empire was formally recognised in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. Switzerland has not fought an international war since 1815. It joined the United Nations only in 2002, though it pursues an active foreign policy, including participation in frequent peace-building processes worldwide. Switzerland is the birthplace of the Red Cross, one of the world's oldest and best-known humanitarian organisations. It is a founding member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), but not part of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area or the Eurozone. However, it participates in the European single market and the Schengen Area through bilateral treaties.
Switzerland has four main linguistic and cultural regions: German, French, Italian and Romansh. Although the majority population are German-speaking, Swiss national identity is rooted in its common historical background, shared values such as federalism and direct democracy, and Alpine symbolism. This identity, which transcends language, ethnicity, and religion, has led to Switzerland being described as a Willensnationcode: deu promoted to code: de ("nation of volition") rather than a nation state.Due to its linguistic diversity, Switzerland is known by multiple native names: Schweizcode: deu promoted to code: de [ˈʃvaɪts] (German); Suisse [sɥis(ə)] audio (French); Svizzeracode: ita promoted to code: it [ˈzvittsera] (Italian); and Svizracode: roh promoted to code: rm [ˈʒviːtsrɐ, ˈʒviːtsʁɐ] (Romansh). On coins and stamps, the Latin name, Confoederatio Helveticacode: lat promoted to code: la – frequently shortened to "Helvetia" – is used instead of the spoken languages.
Switzerland is one of the world's most developed countries. It has the highest nominal wealth per adult of any country and the eighth-highest gross domestic product per capita. Switzerland ranks first in the Human Development Index since 2021, and it ranks highly also on several international metrics, including economic competitiveness and democratic governance. Its cities such as Zürich, Geneva and Basel rank among the highest in terms of quality of life, albeit with some of the highest costs of living.