Switzerland (officially the Swiss Confederation) is a landlocked alpine country of roughly 7.7 million people (2009) in Western Europe with an area of 41,285 km². Switzerland is a federal republic consisting of 26 states, called cantons. Bern is the seat of the federal authorities, while the country’s economic centres are its three global cities, Geneva, Basel and especially Zürich. Switzerland is one of the richest countries in the world by per capita gross domestic product, with a nominal per capita GDP of $67,384. Zürich and Geneva have respectively been ranked as having the second and third highest quality of life in the world.
Switzerland is bordered by Germany to the north, France to the west, Italy to the south and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. The country has a long history of neutrality—it has not been at war internationally since 1815—and hosts many international organizations, including the Red Cross, the World Trade Organization and one of the U.N.’s two European offices. It is not a member of the European Union, but it is part of the Schengen Agreement.
Switzerland is multilingual and has four national languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh. The country’s formal name is Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft in German, Confédération suisse in French, Confederazione Svizzera in Italian and Confederaziun svizra in Romansh. The establishment of Switzerland is traditionally dated to 1 August 1291; Swiss National Day is celebrated on the anniversary.