This document has been made available in electronic format by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)
Facts and Figures about Switzerland (1997)

June, 1997
(Source: ICA Review, Vol.90 No.3, 1997)

Facts & Figures about Switzerland

Population:   about 6,900,000

Capital:   Berne

Religious denominations:
Protestant (40%), Roman Catholic (46%), others (14%)

Area: 15,942 sq. mi./41,293 sq. km

North-South 137 mi./220 km
East-West 216 mi./348 km

Cantons:  23, three of which are subdivided into half-cantons

Highest Point: Dufour Peak in the Monte Rosa massif (Valais) 15,203 ft./4,634 m

Lowest point: Lac Maggiore (Ticino) 633 ft./193 m

Switzerland is one of the most multilingual countries in Europe. Many Swiss, particularly those who work with visitors in one way or other, speak several languages. The national languages of Switzerland are German (central and northeastern Switzerland), French (western Switzerland), Italian (southern Switzerland) and Romansh (southwestern Switzerland).

Banking/Business hours:
Banks are usually open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. They are closed Saturday and Sunday and on legal holidays. There is a UBS in the CICG.  Shops are generally open from 9 am to 6:30 pm weekdays and to 5 pm Saturdays. Closed Sundays except for those at airport and some railway stations.

Swiss Travel System:
Zurich and Geneva airports each have their own railway station with hourly trains to all major destinations throughout Switzerland. Timetables, ticket offices, information, change and baggage registration counters are easily accessible. Minimum connection time from plane to train is 40 minutes, from train to plane 60 minutes. The Swiss Pass (unlimited travel through town and country for periods of four days to a month) or the Swiss card (transportation to and from your destination and half price for excursions) are the ideal ways for tourists to discover Switzerland on the Swiss Travel System, which includes trains, buses, lake steamers and some mountain cablecars. There is also an arrangement between Swissair and the Swiss Federal Railways to facilitate checking in luggage from airports to railway stations and vice-versa. Ask for 'fly-rail' brochure for details.

Temperatures generally do not reach extremes of hot or cold. In the cities, summer temperatures seldom rise above 86 Deg.F/30 Deg.C.and the humidity is rather moderate. In winter, temperatures often fall below 32 Dec.F and there is snow and ice. The southern part of Switzerland has subtropical vegetation and a mild climate  year-round.

Electric current:
Switzerland is on 220 volts and most plugs have a third prong for earthing.

The first class rate for letters and postcards to Europe is CHF 1.10 and for overseas CHF 1.80 (up to 20 gms). Apart from the post office (there is one in the CICG), stamps are available in postage machines and in most places where postcards are sold.

Telephoning in and from Switzerland:
Any country in the world can be called from private or public telephones (coins or phonecards). To find a number in Switzerland, check the phone book or dial 111. For any other country except Germany (192) and France (193) call 191. For an international line dial 00 followed by country code.

Dialling 114 will connect you to the international operator. The country code for USA is 001, for Great Britain is 0044. Omit the first 0 of the local area code. To find out other country codes or cost of domestic and foreign calls, please consult the first pages of any Swiss telephone book.

Service charges are officially included in the price. A small additional tip to round off the amount is customary, though not compulsory, in restaurants and taxis. Porters on hotels are usually paid CHF 1-2 per piece of luggage. No tipping of ushers in cinemas and theatres.