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officially the Helvetic Confederation, is a landlocked
alpine country of roughly 7.7 million people (2009)
in Western Europe with an area of 41,285 km².
is a federal republic consisting of 26 states
called cantons. Berne 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. Zürich and Geneva
have respectively been ranked as having the first
and second highest quality of life in the world.
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 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. However,
it is not a member of the European Union.
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; the first of August is the national holiday.