Basel Facts & Figures All about Switzerland

Take a moment to discover the complexity and diversity of Switzerland.

Switzerland in a nutshell

Switzerland is a small, landlocked country in the heart of Europe. It is wealthy, densely populated and well-known for its mountains, chocolate, cheese and watches. Swiss society is complex and organised. Although citizens don't share one linguistic or ethnic identity they are linked by a common historic background and federal system of direct democracy.

The Swiss World website is a good place to start familiarising with the basics of the country, its history and its resources.

Swiss facts and figures

  • Surrounding countries: Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein
  • Confederation founded: 1291
  • Surface area: 41,285 km² (as compared to France, which has a surface area of 640,000 km2)  
  • Cantons: 26
  • Capital city: Bern
  • Currency: Swiss Franc (CHF)
  • Population: 8 million
  • Average percentage of foreigners: 23.3 %
  • Cities with the highest percentages of foreigners: Geneva 39.4%; Basel Stadt 33.1%
  • Average population density: 198.9/km²
  • Highest population density: Basel Stadt 5033.9/km²; Geneva 1873.5/km²; Zurich 838.3/km²
  • 74% of the Swiss population lives in urban areas and half of this number live in the 5 largest cities
  • GDP 2012: CHF 592 Billion
  • Unemployment rate: 3.2 % (2013)
  • Average life expectancy: women: 84; men: 80

Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office

Languages in Switzerland

Switzerland has four national languages, German, French, Italian and Romansh. Almost two-thirds of the population speak Swiss-German, a regionally spoken Alemannic dialect. High German is the written language and the medium of instruction in schools. Around 22.6% of the population speak French, and 8.34% Italian. Only 0.5% speak Romansh. Other spoken languages include Serbo-Croatian, Albanian, Portuguese, Spanish, English and Turkish. 

 

 

 

Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office

Basel general information

Basel is Switzerland's third largest city with a total population of about 170'000 inhabitants on an area of 37 km2. The spoken language is the regional Swiss German dialect known as Baslerdytsch. The Rhine River is a commercial channel that separates Kleinbasel from Grossbasel. Basel has a mild continental climate with average temperatures of 10.3 °C in spring, 18.8 °C in summer, 10.5 °C in autumn and 2.4°C in winter.

Basel is well known for its chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Hofmann-La Roche and Novartis are both based in Basel. The city is also well known for its vibrant cultural scene, particularly in art and theatre.  Basel has a generous offering of art galleries, museums, opera houses, and theatres. Read more about these aspects of the city in the articles Enjoying Basel and Entertainment, News & Media in Basel.

 

Sources: Basel City statistics, Canton Basel and Swiss World

Photo: swiss-image.ch/Andreas Zimmerman

Author: Nathalie Schmitt

Born in Basel, grown up in Baselland and now living across the border in France with my husband and son. After working 20 years in the aviation business, Relocation has now become my new challenge since more than one year.

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