Neuchâtel 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

Fribourg general information

Fribourg is a small, well-preserved, medieval university city with around 32,000 inhabitants. It is located on a peninsula and surrounded on three sides by the Sarine River. Founded in 1157 by the Duke of Zähringen, Fribourg joined the Swiss Confederation in 1481. 

The University of Fribourg was founded in 1889 and today it has 10,000 students. Fribourg has several striking examples of Gothic architecture in the old town, built from local molasses stone. Fribourg experienced an economic boom in the 14th and 15th centuries in tanning and cloth manufacturing. Today, the region specialises in exports and 63% of the population are employed in service industries. 

Situated on a plateau in the pre-Alps, Fribourg's scenery is less dramatic than the striking Alpine areas. It is a gentler, less-visited corner of Switzerland and remains something of a secret. Fribourg is also the gateway to the Three Lakes area and the mysterious Jura valley. Charming Murten, historical Avenches and captivating Château de Gruyères are all just a stone's throw away. 

The best-known of Fribourg's regional food specialities is the moitié-moitié cheese fondue, which combines Gruyères and Vacherin Fribourgeois cheese. Right on the border of two language areas, Fribourg is one of three bilingual French and German cantons in Switzerland. German was the official language until 1800 but French speakers now account for two-thirds of the population. Portuguese migrants are the largest minority in the Canton of Fribourg. 

Read more about things to do in Fribourg in the articles Enjoying Fribourg and Entertainment, News & Media in Fribourg

 

Photo: swiss-image.ch/Alfredo Croci

Author: Viktoria Szendrei

Being an expatriate from Budapest to North-America and to France, Viktoria was an "adventurer" before settling in to the region of Neuchâtel. Through her personal experiences, relocation has become a true passion and her job. When she is not home searching, she enjoys spending time on the squash court and in the mountains.

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