Switzerland, (German: Schweiz; French: Suisse; Italian: Svizzera; Romansh: Svizera), or Swiss Confederation, a country in central Europe. It is also known by a Latin name, Helvetia, used since Roman times. Switzerland consists of 26 political units called cantons. Along the Swiss border lie Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Italy, and France.

Despite its small size, Switzerland is a land of contrasting scenery that includes craggy Alpine peaks, placid lakes, and lush, picturesque valleys. The Swiss people, too, are diverse. Culturally and linguistically they form three main groups: German, French, and Italian. Each preserves to a large extent its traditions and way of life. The Romansh-speaking people form a small minority.

Economically, Switzerland is one of the most industrially advanced and prosperous countries. It is known especially for skillfully made products and for its immense tourist and banking industries. Many international agencies and organizations maintain headquarters there, and it has been the site of numerous international conferences and treaty negotiations.

Facts in brief about Switzerland
Capital: Bern.
Official languages: German, French, and Italian.
Official names: Schweiz (in German), Suisse (in French), and Svizzera (in Italian).
Area: 15,940 mi2 (41,284 km2), including 523 mi2 (1,355 km2) of inland water. Greatest distances—east-west, 213 mi (343 km); north-south, 138 mi (222 km).
Elevation: Highest—Dufourspitze of Monte Rosa, 15,203 ft (4,634 m) above sea level. Lowest—shore of Lake Maggiore, 633 ft (193 m) above sea level.
Population: Current estimate—7,542,000; density, 473 per mi2 (183 per km2); distribution, 68 percent urban, 32 percent rural. 2000 census--7,288,010.
Chief products: Agriculture—dairy products, fruits, potatoes, sugar beets, wheat. Manufacturing—chemicals, drugs, electrical equipment, machine tools, precision instruments, processed foods, textiles, watches, wine.
National anthem: "Swiss Psalm."
Flag and coat of arms: Switzerland's flag has a white cross on a red background. The white cross represents Christianity. The region of Schwyz used the flag in an earlier form in 1240. The coat of arms, like the Swiss flag, was established with its present dimensions in 1889.
National holiday: Swiss National Day, August 1.
Money: Basic unit—Swiss franc. One hundred centimes equal one franc.