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The Swiss Confederation was founded in 1291 as a defensive alliance among three cantons. In succeeding years, other localities joined the original three. The Swiss Confederation secured its independence from the Holy Roman Empire in 1499. A constitution of 1848, subsequently modified in 1874, replaced the confederation with a centralized federal government. Switzerland's sovereignty and neutrality have long been honored by the major European powers, and the country was not involved in either of the two world wars. The political and economic integration of Europe over the past half century, as well as Switzerland's role in many UN and international organizations, has strengthened Switzerland's ties with its neighbors. However, the country did not officially become a UN member until 2002. Switzerland remains active in many UN and international organizations but retains a strong commitment to neutrality.


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Economy

Economy - overview
Switzerland is a peaceful, prosperous, and modern market economy with low unemployment, a highly skilled labor force, and a per capita GDP among the highest in the world. Switzerland's economy benefits from a highly developed service sector, led by financial services, and a manufacturing industry that specializes in high-technology, knowledge-based production. Its economic and political stability, transparent legal system, exceptional infrastructure, efficient capital markets, and low corporate tax rates also make Switzerland one of the world's most competitive economies. The Swiss have brought their economic practices largely into conformity with the EU's, to enhance their international competitiveness, but some trade protectionism remains, particularly for its small agricultural sector. The fate of the Swiss economy is tightly linked to that of its neighbors in the euro zone, which purchases half of all Swiss exports. The global financial crisis of 2008 and resulting economic downturn in 2009 stalled export demand and put Switzerland in a recession. The Swiss National Bank (SNB) during this period effectively implemented a zero-interest rate policy to boost the economy as well as prevent appreciation of the franc, and Switzerland's economy recovered in 2010 with 2.7% growth. The sovereign debt crises currently unfolding in neighboring euro-zone countries pose a significant risk to Switzerland's financial stability and are driving up demand for the Swiss franc by investors seeking a safehaven currency. The independent SNB has upheld its zero-interest rate policy and conducted major market interventions to prevent further appreciation of the Swiss franc, but parliamentarians have urged it to do more to weaken the currency. The franc's strength has made Swiss exports less competitive and weakened the country's growth outlook; GDP growth fell to 2.1% in 2011. Switzerland has also come under increasing pressure from individual neighboring countries, the EU, the US, and international institutions to reform its banking secrecy laws. Consequently, the government agreed to conform to OECD regulations on administrative assistance in tax matters, including tax evasion. The government has renegotiated its double taxation agreements with numerous countries, including the US, to incorporate the OECD standard, and in 2011 it reached deals with Germany and the UK to resolve outstanding issues, particularly the possibility of imposing taxes on bank deposits held by foreigners. These steps will have a lasting impact on Switzerland's long history of bank secrecy.

Gdp (purchasing power parity) World Ranking: 38
$344.2 billion (2011 est.)
$338 billion (2010 est.)
$329.1 billion (2009 est.)
Note Data are in 2011 US dollars

Gdp (official exchange rate)
$636.1 billion (2011 est.)

Gdp - real growth rate World Ranking: 153
1.9% (2011 est.)
2.7% (2010 est.)
-1.9% (2009 est.)

Gdp - per capita (ppp) World Ranking: 14
$43,900 (2011 est.)
$43,400 (2010 est.)
$42,500 (2009 est.)
Note Data are in 2011 US dollars

Gdp - composition by sector
Agriculture 1.3%
Industry 27.5%
Services 71.3% (2011 est.)

Labor force World Ranking: 78
4.898 million (2011 est.)

Labor force - by occupation
Agriculture 3.4%
Industry 23.4%
Services 73.2% (2010)

Unemployment rate World Ranking: 28
3.1% (2011 est.)
3.9% (2010 est.)

Population below poverty line
6.9% (2010)

Household income or consumption by percentage share
Lowest 10% 7.5%
Highest 10% 19% (2007)

Distribution of family income - gini index World Ranking: 94
33.7 (2008)
33.1 (1992)

Investment (gross fixed) World Ranking: 80
21.1% of GDP (2011 est.)

Budget
Revenues $217.9 billion
Expenditures $214.5 billion
Note
Includes federal, cantonal, and municipal accounts (2011 est.)

Taxes and other revenues World Ranking: 68
34.3% of GDP (2011 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) World Ranking: 38
0.5% of GDP (2011 est.)

Public debt World Ranking: 53
52.4% of GDP (2011 est.)
54.5% of GDP (2010)
Note
General government gross debt; gross debt consists of all liabilities that require payment or payments of interest and/or principal by the debtor to the creditor at a date or dates in the future; includes debt liabilities in the form of SDRs, currency and deposits, debt securities, loans, insurance, pensions and standardized guarantee schemes, and other accounts payable; all liabilities in the GFSM 2001 system are debt, except for equity and investment fund shares and financial derivatives and employee stock options

Inflation rate (consumer prices) World Ranking: 5
0.2% (2011 est.)
0.7% (2010 est.)

Central bank discount rate World Ranking: 132
0.5% (31 December 2010 est.)
0.75% (31 December 2009 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate World Ranking: 176
2.72% (31 December 2011 est.)
2.733% (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of narrow money World Ranking: 11
$463 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$412.2 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of broad money World Ranking: 18
$1.047 trillion (31 December 2011 est.)
$982.6 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of domestic credit World Ranking: 16
$1.213 trillion (31 December 2011 est.)
$1.119 trillion (31 December 2010 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares World Ranking: 13
$932.2 billion (31 December 2011)
$1.229 trillion (31 December 2010)
$1.071 trillion (31 December 2009)

Agriculture - products
Grains, fruits, vegetables; meat, eggs

Industries
Machinery, chemicals, watches, textiles, precision instruments, tourism, banking, and insurance

Industrial production growth rate World Ranking: 140
0.8% (2011 est.)

Electricity - production World Ranking: 39
64.08 billion kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - consumption World Ranking: 42
57.5 billion kWh (2009)

Electricity - exports
33.53 billion kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - imports
2.157 billion kWh (2009 est.)

Oil - production World Ranking: 101
3,488 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - consumption World Ranking: 50
242,700 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - exports World Ranking: 94
9,851 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - imports World Ranking: 39
272,700 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - proved reserves World Ranking: 198
0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural gas - production World Ranking: 133
0 cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - consumption World Ranking: 66
3.625 billion cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - exports World Ranking: 188
0 cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - imports World Ranking: 38
3.625 billion cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves World Ranking: 134
0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)

Current account balance World Ranking: 6
$85.3 billion (2011 est.)
$74.02 billion (2010 est.)

Exports World Ranking: 18
$312.5 billion (2011 est.)
$258.5 billion (2010 est.)

Exports - commodities
Machinery, chemicals, metals, watches, agricultural products

Exports - partners
Germany 20.2%, US 10.3%, Italy 7.7%, France 7.1%, UK 4.8%, China 4.3% (2011)

Imports World Ranking: 19
$294.1 billion (2011 est.)
$246.2 billion (2010 est.)

Imports - commodities
Machinery, chemicals, vehicles, metals; agricultural products, textiles

Imports - partners
Germany 32.4%, Italy 10.4%, France 8.6%, US 5%, Netherlands 4.4%, Austria 4.3% (2011)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold World Ranking: 8
$331.9 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$270.3 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Debt - external World Ranking: 14
$1.346 trillion (30 June 2011)
$1.2 trillion (30 September 2010)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home World Ranking: 10
$606.7 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$596.6 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad World Ranking: 7
$976.1 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$936 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Exchange rates
Swiss francs (CHF) per US dollar -
0.888 (2011 est.)
1.0429 (2010 est.)
1.0881 (2009)
1.0774 (2008)
1.1973 (2007)

Fiscal year
Calendar year


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  Switzerland (Bern):


  GPS points from Switzerland (Bern)

Mittholz Kanton Bern

San Gottardo Kanton Uri

Riedbach Switzerland (general)

Oensingen Kanton Solothurn

Zuricher See Switzerland (general)

Fiesso Cantone Ticino

Alter Rhein River Switzerland (general)

Ronco Cantone Ticino




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