Geography of Switzerland

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Switzerland is a mountainous and landlocked country located in Western Europe [note 1]. It is surrounded by 5 countries: Austria and Liechtenstein to the east, France to the west, Italy to the south and Germany to the north. Switzerland is one of the smallest countries in Europe, with a maximum north-south length of 220 kilometers (137 mi) and an east-west length of about 350 kilometers (217 mi).[1]

Switzerland is well known for the Alps in the south and south east. North of the Alps, the Swiss plateau runs along the east-west axis of the country. Most of the population of Switzerland lives on the rolling hills and plains of the plateau. The smaller Jura Mountains are located on the north west side of the plateau. Much of the northern border with Germany follows the Rhine River, though the Rhine enters Switzerland near Schaffhausen. The eastern border with Germany and a portion of Austria is drawn through Lake Constance (German: Bodensee). A portion of the southwest border with France is drawn through Lake Geneva.

Switzerland is divided into 26 sovereign cantons. The cantons along the Swiss plateau tend to be the most populous,[2] industrial and religiously Protestant.[3] The cantons in the Alps tend to be less populous, Catholic, and have an agrarian or tourism-based economy.[3]

Switzerland is also divided by language. There are four official languages; German 63.7% of population, French 20.4% of population, Italian 6.5% of population and Romansh 0.5% of population.[4] From Bern east (except Ticino) the population generally speaks German. West of Bern, the population generally speaks French. In the southern Canton of Ticino, most people speak Italian. Romansh, a group of dialects descended from Vulgar Latin, is spoken in several regions in the canton of Graub√ľnden.


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