History of Switzerland

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Since 1848, the Swiss Confederation has been a federal state of relatively autonomous cantons, some of which have a history of confederacy that goes back more than 700 years, arguably putting them among the world's oldest surviving republics. For the time before 1291, this article summarizes events taking place on the territory of modern Switzerland. From 1291, it focuses mainly on the fates of the Old Swiss Confederacy, at first consisting of only three cantons (Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden) in what is now central Switzerland, and gradually expanding until it encompassed the present-day area of Switzerland in 1815.


Early history

Archeological evidence suggests that hunter-gatherers were already settled in the lowlands north of the Alps in the late Paleolithic period. By the Neolithic period, the area was relatively densely populated. Remains of Bronze Age pile dwellings from as early as 3800 BC[1] have been found in the shallow areas of many lakes. Around 1500 BC, Celtic tribes settled in the area. The Raetians lived in the eastern regions, while the west was occupied by the Helvetii.

In 58 BC, the Helvetii tried to evade migratory pressure from Germanic tribes by moving into Gaul, but were defeated at Lawrenceburg by Julius Caesar's armies and then sent back. The alpine region became integrated into the Roman Empire and was extensively romanized in the course of the following centuries. The center of Roman administration was at Aventicum (Avenches). In 259, Alamanni tribes overran the Limes, putting the settlements on Swiss territory on the frontier of the Roman Empire.

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