Traveling Luck for Switzerland

Switzerland is located in Central Europe, east of France, north of Italy.

Switzerland has borders with Austria for 164km, Germany for 334km, France for 573km, Italy for 740km and Liechtenstein for 41km.

Land in Switzerland is mostly mountains (Alps in south, Jura in northwest) with a central plateau of rolling hills, plains, and large lakes.

Swiss land covers an area of 41290 square kilometers which is slightly less than twice the size of New Jersey

As for the Swiss climate; temperate, but varies with altitude; cold, cloudy, rainy/snowy winters; cool to warm, cloudy, humid summers with occasional showers.

Swiss (singular and plural) speak German (official) 63.7%, French (official) 20.4%, Italian (official) 6.5%, Serbo-Croatian 1.5%, Albanian 1.3%, Portuguese 1.2%, Spanish 1.1%, English 1%, Romansch 0.5%, other 2.8% (2000 census)
note: German, French, Italian, and Romansch are all national languages, but only the first three are official languages.

Swiss National Map

Swiss Map

Regions of Switzerland

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. 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.


Switzerland Country Profile

Switzerland is a peaceful, prosperous, and stable modern market economy with low unemployment, a highly skilled labor force, and a per capita GDP larger than that of the big Western European economies. The Swiss in recent years have brought their economic practices largely into conformity with the EU's to enhance their international competitiveness. Switzerland remains a safehaven for investors, because it has maintained a degree of bank secrecy and has kept up the franc's long-term external value. Reflecting the anemic economic conditions of Europe, GDP growth dropped in 2001 to about 0.8%, to 0.2% in 2002, and to -0.3% in 2003, with a small rise to 1.8% in 2004-05. Even so, unemployment has remained at less than half the EU average.

Swiss natural resources include hydropower potential, timber, salt

landlocked; crossroads of northern and southern Europe; along with southeastern France, northern Italy, and southwestern Austria, has the highest elevations in the Alps

Swiss religion is Roman Catholic 41.8%, Protestant 35.3%, Orthodox 1.8%, other Christian 0.4%, Muslim 4.3%, other 1%, unspecified 4.3%, none 11.1% (2000 census).

Natural hazards in Switzerland include avalanches, landslides, flash floods.

Travel Advice on Switzerland

Switzerland & Liechtenstein

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Summary (danger of avalanches).  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • Switzerland and Liechtenstein share with the rest of Europe a threat from international terrorism.  Attacks could be indiscriminate and against civilian targets.

  • There is an acute danger of avalanches at present in Switzerland’s Alpine regions.  Please exercise due care and attention and observe ALL written notices and warning instructions.

  • Around 712,000 British nationals visit Switzerland / Liechtenstein every year.  Most visits are trouble-free.  The main type of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in Switzerland / Liechtenstein is for lost / stolen passports, cash and personal effects, death, illness and accidents.

  • We strongly recommend that comprehensive travel and medical insurance is obtained before travelling.  Alpine conditions can be hazardous and you should ensure that your insurance covers winter/mountain activities.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see Travel Insurance.


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Crime

Most visits to Switzerland and Liechtenstein are trouble-free.  There is a generally low rate of serious crime in Switzerland compared with other European countries.  However, crime does occur and you should be aware that petty theft is on the increase.  Be particularly alert to pickpockets, confidence tricksters and thieves in city centres, airports, railway stations and other public places.  If travelling overnight by train, you should take precautions against being burgled while you sleep by opportunist thieves.  You should not become involved with drugs of any kind.

Political Situation

Switzerland Country Profile.

Road Safety

All road users should follow instructions given by local police and officials on the main alpine transit routes, at bottlenecks and areas of heavy traffic congestion.  Swiss traffic regulations are strenuously enforced.  Any serious breach of the regulations can result in heavy fines and/or imprisonment.

Alpine winters often make driving more difficult.  You should equip your car with winter tyres and snow-chains, and check road conditions prior to departure.  The Swiss motoring organisation, TCS, has up-to-date information on its website: http://www.tcs.ch.

A valid UK, or other EU/EEA, driving licence is sufficient for driving in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.  There is no need for an International Driving Permit.  Drivers can find up-to-date information about road closures at: http://mct.sbb.ch/.  Information about rails services is available at: http://mct.sbb.ch.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

Your passport should be valid for three months after the end of your intended stay.
BRITISH PASSPORT: must contain one of the following remarks:
"British Citizen", "British Subject:  Citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies",
"British Protected Person", "British Dependent Territories Citizen", "British Overseas Citizen", "British National Overseas".  Passports must be valid beyond the date of departure from Switzerland.
TRAVEL DOCUMENTS:
UK travel documents issued to refugees by the Home Office, with blue cover, two black stripes (gold stripes since 16.08.96) in the top left-hand corner and mentioning agreement of 28 July 1951.
LATVIA Aliens' Passports and UNMIK Travel Documents must be endorsed with a UK permit as listed under point 5.
(Holders of the brown Certificate of Identity issued by the British Home Office as well as holders of the red Travel Document issued by the British Home Office mentioning agreement of 28 September 1954 require a visa).


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  You should ensure that this includes cover for mountain sports and air ambulance costs.  Please see: Travel Insurance.
All visitors to Switzerland and Liechtenstein should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK.  The EHIC replaces Form E111, which still remains valid until the end of 2005.  The E111 form/EHIC is not a substitute for medical and travel insurance, but entitles you to emergency medical treatment on the same terms as Swiss nationals.  You will not be covered for medical repatriation, on-going medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature.  For more information about how to obtain the EHIC please see: Europe and the EHIC.
An agreement between the EU and Switzerland came into force on 1 June 2002.  If you are a national of the UK or any other EU country, a Swiss national, a stateless person or refugee and you live in the UK, you can use the EHIC to get reduced cost immediately necessary healthcare when visiting Switzerland.  Your dependent family members and survivors are also covered, regardless of their nationality.  If you claim treatment under the EHIC scheme, you will still have to pay the full costs of medical treatment first and claim a refund from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) upon return to the UK.  You will have to pay 50% of the costs of any "medically required" ambulance transport within Switzerland, including air ambulance.  Similar arrangements apply to Liechtenstein.  Detailed information about the EHIC scheme, the treatment available under the EU/Switzerland healthcare agreement can be obtained from the Department of Health's website at www.dh.gov.uk.
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.  For further information on health, check the Department of Health's website at: http://www.doh.gov.uk/traveladvice/index.htm
Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)
Earlier this year, the Swiss authorities confirmed outbreaks of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in the Lake Geneva and Lake Constance areas.  There have been no reported cases in Liechtenstein.  No human infections or deaths have been reported in either country.
The risk to humans from Avian Influenza is believed to be very low.  As a precaution, you should avoid visiting live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.
You should read this advice in conjunction with the: Avian and Pandemic Influenza Factsheetwhich gives more detailed advice and information.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see: What We Can Do To Help.
The revised EU-wide security measures that came into effect for all passengers departing from UK airports in November 2006 are also being implemented in Switzerland.  For more details about this please see: DfT - Airline Security Update
SPORTS ACTIVITIES AND WINTER SPORTS
Alpine travellers should take out complementary insurance to cover extra medical costs such as repatriation.  Ensure you are covered for sports activities such as skiing, potholing and mountaineering.  Travel insurance must also include mountain rescue services and helicopter costs.
You should be aware of the risks involved in the more hazardous sports activities.  You should also take note of weather forecasts and conditions, which can change by the minute in the mountains.  You should be well equipped, not undertake the activity alone, study the itinerary and inform someone of your plans.  Off-piste skiers should follow the advice given by local authorities and guides; to ignore such advice could put yourselves and other mountain users in danger.
LIECHTENSTEIN

Conditions in Liechtenstein are similar to those in Switzerland and this advice is equally applicable there.  However, the crime rate is generally lower than in Switzerland.