Switzerland is officially a neutral country. The first official declaration of Swiss neutrality was made by the Swiss Confederation Council (Tagsatzung) in the year 1674. The Swiss maintained a treaty with France and its absolute monarch Louis XIV (roi soleil) (on mercenaries and other business), however the final seizure by the French of the disputed area of the Franche Comté (at the time under Spanish rule), in 1674, and the Swiss promises made during the Thirty Years War to protect this area caused some tensions with France. The Swiss realized that they were not capable of reasonable foreign policy in the arena of European power play. Under the pressure of the French king they could not fulfill their promises toward the Franche Comté. The Swiss Confederation of that time was a loose association of cities and states without central government (the Confederation Council met once a year or in emergencies). This loose rule and the roughly 50/50 split of the population into Catholics and Protestants made an active common foreign policy of the canton states impossible. Already during the Thirty Year War (1618-1648) which devastated major parts of central Europe, the Swiss kept out of the conflict; this was not due to an officially declared neutrality or strategy, but mainly due to a "pat"-situation among the members of the Confederation. One could say there was a sort of inner power balance (among religiously, culturally and economically diverse groups) which in combination with the oath from 1291 (mutual protection) and the absence of central government made it impossible to actively take sides in surrounding conflicts. (The present form of stronger federal government was only created later). An important new Swiss rule of the time was the "Defensionale von Wil" (Defense Charter of Wil) concluded in the year 1647 which created a new common defense order. This defense charter and the first declaration of neutrality from 1674 form the early traces of Swiss neutrality politics. At that time the wisdom and the benefits of neutrality were recognized. Neutrality was not only a remedy against conflicts with foreign powers, it also helped to maintain inner peace. Author: Peter Stacher References: Peter Dürrenmatt, Schweizer Geschichte, SV International, Schweizer Verlagshaus Zürich, 1976
Air pollution from vehicle emissions and open-air burning; acid rain; water pollution from increased use of agricultural fertilizers; loss of biodiversity. Switzerland tops the current list as the cleanest country in the world. Columbia University's Center for International Earth Science Information Network and Yale University's Center for Environmental Law and Policy developed an index to rate the cleanest countries. Switzerland tops the list with an overall EPI score of 95.5
Party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Origins of The International Red Cross: In February of 1863 in Geneva, Switzerland, the Société genevoise d'utilité publique [Geneva Public Welfare Society] set up a committee of five Swiss citizens to look into the ideas offered by Henri Dunant in his book Un Souvenir de Solferino - ideas dealing with protection of the sick and wounded during combat. The committee had as its members: Guillaume Henri Dufour (1787-1875), a general of the Swiss army and a writer of military tracts who became the committee's president for its first year and its honorary president thereafter; Gustave Moynier (1826-1910), a young lawyer and president of the sponsoring Public Welfare Society, who from this time on devoted his life to Red Cross work; Louis Appia (1818-1898) and Theodore Maunoir (1806-1869), both medical doctors; and Henri Dunant himself. Guided by Moynier's talent for organization, the committee called an international conference for October of 1863 which, with sixteen nations represented, adopted various pertinent resolutions and principles, along with an international emblem, and appealed to all nations to form voluntary units to help wartime sick and wounded. These units eventually became the National Red Cross Societies, and the Committee of Five itself eventually became the International Committee of the Red Cross, with Gustave ldoynier as its president (1864-1910) both before and after it took this name. As a result of the 1863 Conference, which hoped to see its Red Cross principles become a part of international law, an international diplomatic meeting was held at Geneva the following year at the invitation of the Swiss government. The assembly formulated the Geneva Convention of 1864. This international Convention for the Amelioration of the "Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field", included provisions guaranteeing neutrality for medical personnel and equipment and officially adopting the red cross on a field of white as the identifying emblem. It was signed on August 22, 1864, by twelve states and was later accepted by virtually all.
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
Temperate, but varies with altitude; cold, cloudy, rainy/snowy winters; cool to warm, cloudy, humid summers with occasional showers