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Missionary Spotlight – Facts

November 2002

Area:15,940 square miles. Switzerland is landlocked.


Neighbouring countries:

France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Austria and Italy.


Switzerland is very mountainous. More than 70% is covered by the majestic Alps and their valleys. The Jura mountains are lower and popular with skiers. Between these two mountain systems there is a central plateau of hills, plains and large lakes. The climate is temperate, varying with altitude.


7.3 million (about 20% non-indigenous).


Bern (327,000).

Other cities:

Zürich (984,000), Basel (631,000), Geneva (515,000) and Lausanne (289,000). Geneva is a major world political and ecclesiastical centre, with centres for the UN, International Red Cross, World Council of Churches and other international bodies.



Ethnic groups:

Indigenous (78%) — German (4 million), French (1.2 million), Italian, Rheto-Roman, Gypsy. Foreign (22%) — West and East European, Turkish, Tamil, Asian, others.

Life expectancy:

79 years.

Official languages:

German (nearly 600 dialects), French, Italian and Rheto-Roman.




The three state Churches are the Roman Catholic, Old Catholic (which rejected papal infallibility in 1870) and Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches (including Evangelical Reformed) — these account for 85% of the population. Others are — non-religious 6%; Muslims 3%; others, including many cults and new religions 6%.

Protestant denominations:

Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches, various Pentecostal/Charismatic, various Brethren, Methodists, various Evangelical, St Chrischona Pilgrim Missionaries, Salvation Army, Mennonite and Baptist.


The Swiss Confederation has 20 full and 6 half cantons, each with its own constitution. In each canton people vote about four times a year in referendums on various local and national laws (also, in regular elections). Switzerland is not part of the EU, but voted this year to join the UN.


Switzerland’s natural resources include extensive coniferous and deciduous forests and salt. 59% of its power is hydroelectric and 35% nuclear. It has a prosperous and stable market economy, with 66% employed in the service sector, including banking and tourism. Exports include electricity, machinery, chemicals, metals, precision instruments, watches and agricultural products.


The modern Swiss Federation dates from 1848. Switzerland has maintained a strict political neutrality over the last century.