Switzerland, a sovereign country in Europe, with a total land area of approx. 40,000 sq. km, making it nearly 7 times smaller than New Zealand but higher in population with 8.57 million people. The Swiss Confederation was founded in 1291 as a defensive alliance among three cantons. In succeeding years, other localities joined the original three. It secured its independence from the Holy Roman Empire in 1499. A constitution in 1874, replaced the confederation with a centralized federal government.
Aside from chocolate, cheese, watches and army knives, the country's strong economy is powered by low corporate tax rates, a highly developed service sector led by financial services and a high-tech manufacturing industry.
Images of Switzerland, Hans Herzog, Therese Herzog and Stephan Walliser (Fromm).
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