Switzerland is a landlocked country in Europe with a population amounting to about 8.8 million people. Its largest cities are Zurich, Geneva, and Basel, and most of the country’s inhabitants live in urban areas. Life expectancy in Switzerland is among the highest worldwide, which is not surprising, since Switzerland has one of the highest standards of living for its inhabitants due to its strong economy, healthcare system, and infrastructure.
Economically speaking, Switzerland is one of the most stable countries in the world, with a GDP that has largely experienced steady growth for the last few years, after a period of stagnation in the early 2010s. The country is ranked among the 20 largest economies in the world. Its GDP per capita even ranks fourth on a global scale. Despite a dip in 2020, economic growth is expected to return to be stable in the coming years, although this remains to be seen. Additionally, unemployment has generally been between four and five percent over the past decade, with a small rise during the Covid pandemic. Throughout the 2010s, Switzerland experienced deflation rather than inflation. Ever since the financial crisis of 2008, it has struggled with deflation, which threatens to slow the economy by discouraging both investment and consumption. However, a small, open economy such as Switzerland often depends on its economic partners, and an increase of the euro to Swiss franc exchange rate could place further inflationary pressure on the franc.
Compared to most other countries, Switzerland's governmental and political structures are fairly unique. It's constitution outlines a direct democracy that it is ruled by a Federal Council of seven members, with the role of president rotating between members on an annual basis. The country is divided into 26 cantons, i.e. administrative divisions, each with a fairly high level of autonomy. Another distinctive aspect of Swiss politics is its historical policy of neutrality and non-interference, all while maintaining strong international relationships. This was most notable during Europe's conflicts in the early 20th century, but the approach also applies to Switzerland's resistance to international integration, such as it's non-membership of the European Union or relatively late accession to the United Nations.
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