Switzerland, a state of 26 cantons, is the most mountainous country in Europe. With a population of some 7.7 million, it has four official languages: German, French, Italian and Romanisch. The country, as it is today, was created by the 1848 Federal Constitution of the Swiss Federation. The seat of government is in Bern and Zurich is the country’s largest city.
Summers are warm in Switzerland, even hot in the south, while temperatures in winter drop below freezing everywhere due to its topographical exposure to different climate zones. The country is known worldwide for its Swiss Alps, 47 of which are above 4,000 metres, making them a major attraction for skiers and snowboarders the world over.
Switzerland also has plenty to offer in the warmer summer months. Besides a wealth of museums, castles, churches, monasteries and historical old towns, there is Lake Maggiore and the romantic Lake Lucerne, which are always worth a visit. The country has a unique cultural history and impressive modern cities such as Zurich, Basel, Bern, Geneva, Lausanne and St. Gallen.
Many major international sporting associations are based in Switzerland, such as FIFA, world football’s governing body ( Zurich), the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF, Zurich), the International Ski Federation (FIS, Oberhofen am Thunersee), the International Skating Union (ISU, Lausanne) and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA, Nyon). The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) are also in Lausanne.
Football in Switzerland
In 1954 Switzerland hosted the FIFA Football World Cup™. The final between West Germany and Hungary (3-2) went down in history as “The Miracle of Bern”, so heavily favoured were the Mighty Magyars going into the deciding game. Switzerland also co-hosted the 2008 UEFA European Championship in conjunction with Austria. Two years later the Swiss were the only team to beat eventual winners Spain at the 2010 FIFA Football World Cup in South Africa. In age-category football, Die Nati caused a stir in 2009, when they won the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Nigeria.
In the Swiss league, Grasshoppers of Zurich hold the record for the most league titles at 27. FC Basel, however, are currently the leading club, having been crowned national champions five times between 2000 and 2010. The most-capped Swiss player of all time is Heinz Herrmann, who represented his country 117 times between 1978 and 1991. Alexander Frei is Switzerland’s top scorer with 42 goals.