150 Years Anniversary of the Diplomatic Relations between Switzerland and Japan

About Switzerland

Capital

Bern

Population

8,039,060 (about 80% Swiss, 20% foreigners)

Area

41,285 square kilometers

Languages

German (63.7%), French (20.4%), Italian (6.5%), Romansh (0.5%), Others (9%)

Mountains

Most of the national territory is mountainous, comprising three mountain ranges – the Jura, the central plateau and the Alps.

UBS and others: A high degree of trust – Financial Industry

Stately buildings of large-scale banks stand tall in the center of Zurich: UBS and Credit Suisse, two of the largest financial houses in Switzerland. Switzerland is a home to a number of firms with a history of more than 100 years. Private banking for the wealthy population also has a long history in Switzerland. 10% of GDP comes from the financial industry and there are 211,000 people working in the financial sector: 6% of the labor force in Switzerland. There are over 300 banks, including foreign firms, in Switzerland and 260 insurance companies. Not only the quality of the services and the degree of trust, but also the stability of the country, its politics and economy are the key assets that make Switzerland a leading financial hub. The financial sector is a key part of the “Swiss brand”.

Three top high-end brands are from Switzerland – Watch Industry

Rolex and Omega and the three top high-end watch brands Patek Phillippe, Vacheron Constantin, and Audemars Piguet are all from Switzerland:. In many ways, they are the status symbols for consumers. The watch industry in Switzerland faced a crisis in the 70s due to the mass production of quartz and digital watches by Japanese producers. The Swiss watch industry reinvented itself with the “Swatch”, a well-designed, yet reasonably priced watch brand. The Swatch Group today also owns some of the top high-end brands such as Omega, Breguet, Longines, and Blancpain.

"Stability" draws attention – International Organizations

Geneva is a city that lies on the southwest of the Lac Leman (Lake Geneva). Various international organizations are based in this international city: World Health Organization (WHO), International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC), World Trade Organization (WTO), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the UN European headquarters. Geneva also hosted the headquarters of the League of Nations after the First World War. The International Baccalaureate, an organization that set up the curriculum for the much-talked-about International Baccalaureate or IB, also has its headquarters in Geneva. Davos in the east side of the country hosts World Economic Forum, where the world's top leaders from the politics and the business come together. The stability of the nation and its status as a permanently neutral country makes Switzerland and ideal place for all these organizations.

Government

The Cabinet, called the Federal Council, is made up of seven ministers elected by a joint session of the Federal Assembly, the bicameral legislature consisting of the Council of States and the National Council. Council members rotate to serve one-year term as president of the Swiss Confederation.

World Heritage Sites

Eleven sites have been registered on UNESCO's World Heritage List and one is on a tentative list. Major World Heritage sites include the "Old City of Berne," "Lavaux, Vineyard Terraces," and "La Chaux-de-Fonds / Le Locle, Watchmaking Town Planning."

Nobel Prize Winners

Seven Swiss scientists have been awarded the Nobel Prize in fields such as physics, chemistry and medicine for outstanding research results.

Wide range of events - Arts

Numerous jazz, classical music, film, and modern art events take place in Switzerland. The news spread in Japan when high school students, Haruo Niyama, and Sae Maeda won the first and the second prize in an international ballet contest in Lausanne, this year. There are over 900 museums in Switzerland and each one has a rich collection. Arthur Onegale, a composer who became known after the First World War has Swiss parents. The modern artists Giacometti and Pipilotti Rist are Swiss. So is the architectural firm Herzog and de Meuron, known for their work on the main stadium for the Beijing Olympics - the Bird’s Nest-.

World's top chocolate producer - Gastronomy

Food is another attraction of Switzerland. Cheese is especially popular, as we Japanese are also familiar with fondue and raclette. Rösti, a plate with shredded potato is also a standard menu in Switzerland. Swiss love chocolate. They consume an average of 12kg per a year. The chocolates appear not only during the tea time but also at meetings in the offices.  Lindt and Sprüngli are a must as a souvenir for the sweet tooth. The quality of wine is also high especially the white wine that bear well-balanced yet simple flavor. Switzerland is also one of the countries with a top longevity rate. According to the 2012 studies by WHO, the average life expectancy is 82.9 years old for men and women. That makes Switzerland the number two country for longevity, just after Japan.

Translation by: Embassy of Switzerland in Japan

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