ABOUT Switzerland encompasses geographical features, a mountainous and landlocked country located in Western and Central Europe. It is surrounded by 5 countries: Austria and Liechtenstein to the east, France to the west, Italy to the south and Germany to the north. Switzerland has a maximum north-south length of 140 miles and an east-west length of about 220 miles. Surrounded by conflict throughout much of its history, Switzerland continues to defy convention and maintain its individuality. The nation’s economic and political stability sets an example that few countries in the world have been able to emulate. Switzerland has 26 cantons and through the wording of the federal constitution they are sovereign and have their own cantonal constitution, legislation, jurisdiction and executive bodies. Together the cantons form the federal parliament which constitutes the Nationalrat, the Standerat and the Bundesrat, which is the highest executive power. The Bundesrat has seven members elected through legislative power.
CLIMATE Switzerland, at lower altitudes, the weather is generally moderate. On the plateau, freezing temperatures generally occur during December-early March with an average temperature of 9 °C (48.2 °F) for elevations between 1,640–1,969 ft. On the Plateau the average precipitation is 39 inches with a range of about 31.5–51.2 inches. The higher elevations of the Jura and the Alps naturally cause lower temperatures and in the high Alps glaciers exist. The Jura and foothills both north and south of the Alps typically have more precipitation, with an average of 47.2–63.0 inches, while the high Alps may have over 98.4 inches. Ticino, on the south side of the Alps, has sub-tropical vegetation and is usually 2°C - 4°C (3.6°F - 7.2°F) warmer, and wetter than the Swiss Plateau.
BEWARE There is a low rate of serious crime in Switzerland. However, there has recently received increased reports of theft especially in larger cities, at Geneva airport and on trains to/from Geneva. Watch out for pickpockets, confidence tricksters and thieves in city centres, airports, railway stations, on trains and in other public places. Don’t leave your luggage unattended at any time. If you’re travelling by train, take precautions against being burgled, especially at night.