Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Countries: Switzerland

Countries Around the World: SWITZERLAND

The Swiss Confederation was founded in 1291 as a defensive alliance among three cantons (states). In succeeding years, other areas joined the original three. The Swiss Confederation got its independence from the Holy Roman Empire in 1499. A constitution of 1848, later changed in 1874, replaced the confederation with a centralized federal government. Switzerland's sovereignty and neutrality have long been honored by the major European powers, and the country was not involved in either of the two world wars. The political and economic integration of Europe over the past half century, as well as Switzerland's role in many UN and international organizations, has strengthened Switzerland's ties with its neighbors. However, the country did not officially become a UN member until 2002. Switzerland remains active in many UN and international organizations but still has a strong commitment to neutrality.

Word List:
  • alliance: an arrangement between two or more people, groups, or countries by which they agree to work together to achieve something
  • succeeding: coming after something else
  • sovereignty: the right of a country to rule itself
  • neutrality: the state of not supporting either side in a war, disagreement, etc.
  • integration: the process of combining with other things in a single larger unit or system
  • commitment: a promise to do something

Country Information
  • location: Central Europe; bordered by Austria, France, Italy, Liechtenstein and Germany
  • capital: Bern
  • official languages: German, French and Italian
  • type of government: confederation
  • total area: approximately 41,290 sq km
  • climate: temperate, but varies with altitude; cold, cloudy, rainy/snowy winters; cool to warm, cloudy, humid summers with occasional showers
  • terrain: mostly mountains (Alps in the South, Jura in the Northwest) with a central plateau of rolling hills, plains, and large lakes
  • natural resources: includes hydropower potential, timber and salt
  • industries: includes machinery, chemicals, watches, textiles, precision instruments, tourism, banking and insurance
  • agricultural products: includes grains, fruits, vegetables, meat and eggs
Swiss Vocabulary
  • canton — A small territorial division of a country. Switzerland is divided into 26 cantons.
  • Swiss franc — The currency of Switzerland.
  • euro — The currency of several member nations of the European Union.
  • fondue — A hot dish that is made from melted cheese and wine and eaten with bread. Fondue is also commonly made with chocolate.
  • Gruyere — A nutty, pale yellow, firm cheese that is made from whole cow’s milk and has small holes. It is produced chiefly in France and Switzerland. Vacherin — A soft, rich, seasonal cheese that is made from cow’s milk and contained in a grayish-yellow blanched rind. It is produced chiefly in France and Switzerland.
  • Emmenthal — A Swiss cheese that is made from cow’s milk and contains small holes.
  • TĂȘte de Moine — French for “monk’s head.”Also “Bellelay.”A rich, semi-soft cheese that is made in Switzerland. It is named after the monastery where it originated, the Abbey of Bellelay in the canton of Bern.
  • Fribourgeois — A cheese that is very similar to Vacherin, but firmer. It is made in the Fribourg canton of Switzerland.
  • Tilsit — A semi-hard, light yellow cheese made from whole milk that is similar in flavor to mild Limburger.