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Switzerland

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Switzerland is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It has borders with France to the west, Italy to the south, Austria and Liechtenstein to the east and Germany to the north.

The climate is temperate, but varies with altitude. Switzerland has cold, cloudy, rainy/snowy winters and cool to warm, cloudy, humid summers with occasional showers.

Switzerland is known for its mountains (Alps in south, Jura in northwest) but it also has a central plateau of rolling hills, plains, and large lakes. The highest point is Dufourspitze at 4,634 m while Lake Maggiore is only 195 m above sea level.

Switzerland's independence and neutrality have long been honored by the major European powers and Switzerland 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 retains a strong commitment to neutrality.

France might have the real Magic Kingdom, but the true Disneyland of Europe belongs to the Swiss. Switzerland is a natural theme park showcasing three of Europe's most distinct cultures. To the northeast is the beer-drinking, sausage-eating German-speaking Switzerland which is hard to tell from neighboring Swabia (Germany); to the south-west the wine drinking and shopping spills effortlessly into France; in the south-east the sun warms cappuccino-sippers loitering in Italian-style plazas; and in the center: classic Swiss flugelhorns and mountain landscapes. Binding it all together is a distinc Swiss mentality.

Switzerland can be a glorious whirlwind trip whether you've packed your hiking boots, snowboard, or just a good book and a pair of sunglasses. A country that looks on a map like it could comfortably fit into a National Park, Switzerland packs into it a continent worth of natural wonders and a culture and history rich enough to provide five museums for every rainy day of the year.

Major international airports are in Zurich, Geneva and Basel, with smaller airports in Lugano and Bern. Flying into nearby Milan (Italy), Lyon or even Paris (France) or Frankfurt (Germany) are other options though rather expensive and time-consuming (3h Frankfurt-Basel, 4h Milan-Zurich, 5h Paris-Bern) by train. The Flagcarrier of Switzerland is SWISS which is a member of Star Alliance and successor of the famous Swissair.

Trains arrive from all parts of Europe. Switzerland is together with Germany one of the most central-lying countries in Europe, making it a center of railways and highways to the rest of Europe. Some major routes include:

The TGV, with several trains daily from Paris, Avignon, Dijon, and Nice.
Hourly trains to/from Milan with connections to all parts of Italy (also night-trains to Rome and Venice).
Hourly ICE (German high-speed trains) from Zurich to Karlsruhe, Mannheim, Frankfurt in Germany, many continuing toward Amsterdam, Hamburg or Berlin.
Regular ICE trains from Zurich to Stuttgart and Munich
Every night trains from Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Hamburg, Prague, Vienna, Belgrade, Rome and Venice to Basel, Geneva, Zurich and some also to Lausanne and Geneva.


Information provided by Wikipedia

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