Switzerland's History

Before the Roman conquest in 15BC the alpine region of Switzerland was home to several tribal groups, the most important of which was the Celtic Helvetii tribe, which gives the country its historic name, Helvetica. Switzerland was part of several different provinces until eventually becoming part of Rhaetia Province. The demise of Rome saw Switzerland fragment but eventually came within the Frankish Empire in the 6th Century whose influence lasted until the 1200’s. ‘Modern’ Switzerland started on 1st August 1291 when three central Cantons (states) signed the Federal Charter and within 60 years five more cantons joined to form the Old Swiss Confederation. In 1515 Swiss expansion suffered a setback with defeat at the Battle of Marignano, resulting in Swiss determination to avoid further wars. Calvin from Geneva and Zwingli from Zürich were two of the great Protestant Reformation leaders. The French Revolution overflowed to Switzerland in 1798 but the neutral Swiss successful avoided all conflict in WWI and WWII.

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Unique Switzerland is made up of 26 Cantons and governed at a national level by the seven member Swiss Federal Council who act collectively as head of state. ‘The Magic Formula’ determines the council, it being a permanent coalition of the four largest parties, chosen from the Federal Parliament. All important issues at Federal and Canton level are referred back to citizens via referenda, making Switzerland the most democratic country on earth.  Switzerland values its neutrality highly, avoiding membership of the European Union, NATO, Eurozone and protecting itself with its famous Swiss Army. Successful and peaceful Switzerland is a shining jewel in the European Alps that thrills holiday makers.

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