Centre d'Information sur les Institutions Européennes

Centre d'Information sur les Institutions Européennes (CIIE)


  • Accession to the Council of Europe : 1963
  • Surface Area : 41 285 km2
  • Population : 8.14 million inhabitants (2014)
  • Capital : Bern
  • Official languages : German, French, Italian, Romansch
  • Predominant religions : Catholics; Protestants
  • Government type : Confederation, similar in structure to a federal republic
  • Head of state : Simonetta Sommaruga since 1 January 2020
  • Currency : Swiss Franc (CHF)
  • International code : + 41
  • National holiday : August 1

In 1921, the Swiss Confederation appeared, alliance among 3 rural areas. Over the centuries, the alliance has enlarged. Each member manages its own affaires and different members are united only when tackling with the common questions. 

Gruyères castle, Fribourg © Julia Slater / swissworld

  • 1848 Switzerland became a country. Constitution was adopted, endowed a central gouvernement. It was approved by 22 cantons.
  • 1863 Established in Geneva of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
  • 1874 New Constitution was adopted.
  • 1914 – 1918 Switzerland remained neutral during WWI.
  • 1920 The League of Nations was created. Switzerland joined as a member. The headquater of the institution was installed in Geneva. 
  • 1930 – 1945 Switzerland stayed neutral in WWII.
  • 1960 Switzerland is the founding member of the European Free Trade Association.
  • 1963 Switzerland became a member of the Counsil of Europe.
  • 1972 : Free trade agreement with the EU.
  • 1979 The 23th canton, Jura, was created without changing the country boarder.
  • 1989 : Insurance agreement with the EU.
  • 1992 The Swiss Federal Council failed.
  • 1999 : Bilateral agreements I with the EU.
  • 2000 The first bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the European Union were accepted. They shall enter into force in June 2002.
  • 2001 The majority of the population were against joining the EU.
  • 2002 Switzerland, which was already a member in several agences of the United Nations, acquired full membership in the UN. 
  • 2004 The bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU were extended to new domains. 
  • 2008 Since December 12, Switzerland joined the Schengen area so people could travel freely without going though boarder control.
Bern is the Swiss capital as well as the administrative center of the Bern canton. It became the permanent capital of Switzerland in 1848. As the head office of Swiss government, the Ministries headquarters and several federal institutions are located in Bern, as well as several major national companies : post, railway, television… The UN’s Universal Postal Union is also located in the Swiss capital. All of these make bern a city specialized in the service sector.

Founded in the twelfth century on the banks of the Aare that surrounds the old town, Bern has preserved its unique architecture with its houses with turrets, arches, fountains, towers, basements and streets. As a medieval town, it was renovated in the eighteenth century but has retained its original character. The old town of Bern is a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Bern is also known for its bear pit, as it is said it is a bear that gave its name to the city. According to a legend, a bear (Bär in German) was killed during a hunting party that was organized on the site on which the city were later built.

Picture : the city of Bern © Bern Tourism

As the world’s leading producer in watches, Switzerland represents fifty percent of the world’s watch production. In terms of exports, watches are the third largest activity in Switzerland, behind chemical products and machinery. 
In 2003, the average price of an exported watch was 378 swiss franc. Today, the micromecanic and microeletronic are anchored in certain rural areas. It is said that exepnsive watches can contain up to 300 components. Switzerland is also well known for plastic watches, the most popular brand is Swatch. 
Picture : a 2005 stamp to celebrate teh Swiss watch industry © swisspost
Imported from Latin America by the conquistadors, chocolate, long jealously guarded by the Spanish, crosses the Swiss borders in the eighteenth century. Quickly the first small chocolate facorties were created. They grew rapidly because of the high quality of the production of the chocolates. It was also at that time that emerged the idea to mix chocolate and milk. Today, 18 firms export chocolate in over 130 countries. Yet there are plenty of chocolate amateurs in Switerzland : almost half of the 160,000 tons of chocolate that are produced in Switzerland is consumed locally. The Swiss people are champions of the world in chocolate consumption : 11.7 kg per year per person in 2009.

Picture : Swiss chocolate © Nestlé


CERN: In the heart of the matter

The CERN particle physics laboratory near Geneva is the world’s largest research centre. There, more than 100 metres below ground, we find the accelerator that simulates the conditions occurring fractions of a second after the big bang. This enables researchers from all over the world to investigate the structure of matter and the fundamental laws of nature. This year the almost 27-kilometre long Large Hadron Collider LHC will start operating – the most high-powered particle accelerator in the world.

In the nineteen eighties, CERN was the birthplace of the “www”.

© Présence Suisse 2007 Département fédéral des affaires étrangères DFAE www.cern.ch



The most popular girl in the world

The novel Heidi by Johanna Spyri is one of the best-selling and most successful children’s stories ever published. The clear distinction in the book between the simple life in the mountains and the sophistication of the city reinforced the myth of an intact alpine world. The orphan child sent by her impoverished aunt to her grandpa in the mountains came to symbolise the unique nature of the alpine environment.
The Heidi books have now been translated into 50 languages and turned into numerous films, cartoons and serials. In 2005 the Heidi musical pulled in over 100,000 spectators in Switzerland.

Solar energy in altitude, a path to follow

Since January 2008, the highest solar power plant in the world is officially in operation on the Jungfraujoch, at over 3500m above sea level. The tests showed that the specific energy efficiency of the solar system from the Jungfraujoch is about 70% higher than that of comparable facilities operating on the Swiss Plateau.
© switzerland.com


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