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Switzerland Collection

History Archive - Switzerland Collection

Switzerland is a republic of Central Europe, bounded by Germany (N.), France (W.), Italy (S.), and Austria and Germany (E.); in size is slightly more than one-half of Scotland, of semicircular shape, having the Jura Alps on its French border, and divided from Italy by the great central ranges of the Alpine system, whence radiate the Swiss Alps—Pennine, Lepontine, Bernese, &c.—covering the E. and S., and occupying with intervening valleys two-thirds of the country.

The remaining third is occupied by an elevated fertile plain, extending between Lakes of Constance and Geneva (largest of numerous lakes), and studded with picturesque hills; principal rivers are the Upper Rhône, the Aar, Ticino, and Inn; climate varies with the elevation, from the high regions of perpetual snow to warm valleys where ripen the vine, fig, almond, and olive; about one-third of the land surface is under forest, and one quarter arable, the grain grown forming only one-half of what is required; flourishing dairy farms exist, prospered by the fine meadows and mountain pastures which, together with the forests, comprise the country's greatest wealth; minerals are exceedingly scarce, coal being entirely absent.

Despite its restricted arable area and lack of minerals the country has attained a high pitch of prosperity through the thrift and energy of its people, who have skilfully utilised the inexhaustible motive-power of innumerable waterfalls and mountain streams to drive great factories of silks, cottons, watches, and jewellery. The beauty of its mountain, lake, and river scenery has long made Switzerland the sanatorium and recreation ground of Europe; more than 500 health resorts exist, and the country has been described as one vast hotel.

The Alpine barriers are crossed by splendid roads and railways, the great tunnels through St. Gothard and the Simplon being triumphs of engineering skill and enterprise. In 1848, after the suppression of the Sonderbund, the existing league of 22 semi-independent States (constituting since 1798 the Helvetic Republic) formed a closer federal union, and a constitution (amended in 1874) was drawn up conserving as far as possible the distinctive laws of the cantons and local institutions of their communes.

Government. The President is elected annually by the Federal Assembly (which consists of two chambers constituting the legislative power), and is assisted in the executive government by a Federal Council of seven members. By an institution known as the “Referendum” all legislative acts passed in the Cantonal or Federal Assemblies may under certain conditions be referred to the mass of the electors, and this is frequently done. The public debt amounts to over two million pounds.

Army. The national army is maintained by conscription; 71 per cent. of the people speak German, 22 per cent. French, and 5 per cent. Italian; 59 per cent. are Protestants, and 41 per cent. Catholics.

Education is splendidly organised, free, and compulsory; there are five universities, and many fine technical schools.


1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 26

Available Books


Image Name
Pontresina from above Celerina
Front Cover
Evian les Bains, Hte. Savoie
Front Cover
Sunset on the Lake
The Staubbach
The Matterhorn
Title Page
Approach to Bellinzona
The Statue of Jean Jacques Rousseau on the Island in the Rhone, Geneva, from Hotel des Bergues
View of the Gallery of Issel
Map to Illustrate the Mountains and Lakes of Switzerland and Italy
View of Pliniana on the Lake of Como
Lausanne Cathedral from Montbenon
A Street in St. Saphorin
The Rigi from Lucerne
Fall of the Staubbach
Valley of Saas
Title Page
The Church of St. Martin, Vevey
View of the Gallery of Schalbet from the Italian Side
Montreux Golf Club Links at Aigle
Interlachen from the Lake of Brienz
Montreux from the Lake : Autumn
The North End of Aigle Castle
The Gorge of the Inn, known as the Charnadura Gorge
Vue prise du Meggenhorn
Glaciers of the Canton of Berne
The Old Church at La Tour de Peilz
Vue de Brunnen vers le Canton d'Unterwalden
Vue prise de Brunnen vers le Canton d'Ury
The Savoy Alps (Winter) from the Road to Caux
Klosters with Kanarthorn and Weisshorn
Lausanne from the Signal
Piz Bernina and the Morteratsch Glacier
The Village of Splugen
On the Tete Noire [II]
The Marjelen See
St. Urbains, Troyes
St. Gingolph from Bouveret, after a Storm
Nemier, Hte. Savoie
Piz Albana and Piz Julier in Winter
The Rhone Valley from Mont Pelerin
The Glaciers des Bossons, Chamonix
View from Stresa of the Beautiful Island
A Vaudoise : Summer
View of the Lake of Thun from upper Island
Title Page
Vue prise de Bekenried vers Schwytz
View of Milan
The Jungfrau from the Kleiner Scheidegg
Front Cover
The Julier Pass
Mont Blanc from above Finhaut
Plan of the Road of the Simplon
West View of Sion
A Corner of Aigle Skating Rink
East View of Sion
The Bay of Meillerie
The Giessbach
Vue de Stanzstad
A Peep of Old Montreux, over Veraye : Winter Evening
View of the Gallery of the Glaciers
Campo Dolcino
Front Cover
The Market Place, Vevey
View of the New Road Near the Grand Gallery
The Aiguille and Dome du Gouter, Mont Blare
Dazio Grande
The Fall of Olstenbach & the Bridge of Wyler
View of the Cavern of St. Beat, near the Lake of Thun
Vue de Gersau
The Lake of Brienz Showing the Giessbach
View of the Glaciers of Grindelwald
View of the Interior of the Grand Gallery
Lago di Cavloccio
Tells Chapel
The Schwartzhorn from the Fluela Hospice
Back Cover
The Matterhorn from the Riffelberg
The Chateau de Prangins
Nyon Castle, looking across the Lake to Mont Blanc
View from the Entrance of the Gallery of Schalbet
View of Sesto
Back Cover
Front Cover
View of the Exterior of the Gallery of Algaby


Map Name
Picturesque Tour through the Oberland - Glaciers of the Canton of Berne (1823)
Mountains and Lakes of Switzerland and Italy - Map to Illustrate the Mountains and Lakes of Switzerland and Italy (1871)
Voyage Pittoresque au Lac des Waldstettes ou des IV Cantons - Carte du Lac de Lucerne ou des Quatre Cantons (1817)


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