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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
The Falls of the Rhine at Schaffhausen
Fall of the Staubbach
Title Page
Chillon and Rhone Valley from Veytaux
Back Cover
The Environs of Thun
Chateau de Prangins
The Gorge of the Inn, known as the Charnadura Gorge
Piz Bernina and the Morteratsch Glacier
The Schwartzhorn from the Fluela Hospice
A view of the Jungfrau
Falls of the Madesimo
The Jura Range from Thonon, Hte. Savoie
Book Display
St. Gingolph from Bouveret, after a Storm
The Savoy Alps from the Bathing-place at Clarens
The Church of St. Martin, Vevey
Morges and the Lake from the Road to Vufflens
View of the Castle of Rinkenberg
View of the Glaciers of Grindelwald
The North End of Aigle Castle
Broletto at Como
The Jungfrau from the Kleiner Scheidegg
Cully from Epesse-Autum
The Handek Falls
Sunrise on Cresta, Celerina, and Samaden
View of Breig
The Rosegg Glacier
Alto Bridge
The Lake of Walldenstadt
The Glaciers des Bossons, Chamonix
View of the Entrance of the Last Gallery
Yvoire, Hte. Savoie
Vue prise de Bekenried vers Schwytz
The Palu Glacier
The Rigi from Lucerne
Muottas Muraigl
View of the New Road Near the Grand Gallery
View of the Interior of the Gallery of Algaby
Sketch Map of the Engadine
Nyon Castle, looking across the Lake to Mont Blanc
The Market Place, Lausanne
General View of Basle
In the Forest of Sauvabelin, above Lausanne
Tells Chapel
Evian les Bains, Hte. Savoie
On the Lake of Geneva
Vue de Stanzstad
Piz Albana and Piz Julier in Winter
Piz Kesch from the Sertig Pass
Mont Blanc from above Finhaut
View of a Bridge over the Cherasca
Title Page
Campo Dolcino
On the Tete Noire [I]
St. Saphorin
The Market Place, Vevey
View of the Lake of Thun from upper Island
Back Cover
Varenna from Menaggio
South-West view of Thun
Vue prise de Brunnen vers le Canton d'Ury
The Castle of Chillon
Sunset on Mont Blanc from above Geneva
Front Cover
Lago di Cavloccio
View of Sesto
A View Near Gondo
The Savoy Alps (Winter) from the Road to Caux
Geneva, Seat of the League of Nations
Vue prise du Meggenhorn
Piz Palu from the Diavolezza Hut
The Lake of Brienz Showing the Giessbach
Geneva from the Arve
View of the Gallery of Schalbet from the Italian Side
The Chateau Glerolles and St. Saphorin
View of the Gallery of Issel
The Chateau de Prangins
View of the Exterior of the Gallery of Algaby
Sils Baselgia
A Peep of Old Montreux, over Veraye : Winter Evening
View of the Cavern of St. Beat, near the Lake of Thun
The Fountain in Veytaux Village
View of the Village of Simplon
The Rhone Valley from Mont Pelerin


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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