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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 North End of Aigle Castle
Back Cover
The Market Place, Vevey
The Chateau de Prangins
View of the Banks of the Lake of Geneva near St. Gingouph
The Spires of St. Francois, Lausanne
Street at Berne
View of Interlaken
The Church of St. Martin, Vevey
View of the Village of Simplon
South-West view of Thun
Chillon and Rhone Valley from Veytaux
Title Page
Vue prise du Meggenhorn
Vue prise de Bekenried vers Schwytz
View of the Gallery of Issel
The Rigi from Lucerne
Morges and the Lake from the Road to Vufflens
The Matterhorn from the Riffelberg
Vue du Golfe d'Alpnach
Valley of Saas
Piz Albana and Piz Julier in Winter
Island of San Giulin
Interlachen from the Lake of Brienz
Sunrise on Cresta, Celerina, and Samaden
The Savoy Alps (Winter) from the Road to Caux
Lausanne from the Signal
Lake Near the Grimsel Hospice
The Julier Pass
View of the Bridge of Crevola and of the Valley of Domo Dossola
Front Cover
Alto Bridge
East View of Sion
View from the Entrance of the Gallery of Schalbet
View of the Gallery and Bridge of the Ganther
Nemier, Hte. Savoie
The Jungfrau from the Kleiner Scheidegg
View of the Gallery of the Glaciers
Glaciers of the Canton of Berne
Carte du Lac de Lucerne ou des Quatre Cantons
Back Cover
View of the Castle of Rinkenberg
View of the Interior of the Grand Gallery
Bridge of Crevola
Vue de Gersau
The Schwartzhorn from the Fluela Hospice
Piz Kesch from the Sertig Pass
Villa Carlotta
Title Page
Pontresina from above Celerina
Piz della Margna from Crestalta
The Village of Splugen
Falls of the Madesimo
Map to Illustrate the Mountains and Lakes of Switzerland and Italy
View of the Cavern of St. Beat, near the Lake of Thun
Sunset on the Lake
Val Fex
View near Thun
The Old Church at La Tour de Peilz
View of Unterseen
The Dents du Midi from Gryon, above Bex
The Staubbach
The Fall of Olstenbach & the Bridge of Wyler
Broletto at Como
Maloja from the Road to Isola
Pilattis from Lucerne
Via Mala
Back Cover
The Dents du Midi and La Tour from &34;Entre deux Villes&34;
Book Display
Montenvers and Aiguilles Verte and Dru
Montreux Golf Club Links at Aigle
The Castle of Chillon
Waterfall of Pissvache
Sils Baselgia
View of Breig
Piz Albana and Piz Julier from the Statzersee
Mont Blanc from above Finhaut
St. Saphorin
The Bay of Meillerie
Title Page
The Savoy Alps from the Bathing-place at Clarens
Varenna from Menaggio
View of the New Road Near the Grand Gallery
Title Page
A view of the Jungfrau


Map Name
Voyage Pittoresque au Lac des Waldstettes ou des IV Cantons - Carte du Lac de Lucerne ou des Quatre Cantons (1817)
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)


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