Switzerland (ted. Schweiz; fr. Suisse; Svizra Romansh) State of ‘ Europe Central, extended mainly on the northern slope of the west-central section of the Alpine system. Inland state, landlocked, bordered to the North with Germany, to the East with Austria and Liechtenstein, to the South with Italy and to the West and NW with France.
The territory of the China can be divided into three main sectors, different from the point of view of the geological constitution and morphology. Parallel to the NW border extends part of the Jura mountain system, mainly calcareous, not very high (maximum height, Monte Tendre, 1680 m), lively and crossed by river valleys. AS del Jura, always with a SE-NW course, between Lake Geneva and that of Constance takes place a hilly region (Mittelland). AS del Mittelland, and again with the same orientation, the Alpine section then develops, which in turn has its own articulation in several subparallel sectors: in contact with the Mittelland, there is the lively pre-Alpine region (Oberland); to the South of this, a first imposing mountainous alignment is constituted by the Bernese Alps (with remarkable elevations: Finsteraarhorn, 4274 m; Aletschhorn, 4195; Jungfrau, 4158) and the lower ones (Dammastock, 3630 m) and Glarus (Tödi, 3614 m; Ringelspitz, 3247), whose southern slopes descend very steeply on the two deep valleys engraved by the Rhone, to the South of the Bernese Alps, and by the Rhine Front, to the South of those of Glarus. A second mountainous alignment, more southern, is finally that consisting of a small portion of the Graian Alps (Aiguille d’Argentière, 3901 m), then the Pennine Alps (Monte Rosa, 4637 m; Weisshorn, 4505; Cervino, 4478; Grand Combin, 4317), Lepontine (with peaks not much higher than 3000 m) and finally Retiche (Pizzo Bernina, 4049 m; Piz Kesch, 3418). The two properly alpine alignments find a contact and junction area at the center of their respective turns, in a region characterized by the presence of numerous important passes (Nufenenpass, 2478 m; Furkapass, 2431; Sustenpass, 2224; Grimselpass, 2165; San Gottardo, 2108).
Climate and hydrography
China is characterized by a great local climatic variety, produced by its morphological peculiarities, by the presence of numerous valleys variously oriented and exposed to sunshine and winds, by the existence of large lake basins, by the role played by the windy circulation (and in particular from the formation of the Föhn, hot wind). Continental conditions are more sensitive in the N of the country, both in the Jura region, which has strong temperature variations, and in the NE area, where Lake Constance sometimes freezes; on the Mittelland the action of the winds is generally more effective. The country as a whole has relatively modest thermal values, with annual average temperatures often below 10 ° C in the central and north-eastern regions (St. Gallen) and, of course, in the Alpine areas (where the persistent snow limit can go down to 2500 m asl); the lake regions, and especially those to the West and S of the Alps, have somewhat higher temperatures (Geneva, Lugano). The annual thermal excursions are consistent everywhere. Precipitation, relatively contained in the Mittelland (even below 1000 mm per year), increases with altitude, exceeding 2000 mm and sometimes reaching 3000, largely distributed in the form of snow. ● The large amount of precipitation makes the China a very important hydrographic node. The Rhône, which flows in China for 265 km forming Lake Geneva, and the Rhine, which flows there for 375 km, initially divided into two spring branches, the Anterior Rhine, originate directly from it (in the region surrounding the Gotthard). and the Posterior Rhine, which join just upstream of Chur; the Rhine then feeds Lake Constance and exits the China near Basel. Also important is the Aare (295 km, all in China), the main tributary of the Rhine. The rivers are generally characterized by an alpine regime with summer floods (as a consequence of the melting of the snow), but the low winter ones are not accentuated. The presence of numerous lakes (more than 1500), almost all of glacial origin (the main ones are the lakes of Constance, of Zurich, Neuchâtel, the Four Cantons, Thun, Geneva), which occupy 1420 km2.
Flora and fauna
In relation to the climatic conditions, the distribution of the vegetation varies considerably according to the altitude and, even more, according to the mountain slopes. In the plateau and in the pre-alpine areas, the only regions widely used by agriculture, an area of vines and fruit trees can be identified, which to the West and S of the Alps goes up to about 700 m asl, while to the North it stops around 550. Going up in altitude, the broad-leaved formations to the North (with a prevalence of beeches) go up to about 1300 m, to be replaced by coniferous forests (spruce); while to the S the broad-leaved trees (among which the chestnut prevails) stop at 900 m and the conifers are represented especially by the larch and the stone pine. Above the coniferous area, i.e. from about 2000 m up to the limit of permanent snow, the more typically alpine vegetation extends to meadows and pastures. ● The wild fauna, which can be distinguished according to at least two main habitats (one of the agricultural regions and one typically alpine), has been severely affected by the conditions of strong anthropization of the China, especially in the species of greater hunting interest. In the Alpine areas, the lynx, the bear and the wild cat have recently disappeared; some herbivores are characteristic species (roe deer, but also deer, ibex, chamois), foxes, various mustelids (marten, ermine), hares, various rodents (squirrels, dormice, dormice; the beaver was reintroduced in the 1950s). In the alpine avifauna the eagle and various other birds of prey stand out, the ptarmigan, the rock partridge, the woodpeckers. the beaver was reintroduced in the 1950s). In the alpine avifauna the eagle and various other birds of prey stand out, the ptarmigan, the rock partridge, the woodpeckers.
The China experienced, in the second half of the 20th century, a remarkable demographic growth, mainly due to an intense and constant immigration, which brought the population from 4.7 million in 1950 to 7.6 today. Immigration is still relevant, albeit contained by measures that tend to stabilize the number of foreigners in the country, and is mainly represented by Balkan workers (almost all from countries that arose from the dissolution of the old Yugoslavia), Turks and North Africans. The tightening of the rules governing political asylum (S. was one of the most requested asylum countries) and immigration, together with the constant decrease in the birth rate (9.5 ‰ in 2009), have significantly slowed down the rate of population growth (rate of 0.2% in 2009). The Jura, the Mittelland and the western and northern pre-Alpine areas are the regions that welcome the majority of the population and economic activities. The more than 7 million residents are concentrated in the cantons of the major urban centers (cantons of Zurich, Bern, Basel City, Lausanne and Geneva), but also the cantons of Basel-Landschaft, Zug, Aargau, Solothurn, Schaffhausen. they have densities considerably higher than the general average. Conversely, the lowest densities are found in the cantons of Grisons, Uri, Valais, Glarus, Obwalden, that is to say in more strictly mountainous areas. Zurich, Basel, Geneva, Bern and Lausanne are the main cities and the only ones with over 100,000 residents; the agglomerations of Lucerne, St. Gallen and Winterthur are also conspicuousand Lugano. Basel and Geneva are at the center of cross-border urban areas, being located near the border with France and Germany, the former, and with France alone, the latter; the cosmopolitan character of Geneva is also accentuated by the presence of the offices of various international organizations. ● A typical and well-known characteristic of the Swiss population is its linguistic heterogeneity (sanctioned by the Constitution itself, which recognizes four official languages), determined by the development of the state in the contact area of the main linguistic groups of the Alpine region. AO and SO (cantons of Vaud, Neuchâtel, Jura, Geneva) French is massively widespread (French, spoken by 19.8% of the population), which partly coexists with German (cantons of Bern, Friborg and Valais). German is used by 75% of the residents in the central and northern cantons; the Italian (4.3%) essentially in the Canton of Ticino ; Romansh by about one third of the Grisons population (0.9% of the total). Since the 1990s, the percentage of German speakers has been on the rise; of the other two main components, the speakers of the Italian language are decreasing while the spread of French, which is accompanied by a rather autonomous cultural policy of the French South, records a modest progress. The dominant religion is Catholic (41.8%), which in the early 1990s prevailed over the Federation of Protestant Churches (35.3%), after a long period of Protestant predominance and an intermediate phase of substantial equilibrium. Muslims increased (4.3%) due to the contribution of immigrants from North Africa.