The diversity of the landlocked, mountainous country is the essence of Switzerland and gives the country its unique identity. Still, it is best known for its financial institutions, fine cheeses and chocolate, watch making industry, for its scenery and an excellent network of public transportation. Geography Switzerland is bordered by France to the west, Germany to the north, Austria to the east and Italy to the south. Switzerland has the highest mountains in Europe, with waterfalls and lakes set amid green pastures. The highest peaks are Dufour Peak, at 4634m (14,912 ft); the Matterhorn, 4478m (14,692 ft); and the Jungfrau, 4166m (13,669 ft).
Area 41,285 km2
Language 65-70% German in central and eastern areas, 19% French in the west and 8% Italian in the south. English is spoken by many.
Time GMT 1
Zurich | Geneva | Berne | Basel | Lausanne | Lugano | Lucerne
The Alps cause many climatic variations throughout Switzerland. In the higher Alpine regions temperatures tend to be lower on average, while the lower land of the northern area has higher temperatures and warm summers.
Temperatures are likely to reach the teens C and 20's C during the day, with cooling breezes and occasional rain. At night the temperature will drop quite a bit, depending on the altitude. Mountain weather is fickle. It can range from blue skies with the temperature in the low 20's C to cloudy, wet, cold days on which rain gear and warm garments are necessary. During the trip, you are likely to experience a full range of weather conditions.
The most renown specialty is fondue, the delicious concoction of Gruyere and Vacherin cheese, melted and mixed with white wine, flour, Kirsch and a little garlic. Regional specialties include viande sechee (dried beef or pork) and the meat is cut wafer thin, with pickled spring onions and gherkins. Papet vaudoir is a delicious dish made from leeks and potaoes, Rosti (shredded fried potatos), and fondue bourguignonne (cubed meat with various sauces). A great variety of Swiss wines are available throughout the country. There are also spirits made from fruit, the most popular being Kirsch, Marc, Pflümli and Williams. Swiss beer of a lager type is also available. Breakfasts tend to be self-serve continental, with some hot dishes
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