Switzerland or Swiss Confederation is a country of Europe located in the middle of the continent, in the alpine region, between France in the West, Italy in the South, Austria in the East, Germany in the North.
Its shape is that of an irregular oval, measuring 347 km from East to West, and 221 from North to South. The perimeter is 1,852 km. It is a federal republic composed of 26 small states, called cantons, or 20 cantons proper and 6 half-cantons, comprising 41.290 km2, populated by 7.6 million inhabitants (2009).
Capital: Bern (121 000 inhabitants). Other important cities: Zurich (342,000 inhabitants), Geneva (184,000), Basel (165,000 inhabitants), Lausanne (117,000 inhabitants), Winterthur, Saint-Gall, Lucerne, Bienne.