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Switzerland - Country Profile

Summary

Switzerland is the classical alpine country - clean air, towering snow capped mountains and cowbells ringing from alpine pastures. The scenery is simply stunning, featuring the highest peaks in the Alps as well as numerous lakes and waterfalls.

Switzerland has one of the highest standards of living in the world with associated high prices. However the infrastructure is good and and the country is easy to get around. While north Switzerland is Germanic and well ordered, the far west is French speaking and more relaxed, while south of the great passes is Italian in outlook.

Dramatic alpine scenery, high peaks, glaciers and tumbling waterfalls make Switzerland's outdoors one of the best places to visit.

Highlights

Weather and times to visit

Switzerland has a mainly continental climate with warm summers and cold winters with plenty of snow on the high peaks. Although the summers are warm they also are the wettest - but rain can occur at any time.

Language

Switzerland has four official languages, German, French, Italian and Romansch. These are Swiss dialects with a few differences to those spoken elsewhere. English is widely spoken in the tourist areas, although less so in the southern Italian-speaking regions.

Currency and money matters

The official currency is the Swiss Franc which has gradually gained value over the last few years. ATMs and exchaneg booths can be found everywhere.

Business Hours

Banks open from 8.30 to 4.30 weekdays, while shops are open 8 to 6.30 Mon to Sat, often with a long closure over lunch.

Visas

Visas are not required for EU visitors or those from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa. A 3 month maximum stay applies.

General Campsite Conditions

Swiss campsites are generally well equipped and efficiently run, and are classified from one to five stars depending on facilities and location.