Situated in central Europe, landlocked Switzerland shares borders with Germany on the north, Italy in the south, Austria to the east and France to the west. Its capital is Bern, situated in the east of the country with a population of just under one hundred and fifty thousand. Its biggest city, however, is Zurich with almost three hundred and fifty thousand residents and the largest financial centre in the country. Other major cites are Geneva which is noted mainly for its watch-making and jewellery; Basel which is a commercial centre dealing mainly with textile manufacturing and Lausanne which is a major European railroad junction and a centre for the manufacture of iron goods.
Over seventy per cent of the country is covered by mountains, the Alps in the centre and south of the country and the Jura in the northwest. As a result Switzerland has become one of the top ski destinations worldwide attracting visitors in their millions every year. In fact both national and tourism plays a major role in the Swiss economy employing over ten per cent of the national population and contributing over twenty billion Swiss Francs to the country’s GDP on an annual basis.
As well as having two major mountain systems, Switzerland is also home to numerous lakes which are renowned the world over for their scenic beauty. The most important lakes in the country include Lake Geneva, Lake Constance, Lake Magiorre which are shared with its European neighbours and Lake Lucerne, Lake Neuchâtel, Lake Zurichsee, Lake Brienzersee and Lake Thunersee which are contained entirely within Switzerland. As well as being for practical navigation purposes, the lakes are completely taken over by cruise boats and steamers during the summer months and prove extremely popular among both the native Swiss and the hordes of visitors which arrive every during this period.