COUNTRYAAH, Switzerland is a highly industrialized country at the
same time as it has a very significant service sector in the
international context. The service sector is dominated by
finance and insurance activities with a very well-developed
banking system in terms of both organization and
distribution. The country's political stability, the strong
Swiss franc and "Bankheimheimnis" (Swiss banks are only in
exceptional cases - on suspicion of criminal activities such
as terrorism, organized crime and tax fraud - obliged to
provide information about their customers), have provided
the banks with a lot of foreign capital. The two major banks
UBS (United Bank of Switzerland) and CS (Credit Suisse)) is
one of the leading financial corporations in the world. In
the service sector, tourism has also traditionally been
important in Switzerland, and in recent years it has been of
The country's limited area, the lack of commodities and
the geographical location in central Europe have contributed
to the fact that Switzerland is highly dependent on foreign
trade. The country's economy has expanded significantly
during most of the post-war period, and with the exception
of the years only in the 1990s and 2009, it has also shown
real growth over the last couple of decades despite the
fluctuations in the international economy. Thus, during the
period 1990–2011, Switzerland's national product increased
by an average of 1.3 per cent annually, compared to 0.8 per
cent annually in the population during the same period. In
2011, GDP per capita was USD 79,035, which was one of the
highest in the world.
In 2011, agriculture contributed just over one per cent
of GDP and this year employed four per cent of the working
population, industry (including mining and construction)
with 26 per cent of GDP and 22 per cent of employment
respectively, while service industries contributed 71 per
cent of GDP and 74 per cent of the working population.
Unemployment in Switzerland was 3.1 per cent in 2011 (annual
average). The country has a significant element of foreign
labor; more than 22 per cent of the country's working
population were foreign nationals at the end of 2011.
Agriculture and forestry
Agriculture, as a result of the country's topography and
elevation above sea level, is essentially a livestock farm.
The agricultural area makes up a total of 37 per cent of the
land area, but only 24 per cent of the total area is
cultivated land in the true sense, the rest are mountain
pastures, essentially in the Alpine areas. The uses are
consistently small and medium-sized; average area per user
in 2011 was 183 ha (hectares) of agricultural land and
1/6 of the farms had a cultivated area of
less than 50 ha.
Of the farmers' income, slightly more than half falls on
livestock and somewhat falls on plant production. Of the
agricultural area, the arable land is 28 per cent, 13 per
cent is cultural pasture and the rest is nature meadow.
Slightly more than half of the arable land is used for grain
cultivation, and half of this is left for wheat. The limit
for wheat cultivation goes at approx. 1200 m asl, barley,
oats and rye a few hundred meters higher. Otherwise, in
particular feed crops, potatoes, oilseeds, sugar beets,
fruits, vegetables and grapes are grown. Fruit, vegetable
and wine cultivation is run in the low lying valleys,
especially in Valais and Ticino. Otherwise, wine is produced
at Lake Geneva and along the foot of the Jura Mountains. The
majority of field crop production is concentrated in
Agricultural yields have increased significantly, but
production does not cover more than half of the domestic
demand. The country is self-sufficient with dairy products,
meat and wheat. Agriculture benefits from subsidies, price
guarantees and import controls, and farmers are guaranteed
an income equivalent to industrial workers' wages. The most
important agricultural policy problems are related to small
average size of farms, sometimes very strong cropping of
land and the relocation of farms in the most remote areas.
Agriculture is often run in combination with rental for
tourist purposes, industrial work and partly forestry.
The forest area accounts for just under 1 /
3 of the country's total area. Relatively most of
the forest has the cantons in the Jura mountains and the
forests. Of the productive forest owned anything over 1
/ 4 of the private, 7/10
are publicly owned, mostly by local administrations; The
state owns only a modest share of the forest.
Switzerland is generally poor in ores, metals and fossil
fuels. Except for quarrying and the production of sand and
gravel, only salt and soda extraction is important.
Switzerland's only significant source of energy is
hydropower. Of the country's total electricity production in
2011 of 62.9 TWh, hydropower accounted for 54 per cent,
nuclear power for 41 per cent and conventional heat for 5
per cent. Switzerland has adopted ambitious plans for a more
sustainable energy production. In this context, further
development of hydropower plays a significant role.
Hydropower generation is planned to increase by between 1.5
and 3.2 TWh annually until 2050. This is expected to occur
through the upgrading of older power plants and the
construction of new, larger plants, and not least in the
construction of small power plants. At the same time, a
significant upgrade is being undertaken transmission
From the late 1960s, there was a significant expansion of
nuclear power plants and larger thermal power plants in
Switzerland. However, following a decision in the Bundesrat
2011, it has been decided not to build more nuclear power
plants until 2050. It has also been decided that those in
operation will not be continued when their estimated life is
over. Neither will heat plants be built during this period.
It is the focus on hydropower and other renewable energy
sources that has enabled such a gradual phase-out of nuclear
power and conventional thermal power.
Switzerland has to import around 4/5
of the energy needs, primarily in the form of petroleum
products. However, in normal year the country is a net
exporter of electricity.
Due to the lack of domestic raw materials, the industry
is very much geared towards highly processed products. The
companies are consistently small and medium-sized. Several
companies are among the foremost in the world in their
fields, and Swiss industry has established itself in a
number of countries, partly through subsidiaries and other
forms of ownership interests, partly through the sale of
know-how, licenses and the like. In the Swiss industry,
three industries stand out: the engineering industry, the
food and beverage industry and the chemical industry
(including the pharmaceutical industry) and with 49, 13 and
11 per cent respectively of the industry's total employment
The engineering industry consists of, among other things,
the production of computer and electrical/electronic
products, optical and medical-technical products and the
watch industry, as well as a significant production of
machinery, including office machinery, machine tools,
generators and other power plant equipment, diesel engines,
textile machinery, etc. as well as metal products.
Switzerland also has a not insignificant production of
transport equipment, including railway materials and
Switzerland has lost some of its dominant role in
international watch production in recent decades, especially
due to competition from Japan and other countries in
Southeast Asia on affordable electronic watches. However,
the country still holds the position as one of the world's
leading watch exporters, primarily of quality watches. The
watch industry is located in the Jura Mountains, with the
main emphasis in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Biel, Grenchen and Le
Locle, as well as Geneva. This location must be seen against
the background of the considerable immigration of French
Huguenots in the 17th and 18th centuries, a group of many
skilled craftsmen who laid the foundation for the later
world-renowned Swiss watch industry.
The chemical industry also plays a major role
internationally; This is especially true of the
pharmaceutical industry, which in 2017 had a total turnover
of around NOK 669 billion. This is particularly located in
Basel. Several of the world's most important pharmaceutical
groups are based in Switzerland (Novartis, Roche Holding,
Sandoz and others). Other chemical industries include the
production of dyes, agricultural chemicals, and so on.
Incidentally, the development of oil and gas pipelines has
given rise to a growing domestic refining of petroleum since
In the food industry, especially the internationally
known production of chocolate, cheese and infant foods
(including Nestlé SA) is noted. The food industry in general
is largely aimed at the domestic market. Switzerland
otherwise has some wine production.
The textile and clothing industry in Switzerland has long
historical traditions, primarily in the eastern part of the
country, especially in St. Gallen. The different districts
have their specialties based on local craft traditions. As
Switzerland is a high-cost country, the textile and clothing
industry has been declining for decades, but in 2017 it
still had sales of around NOK 27 billion.
Switzerland, with its magnificent scenery, is one of
Europe's foremost tourist countries. Tourist traffic started
early in the country, as early as the 19th century the first
tourists came to the areas of Lake Geneva, later to the
alpine pedal farther east, and towards the end of the
century the industry was one of the most important sources
of income in Switzerland. Today, it contributes to 8–9
percent of Switzerland's trade balance, and the industry
employs, directly and indirectly, about 10 percent of the
country's total employment. Tourism in Switzerland has to a
considerable extent formed a model for the development of
tourism in many other countries.
The most important tourist areas can be found in the High
Alps, in the forest cantonments in the central regions of
the country, and at Lake Geneva. In many places, the tourism
industry is a major industry. The hotel standard is high;
railways, mountain railways and ski tows have been developed
to a greater extent than perhaps anywhere else in Europe.
Tourist traffic is very large despite the country having a
relatively high price level; in 2008, the figure for foreign
tourists was estimated at about 21.5 million. It is
estimated that tourist traffic contributes 7.3 per cent of
the gross domestic product in Switzerland (2016).
Switzerland has a large foreign trade compared to the
population, which is due to the fact that the country lacks
most raw materials and fossil fuels and in addition is not
self-sufficient with food. Exports mainly consist of highly
processed industrial products.
Switzerland has traditionally had a significant import
surplus; in the 1960s, commodity imports averaged about 20
percent above commodity exports. From the mid-1970s, this
surplus was greatly reduced, and from the 1990s Switzerland
has largely had an export surplus. In 2010, export of goods
was 11 per cent above the import of goods.
Switzerland also has significant capital revenues and
some service activities, such as interest on foreign loans,
licensing revenues, tourist traffic, transit trade, exports
of electric power, and so forth, which usually yield large
current account surpluses. This has led to a very strong
position for the Swiss franc and has regularly led to an
increased value of this.
Almost 3/4 of goods exportation
by value consisted in 2010 of chemical products,
instruments, watches, machinery and electrical products.
This year, the pharmaceutical industry alone accounted for
around 30 per cent of the country's exports. Imports are
also dominated by the same three product groups, but not to
the same extent as exports; In comparison, the three
aforementioned commodity groups accounted for 43 per cent of
goods imports in 2010. Other important commodity groups in
the import are transport vehicles, metals, petroleum
products and agricultural commodities.
Germany is clearly the most important trading partner in
terms of both exports and imports. In 2010, nearly 1
/ 3 of Switzerland's imports from Germany while
barely 1/5 of the country's exports
went to Germany. Other important trading partners are Italy,
France, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Transport and Communications
Switzerland has a very well-developed communication
network. Due to the country's central location in Europe,
the road and rail networks have to take a great deal of
international transit traffic, which places high demands on
capacity. It is an important feature of Switzerland's
transport policy to maintain this traffic, but on the
country's own premises regarding the environment. The goal
is to get the most of the transport over by train. This is
done within the framework of the so-called NEAT project
(Neue Alpen transversal; new thoroughfares through the Alps)
which aims to increase transport capacity while protecting
the environment. The NEAT project, which is the largest
transport initiative in Switzerland, has opened up an
extensive train transport of heavy vehicles, which provides
both faster traffic congestion and safer transport, while
providing a much lower consumption of non-renewable energy.
The most important elements of the project are the new
so-called base tunnels through Lötschberg and St. Gotthard;
these are new tunnels that are much longer than the old ones
and therefore do not have to go up to the heights above the
sea as the old, shorter tunnels required. The new Lötschberg
Tunnel opened in 2007 (with one of the two races), and the
new St. Gotthard Tunnel was completed at the end of 2017.
Switzerland soon became a transit country for traffic
between Italy and Central Europe. In the 19th century, the
development of the alpine crossings into drivable roads
began in earnest, and with constant improvements they have
reached an impressive standard of topography. There are
three full-year connections through the Alps, Great St.
Bernhard, St. Gotthard and San Bernardino, all with
significant tunnels during the mountain crossings. In the
lowlands, the road network is very dense. A major problem in
the road sector is the capacity of the thoroughfares. A
special feature of road transport in Switzerland is the many
train transports of cars, not just over the mountain
crossings in winter. For mountain passes, see the Alps and
the individual passports.
The railways were initially privately run. In the early
1900s, most of the larger companies were merged into a
state-owned company, the Schweizerische Bundesbahnen. The
largest "private" companies are run by individual cantons in
close cooperation with the state railways. Especially for
the railway operation in Switzerland is that it is fully
electrified, including the narrow gauge network. Well 1
/ 4of the line network is the narrow track,
essentially the private section. On this network you will
find at a number of alpine crossings a combination of normal
propulsion and gearing. By the way, there are a number of
local companies that operate clean mountain railways, the
best known of which is perhaps the cogwheel of Jungfraujoch,
the highest railway in Europe (the top station 3455 m asl).
In recent years, the rail network has largely been expanded
to double tracks, to withstand higher speeds (200 km/h)
and to make journeys more comfortable.
Basel is a significant river port. Main airports are
Zurich (Kloten), Geneva (Cointrin) and Basel (St. Louis
which is on the French side of the border), all with