• Barry Turner
Part of the The Statesman’s Yearbook book series (SYBK)


The history of Switzerland can be traced back to Aug. 1291 when the Uri, Schwyz and Unterwaiden entered into a defensive league. In 1353 the league included eight members and in 1515, 13. In 1648 the league became formally independent of the Holy Roman Empire. No addition was made to the number of cantons until 1798 when, under the influence of France, the unified Helvetic Republic was formed. This failed to satisfy the Swiss and in 1803 Napoleon granted a new constitution and increased the number of cantons to 19. In 1815 the perpetual neutrality of Switzerland and the inviolability of her territory were guaranteed by Austria, France, Great Britain, Portugal, Prussia, Spain and Sweden. This Federal Pact, which included three new cantons, was accepted by the Congress of Vienna. In 1848 a new constitution was approved following a series of run-ins between Protestant and Catholic cantons. The 22 cantons were linked by a federal government (consisting of a bicameral parliament that elected a seven-member governing council) and a federal tribunal to rule on intra-cantonal disputes. This constitution was revised in May 1874 to allow for national and local referenda on a range of political issues.


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Further Reading

  1. Office Fédéral de la Statistique. Annuaire Statistique de la Suisse.Google Scholar
  2. Butler, Michael, Pender, Malcolm and Charnley, Joy, Making of Modern Switzerland, 1848–1998. Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2000CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Church, Clive, Politics and Government of Switzerland. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2003Google Scholar
  4. Kriesi, Hanspeter, Farago, Peter, Kohli, Martin and Zarin-Nejadan, Milad, Contemporary Switzerland. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2005CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. New, M., Switzerland Unwrapped: Exposing the Myths. London, 1997Google Scholar
  6. National library: Bibliothèque Nationale Suisse, Hallwylstr. 15, 3003 Berne.Google Scholar
  7. National Statistical Office: Office Fédéral de la Statistique, Espace de l’Europe 10, 2010 Neuchâtel.Google Scholar
  8. SFSO Information Service email: Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barry Turner

There are no affiliations available

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