The Swiss Confederation (Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft, Confédération Suisse or Confederazione Svizzera in the three official languages) was the first federal state in Europe. Despite its small size, Switzerland is characterized by great cultural diversity due to its geopolitical position and to the linguistic and religious cleavages that divide its population. The present structure was formally set in 1848 as the result of an evolution that started already in the thirteenth century and in spite of the political and territorial changes caused by the Napoleonic wars and the organization of the République helvétique. Since 1848 the territorial organization of the state has proved comparatively stable with the subdivision into cantons and half-cantons as established at the Congress of Vienna in 1815. The only change occurred during the 1970s when the 26th canton (Jura) was formed out of the canton of Berne.
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