|Geography and Climate
Switzerland is a landlocked country, located in Central Europe, east of France, north of Italy. Area- comparative: slightly less than twice the size of New Jersey. Total land boundary is 1,852 km, border countries are Austria 164 km, France 573 km, Italy 740 km, Liechtenstein 41 km, Germany 334 km.
Climate is temperate, but varies with altitude; cold, cloudy, rainy/snowy winters; cool to warm, cloudy, humid summers with occasional showers. Terrain consists of mostly mountains (Alps in south, Jura in northwest) with a central plateau of rolling hills, plains, and large lakes. Elevation extreme has the lowest point in Lake Maggiore 195 m and highest point in Dufourspitze 4,634 m.
Natural resources are hydropower potential, timber, salt. Land use: arable land: 10%, permanent crops: 2%, permanent pastures: 28%, forests and woodland: 32%, other: 28% (1993 est.). Irrigated land: 250 sq km (1993 est.). Natural hazards are avalanches, landslides, flash floods.
Environment—current issues: air pollution from vehicle emissions and open-air burning; acid rain; water pollution from increased use of agricultural fertilizers; loss of biodiversity.
Geography—note: landlocked; crossroads of northern and southern Europe; along with southeastern France and northern Italy, contains the highest elevations in Europe.
Ref. Anonymous, 1999