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A map of SwitzerlandA map of Switzerland Much of Switzerland lies in the Alps. The highest peaks, many over 4000 metres (13,000 ft), are in the west, where the valley of the River Rhône cuts through the Berner Oberland and Pennine Alps. Northern Switzerland is made up by the flat Swiss Plateau, or Mittelland, a region of rolling farmland and lakes. In the northwest, the Jura Mountains form a border with France. In the valleys, the climate is continental, with warm summers and cold winters. The highest mountains are capped with snow and ice all year round. Switzerland is divided up into 26 states, called cantons. Each is represented in the Federal Assembly, which is headed by an elected president. 

A map of SwitzerlandA map of Switzerland
Weggis, on Lake Lucerne (Luzern)Weggis, on Lake Lucerne (Luzern)


Switzerland’s population is concentrated in the northern part of the country, the Mittelland. Many of its towns and cities are situated on the shores of the country's many lakes. Most Swiss people speak German, although the southwest of the country is French-speaking, the far south Italian-speaking. About 36,000 people in Grisons, a remote eastern Alpine canton, speak Romansch, Switzerland’s fourth official language.

Around 450 different varieties of cheese are produced in Switzerland.

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