The beautiful, mountainous country of Switzerland is landlocked in south-central Europe, and remains one of the most popular travel destinations on the planet.
Inhabited since 5300 BC by ancient farm dwellers, Switzerland was later influenced by the Greeks and Etruscans, and then placed within the Roman Empire until the 4th century AD.
Following the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 4th century, the western portion of Switzerland was integrated into territory belonging to the Kings of the Burgundians, while the Swiss plateau and valley of the Alps were settled by the Alemanni.
By the 6th century the Frankish Empire assumed control of the entirety of present-day Switzerland, and reigned until 1000 AD when it was placed under the reunified Holy Roman Empire.
The Kyburg's briefly took over during the 13th century, and when their dynasty fell in 1264 AD the Habsburgs expanded their territory to cover the area.
It was in 1291 that the Swiss people formed the Old Swiss Confederacy - an alliance between the cantons of Glarus, and Zug as well as the city states of Lucerne, Zurich and Bern - in an attempt to gain control of their land.
After a series of battles between the Habsburgs and Old Swiss Confederacy, Switzerland pulled through victoriously, and their independence and neutrality was officially recognized by the rest of Europe in 1648.
Less than a hundred years later French Revolutionary forces overpowered Switzerland and enforced a new constitution.
The Swiss opposed fighting with the French, and in 1803, with the help of Napoleon and the Act of Mediation, Switzerland received autonomy.
By 1815, independence and neutrality had been restored for Switzerland, and their territory lines increased into the present-day borderlines.
Following this restoration was a period of unrest for the Swiss people, and in 1847 a civil war ensued.
On a positive note, as the war came to an end less than a month later, the Swiss realized how essential strength and unity was in regards to their European neighbors.
The revision of the constitution in 1891 brought to light elements of a direct democracy in which decisions were collectively made by the people, rather than representatives.
Politically, this now long-standing neutrality is highly respected by the major nations of the world, and as both World Wars raged across Europe through the early and mid 20th century, Switzerland played no part and was spared an invasion of its territory.
In 1963, Switzerland joined the Council of Europe, and became a UN member in 2002.
Famed not only for its banking institutions, watch makers, cheeses and chocolates, Switzerland is well-known for its picturesque mountain glaciers and lakes, and of course, fabulous skiing in the Alps.
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