Switzerland Immigration Work Permits and Visas

About Switzerland

Switzerland's independence and neutrality have long been honored by the major European powers and Switzerland was not involved in either of the two World Wars. The political and economic integration of Europe over the past half century, as well as Switzerland's role in many UN and international organizations, may be rendering obsolete the country's concern for neutrality.

Switzerland, a prosperous and stable modern market economy with a per capita GDP 20% above that of the big western European economies, experienced slower growth in 1999, because of weak foreign and domestic demand. Growth, however, is expected to rebound to over 2% in 2000. The Swiss in recent years have brought their economic practices largely into conformity with the EU's to enhance their international competitiveness. Although the Swiss are not pursuing EU membership in the near term, in 1999 Bern and Brussels signed agreements to further liberalize trade ties. These agreements still have to pass a Swiss referendum in spring 2000, however. Switzerland is still considered a safe haven for investors, because it has maintained a degree of bank secrecy and has kept up the franc's long-term external value.

Switzerland is almost too perfect: spectacular Alpine scenery, cozy mountain chalets, dazzling ski runs, flower boxes spilling over with geraniums, tidy cities set on serene lakes, elegant grand hotels, punctual trains and people. If you're going for the scenery or for the skiing, there are few places that can equal it (in quality or prices). And there are few places as clean, safe and orderly as Switzerland. But the Swiss passion for order and cleanliness can be a bit unnerving: It is "coziness under strict control," as an acquaintance of ours described it.

Switzerland encompasses four cultures: French (Geneva and surrounding western area), Italian (Lugano and surrounding southern area), Swiss-German (Zurich and surrounding eastern area) and Romansh (St. Moritz and surrounding southeastern region). In general, the French and Italian areas are more lively and cosmopolitan and the German area more conservative and sedate. The Romansh area is the least known and developed.

Despite all this cultural diversity, Switzerland is one of the most politically stable countries in Europe. The country's strength lies in its wealth, its generally conservative nature and, perhaps most important, the citizens' common belief in a policy of armed neutrality.

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