Switzerland is a landlocked country that shares borders with Germany in the north, France to the west, Italy in the south, and Liechtenstein and Austria in the east. The three different regions divide the geography of Switzerland: the Alps, the Jura, and the Plateau.
The Swiss Alps are an especially favorite part of Switzerland’s geography. This range has an average height of 1,700 m (5,576 ft). There are 48 Alps in this country, the largest of which is Dufourspitze on the Italian border, which stands at 4,634 m (15,203 ft). Some other highest peaks are the Dom, 4,545m (14,911ft), the Matterhorn 4,478m (14,691ft), and the Weisshorn 4,506m (14,783ft).
The Jura is a limestone range that covers up to 12% of the country’s surface area. The Jura covers parts of France, but in Swiss, it marks the border of France crossing the cantons of Basel, Solothurn, Bern, Neuchâtel, and Vaud.
The Plateau makes up 30% of Switzerland’s surface area. Most of the population exists on the plateau where the biggest cities of Switzerland, such as Zurich, Geneva, and Bern, are located.
Switzerland, in winter, is generally cold and snowy, especially March is famous for fast and frequently changing weather conditions. In autumn (September to November), the leaves of deciduous trees change color, and the fruit ripens.If you’re in Switzerland in Summer, expect warm and dry temperatures maximum up to 35°C (95°F). The weather usually depends on the height. The zero lines (0°C or 32°F) may increase as high as 4000 meters above sea level.
Switzerland has been concerned with environmental issues with the glacial environments and delicate alpine making up a significant portion of the country and offering a significant industry. A few of the primary issues are listed below.
The main environmental issue in Switzerland is air pollution from vehicle emissions, acid rain, and open-air burning. Air pollution is responsible for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, leading to nearly 3000 to 4000 premature deaths every year.
The other significant issue in Switzerland is water pollution, mainly from the excessive use of agricultural fertilizers and hydrocarbon pollution from industry and transport. The government has taken several steps to take it in control as soon as possible.
Switzerland is also facing a loss of biodiversity. While the country is comparatively small, the wide range of climates enables various organisms to flourish.There are around 60 species listed as endangered. To help balance this, 28.6% of the country is set aside as a preserved natural area.
Key facts and figures
Switzerland measures 348km from west to east and 220km from north to south.
The Graubünden canton has over 1,200 mountain peaks that are a minimum of 2,000m high.
Lake Maggiore, which is just 193m over sea level, is the lowest point in the country.
Almost 20% of the Alps are in Switzerland.
At 3,454m above sea level, the Jungfraujoch railway station is the highest in Europe.
Glaciers cover around 1,000 km2 of Switzerland’s territory.
Switzerland houses 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They include the Monte San Giorgio, Jungfrau–Aletsch area, and the Albula and Bernina lines of the Rhaetian Railways.
Basel, Switzerland’s Geography
Basel is situated in northwestern Switzerland along the Rhine River’s banks, near the borders of France and Germany. Basel is positioned in the Upper Rhine Plain that’s a fertile region surrounded by rolling hills and forests. Basel’s geographical significance is defined by its proximity to the Rhine, being a crucial transportation route and a scenic centerpiece of the city.
The topography of Basel, Switzerland is relatively flat being that it is situated within the Rhine Valley. Generally Basel’s surrounding landscape features gentle rolling hills and plateaus that gradually rise as one moves away from the river. To the south of Basel are the Jura Mountains that creates a beautiful backdrop as well as providing hikers with great trails and panoramic viewpoints. Not too far from Basel are the German Black Forest as well as France’s Vosges Mountains which both serve to enhance the region’s natural beauty.
As for the The Rhine River, it splits Basel into two parts: 1) Grossbasel (Greater Basel) on the south bank and 2) Kleinbasel (Little Basel) on the north bank. Along the river, there are several bridges that connect the two halves of the city, the Mittlere Brücke (Middle Bridge) is the most prominent of them. The Rhine River is important aspect of Basel’s local culture and recreational activities, with its riverside promenades, boat cruises, and various water sports being popular among locals.
Interlaken, Switzerland’s Geography
Interlaken is located in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland that is nestled in a valley between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. Interlaken’s geography is positioned within the heart of the Swiss Alps that are surrounded by towering mountains and stunning natural beauty. Interlaken town is situated at an elevation of approximately 570 meters (1,870 feet) above sea level.
The topography of Interlaken commonly defined by three prominent mountain peaks: the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. These mountains dominate the skyline to offer a breathtaking backdrop to the town. Interlaken’s location between the lakes and mountains offers a unique blend of landscapes, harmoniously fusing the serenity of the lakes with the rugged beauty of the Alps.
The valley where Interlaken is nestled is known as the Lütschine Valley with its Lütschine River that flows through the town. Overall the valley is relatively flat, thus making it an ideal base for exploring the surrounding mountains and engaging in outdoor activities e.g., hiking, skiing, and mountaineering. Interlaken is also a great way to access the Jungfrau region, as it offers an easy access to Grindelwald, Wengen, and Mürren.
Lucerne, Switzerland’s Geography
Lucerne is located in central Switzerland and is known for its stunning shoreline location on Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee). Lucerne city’s geography is definitely defined by its position within the Swiss Plateau that is surrounded by rolling hills and the Swiss Alps. The city itself is nestled between Lucerne lake and the nearby mountains, that enhances its harmonious blend of natural beauty and urban charm.
Lucerne’s topography can be characterized by its diverse landscapes. To the north of Lucerne, the Swiss Plateau gently extends outwards with its rolling hills and fertile farmland. As for the southern part of Lucerne, the towering peaks of the Swiss Alps (Mount Pilatus and Mount Rigi) offer sharp contrast. The Swiss Alps provide a dramatic backdrop to Lucerne as well as offering breathtaking panoramic views from their summits.
Lake Lucerne is a prominent aspect to Lucerne’s geography, with its crystal-clear waters that stretch for approximately 38 kilometers (24 miles) that are surrounded by picturesque mountains. Lucerne’s famous Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge) spans the Reuss River as it flows out of Lake, thus enhancing the charm of the city.
Gruyeres, Switzerland’s Geography
Gruyeres is definitely a charming medieval Swiss town in Switzerland that is situated in the district of Gruyère, in the canton of Fribourg. Gruyeres town is located atop of a hill that offers a panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Gruyeres’ geography can be characterized by its position within the Pre-Alps region e.g., rolling hills and green meadows.
The topography of Gruyeres is clearly defined by its hilly terrains and gentle slopes that are dotted with traditional Swiss farmhouses and grazing pastures. The iconic Gruyères Castle, which is indeed a medieval fortress, is located on the hill overlooking the town which really adds to a Swiss fairytale vibe with the area’s picturesque natural beauty.
Beyond the hilly landscapes, Gruyeres is known for its proximity to the Gruyère Alps that include La Berra and Moléson that rise in the distance. The Gruyère region is definitely famous for its dairy farming and local cheese production, the lush green pastures of the surrounding countryside contribute to the high-quality milk and cheese that Gruyères is renowned for.
Engelberg, Switzerland’s Geography
Engelberg is located in central Switzerland that is a mountain village known for its stunning natural beauty. Engelberg’s geography is commonly characterized by its position in the heart of the Swiss Alps. The village is nestled in a deep valley that is surrounded by towering alpine mountains.
The topography of Engelberg is defined by its mountainous terrain, as its village is situated at an elevation of approximately 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) above sea level and is surrounded by impressive alpine peaks e.g., Mount Titlis reaches an elevation of 3,238 meters (10,623 feet). These Swiss mountains provide a breathtaking backdrop to Engelberg that offers numerous opportunities for outdoor activities, namely hiking, skiing, and mountaineering.
Engelberg’s natural beauty takes form of alpine meadows, dense forests, and sparkling streams. A mountain lake, known as The Trübsee, is located near Engelberg – it’s a must visit site in the region. Engelberg village itself is situated along the Engelberger Aa River that flows through the valley, enhancing the overall beauty of the region.
Zurich, Switzerland’s Geography
Zurich is Switzerland’s largest city that is situated in the northern part of the country. The city is located at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich, making it a truly scenic city with stunning natural surroundings. Zurich is nestled in a valley that is surrounded by the Swiss Plateau and impressive Swiss Alps. The topography of Zurich is characterized by its hilly landscape and several small rivers and streams that flow through the city. Lake Zurich’s Limmat River divides the city into two parts: the left bank that is known as the “west side”, and the right bank that is known as the “east side”.
Geographically, Zurich is positioned at the crossroads of central Europe, making it an important transportation hub and an economic center. Zurich city is located approximately 30 kilometers north of the breathtaking Alps with their snow-capped peaks in the distance. Zurich’s surrounding countryside features rolling hills and lush greenery that are home to numerous parks and forests that offer recreational opportunities for everyone. Zurich’s locals love to spend time around Lake Zurich as it’s a popular destination for water activities as well as to enjoy the surround Swiss beauty.
Zurich’s topography and geography contribute to its unique charm and appeal – the hilly landscape, the Limmat River, and the stunning backdrop of the Swiss Alps make Zurich visually mesmerizing. Its location at the confluence of natural beauty and urban development offers everyone an opportunity to enjoy both outdoor activities and the amenities of a vibrant city e.g., hiking in the nearby mountains, exploring the city’s historic sites, or simply taking in the scenic views… Zurich’s topography and geography offer a diverse range of experiences for everyone to enjoy.