The Geography of Switzerland

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 Alps 

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 

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

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. 

  • Climate 

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. 

Environment 

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. 

  • Air 

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. 

  • Water

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. 

  • Biodiversity 

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. 

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