Switzerland, the peaceful, modern country with a high per capita income and most modern living standards, has had a turbulent history. The country's passageways and mountain passes through the Alps made it a coveted territory for many powerful states in ancient times. The earliest recorded colonizers of Switzerland were the Romans, who brought in the concepts of urban planning to the lake settlements that once characterized Switzerland. In the middle ages, the Swiss Confederation was established and it grew through treaties and forcible seizures of neighboring territories. After centuries of conflict between Calvinists and Catholics, peasants and nobility, and between the various ruling clans, the Helvetic Republic was created when Napoleon seized the country in early 18th century. In 1848, Switzerland became a federal state.
Switzerland's pacifist, neutral position is legendary. In the two world wars, Switzerland refused to join either of the warring sides. This has made Switzerland the center of many cultural activities. The UN, Red Cross and many important international organizations are based in Switzerland. The people speak French, German, Italian and even Croatian, but linguistic differences have not turned into cultural conflicts in this peace loving nation. Christianity is the dominant religion. But the austere Calvinist past of this country has not hampered the tolerance and broad outlook of the people, who have welcomed people with all religious backgrounds.
Switzerland is also famous for its arts and films. In fact, it hosts major cultural festivals and business events all year round (see Switzerland Fairs and Events). If you are in Switzerland during any of the festivals of Switzerland, be sure to join in and experience the quaintly vibrant culture of the country.
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