Geography

Switzerland lies at the heart of Europe. It has three distinct geographical regions: the Alps, the Central Plateau and the Jura. The country boasts an extraordinary variety of landscapes and habitats, which make it a highly attractive place to live in and do business. Switzerland is also home to 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The Jura, Alps and Central Plateau are clearly shown on this topographic map of Switzerland.
Switzerland is a small, mountainous country. Half of its 41,285km2 surface area lies at more than 1,080m above sea level and is sparsely populated. © ESA/GeoVille

The Alps cover more than half of Switzerland but only 11% of the population live there. The Jura is also scarcely populated, and much of the region is covered by forest and agricultural land. The Central Plateau has the highest concentration of urban areas. Although these areas cover only one quarter of the country, they are home to the majority of the population.

With thousands of lakes and rivers, Switzerland is a water-rich country. It is also referred to as the 'water tower of Europe' due to the fact that it has roughly 6% of the continent's freshwater reserves. 

Geography – Facts and Figures

Switzerland is one of the smallest countries in Europe. The Alps cover two thirds of its territory but only 11% of the population live there.

Swiss Plateau

The Central Plateau, or 'Mittelland' (middle country), has the highest population density in Switzerland. It also has the highest concentration of major agglomerations and industrial centres.

The Jura

The Swiss Jura stretches from the Rhone to the Rhine. Its western end forms a natural border with France. Much of this sparsely populated region is covered by forest and agricultural land.

The Alps

The Alps have shaped Switzerland's identity since time immemorial. Stretching the width of the country, the Alps cover 60% of Switzerland's surface area, but are home to only 11% of the population.

Lakes and Rivers

With its thousands of lakes and rivers, Switzerland is a huge reservoir, right in the heart of the continent. This is why it is known as "the water tower of Europe".

Urban and spatial development

The landscape of Switzerland resembles a jumble of jigsaw pieces. Urban areas cover only one quarter of the country but most of the population live there.