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Swiss Welcome
A Guide to living and working in Switzerland
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City Guide

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Main towns


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Cost of Living

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Suisse Welcome pour les expatriés francophones en Suisse

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City Ville Guide

Political Status
Switzerland is a democratic federal state administered by a Federal Assembly (the legislative power) which is divided into two houses : the State Council and the National Council.
The State Council is made up of 46 deputies who represent the cantons.

Geographical Situation
Switzerland is situated in central Europe, with Germany to the north, Austria and Liechtenstein on the east, Italy to the south and France to the west.
The country can be divided into three main parts, the Alps, the pre-Alps and the plateau , and the Jura.
The Alpine region represents 60% of Swiss territory, it is the southernmost part of the country.

The Swiss economy has advanced at a rythme over the last year that it had not managed to attain for the ten years before that. The GDP rose by 4% during the first trimester and the economic growth was expected to be at least 3% in 2000. With an unemployment rate that has dropped to only 1.8%, Switzerland is in a situation of full employment : highly specialized technical sectors are having trouble finding employees and company management are generally raising salaries. The average gross monthly salary is 20,000 FF. Salaries of executives have gone up by 4.3% between March 1999 and March 2000. They earn between 470,000 FF and a million FF per annum and have the highest net salaries in Europe.

Swiss agriculture is highly protected and it is auto-sufficient. The agreement with the European Union on agriculture is to drop or lower the customs duties on certain products, mutual recognition on the equivalence of reciprocal legislation, and the elimination of technical barriers (recognition of quality standards and legislation concerning fertilizers and herbicide and organic agriculture).

There is hardly any mining activity in Switzerland. On the other hand the industrial sectors are highly competitive, particularly chemicals and pharmaceuticals (2nd in the world), machine tools and watchmaking.

Other sectors
The service sector is an enormous part of the economy, concerning 61.2% of the labour force and contributing 64.9% of the GNP.

Main towns
Berne is the capital of Switzerland. The Swiss Federal capital has the honour of being registered as a world heritage site by Unesco.
Berne City Guide

Basle is Switzerland's second town, an international town built on the Rhine very near France and Germany.
Basle City Guide

Lausanne is the chief town in the Vaud canton. The fifth biggest town in Switzerland has grown up over three hills on the banks of Lake Leman.
Lausanne Cit Guide

Geneva is a determinedly international town. It hosts an enormous number of international organizations :
Geneva City Guide

Zurich was founded 2000 years ago by the Romans. It was initially a frontier post and made a reputation for itself as a trading centre.
Zurich City Guide

Other main towns are Lucerne, Lugano, Neuchâtel.

Between the Jura and the Alps the winters are severe, the summers hot and stormy. In the Alps the climate varies depending on the altitude, the orientation and the exposure of the valleys. The climate is well-known for its beneficial effects however, and in most of the stations there are theraputic climatology centres.

Working in the country
German is the language spoken by most Swiss, even through French is often used. It is advisable to take German lessons or brush up your level if you want to work in the country. The kind of job you can apply for may well depend on how well you speak the language.
Job hunting :
You can start looking for information by writing to French associations in Switzerland, to Trade Commissions, to commercial services in Swiss banks in France or French banks in Switzeland.

Formalities - Visa
For a non-professional stay :
You can stay for three months in the country with only a tourist permit. You get that when you present your passport or identity card (both must be valid).
It is forbidden to exercise a professional activity, you can however do some job prospecting during your stay.

Removals to Geneva/Zurich/Lausanne/
Internal Transport :
Rail 2000 is a large scale railway project that the Swiss approved in 1998 (both the citizens and the cantons). Rail 2000 should improve public transport by developing the railways using high tech. It will require a lot of organization and modern equipment and the lines will have to be rearranged.

Hotels & Restaurants
Look at the list of hotels in Useful Addresses.
There are many restaurants in Switzerland and they are usually really good, with a lot of foreign restaurants offering specialities. Meals cost from 15 FS up.
Aparthotel Geneva/Aparthotel Zurich ...

Driving : If you drive to Switzerland you have to have your national licence with you, your insurance card and your car registration papers as well as a country sticker. A road tax disk is obligatory, it costs 40 FS per annum, you can buy it at the customs office, in post offices and also in petrol stations.


Schools and scholarity

French students can continue their studies in Switzerland under the following conditions :

- the studies must be a continuation of previous studies
- the programme and the length of the course must be defined
- the school must certify that the candidate is enrolled
- the candidate must prove that he has adequate financial means to pay for his stay during his study period
International School

Cost of living :
Salaries are higher than in the rest of Europe, but the cost of living is much higher also. People living near the borders profit by shopping or living in France and earning their living in Switzerland, but inside the country that is not possible.

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