Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a federal republic in Europe. It consists of 26 cantons, and the city of Bern is the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in western-Central Europe, and is bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. Switzerland is a country geographically divided between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura, spanning an area of 41,285 km2. The establishment of the Old Swiss Confederacy dates to the medieval period, resulting from a series of military successes against Austria. Swiss independence from the Holy Roman Empire was formally recognized in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. The country has a history of armed neutrality going back to the Reformation, it has not been in a state of war internationally since 1815, nevertheless, it pursues an active foreign policy and is frequently involved in peace-building processes around the world. In addition to being the birthplace of the Red Cross, Switzerland is home to international organisations.
On the European level, it is a member of the European Free Trade Association. However, it participates in the Schengen Area and the European Single Market through bilateral treaties, spanning the intersection of Germanic and Romance Europe, Switzerland comprises four main linguistic and cultural regions, French and Romansh. Due to its diversity, Switzerland is known by a variety of native names, Suisse, Svizzera. On coins and stamps, Latin is used instead of the four living languages, Switzerland is one of the most developed countries in the world, with the highest nominal wealth per adult and the eighth-highest per capita gross domestic product according to the IMF. Zürich and Geneva have each been ranked among the top cities in the world in terms of quality of life, with the former ranked second globally, according to Mercer. The English name Switzerland is a compound containing Switzer, a term for the Swiss. The English adjective Swiss is a loan from French Suisse, in use since the 16th century.
The name Switzer is from the Alemannic Schwiizer, in origin an inhabitant of Schwyz and its associated territory, the Swiss began to adopt the name for themselves after the Swabian War of 1499, used alongside the term for Confederates, used since the 14th century. The data code for Switzerland, CH, is derived from Latin Confoederatio Helvetica. The toponym Schwyz itself was first attested in 972, as Old High German Suittes, ultimately related to swedan ‘to burn’