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Country Reports

Switzerland Country Report

Overview

INTRODUCTION

Visitors to the peaceful, famously neutral, and multilingual country of Switzerland (population 8.2 million), located in the heart of Europe, tend to enjoy excellent travel conditions.

TERRORISM

According to a report released by the Swiss Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) in May 2017, the threat of an armed terrorist attack in the country remains low. However, the FIS said that the threat remains due to the presence of Islamic State (IS) and individuals inspired by the group elsewhere Europe.

Like other European countries, Switzerland has seen some of its citizens leave the country to fight for IS in Iraq and Syria. Dozens of Swiss nationals are believed to have left the country to join the group. However, there have been no recent terrorist attacks in the country.

CRIME

There is a risk of in petty crime (purse-snatching, etc.) in the capital Bern and the cities of Zürich and Geneva. Some areas of Bern have a higher number of petty theft and pickpocketing incidents including the old town tourist area, large shopping areas such as the Westside Shopping Mall, the Bundesplatz and Barenplatz open markets, and train stations. Individuals in Geneva are at moderate risk of pickpocketing and other scams in areas such as Lake Geneva's promenade, near the Jadrin Anglais/Mont Blanc Bridge, the Plainpalais open market, Gare Cornavin train station, Le Paquis, and near Geneva International Airport. Take basic precautions as you would in any major city (always keep an eye on belongings, remain vigilant, etc.). There is a strong police presence throughout the country and policemen are typically efficient.

SOCIAL UNREST

Protests take place on occasion, primarily in Geneva in front of the UN's European headquarters (the Palais des Nations) and in Davos during the annual World Economic Forum. These protests are generally peaceful and are well monitored by security forces.

POLITICS

The next legislative elections are set to be held in 2019.

While elections are generally held peacefully, demonstrations and arrests have been made during past electoral periods: a total of 110 people were arrested during pro-immigration protests in Bern during the 2015 federal election. Street clashes erupted between police and anti-racist protesters in Bern ahead of the 2007 elections.

TRANSPORTATION

Drivers are required to purchase and display a CHF 40 (EUR 25) vignette (sticker) before driving on the country's highways. The vignettes are available for purchase at most border crossing points, gas stations, Swiss Post offices, by phone (+800 1002 0030), and online.

Public transportation - trains, buses, and trams - are of the highest quality.

NATURAL RISKS

Mountain accidents are regularly reported and there is a risk of avalanches in mountainous areas year round. Between October 1, 2016, and September 30, 2017, seven people were killed in avalanche accidents. Most Western governments advise travelers to purchase search-and-rescue insurance.

HEALTH

Medical care is excellent and widely available, but costs are considerably higher than other European countries. Most care providers will require immediate cash payment. Ensure that your health insurance plan provides coverage in Switzerland.

There is a risk of tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme disease, particularly in wooded areas, from spring to autumn.

Rabies is present in bats in Switzerland. As bat bites can sometimes go unnoticed when asleep, seek medical advice if you find a bat in your room or house.

There is a risk of altitude sickness if traveling above 2500 m (8200 ft). Symptoms include headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, and sleep disturbance and typically go away on their own within a few days. To minimize this risk, stay well hydrated and well rested in the first few days in a high-altitude area and avoid alcoholic drinks.

Climate

Switzerland is a mountainous country whose climate is semi-continental with oceanic and sometimes Mediterranean influences. Winters are very cold and summers hot. It rains regularly throughout the year. Temperatures tend to be lower at higher elevations while the north of the country, which has lower elevations, experiences higher temperatures and hotter summers.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +41 Police: 117 Fire Dept.: 118 Ambulance: 144

Electricity

Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

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