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Small – but not cramped – Switzerland is crowned by the Alps, formalised by financial power and shaped by its status as a neutral country. The clocks can be either regular or Swiss; the same holds true for knives, and even Swiss banks are more than just regular banks. Not to mention Swiss chocolate…

In Switzerland, everything is comfortable, accessible, well thought-out and contemporary – Switzerland is as beautiful as it is expensive. Here, lakes, waterfalls and mountains can be seen even in cities.

The French charm, German pedantry and Italian joi de vivre... In Switzerland, languages, cultures, characters and traditions are mixed not unlike in an exotic cocktail. Whenever you pick up a calendar, you’ll always find a wide variety of events taking place. Especially interesting are the Swiss folk celebrations: national music festivals with yodelling, national fights in sawdust, the driving of a cow herd to mountain pastures, the throwing of large boulders, cow fights…

Once, Switzerland was a poor European country. Now, it’s an excellent example of how one can grow rich by staying away from continental upheavals and inner reconstruction projects. For most people, Swiss charm consists of its pragmatism and common sense. The country’s 400-year-old neutrality is now its symbol. Swiss people don’t care what language one speaks or how one looks; they don’t mind people who either can’t get off their phones or who take impertinent pictures of them – they’ll just smile or will act as if they hadn't even noticed it. The only thing Swiss people won’t stand for is loud noises – when talking, they hush even their own voices.

Swiss loyalty is a thing of legend, proven by the fact that the Vatican is still protected by the Swiss Guard. The country is also known for its referendums. People say that when Lucerne, a city located in the middle of the Swiss territory, decided to rebuild its congress hall in accordance with the project of the famous French architect Jean Nouvel, the organisers had to hold several referendums and co-operate with the locals to make sure they thought the building wouldn’t ruin the landscape.

The country’s larger cities, situated at the foot of the Alps, are also charming. Zurich, Geneva, Lausanne, Lucerne – they’re all known both in Europe and the whole world.

Zurich, located on the Northern shore of the lake of the same name, is the largest Swiss city. It’s considered to be one of the world’s main financial centres, and is also home to most of Switzerland’s commercial, industrial and cultural establishments. It’s also one of the most expensive cities in the world.

This beautiful European city has a rich history, beautiful traditions, and is known for being generous to its visitors. Of just museums Zurich has at least fifty, not to mention the hundreds of art galleries with their spectacular exhibitions, ancient churches and natural objects. It is in Zurich that most cross-country tours begin, where people get on trains and head  to see the magnificent Alps.

Geneva, the second-largest Swiss city, is the centre of international diplomacy. Given that it’s home to the UN, the World Trade Organisation, the Red Cross and many other international organisations, it’s also called the Capital of the World. Even though most people here speak French, due to the large number of foreigners who live and work here, English has become the second language.

Geneva is a well-known centre of science and innovation, focusing mostly on nuclear research, telecommunications, biotechnologies and scientific symposiums.

The headquarters of the International Olympic Committee are located in Lausanne, which attracts tourists with its interesting and varied history.

Since the Four Canton Lake, located near Lucerne and very popular with tourists, is considered to be the most beautiful lake in Switzerland. From a bird’s eye view, the lake resembles a three-headed dragon with an arched tail. Lucerne’s most important attraction, the Golden Round Trip, involves swimming around the lake, ascending the Mount Pilatus by funicular and descending by cable lifts.

According to legend, the mountain derives its name from Pontius Pilate. After the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, having fallen into disfavour, the procurator of Judea committed suicide. Whenever he was buried, a storm would always throw his dead body out of the ground. Finally, Pilate’s remains were brought to this remote Alpine mountain and thrown into a deep lake. In the 14th century, fears over the ghost of Pontius Pilate, storms and avalanches forced the government of Lucerne to prohibit people from climbing the mountain. The prohibition lasted several centuries.

Switzerland is not a country for many people's inaugural journey, and therefore is not swarmed by crowds of tourists. According to statistics, however, up to 90% of those who have visited it once come back at least a few more times. Many world-famous celebrities buy villas in the small, breathtakingly beautiful Swiss towns, hoping to escape the public eye and hectic city life.

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