Switzerland - The Jura, the Plateau
and the Alps form the three main geographic regions of the country.
a limestone mountain range stretching from Lake Geneva
to the Rhine, and extending into eastern France and southern
Germany, makes up about 10 per cent of Switzerlands surface
area. Located on average 700 metres (2296 ft.)above sea level,
it is a picturesque highland crossed by river valleys.
Numerous dinosaur footprints and fossils have been
found in the Jura which gave its name to the Jurassic geological
period. The rocks of the Jura were laid down between 208 and
144 million years ago. Jurassic rocks are found in many places
in the world, but it was in the Jura that they were first studied,
at the end of the 18th century.
span some 200 kilometres (125 miles), at an average
altitude of 1700 m (5576 ft), and cover nearly two thirds of
Switzerland's total surface area. They provide a continental
watershed, determining the climate and vegetation, But while
they contribute enormously to the Swiss identity, economic activity
is concentrated in the Plateau. The valleys of several major
rivers - the Rhone, Upper Rhine, Reuss and Ticino - divide the
mountain ranges. Only 11 per cent of the population lives in
the mountain regions
Two thirds of the population live in the Plateau,
between Lake Geneva and Lake Constance, in 30 percent of the
country`s surface area
German is by far the most widely spoken language in
Switzerland: 17 of the 26 cantons are monolingual in German.
French is spoken in the western part of the country, the "Suisse
Romande." Four cantons are French-speaking: Geneva, Jura,
Neuchâtel and Vaud. Three cantons are bilingual: in Bern,
Fribourg and Valais both French and German are spoken. Italian
is spoken in Ticino and 4 southern valleys of Grisons.