The Swiss Alps cover 60% of Switzerland, and the climate varies as one travels up and down these massive slopes. Switzerland has four official languages, German, French, Romansh and Italian, and four distinct regions where each of the languages are spoken.
The majority of the population of Switzerland speaks German, residing in the northern and central regions of the country. This area includes the Swiss capital of Bern, a city rich in medieval architecture, including the Zeitglockenturm, a 16th century clock tower, and the Barengraben (Bear pit), where the city’s well-fed namesakes (“Bern” is derived from the German word for bears) have lumbered before the eyes of spectators since the 1400’s. Zurich is also located in Switzerland’s German region. The French region of Switzerland is in the west, and includes the cities of Geneva and Lausanne. Geneva is a metropolitan model of sophistication, birthplace of the Red Cross and home to a huge cathedral where Calvin preached in the 16th century. The Italian language dominates the south, where the cities of Locarno and Lugano lie draped across the shores of crystal clear lakes. The eastern Graubünden province is the home Romansh culture, and the location of a number of resorts.