Switzerland (German: Schweiz, French: Suisse, Italian: Svizzera, Romansch: Svizra), officially the Swiss Confederation (Latin: Confoederatio Helvetica, hence the abbreviation "CH") is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It has borders with France to the west, Italy to the south, Austria and Liechtenstein to the east and Germany to the north. Switzerland is known for its mountains (Alps in the south, Jura in the northwest) but it also has a central plateau of rolling hills, plains, and large lakes. The highest point is Dufourspitze at 4,634 m (15,203 ft) while Lake Maggiore is only 195 m (636 ft) above sea level, and the temperate climate varies greatly with altitude. Switzerland is intrinsically more culturally diverse than perhaps any other European country. It has four official languages which have historically been dominant in various regions, or cantons. German, French and Italian are spoken in the regions bordering the respective country, and Romansch - a language of Swiss origin - spoken in the mountainous area of Graubünden. Switzerland also has one of the proportionally largest expat/immigrant populations - almost every fourth resident (24.3% as of 2014) is a foreign national - consisting of almost all of the world's nationalities and ethnic groups. Renowned for tolerance, neutrality and direct democracy, as well as almost-legendary affluence, Switzerland has one of the highest standards of living in the world - and prices to match. Switzerland can be a glorious whirlwind trip whether you've packed your hiking boots, snowboard, or just a good book and a pair of sunglasses.
The best time to visit Switzerland is during the shoulder seasons, between April and June, and September to October, when the weather is at best, and there aren't too many tourists.
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