Centrally located within Europe, the small landlocked country of Switzerland is surrounded by France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Austria and Italy. Almost two-thirds of the land area can be categorised as mountainous, with the European Alps taking up the southern and central parts of the country. Alpine meadows, thick forest and snow-capped peaks combine to make Switzerland one of the most picturesque of European countries. Mont Blanc (4808m / 15,767ft) is Western Europe's highest peak and can (at least in part) be claimed by Switzerland. The biggest mountain lying entirely within Switzerland is the huge many-summitted massif of Monte Rosa (4634m / 15,200ft), which dominates the town of Zermatt. In fact, no fewer than 51 of the Alpine `fourthousanders` are located in the Swiss canton of Valais and the Saas Fee Valley alone is ringed by 13 of them. There is excellent mountain trekking in this area and many of the biggest peaks present straightforward mountaineering objectives, when tackled with a professional IFMGA guide.

Geography

Switzerland is surrounded by France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Austria and Italy. Almost two-thirds of the land area are mountainous, with the European Alps taking up the southern and central parts of the country. Alpine meadows, thick forest and snow-capped peaks combine to make Switzerland one of the most picturesque of European countries. The Swiss Alps which includes the most impressive mountains in the country is a part of the European Alps, which extend for some 1000 kilometres (620 miles), through parts of southeastern France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Austria and Slovenia. Amongst the hundreds of peaks comprising this range, there are some 75 which top the 4000 metre (13000ft.) mark. Above 3000 metres (10000ft.), the mountains are permanently snow-capped and the region is heavily glaciated. In many alpine valleys, forests of pine reach above 2500 metres (8000ft.)and there are flower-filled alpine pastures above this height. No fewer than 51 of the Alpine ‘fourthousanders’ are located in the Swiss canton of Valais, which takes its name from the upper part of the Rhone Valley, which links the Rhone Glacier and Lake Geneva (Lac Leman). The Saas Fee or Saastal Valley, is ringed by 13 of these 4000 metre (13000ft.) peaks. Like its neighbour, the Mattertal or Zermatt Valley, from which it is separated by the Mischabel Range, Saastal is a tributary of the Rhone. Many of the peaks in this area present relatively easy mountaineering objectives. The biggest mountain lying entirely within Switzerland is the huge many-summitted massif of Monte Rosa at 4634 metres (15200ft.), which dominates the town of Zermatt.

Time Zone

The time in Switzerland is GMT + 1 hour and GMT + 2 hours in summer time.