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Switzerland (the Swiss Confederation) is a land-locked federal republic of 26 cantons bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east.

The Romans ruled the Alps from 15 BC but by 260 AD the Swiss region had become a frontier, suffering repeated raids from German tribes who had settled the east by 500 AD. The west became part of Burgundy. The Frankish Empire then established dominance, replaced in 1000 AD by the Holy Roman Empire.

Locally the Swiss valleys were run by communities who established a Swiss Confederation in 1291. This grew from 3 to 8 cantons and in 1499 victory in the Swabian War led to independence, although this was not recognized until 1648.

The French invaded in 1798 and tried to abolish the confederation but in 1803 autonomy was restored with a new group of 19 cantons. European powers then permanently recognised Swiss neutrality in 1815.

By 1848, while the rest of Europe saw revolutions, the Swiss had drawn up a binding federal constitution. The country was not invaded during either of the World Wars and Switzerland is now one of the wealthiest countries in the world with an economy dominated by finance. It declined to join the EU but is a party to most of its terms.

Switzerland is land-locked with 3 topographical areas; the Swiss Alps to the south, the Swiss Plateau or Central Plateau to the north, and the Jura mountains to the west. The Swiss Plateau, inhabited by most of the Swiss population, overlies a Molasse basin behind the Alpine mountain front.

From 1985 to 1998 one field just west of Lucerne in the centre of the country, located in the Molasse Basin, produced small amounts of gas and very small amounts of condensate. Although the field was probably never a commercial proposition very small amounts of gas are produced intermittently for local use.

Otherwise Switzerland has no identified indigenous oil or gas resources in its mountainous terrain and Globalshift does not forecast any further conventional oil or gas production. However, northern Switzerland does overlie a potential shale gas deposit and, as such, may yield new gas output over the very long term.


Map and National Flag



Southern Europe


E and P


Oil and gas summary Brief history of the country



Land area (sq kms)

Oil prod (000s b/d)

Gas prod (bcm/yr)

Oil cons (000s b/d)

Gas cons (bcm/yr)



7.8 mm






The Swiss Parliament consists of two houses - a 46-member Council of States and a 200-member National Council. Collectively they are known as the Federal Assembly.

The 7-member Federal Council is collective Head of State.

The Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) handles issues relating to energy supply and energy use for the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC).  

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