Federalism in Europe
Several federal systems exist in Europe, such as in Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the European Union. Germany and the EU are the only examples in the world where members of the federal upper houses, (the Bundesrat and the Council), are neither elected nor appointed but are composed of the governments of their constituents. In Germany, federalism was abolished only during Nazism (1933Ц1945) and in East Germany during most of its existence (1952Ц1990). Adolf Hitler viewed federalism as an obstacle to his goals. As he wrote in Mein Kampf, "National Socialism must claim the right to impose its principles on the whole German nation, without regard to what were hitherto the confines of federal states."[page needed] Therefore the idea of a strong, centralized government has negative associations in German politics, although prior to 1919 or 1933, many social democrats and liberals favored centralization in principle. Since earlier in Britain, an Imperial Federation was once seen as a method of solving the Home Rule problem in Ireland, federalism has long been proposed as a solution to the "Irish Problem", and more lately, the "West Lothian question". Switzerland (German: Schweiz[note 3] [va?ts]; French: Suisse [s?is]; Italian: Svizzera [?zvit?sra]; Romansh: Svizra [vi?tsr?] or [vi?ts?]), in its full name the Swiss Confederation (Latin: Confoederatio Helvetica, hence its abbreviation CH), is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in western Europe,[note 4] where it is bordered by Germany to the north, France to the west, Italy to the south, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. Switzerland is a landlocked country geographically divided between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura, spanning an area of 41,285 km2 (15,940 sq mi). While the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss popula
ion of approximately 8 million people is concentrated mostly on the Plateau, where the largest cities are to be found. Among them are the two global cities and economic centres of Zurich and Geneva. The Swiss Confederation has a long history of armed neutralityЧit has not been in a state of war internationally since 1815Чand did not join the United Nations until 2002. It pursues, however, an active foreign policy and is frequently involved in peace-building processes around the world. Switzerland is also the birthplace of the Red Cross and home to a large number of international organizations, including the second largest UN office. On the European level, it is a founding member of the European Free Trade Association and is part of the Schengen Area Ц although it is notably not a member of the European Union, nor the European Economic Area. Switzerland is one of the richest countries in the world by per capita gross domestic product, and has the highest wealth per adult (financial and non-financial assets) of any country in the world. Zurich and Geneva have respectively been ranked as the cities with the second and eighth highest quality of life in the world. It has the world's nineteenth largest economy by nominal GDP and the thirty-sixth largest by purchasing power parity. It is the twentieth largest exporter and eighteenth largest importer of goods. Switzerland comprises three main linguistic and cultural regions: German, French, and Italian, to which the Romansh-speaking valleys are added. The Swiss, therefore, though predominantly German-speaking, do not form a nation in the sense of a common ethnic or linguistic identity. The strong sense of belonging to the country is founded on the common historical background, shared values (federalism and direct democracy) and Alpine symbolism. The establishment of the Swiss Confederation is traditionally dated to 1 August 1291; Swiss National Day is celebrated on the anniversary.