RELIGION LIBRARY

Switzerland

COUNTRY PROFILE

Map of Switzerland

The country has an area of 15,942 square miles and a population of 7.5 million.

Three-quarters of the population nominally belong to either the Roman Catholic or the Protestant churches, and although actual church attendance rates are much lower, 80 percent say they are religious. Of this group, 22 percent acknowledged being "very religious," according to a July-August 2007 Religion Monitor survey sponsored by the Bertelsmann Foundation.

The arrival of immigrants has contributed to the noticeable growth of religious communities that had little presence in the past. The 2000 census notes membership in religious denominations as follows: 41.8 percent Roman Catholic; 35.3 percent Protestant; 4.3 percent Muslim; 1.8 percent Christian Orthodox; and 11.1 percent professed no formal creed. Groups that constitute less than 1 percent per group of the population include Old Catholics, other Christian groups, Buddhists, Hindus, and Jews. Authorities had no indication of religious affiliation for 4.3 percent of residents.

The majority of Muslims originate from Bosnia, Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Albania, followed by Turkey as well as North African and other Arab countries. Muslim immigrants from the Balkans and Southeastern Europe typically settle in the German-speaking eastern and central regions, whereas those arriving from North African and other Arab countries commonly relocate to the French-speaking western region. The majority are Sunni Muslims, while other groups include Shi'a and Alawites. Approximately 10 to 15 percent of Muslims are estimated to be practicing believers. The country has two large mosques, in Geneva and Zurich, and approximately 120 official prayer rooms. It is believed that another 100 prayer rooms exist, many of them belonging to Albanian, Turkish, or Arab communities.

Approximately 75 percent of Jewish households are located in Zurich, Geneva, Basel, and Bern.

Population Population (2009 est.) 7,604,467
Religious Demographics Roman Catholic 41.8%, Protestant 35.3%, Muslim 4.3%, Orthodox 1.8%, other Christian 0.4%, other 1%, unspecified 4.3%, none 11.1% (2000 census)
Ethnic Groups Ethnic Groups German 65%, French 18%, Italian 10%, Romansch 1%, other 6%
Languages Languages German (official) 63.7%, French (official) 20.4%, Italian (official) 6.5%, Serbo-Croatian 1.5%, Albanian 1.3%, Portuguese 1.2%, Spanish 1.1%, English 1%, Romansch (official) 0.5%, other 2.8% (2000 census)
Country Flag Flag of Switzerland