Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a country situated at the confluence of Western, Central, and Southern Europe. It is a federal republic composed of 26 cantons, with federal authorities based in Bern. Switzerland is a landlocked country bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. It is geographically divided among the Swiss Plateau, the Alps, and the Jura, spanning a total area of 41,285 km2 (15,940 sq mi), and land area of 39,997 km2 (15,443 sq mi). While the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of approximately 8.5 million is concentrated mostly on the plateau, where the largest cities and economic centres are located, among them Zürich, Geneva and Basel. These cities are home to several offices of international organisations such as the headquarters of FIFA, the UN’s second-largest Office, and the main building of the Bank for International Settlements. The main international airports of Switzerland are also located in these cities.
Bern ([bɛrn]; Alemannic German: Bärn [b̥æːrn]; French: Berne [bɛʁn]; Italian: Berna [ˈbɛrna]; Romansh: Berna [ˈbɛrnɐ]) is the de facto capital of Switzerland, referred to by the Swiss as their “federal city”, in German: Bundesstadt, French: ville fédérale, and Italian: città federale. With a population of about 144,000 (as of 2020), Bern is the fifth-most populous city in Switzerland. The Bern agglomeration, which includes 36 municipalities, had a population of 406,900 in 2014. The metropolitan area had a population of 660,000 in 2000.
Bern is also the capital of the canton of Bern, the second-most populous of Switzerland’s cantons. The official language in Bern is the Swiss variety of Standard German, but the most-spoken language is an Alemannic Swiss German dialect, Bernese German. In 1983, the historic old town (in German: Altstadt) in the centre of Bern became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.