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History

1291 The rural communities of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden lay the foundation for the Swiss Confederation. Other communities join them during the course of the following centuries.

1460 Founding of Switzerland’s first university in Basle.

1519 Beginning of the Reformation in Zurich. Switzerland is split into Roman Catholic and Protestant cantons.

1648 Peace of Westphalia and acknowledgement of Swiss independence.

1798 Napoleon invades Switzerland. End of the “old regime”.

1803 New cantons replace the former subject territories and join the Helvetic Republic.

1815 Congress of Vienna. Borders of present-day Switzerland are set and Switzerland’s permanent neutrality is recognised by the European powers.

1847 Sonderbund war. Protestant cantons defeat Roman Catholic cantons that had formed the separatist Sonderbund league.

1848 Foundation of the Swiss Federal State. New constitution is a compromise between centralised power and cantonal autonomy.

1863 Founding of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva.

1874 Introduction of the optional referendum.

1874-1914 Rapid industrial expansion leads to the construction of the railway network and to the boring of the Gotthard and the Simplon Tunnels, two masterpieces of engineering. The boom in tourism begins.

1891 Introduction of popular initiatives.

1914 World War I: Swiss troops are mobilised and border protection put in place.

1918 General strike.

1919 For the first time, elections to the National Council are based on the principle of proportional representation.

1939 World War II: Swiss troops are mobilised; armed neutrality and maintenance of independent status.

1948 Introduction of the national old-age and survivors’ pension scheme (AHV).

1960 Switzerland becomes a founding member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

1963 Switzerland becomes the 17th member of the Council of Europe.

1971 Women given the right to vote on federal matters.

1972 Signing of free trade agreement with the European Community (EC).

1975 Accession to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

1978 Part of the canton of Berne becomes Jura: Switzerland’s 26th canton.

1999 First series of bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the European Union.

2000 Entry into force of the new Swiss Constitution.

2002 Switzerland joins the United Nations. Bilateral Agreements with the European Union come into force.

2004 The second series of bilateral agreements with the EU – Schengen and Dublin – are approved in a popular vote.