Switzerland Switzerland is a republic in the form of a direct federal democracy with about eight million residents. Switzerland's most important economic sectors are manufacturing, financial services and tourism. Switzerland in brief History Confederacy formed in 1291 from an alliance of three cantons, Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden, today consists of 26 cantons. Government Republic in the form of a direct federal democracy. The capital is Bern. Economy Prominent industrial nation and provider of financial services, tourism Population In August 2012, Switzerland had approximately 8 million residents. Major cities include Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Bern and Lausanne. Languages German (63.7%), French (20.4%), Italian (6.5%), Romansh (0.5%) Other (8.9%) In recent years, as in many countries, English has become increasingly important. Thus, it is increasingly common for the Swiss to converse in English if they are from different linguistic regions. Schools in some German-speaking cantons have started to teach English, instead of French, as a second language. Religion Freedom of faith and conscience prevails in Switzerland. The two main denomi-nations are Roman Catholic and Protestant (Reformed-Evangelical). Currency Swiss franc (CHF) made up of 100 centimes or Rappen Banknotes: CHF 1000, 200, 100, 50, 20 and 10 Coins: CHF 5, 2, 1 and Rappen 50, 20, 10, 5 In many border areas, the euro is increasingly accepted as payment.