Terrain shapes and bedrock
COUNTRYAAH, Switzerland is largely mountainous and high, with an
average height of 1,350 m above sea level. A wealth of
different types of habitat exists, and three major landform
regions can be discerned.
At the far north-west stretches the arcuate and narrow
mountain range of the Jura Mountains, whose main
part falls within Switzerland. It consists of 1,200-1,600 m
high ridges of fossil-rich limestone and marble, separated
by broad valleys. They are folded in connection with the
alpine mountain range tour.
More than half of Switzerland's area belongs to the
Alps, which occupy the southern and eastern parts. The
mountain range has a central zone of crystalline rocks and
overlays of sandstones, limestones and marble. A deep
depression, with the upper course of the Rhone and the
Rhine, separates the southern and northern Alps. South of it
rises in the western Pennine Alps with the highest peaks in
Switzerland, Dufourspitze in the Monte Rosa massif (4,634 m
asl) and Matterhorn (4,478 m asl), known for its magnificent
scenery. To the east is marked the Lepontic Alps, with The
St. Gotthard Massif, and the Rathi Alps. North of the sink
is in the western Bernal Alps, with Finsteraarhorn (4,274 m
asl) and Jungfrau (4 158 m asl) and to the east the Glarner
Alps. There is also an important watershed area, from where
the Rhône flows to the west, the Rhine to the east, Ticino
to the south and Reuss to the north.
To the north lies Mittelland, a wavy plateau
between Lake Geneva and Lake Constance. It is made up of
sedimentary rocks. Glaciers have deposited large amounts of
moraine during the ice ages and eroded valleys and streams,
where deep, long-narrow lakes now exist. Lake Thun,
Vierwaldstätters Lake and Lake Zurich. The largest lakes are
Lake Geneva, Lake Constance and Lake Neuchâtel.
Switzerland has a transitional climate that is governed
by Atlantic air masses from the west, continental from the
east, Mediterranean air from the south and central Europe's
low pressure from the north. The country can be divided into
four characteristic climatic regions: the southern country,
the Alps, Mittelland and the Jura mountains.
The warmest region lies farthest to the south with the
Alps to the north, which have warm summers and in low-lying
terrain relatively mild winters.
In the Alps, the climate variation is large due
to significant local elevation differences. In winter, cold
air in the valleys accumulates with frost, fog or low clouds
as a result. At mountain peaks above the cloud cover, it can
be sunny and pleasant in warm weather. During the summer,
the situation is the opposite: the mountains are often
chilly and cloudy and the sun and heat are found in the
valleys. In the Alps, the wind gusts can be strong,
especially in winter on the northern side of the mountain
range in valleys that run in a north-south direction. This
very dry fall wind when it reaches the valleys can raise the
temperature by 15-20 °C with rapid snow melting and
avalanches as a result.
In the central plateau Mittelland, winter is
cold and low clouds or fog is common, and cold with snowfall
can be for several weeks. The summer is warm but the
rainfall is quite plentiful; in Zurich, the average fall is
approximately 130 mm per month during the summer.
The Jura mountains at the far west are more
rainy than Mittelland and can have snow cover over long
periods. The summers are cloudy and rainier.
The summer temperature averages 20 °C in the valleys,
about 17 °C in Mittelland and 0-10 °C in the altitude
areas. During winter, the average temperature is about 2 °C
in the valleys, about 0 °C in Mittelland and about −10 °C
in the altitude areas.
The annual rainfall averages 800–1,500 mm in the northern
parts of the country, in the Rhone valley less than 500 mm
and in the Alps 2,000–3,000 mm.
Despite its small size, Switzerland has close to 3,500
species of higher plants. The calcareous bedrock makes it
possible to find e.g. several in Sweden very rare orchid
species, such as big-bodied, brown-bellied and smell-spore.
The forests are dominated in the northern parts of the
country, around Mittelland and Jura, by noble spruce, beech
and oak blend forest with eg. bohuslind, chestnut, avenue
and sweet cherries; where you also find eg medical concrete
and in their places also Christmas roses and cyclamen. In
the more rainy climate of the Jura mountains, tall mosses
are formed, in which northern species such as dwarf birch,
string thistle and marshland occur. Further south, in the
Central and Southern Alps, there are at lower altitude
spruce forests with elements of larch.
Above the tree line you will find shrub vegetation with
low rock numbers as well as rhododendrons and other heather
plants. At even higher altitudes, lush alpine mountains with
very rich flora of, among other things, are spreading.
grass, pine root, mountain sip, gentian, drab, vivre,
ranuncle and orchid. Species such as paradise lily and
mountain bridges are particularly noticeable in the Southern
Alps. The best known of the alp flowers is probably
edelweiss, a species that in Switzerland has in spread but
which often grows in inaccessible places.
Wildlife is dominated by alpine species, many of which
are glacial relics with main extensions in the mountains of
Northern Europe (compare Alps, Plant and Wildlife). In the
south there are also Mediterranean species, e.g. the bird
polyglot singer, a scorpion of the genus Euscoʹrpius
and the spider foot Scutiʹgera coleoptraʹta. Among
the alpine animals, which are largely above the tree line,
can be mentioned alpine goat, gems, alpine marmot, stone
hen, alpine quay, alp crow, masonry creeper, alps salamander
and aspis viper. At the lakes, mainly in Mittelland, there
are among other things. dwarf tube room and red-headed
In Switzerland (2012) there is a national park in the
eastern part of the Alps (Parc Naziunal Svizers). Otherwise
there are a large number of hunting reserves, areas with
protected landscapes and nature reserves, all of which are
administered by the individual cantons.