Switzerland (officially the Swiss Confederation) is located at the junction of three continents – Western, Central, and Southern (see map). There are 26 cantons in this federal republic, with federal authority headquartered in the city of Bern. Its southern and western borders are with Italy, while its northern and eastern borders are with Germany, Austria, and Liechtenstein. Its northern and eastern borders are with Germany, Austria, and Liechtenstein. Swiss Plateau, Alps, and Jura are the three physical divisions of the country. It has a total size of 41,285 km2 (15,940 sq mi), with a land area of 39,997 km2 and a total area of 41,285 km2 (15,940 sq mi) (15,443 sq mi). The Swiss population of approximately 8.5 million is concentrated mostly on the plateau, which includes the country's largest cities and economic centres, such as Zürich, Geneva, and Basel. Despite the fact that the Alps occupy the majority of the country's land area, the majority of the country's population is concentrated on the plateau. A number of international organisations, including the World Trade Organization, the World Health Organization, the International Labor Organization, the FIFA headquarters, the United Nations' second-largest office, and the Bank for International Settlements' main building, are based in these cities. Both of these cities are also home to the major international airports of Switzerland.
The Old Swiss Confederacy was established in the late mediaeval century as a consequence of a series of military victories against Austria and Burgundy. Its origins may be traced back to the early mediaeval period. The Treaty of Westphalia, signed in 1648, recognised Switzerland's independence from the Holy Roman Empire. The Federal Charter of 1291 is widely regarded as Switzerland's foundation document, and it is commemorated on Swiss National Day every year. Switzerland's strong policy of military neutrality has been in place since the Reformation of the 16th century; it has not participated in an international conflict since 1815 and did never become a part of the Un until 2002. In spite of this, it maintains a proactive foreign policy and is often engaged in peace-building efforts throughout the globe. The Red Cross, one of the world's oldest and best-known humanitarian organisations, was founded in Switzerland in 1863. However, it is not a member of the European Free Trade Association, nor is it a member of the European Union, the European Economic Area, or the Eurozone, despite being a founding member of that organisation. Although it does not have a formal membership in the Schengen Area or the European Single Market, it does participate in both via bilateral agreements.