Bern is the de facto capital of Switzerland, referred to by the Swiss as their "federal city". With a population of about 140,000 (as of 2019), 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 the centre of Bern became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in north-central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich. The municipality has approximately 409,000 inhabitants, the urban agglomeration 1.315 million and the Zurich metropolitan area 1.83 million. Zurich is a hub for railways, roads, and air traffic. Both Zurich Airport and railway station are the largest and busiest in the country.
Permanently settled for over 2,000 years, Zurich was founded by the Romans, who, in 15 BC, called it Turicum. However, early settlements have been found dating back more than 6,400 years ago. During the Middle Ages, Zurich gained the independent and privileged status of imperial immediacy and, in 1519, became a primary centre of the Protestant Reformation in Europe under the leadership of Huldrych Zwingli.
The official language of Zurich is German, but the main spoken language is the local variant of the Alemannic Swiss German dialect, Zurich German.
Many museums and art galleries can be found in the city, including the Swiss National Museum and the Kunsthaus. Schauspielhaus Zurich is one of the most important theatres in the German-speaking world.
Zurich is a leading global city and among the world's largest financial centres despite having a relatively small population. The city is home to a large number of financial institutions and banking companies. Most of Switzerland's research and development centres are concentrated in Zurich and the low tax rates attract overseas companies to set up their headquarters there.
According to several surveys from 2006 to 2008, Zurich was named the city with the best quality of life in the world as well as the wealthiest city in Europe in terms of GDP per capita.
The main tourist destinations in Switzerland
Antelope House at Zoo Basel, Switzerland's most visited tourist attraction with an entrance fee
( Alpine meadows and peaks, such as Schilthorn, Bietenhorn, Schwarzmönch, and Silberhorn, and the villages Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, Mürren, Gimmelwald, Stechelberg, and Isenfluh)
The quaint town of Lauterbrunnen and Staubbach Falls
Lake Constance (Bodensee), cantons of Thurgau, St Gallen and Schaffhausen.
Rhine Falls (Schaffhausen SH)
Tourist place in France. With 6 millions tourists a year, the castles of the Loire Valley and the Loire Valley itself are the third leading tourist destination in France; this World Heritage Site is noteworthy for its architectural heritage, in its historic towns but in particular its castles, such as the Châteaux d'Amboise, de Chambord, d'Ussé, de Villandry, Chenonceau and Montsoreau. The Château de Chantilly, Versailles and Vaux-le-Vicomte, all three located near Paris, are also visitor attractions.
French Riviera is a tourist destination in France. With more than 10 millions tourists a year, the French Riviera, in Southeast France, is the second leading tourist destination in the country, after the Paris region. It benefits from 300 days of sunshine per year, 115 kilometres (71 mi) of coastline and beaches, 18 golf courses, 14 ski resorts and 3,000 restaurants. Each year the Côte d'Azur hosts 50% of the world's superyacht fleet.
Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, as well as the arts. The City of Paris is the centre and seat of government of the Île-de-France, or Paris Region, which has an estimated official 2019 population of 12,213,364, or about 18 percent of the population of France. The Paris Region had a GDP of $808 billion in 2017. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living Survey in 2018, Paris was the second most expensive city in the world, after Singapore, and ahead of Zürich, Hong Kong, Oslo and Geneva. Another source ranked Paris as most expensive, on a par with Singapore and Hong Kong, in 2018. The city is a major railway, highway, and air-transport hub served by two international airports: Paris-Charles de Gaulle (the second busiest airport in Europe) and Paris-Orly. Opened in 1900, the city's subway system, the Paris Métro, serves 5.23 million passengers daily, and is the second busiest metro system in Europe after Moscow Metro. Gare du Nord is the 24th busiest railway station in the world, but the first located outside Japan, with 262 million passengers in 2015.
Paris, has some of the world's largest and most renowned museums, including the Louvre, which is the most visited art museum in the world (5.7 million), the Musée d'Orsay (2.1 million), mostly devoted to Impressionism, and Centre Georges Pompidou (1.2 million), dedicated to contemporary art. Disneyland Paris is Europe's most popular theme park, with 15 million combined visitors to the resort's Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park in 2009.
France is a sovereign state whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions (five of which are situated overseas) span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres and a total population of 67.0 million (as of July 2019). France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.
During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by the Gauls, a Celtic people. Rome annexed the area in 51 BC, holding it until the arrival of Germanic Franks in 476, who formed the Kingdom of Francia. The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned Francia into East Francia, Middle Francia and West Francia. West Francia, which became the Kingdom of France in 987, emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages, following its victory in the Hundred Years' War (1337–1453). During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world. The 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Catholics and Protestants. France became Europe's dominant cultural, political, and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, establishing one of modern history's earliest republics and drafting the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day.
In the 19th century, Napoleon took power and established the First French Empire. His subsequent Napoleonic Wars (1803–15) shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870. France was a major participant in World War I, from which it emerged victorious, and was one of the Allies in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis powers in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and later dissolved in the course of the Algerian War. The Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, was formed in 1958 and remains today. Algeria and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s, with most retaining close economic and military connections with France.
France has long been a global centre of art, science, and philosophy. It hosts the world's fourth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the leading tourist destination, receiving around 83 million foreign visitors annually. France is a developed country with the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP, and tenth-largest by purchasing power parity. In terms of aggregate household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, and human development. France is considered a great power in global affairs, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and an official nuclear-weapon state. It is a leading member state of the European Union and the Eurozone, and a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and La Francophonie.
Sharjah is the third largest and third most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, forming part of the Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman metropolitan area. It is located along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula.
Sharjah is the capital of the emirate of the same name. Sharjah shares legal, political, military and economic functions with the other emirates of the UAE within a federal framework, although each emirate has jurisdiction over some functions such as civil law enforcement and provision and upkeep of local facilities. Sharjah has been ruled by the Al Qasimi dynasty since the 18th century.
The city is a centre for culture and industry, and alone contributes 7.4% of the GDP of the United Arab Emirates. The city covers an approximate area of 235 square km and has a population of over 800,000 (2008). The sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited in the emirate of Sharjah without possession of an alcohol licence and alcohol is not served in Sharjah hotels, restaurants or other outlets due to the Muslim majority in the area. This has helped Sharjah increase the number of Islamic tourists who visit the country. Sharjah has been officially named as a WHO healthy city. The 2016 edition of QS Best Student Cities ranked Sharjah as the 68th best city in the world to be a university student. Sharjah is regarded as the cultural capital of the UAE, and was the Islamic culture capital in 2014. Sharjah was named World Book Capital for 2019 by UNESCO.
Al Ain is a city in the Eastern Region of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, on the United Arab Emirates' border with Oman, adjacent to the town of Al-Buraimi. It is the largest inland city in the Emirates, the fourth-largest overall (after Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah), and the second-largest in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The freeways connecting Al-Ain, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai form a geographic triangle in the country, each city being roughly 130 kilometres from the other two.
Al-Ain is known as the "Garden City" of Abu Dhabi, the UAE or the Gulf, due to its greenery, particularly with regard to the city's oases, parks, tree-lined avenues and decorative roundabouts, with there being strict height controls on new buildings, to no more than seven floors, and according to one author, an oasis around Al-Ain and Al-Hasa in Saudi Arabia are the most important in the Arabian Peninsula. That said, the region of Al-Ain and Al-Buraimi, altogether Tawam or Al-Buraimi Oasis, is of cultural and historical importance. For example, the area witnessed events relevant to the history of Islam during the Rashidun, Umayyad and Abbasid eras, similar to Dibba and Ras Al-Khaimah. It was where Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the United Arab Emirates, spent much of his life, at least since 1927, before becoming the Ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in 1966. Al-Ain may also be the site of the oldest mosque in the country, in the premises of the Sheikh Khalifa Mosque.
Abu Dhabi is the capital and the second most populous city of the United Arab Emirates (the most populous being Dubai), and also capital of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the largest of the UAE's seven emirates. Abu Dhabi city is situated on an island off the Persian Gulf from the central western coast, while the majority of the city and Emirate reside on the mainland connected to the rest of the country. As of 2019, Abu Dhabi's urban area has an estimated population of 1.45 million people, out of 2.9 million people in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, as of 2016.
Abu Dhabi houses local and federal government offices, is the seat of the United Arab Emirates Government, the Supreme Oil Council, home to the Abu Dhabi Emiri Family and the President of the UAE, who is from this family. Abu Dhabi's rapid development and urbanisation, coupled with the massive oil and gas reserves and production, relatively high average income of its population, has transformed the city into a large and advanced metropolis. Today the city is the country's centre of political and industrial activities, and a major cultural and commercial centre, due to its position as the capital. Abu Dhabi accounts for about two-thirds of the roughly $400-billion United Arab Emirates economy.