Switzerland and France, which is part of the European Union, share about 600 km of border (prompting strong cross-border cooperation) and a language (French is one of Switzerland's four official languages).
France has been appointing ambassadors to Switzerland since the 16th century and Switzerland's first representation abroad, in 1798, was in French capital Paris (closely followed by a consulate in Bordeaux). By the end of the 19th century, the only country with a legation in the Swiss capital Bern was France.
As of 2015, there were four state visits of Presidents of France in Switzerland: Armand Fallières in August 1910, François Mitterrand on 14-15 April 1983, Jacques Chirac in 1998 and François Hollande on 15-16 April 2015.
194,000 Swiss people live in France - the largest Swiss community outside Switzerland - while 163,000 French people live in Switzerland - the largest French community outside France. 150,000 French nationals cross the border to work in Switzerland, half of all foreign cross-border commuters.
France is Switzerland's third-largest trading partner (after Germany and Italy) and the two are integrated economically via Swiss treaties with the European Union. Switzerland is also part of the Schengen Area, which abolishes border checks between member states.
Notes and references
- (in French) Le bâtiment de l'ambassade, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (page visited on 14 April 2015).
- (in French) Christophe Büchi, "La France, si chère au cœur des Alémaniques", Le Temps, Wednesday 15 April 2015.
- Bilateral relations between Switzerland and France, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (page visited on 14 April 2015).
- (in French) Olivier Perrin, "1910, 1983, 1998: trois présidents de la République en Suisse", Le Temps, 15 April 2015 (page visited on 15 April 2015).
- (in French) Xavier Alonso, "Comment la France et la Suisse se sont réconciliées", 24 heures, Friday 10 April 2015.