Switzerland Population and Economic Conditions
Population. – Advancing at an accelerated pace compared to previous decades, the Swiss population (1993) totals 6,908,000 residents, compared to 6,365,960 registered in 1980 and 6,297,600 in 1970, with an annual growth rate of 9ı per year. the period 1987-92 (in 1992: birth rate, 12.6ı; mortality, 9.1ı), also by virtue of an always large immigration, which involves about half the same increase. The most significant anomaly would seem to be the demographic decline in the state of Basel-Stadt, from 203,915 residents from 1980 to 196,600 in 1993: in reality, this is a phenomenon common to all the other main Swiss city centers, which are losing residents but to the advantage of the respective agglomerations where, on the contrary, the residents have increased (1990: Zurich 839.127, Geneva 391.086, Basel 358.487, Bern 298.363).
However, the demographic dynamics are very differentiated in an ethnic and regional sense, above all due to immigration and the related diversified demographic behaviors. Variations also occurred in the composition of traditional linguistic groups: in 1990 the German-speaking population represented 63.6% of the total (1970: 64.9%), being the majority in 17 of the 26 cantons of the Confederation; Francophone was 19.2% (18.1% in 1970), majority in 4 cantons, while Italian is spoken by 7.6% (11.9%) of the population, majority in the Canton of Ticino; Romansh remained numerically stable, being spoken by less than 1% of the total population, but it is decreasing in terms of territorial extension. The relationship between religious groups also tends to become unbalanced, until a few decades ago clearly in favor of Protestant cults, which fell from 52.7% in 1960 to 47.8% in 1970, to 40% in 1990, while the Catholic religion, practiced in 1960 by 45.4% of the residents, has increased its share: 49.4% in 1970, but 46.1% in 1990. The most substantial novelty is represented by the diffusion of other religions (in particular, the Islamic one), which altogether affect about 10% of the population (compared to to only 2.8% in 1970, and less than 2% in 1960). It is evident, especially from these last figures, the incidence of the population of foreign origin, often unrelated to the strictly European anthropic environment: in 1992 resident foreigners were estimated to be 1,213,000 (with a good presence of Turks, Yugoslavs and North Africans), after a temporary decrease in foreigners in the 1970s to just over 400,000 units. The presence of Italian immigrants remains considerable (over a quarter of the total).
Economic conditions. – As a consequence of support interventions by the state (especially for animal husbandry), land restructuring, enhancement of marginal areas, the production of the primary sector remains at good levels – compatibly, however, with the modesty of agricultural areas (less than 10%) and assets (3.7% in 1992) – and continue to support an important industrial sector dedicated to the processing and preservation of fine food products. Furthermore, although not always to a fully satisfactory extent, agricultural and livestock activities are still able to curb the abandonment of mountain areas. Even the industry, centered on the traditional sectors of precision mechanics, food, fine chemicals (drugs, dyes, etc.), has maintained, but at the cost of incisive reconversions made possible by the mobility of foreign labor, its characterizing role: however, if we exclude the classic watch sector (28,000,000 watches exported in 1986), these are always quantitatively modest productions, albeit of very high quality. Among the liveliest sectors, electrometallurgy should be mentioned, which can make use of an electrical energy production of approximately 57,500 million kWh (1991), for just under half of water origin. On the other hand, the set of service activities linked to finance and intermediation remains extremely important, the proceeds of which (with the revenues deriving from tourism: 10 million presences in 1990) also allow to rebalance a trade balance constantly increasing, but in deficit (about half of the value concerns exchanges with Germany, France and Italy). For many years, the Swiss GNP per resident (35,000 dollars in 1993) has been by far the highest in the world.