Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a federal republic in Europe. It consists of 26 cantons, and the city of Bern is the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in western-Central Europe, and is bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. In addition to being the birthplace of the Red Cross, Switzerland is home to numerous international organisations, including the second largest UN office. Extending across the north and south side of the Alps in west-central Europe, Switzerland encompasses a great diversity of landscapes and climates. The Swiss climate is generally temperate, but can vary greatly between the localities, from glacial conditions on the mountaintops to the often pleasant near Mediterranean climate at Switzerland’s southern tip.
Switzerland is one of the most developed countries in the world, with the highest nominal wealth per adult and the eighth-highest per capita gross domestic product according to the IMF. Switzerland ranks at or near the top globally in several metrics of national performance, including government transparency, civil liberties, quality of life, economic competitiveness, and human development. Zürich and Geneva have each been ranked among the top cities in the world in terms of quality of life, with the former ranked second globally, according to Mercer.
Education in Switzerland is very diverse because the constitution of Switzerland delegates the authority for the school system to the cantons. There are both public and private schools, including many private international schools. In addition, there are various Universities of Applied Sciences. In business and management studies, the University of St. Gallen, (HSG) is ranked 329th in the world according to QS World University Rankings and the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), was ranked first in open programmes worldwide by the Financial Times. Switzerland has the second highest rate (almost 18% in 2003) of foreign students in tertiary education, after Australia (slightly over 18%).