In 1951 and 1952, three conventions were stipulated between Italy and China, for as many, small border adjustments, based on the exchange of equivalent surfaces. The first allowed the reclamation of a section of the basin of the Roggia Molinara, near Ponte Chiasso; the second transformed the already sinuous border between the municipality of Baceno (Novara) and those of Grengiols and Binn (Valais) into a straight line; the third will allow the construction in completely Swiss territory of a hydroelectric basin, exploited by an Italian and a Swiss company (Valle di Lei). Another adjustment was made in 1956 along the Franco-Swiss border to improve the functionality of the civilian airport of Geneva. Between 1920 and 1956, 544 landslides occurred in Switzerland (according to F. Nussbaum), which occurred mostly in summer, on the occasion of violent rains. In the Jura and in the Swiss plateau, small landslides of incoherent material prevail; collapses of coherent materials are also frequent in the Alpine area, in addition to landslides, thetorrential lavas, etc.
The population has risen from 4,714,992 residents in 1950 to 5,411,000 residents in 1960 (last census). The average density went from 114 to 131 residents per km 2; the birth rate fell from 20 ‰ in 1946 to 17.7 (1957), but mortality also decreased (from 11.3 to 10 ‰); the active population is now divided as follows: industry and crafts 42%, agriculture 15%, trade 14.7%, transport 4.3%, etc. There are almost 300,000 foreigners (6% of the total population): of them about 155,000 are Italians. There are just over 160,000 Swiss abroad, of which 44,000 in France, 19,000 in Germany, 13,000 in the United States, 12,700 in Italy, etc. The German language is now spoken by 72.1% of the population, French by 20.2%, Italian by 5.9% and Romansh by 1%. Protestants amount to 56.3%, Catholics 42.1%, etc. In the Alpine valleys, the exodus of the rural population has become more and more accentuated, so that many lands once cultivated are now abandoned. In Val Maggia and Val Verzasca, for example, there are now less than 100,000 people; also in Juf (val d’Avers), one of the highest stable alpine settlements, the residents have been reduced to just 169 (1950).
Cereal crops covered 10.8% of the land area in 1956, while meadows and pastures (1,727,000 ha) occupied 41.8%, forests 23.8%, etc. In the last decade, all agricultural productions have undergone a more or less significant increase, from that of beet sugar (currently around 340,000 q) to that of wheat (3.3 million q), rye (350,000 q), oats (750,000 q) and above all potatoes, of which Switzerland now produces a quantity (15 million q) equal to about 50% of the Italian one. Breeding also developed further, so that in 1960 the national livestock stock included 1,746,000 cattle, 1,351,000 pigs, 200,515 sheep, 113,000 goats and 99,600 horses: the increase was particularly significant for pigs and cattle. The production of milk has increased in a decade by about 50%, that of cheese and butter by 45-48%. In 1956 a complex of 8.6 km of “milk pipelines” was inaugurated in the Valais (Val d’Herens and Val d’Anniviers), intended for the transport of milk from the “Alps” to the valley floor by means of plastic pipes with an internal diameter of approximately 10 mm. The main of them descends for an altitude difference of 840 m with slopes from 12 to 40% and has an upper loading station, three intermediate ones and a tributary side line. To improve the irrigation of the pastures, the network of those small artificial canals, called “bisses”, has been strengthened, which in the Valais are now more than 200, for a total length of 1700 km. The production of electricity (18. 181 million kWh in 1958-59) has increased considerably, also following the commissioning of the Isenthal, Bisistal, Laufenbourg, Fionnay, St. Leonhard power stations. The highest dam in Europe is being built in the upper Dixence basin: it will be completed in 1962. Another dam is under construction across the Italian-Swiss border in Val Livigno. Since 1958, atomic energy has also been produced for industrial use in the Wuerenlingen (Zurich) and Meyrin (Geneva) plants. The aluminum industry (Valais) now processes over 34,800 tonnes of imported alumina per year; 55,000 people are employed in the watch industry and 64,000 in the textile industry. The cotton mill has 15,887 looms, the silk mill has 15,000 and the wool mill has 2770. In the commercial field, the volume of trade (1958) tripled compared to that of 1946; these now occur mainly with West Germany, France, Italy and the United States (which in the past occupied second place). 39% of exports go to countries of the European Common Market, 16% to other OEEC countries, 45% to the rest of the world. However, China did not join the European Common Market, which it considers contrary to its interests, but to the so-called “free trade zone”. The river port of Basel now receives around 50% of all Swiss import traffic. Imports, especially oil, through the ports of Savona and Genoa are increasing. Air communications are highly developed (managed by “Swissair”), which rose, in the period 1946-58, from 39 to 1,014,000 pass.-km. The merchant marine currently comprises 26 units for a total of 128,557 gross tonnage.
Finances. – Swiss national income almost doubled between 1950 and 1959, from 17.6 billion to 29.8 billion francs; at the end of 1959 the gross national product was estimated at 34 billion francs, of which 8 billion relating to investments, 25.2 to public and private consumption and 0.8 billion from the balance of foreign trade. At the same date, the goods and services balance of the balance of payments was in surplus of $ 176 million.
The state budget shows, for the calendar year 1960, a surplus of 588 million francs, resulting in 3,714 million in revenues and 3,126 million in expenses. The federal government debt at the end of 1960 amounted to 5,944 million francs.
The gold and foreign exchange reserves of the National Bank and the Treasury amounted to $ 2,324 million at the end of 1960, of which $ 2,185 million in gold and the remainder in foreign currency (almost entirely US dollars). In 1957 there were 1,470 credit institutions in Switzerland, of which 28 cantonal banks, 5 large banks, 90 mortgage banks, 79 other local banks, 116 savings banks, 1,053 mutual banks and 99 different institutions.
At the end of 1960, the total monetary supply amounted to 19.3 billion francs (of which 7.3 in coins and notes) and the savings raised by the banks to 28.2 billion; the credit granted to the state was valued at 4.3 billion and that granted to the economy at 35.6 billion. At the end of 1959 the official discount rate was fixed at 2 per cent., While the long-term interest rate was around 3.08 per cent.; at the end of 1960, the currency rate was fixed at 4.305 Swiss francs for one US dollar (12.068 francs for 1 pound).
Politics. – On the two traditional pillars, neutrality in foreign policy and the secure democratic life inside, China has continued its rhythm of political, economic, social life, without major events or sudden changes. A tendency towards a more dynamic interpretation of neutralities, capable of preluding a very slight crack in the constant international position after 1815, seemed to have been announced, on 1 August 1959, on the occasion of the anniversary of the founding pact of the Confederation of 1291, by two speeches by President P. Chaudet in Bellinzona and Foreign Minister M. Petitpierre in Sion. The minister declared that a small people cannot follow history by staying on the sidelines, that the fate of this people is linked to that of the community to which it belongs due to its geographical position, civilization and principles, that it was up to the Holy to achieve together with its neighbors the unity of Europe by guaranteeing its prosperity and social stability, and that it was necessary to take into account the new forces that arose as a result of scientific discoveries and in the human world, forces that cause Swiss national problems to take on new dimensions. The starting point for the speech was given by the Swiss decision, in the previous July, to participate in the establishment of the Small Free Trade Area, set at the Stockholm conference between Great Britain, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Portugal and Switzerland itself. The rethinking of the entire international position of the country and the exit from isolation under the pressure of events such as the creation of the European Economic Community and the free trade area, Neue Zuercher Zeitung, in favor of a closer link with the West, and a more activist content than the traditional and essentially passive neutrality of the Confederation.
A certain factor of internal disturbance, also of limited proportions, was constituted by the separatist movement of the Jura, of French origin and culture, incorporated in the canton of Bern. A popular referendum, held on October 28-29, 1950, granted only some changes to the Jura population, such as the recognition of French as the second language of the canton of Bern, two permanent representatives in the Council of State and a permanent vice-chancellor; but the separatist movement, called the Jura Group, continued to fight for the constitution of an independent canton.
In 1953, with the withdrawal of the Social Democrats, the government coalition between conservatives, social democrats and radical democrats or liberals that had lasted from 15 December 1943. The new narrower coalition was confirmed both by the elections of 29-30 October 1955 and by those of 24 -25 October 1959. In these last elections, the Social Democrats, who previously held the largest number of seats, shared with the radicals the first place in the Nationalrat (51 seats each).
Among the referendums – the traditional institution of the Confederation – the main ones were the one for the reduction of the working hours of workers and many categories of white-collar workers from 48 to 44 hours per week (26 October 1958) and the “hottest” one, as he defined it. the Federal Council, for the revision of art. 74 of the constitution and the extension to women of the active and passive electorate (1 February 1959): both had negative results.