What Are the Major Industries of Switzerland?

Switzerland’s major industries are machinery and precision instruments, watchmaking, chemicals, textiles, tourism, banking and insurance. According to a 2013 estimate presented in the CIA World Factbook, agricultural produce represents less than one percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

The chief industry in Switzerland is mechanical and electrical engineering. This, coupled with a favorable location and climate for the summertime generation of power from rivers, has contributed to Switzerland becoming an important exporter of hydroelectricity. The hydropower sector in Switzerland is worth approximately 2 billion Swiss francs, which is close to $2.3 billion.

Due to the Swiss specialization in precision engineering, towns and cities like Geneva, Neuchatel, Biel and Grenchen have also been closely associated with high-quality watchmaking for centuries. At one time, before Asian watch markets proliferated in the 1970s, Switzerland produced almost half of the world’s watches as pioneers in the use of quartz crystals.

Among its chemical industries are the Basel-based pharmaceutical giants, Novartis and Roche. Although both of these are multinational companies, Switzerland itself has a long tradition of chemicals and pharmaceuticals, having developed their manufacturing industry out of nineteenth-century dye-making.

An overwhelming majority of Switzerland’s industries, approximately 99.6 percent, are classified by the European Union as small and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs.