To compensate, Switzerland has one of Europe's best railway systems, linking every major city in the country.

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There is also a distinction between the culture in the mountains and the culture on the central plateau, while life in a mountain valley is different from that in the big city.

So, although there are numerous regional traditions there are relatively few national customs.

Car Rentals -- Several American companies operate in Switzerland. 800/472-3325; its prices are competitive with those offered by Avis (tel. Budget offers one-way rentals between any two of its more than 20 Swiss offices with no extra drop-off charge. 877/820-0668; offers an alternative to more traditional car-rental companies, such as Budget, Hertz, and Avis, that actually own their automobiles outright.

Over the past few decades, Switzerland — which brought over thousands of guest workers from southern Europe after World War II — has also become home to a large population from the Balkans, along with immigrants from Asia and Africa.

An average of 40,000 foreigners has naturalized each year since 2002.

Foreigners' sizeable share of the population sets Switzerland apart from other European countries, as does the makeup of this group.However, over time and with the increase in tourism, there are some local customs that have achieved national fame.The most commonly heard musical instruments include the "Schwyzerörgeli" (accordion), the violin, bass violin, clarinet and, in certain regions, the dulcimer or Trümpi (Jew's harp).Special rail facilities are provided for drivers wishing to transport their cars through the alpine tunnels of the Albula, Furka, Lotschberg, and Simplon.A timetable highlighting the various rates is available from the Swiss National Tourist Office. Under certain circumstances, the companies offer a discount if you prepay your rental 21 days or more in advance.By Car Switzerland has excellent roads and superhighways, all marked by clear road signs.