Swiss Plateau

The Central Plateau, or '"Mittelland" (middle country), is the most densely populated region in Switzerland. It stretches from Lake Geneva in the southwest to Lake Constance in the northeast. Farming accounts for nearly half of all land use in the region. Contrary to what its name suggests, the Central Plateau is anything but flat and uniform. 

Wide-open green and golden fields stretching as far as the eye can see: the scenic agricultural landscape of Emmental, in the heart of the Bernese Mittelland.
Agriculture accounts for almost half of all land use in the Central Plateau. At the heart of this region is Emmental, in the canton of Bern. ©

The Central Plateau, or "Mittelland" (middle country), is one of Switzerland's three geographical regions and covers 30% of the country. The northern part is flanked by the Jura and the Rhine, the south by Lake Geneva and the Alps.

Agricultural land and settlement areas

The Central Plateau covers only around 30% of Switzerland but is home to more than two thirds of the population, making it the most densely populated region in Switzerland. Close to 50% of land in this region is used for agriculture, while forests cover around 24%. Settlement areas account for 16% of land use in the Central Plateau, which is double the national average. Roughly 7.5%, or 3,000km2, of Switzerland's total surface area is covered by settlement areas. 

The region also has the highest concentration of major agglomerations and industrial centres in Switzerland. These agglomerations are home to almost three quarters of the population.

The Plateau has the fastest-growing settlement areas, densest transport network and heaviest traffic flows of Switzerland's three geographical regions. Farming is also more intensive here than in the rest of the country. As a result, the landscape is highly fragmented.

Since 1996 there is not one square kilometre of the Plateau which is completely dark at night. Half of Switzerland's transport routes pass through the region.

The Central Plateau is not as flat and uniform as its name suggests. In fact, large sections of the landscape are hilly.

Lakes and rivers

The region also has several large lakes – Lake Geneva, Lake Neuchâtel, Lake Zurich and Lake Constance – as well as major rivers like the Aare, Sarine and Rhine. Lake Geneva on the French-Swiss border is the largest lake in Western Europe. At 218km2, Lake Neuchâtel is the largest lake wholly on Swiss territory.