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Learn more on the history of Switzerland with this short summary of the history of the country and Scouting and Guiding in Switzerland.


Switzerland is a small country in the middle of the Alps and Europe, situated at the crossing of different cultures and important means of communication. The geographical situation, with its numerous isolated little valleys, influenced the country and the people. The strong desires of independence in each community have enhanced the federal system which is still in use today.


Originally, a Celtic tribe called the Helvetians populated the country. Then various people settled in the territory which today constitutes Switzerland: the Germans to the north, the Burgundies to the west, the Lombards to the south and the Rhaetias to the east. This is the reason why Switzerland today has four official languages.


According to legend, Swiss history starts with the pact from 1291, when the three cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden swore to help and support each other. This pact was made above all to protect them from the invasions of forceful Dukes interested in the Gotthard. In the course of the years, other cantons joined the pact to form what constitutes the territory of Switzerland today.


The country, however, has always depended on a good relationship with its neighbours. A special emphasis was always placed on cultural and economic contacts. Profitable treaties involving Swiss mercenaries used to be concluded with the neighbouring dukedoms. The Swiss confederation was also drawn into widespread international conflicts such as the Thirty Years War and the French Revolution. Civilian wars did not spare the country either.

Various constitutions were adopted between 1798 and 1848. As these constitutions did not always take into account the specificity of the Swiss people and their growing desire of independence, they had to be replaced one after the other. Finally, a federal state was created in 1848.


Swiss Guide and Scout Movement

Pfadi CH

The first Scout groups for boys in Switzerland were founded as early as 1910, the first girls group was founded only a little later.


On 5 October 1913 several cantonal Scout associations gathered in Bern and founded the Swiss Scout Federation (SPB). In contrast to the boys, the urge to form a common organizational form was initially less pronounced by the girls. It took several years until 1919, when the Swiss Confederation of Guides (BSP) was founded. As a result of its role as a multilingual and politically neutral country, Switzerland became an important meeting place for the global movement. The centres in Kandersteg (1923) and Adelboden (1932) were established and have remained meeting points for international meetings and cultural exchanges.


Already at this time first attempts were made to work together between the Swiss Scouts and the Swiss Guides. The efforts should however only intensify later and led 1987 to the merging of the two associations: The Swiss Scout and Guide Movement (MSdS) was founded. Today, with 45'000 members and around 600 local groups, Scouting and Guiding is the largest youth movement in Switzerland and stands for adventure, friendships and shared experiences in nature.

Swiss Guide and Scout Movement

Speichergasse 31
3011 Bern

Tel. +41 31 328 05 45

PBS Logo Swiss Guide and Scout Movement

Pfadibewegung Schweiz (PBS)
Speichergasse 31
CH-3011 Bern

Tel.: +41 31 328 05 45  (phone numbers of the staff at the general secretariat)
Fax: +41 31 328 05 49

office hours: