Switzerland, a mountainous Central European country, is home to the high peaks of the Alps, villages, and many lakes. Swiss Franc (CHF) is Switzerland's currency. In May of 1850, Switzerland officially recognized the Swiss franc as its currency after replacing numerous currencies issued by the various cantons. The franc, initially issued in 1850, was on par with the French franc. Within 1865 and the 1920s, Belgium, France, Italy, and Switzerland established the Latin Monetary Union; the prices of all four currencies were tied to the price of silver.
The Swiss franc was a member of the Bretton Woods exchange rate system established after World War II and continued until the early 1970s. The currency's exchange rate was linked to the price of gold till a referendum in May 2000. Between 2003 and 2006, the Swiss franc was steady against the euro. In 2008 the currency was even valued higher than the USD. Switzerland is recognized for its neutrality: since 1815, it has not engaged in an armed dispute. The country's banks have had a secrecy policy that dates back to the Middle Ages and was only written into law in 1934. In 2009, the secrecy laws were revised to restrict tax evasion by non-Swiss account holders.
The need for the Swiss franc as a safe haven, which sailed in the years succeeding the 2008 financial crisis, considerably increased its value in the global foreign exchange markets. By 2014, the SNB had accumulated around a half-trillion dollars in foreign currencies, equivalent to approximately 70% of Switzerland's GDP. However, although the currency's high value made foreign goods cheap in the country, it hurts the Swiss tourism industry and domestic exporters, making Swiss manufactured services and goods more expensive.
With Switzerland's economy so heavily reliant on tourism and exports, global investors' flight to safety into the Swiss franc was damaging the economy. So in September 2011, the SNB broke with tradition when it ditched the float and pegged the Swiss franc to the Euro, with the fix set at 1.2000 per Euro. In January 2015, the SNB abruptly abandoned the peg and allowed the currency to float, wreaking destruction on forex markets and stocks. Swiss stocks plunged dramatically, while the Swiss franc rose around 30% relative to the Euro within moments. Some firms and investors were wiped out.