The first known inhabitants of Switzerland were a prehistoric people called Lake Dwellers. ( Sometime after 1000 B.C., Celtic tribes moved into the area. The Helvetians, in the west, occupied the most extensive lands. The Raetians held a section in the east.

Important dates in Switzerland
58 B.C. Roman armies under Julius Caesar conquered Helvetia (now Switzerland).
A.D. 400's Germanic tribes occupied Helvetia.
962 Most of what is now Switzerland became part of the Holy Roman Empire.
1291 Three Swiss cantons (states) signed the Perpetual Covenant, a defense agreement that marked the start of the Swiss Confederation.
1315-1388 Switzerland defeated Austria in three wars of independence.
1470's Victories over Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, established Switzerland as a European power.
1515 The Swiss were defeated by the French in Italy and began their policy of permanent neutrality.
1648 The Holy Roman Empire recognized Switzerland's independence.
1798 French forces occupied Switzerland and established the Helvetic Republic under their control.
1815 The Congress of Vienna expanded Switzerland to 22 cantons and restored the old confederation.
1848 Switzerland adopted a constitution that established federal power over the confederation.
1863 The Red Cross was founded in Switzerland. Geneva became the seat of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
1874 Constitutional changes increased federal power.
1920 The League of Nations met at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, for its first session.
1958 Basel became the first Swiss city to let women vote in local elections.
1960 Switzerland helped form the European Free Trade Association.
1963 Switzerland joined the Council of Europe.
1971 Women won voting rights in national elections of Switzerland.
1979 Jura was created as the 23rd canton of Switzerland.
1984 Elisabeth Kopp became the first woman to be elected to the Federal Council.
2002 Switzerland joined the United Nations.