Since 1848 the Swiss Confederation has been a federal republic of relatively autonomous cantons, some of which have a history of confederacy that goes back more than 700 years, putting them among the world's oldest surviving republics.
The early history of the region is tied to that of Alpine culture. Switzerland was inhabited by the Helvetii, and it came under Roman rule in the 1st century BC. Gallo-Roman culture was amalgamated with Germanic influence during Late Antiquity, with the eastern part of Switzerland becoming Alemannic territory. The area of Switzerland was incorporated in the Frankish Empire in the 6th century. In the high medieval period, the eastern part became part of the Duchy of Swabia within the Holy Roman Empire while the western part was part of Burgundy.