The inaccessible mountains with their particular living conditions provided the area with protection and a great deal of freedom because they made it difficult for foreign powers to enforce their control in the longer term. This enabled the population to develop its own traditions and forms of government. This situation also favoured the neutrality that has been in force since 1515 and which has also served the neighboring countries by forming a safety zone between the European states. The state of Switzerland as we know it today only assumed its current form in 1848. Prior to this time there was no real Swiss history as such; rather, it was the history of the various territories that gradually coalesced up until 1848 in order to form modern-day Switzerland.