SWITZERLAND FACTS THAT MIGHT SURPRISE YOU
Switzerland is gorgeous – that is a fact everyone is aware of! But what are other important facts about Switzerland?
Switzerland is a country that’s just bursting with unique charm! Imagine majestic mountains and serene lakes coming together with vibrant cities and cutting-edge innovations. It’s a delightful blend of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and mouthwatering culinary wonders.
As a self-proclaimed Switzerland enthusiast, I’ve had the pleasure of immersing myself in its splendors for over 18 months so far. I’ve passionately penned numerous articles about the best activities, must-visit destinations, and exciting itineraries in Switzerland.
However, for some mysterious reasons, it took me a while to curate a delightful collection of fun and intriguing Swiss facts about this fascinating land in Central Europe. But fear not, for the wait is over! Get ready to be dazzled by these hidden gems of Switzerland!
Let´s find out. Here are some interesting Switzerland facts that might surprise you!
FUN SWITZERLAND FACTS
So, without further ado, here is information you might not need for your Switzerland trip, but it is still interesting to know.
1. Switzerland Has Four Official Languages
Despite its petite size and a population of less than nine million, Switzerland boasts a fascinating linguistic landscape with multiple official languages.
There are not one, not two, but four official languages in this remarkable country! We’ve got German, Italian, French, and Romansh, each dominating a specific Swiss region.
Approximately 64% of the Swiss population fluently speaks more than one language! That’s right, Switzerland is one of the most multilingual nations on the planet!
Some cities, like Biel and Fribourg, are truly multilingual hotspots. It’s incredible to see this linguistic tapestry in action! So, where do people speak which national language?
Now, let’s break it down a bit. Over 60% of the population speaks German as their primary language, but hold your horses—it’s not the same German you’ll find in Germany. They have a range of Alemannic dialects collectively known as Swiss German.
Trust me, as someone from Northern Germany (Bremen, to be exact) who speaks “High German,” understanding Swiss German is a whole different ballgame. Most Swiss folks notice my struggle to comprehend them, but luckily they can understand me in my High German, so they kindly slow down and use a milder dialect. If you’re looking to learn or improve your German, I wouldn’t recommend doing it in Switzerland, as it’s quite different from the German spoken and understood in Germany.
Now let’s talk about French, the main language in the French-speaking region of Switzerland, known as Romandie. Approximately 23% of the population speaks French as their primary language.
Italian takes the spotlight for about 8% of the Swiss population, mainly in Ticino and parts of the canton of Graubünden.
And then we have Romansh, a Rhaeto-Romanic language derived from Latin, spoken by less than 1% of the Swiss population, predominantly in the canton of Graubünden.
But wait, what about English? If you don’t speak any of the four official languages, don’t fret! Many Swiss people also have a grasp of basic English. So, you’re covered!
There you have it, the lowdown on Switzerland’s language extravaganza. It’s a linguistic adventure like no other!
2. The Swiss Eat the Most Chocolate Annually
Prepare to be amazed because Switzerland reigns supreme as the champion of chocolate consumption! With the highest per capita chocolate consumption in the world, each resident joyfully indulges in an average of 10 to 11 kilograms (22-25 pounds) annually.
It’s no wonder that the Swiss chocolate industry holds a vital role in the country’s economy, culture, and tradition. And if you’ve ever had the pleasure of savoring Swiss chocolate, you’ll wholeheartedly agree that it’s the absolute best in the world. So, it’s completely understandable why the Swiss simply can’t resist their chocolate fix!
In Switzerland, you can even immerse yourself in the art of crafting your very own Swiss chocolate. There are courses available where you can learn the secrets of creating delectable Swiss chocolate and making your chocolate dreams come true. And Swiss Francs spent on Swiss chocolate is well spent.
3. Authorities Regulate Baby Names
Here’s a fun fact about Switzerland: the Swiss authorities hold the ultimate power in approving the names parents can give to their little ones. Why, you ask? Well, it’s all about looking out for the best interests of the child and making sure their name is just right.
They want to ensure that the chosen name is appropriate, won’t cause any harm or trouble for the child, and fits in with the cultural vibes.
It’s like a name safety net, keeping things playful, friendly, and culturally on point for those adorable Swiss kiddos!
4. Switzerland Shuts Down on Sundays
Welcome to Switzerland, where Sundays are all about unwinding and taking it easy!
Picture this: across the entire country, you’ll find shops, businesses, and public services peacefully shutting down, embracing the day of rest. But that’s not all – there are even regulations in place to ensure tranquility reigns supreme. Excessive noise, like mowing the lawn or firing up the vacuum cleaner, is a big no-no on Sundays. It’s a time for serenity, relaxation, and enjoying the calm vibes.
Now, hold your horses! Don’t worry about going hungry on Sundays because restaurants are here to save the day. They’re usually open, ready to serve up delicious meals and keep your taste buds satisfied.
And if you do a Switzerland road trip, you´ll be happy to know that gas stations are open 7 days a week!
And if you’re up for some thrilling adventures or breathtaking views, fear not! Most indoor and outdoor attractions, like gondolas and other exciting spots, are also open on Sundays. So, go ahead and make the most of your day off in beautiful Switzerland!
5. Buildings Must Have Nuclear Shelters
Here’s an interesting tidbit about Switzerland: back in 1977, they implemented the Swiss Civil Defense Law. And guess what? This law mandates that all new buildings must have their very own nuclear shelter. Why, you ask? Well, it’s all part of Switzerland’s super-duper defense strategy to keep their population safe and sound.
You see, this law is like a superhero shield, ready to protect the people in case of any biological, nuclear, or chemical threats. It’s all about being prepared for the worst-case scenarios and having a solid plan in place.
So, rest assured, when you’re in Switzerland, those buildings got your back with their trusty nuclear shelters, ready to safeguard the population like champions!
6. Pet Owners Pay Tax for Their Dogs
Get ready to unleash some fun facts about Switzerland, where dogs are treated like royalty in their very own paradise! Just imagine those majestic Swiss Alps, the perfect playground for our furry friends. But here’s the catch: Swiss dog owners have a little something called an “annual dog tax”.
Now, don’t worry, this tax isn’t meant to put a damper on the doggy fun. In fact, it helps cover the costs of maintaining the numerous parks and public spaces where our four-legged pals can frolic and play. It also takes care of important things like waste disposal and managing stray dogs. It’s all about keeping those tails wagging and the Swiss doggy kingdom in tip-top shape.
So, next time you spot a happy pup bounding through a Swiss park, remember that their owner’s “dog duty” is making it all possible. It’s just another way Switzerland ensures that our furry companions have the best of everything in their own little slice of heaven.
7. 475 Different Types of Cheese
Calling all cheese enthusiasts! Switzerland is an absolute paradise for you, with a mind-blowing selection of over 475 cheese varieties to satisfy your cheesy cravings. It’s an integral part of the country’s rich culinary heritage, and what’s truly remarkable is that many cheesemakers still follow traditional methods handed down through the generations. Talk about keeping those cheesy traditions alive!
Now, let’s talk about some heavyweights in the Swiss cheese game. Brace yourself for names like Emmental and Gruyères, known far and wide for their creations.
And oh boy, the aroma of cheese! It permeates the air, teasing your nostrils from a distance. If you have a nose as sharp and sensitive as mine, you won’t miss it. Personally, I’m not a fan of the scent, but hey, to each their own.
So, prepare your taste buds for a cheese-filled adventure in Switzerland. With a cornucopia of flavors, textures, and the incredible craftsmanship of Swiss cheesemakers, it’s a journey that’s bound to make your cheesy dreams come true.
8. Switzerland Has Its Own Grand Canyon
Get ready to be awe-struck by the magnificent beauty of the Rhine Gorge in the canton of Graubünden (Grison). This breathtaking canyon has been shaped over thousands of years by the majestic Rhine River, creating a sight to behold. It’s no wonder they call it the “Swiss Grand Canyon”!
Prepare to have your jaw drop as you take in the incredible depths of the gorge, plunging nearly 1,312 feet (400 meters) below. It’s a natural wonder that leaves visitors speechless, immersing them in a world of stunning geological formations and captivating landscapes.
So, if you’re seeking an adventure that will leave you in awe, make sure to explore the Rhine Gorge. It’s a place where nature’s artistic prowess is on full display, beckoning you to marvel at its splendor.
9. Most Innovative Country in the World
Switzerland, the unrivaled champion of innovation! For a solid decade, this remarkable country has proudly held the top spot as the most innovative nation on the planet. With a rich history of scientific exploration and groundbreaking discoveries, Swiss inventors and entrepreneurs have been the driving force behind a plethora of game-changing innovations.
From revolutionary pharmaceutical advancements that push the boundaries of medical science to state-of-the-art machinery that defines precision and efficiency, Swiss companies are true trailblazers in their respective industries. They never cease to amaze me with their unwavering commitment to pushing the limits of what’s possible.
So, buckle up and get ready to witness the incredible power of Swiss innovation. It’s a journey into a world where boundaries are shattered, new horizons are explored, and the future is shaped by the visionary minds of Switzerland’s finest. Prepare to be amazed by the extraordinary accomplishments that continue to solidify Switzerland’s well-deserved reputation as a global innovation powerhouse.
Hold on tight, because I’ve got a super cool Swiss secret to share with you! Ever heard of the velogemel? It’s a one-of-a-kind invention that hasn’t quite made its way into the spotlight beyond Switzerland. Picture this: a wooden bike specifically designed for the snowy mountainous regions during the winter months. How awesome is that?
This fantastic contraption was actually invented by a clever local in Grindelwald, and now, riding a velogemel in the snow has become a wildly popular activity in the picturesque Jungfrau Region. It’s an experience like no other, gliding through the snowy landscapes on a wooden bike, feeling the crisp winter air against your face.
10. One of Two Countries With a Square Flag
Get ready for a fascinating flag fact! Did you know that Switzerland proudly waves a square flag, making it one of only two countries in the world with this unique distinction?
Back in the late 1300s, the Swiss forces chose a striking red flag adorned with a white cross at its heart. This iconic symbol has become synonymous with the nation’s rich history and heritage.
Next time you spot that square flag of Switzerland fluttering in the wind, take a moment to appreciate its distinctive shape and the story it tells. It’s a proud emblem of Switzerland’s resilience, unity, and the remarkable journey that has shaped this extraordinary nation.
11. Switzerland is Divided Into 26 Cantons
Switzerland’s journey as a nation took shape over time through the union of independent territories, resulting in the formation of the Swiss Confederation. This historical process is the reason behind Switzerland having 26 cantons today. Each canton maintains its own distinct constitution, laws, government, and police force, ensuring a sense of regional autonomy within the country.
Interestingly, even within the smallest geographical areas, you’ll encounter 26 different educational systems, each with its unique set of holiday schedules and timetables. This diversity reflects the cantons’ ability to tailor their educational approaches to meet local needs and preferences.
In its early days, each Swiss canton acted as a sovereign state, with its own currency and defense forces. However, as time progressed, the cantons transformed into a confederation of states, ultimately culminating in the establishment of the present-day federal state that we recognize today. This federative structure allows for a balance between national unity and regional autonomy, shaping Switzerland’s distinct political landscape.
12. Home to the World’s Longest Railway Tunnel
Hold onto your hats because I’ve got an incredible Swiss engineering feat to share with you! Get ready to be amazed by the Gotthard Tunnel, crowned as the longest railway tunnel in the entire world. Brace yourself for this mind-blowing fact: it stretches an astonishing 35 miles (56 kilometers) right through the majestic Swiss Alps.
This remarkable tunnel, which opened its doors in 2016, is the product of an awe-inspiring 17-year construction journey. Can you believe it? Over 2,000 dedicated workers poured their blood, sweat, and tears into carving their way through solid rock to bring this engineering marvel to life.
So, the next time you find yourself traveling through the heart of the Swiss Alps, remember the incredible feat that is the Gotthard Tunnel. It’s a testament to human ingenuity, perseverance, and the boundless possibilities of turning dreams into reality.
13. Switzerland Has Over 1,500 Lakes
Switzerland, the land of pristine freshwater wonders! Prepare to be amazed by the abundance of lakes and rivers that grace approximately 4% of its breathtaking surface. With over 1,500 named lakes, you’re never too far away from a sparkling body of water within the borders of this magnificent country.
In fact, you’re never more than 16 kilometers (10 miles) away from a lake, giving you plenty of opportunities to soak in the natural beauty and tranquility.
Now, hold on to your swim trunks because here’s another fascinating tidbit: some estimates even suggest that Switzerland is home to around 7,000 lakes! While we’ll stick to the conservative number of 1,500 named lakes, it’s safe to say that Switzerland’s aquatic wonders are truly abundant and awe-inspiring.
From the largest lake in Switzerland (Lake Geneva) to gorgeous small mountain lakes like Wildsee in St.Gallen – you will find whatever lake you are dreaming of (I might not be the only one dreaming of Swiss lakes, or?!).
14. Einstein Made Important Discoveries in Bern
Switzerland takes the crown as the birthplace of one of the most monumental scientific discoveries in history: Einstein’s legendary equation, E=mc². It was right here, in the beautiful city of Bern, where the brilliant mind of Albert Einstein crafted this groundbreaking equation back in 1905, all while he was working as a patent clerk.
This equation holds immense significance as it unveils the profound relationship between energy and mass, laying the foundation for modern physics as we know it. It’s a game-changer that revolutionized our understanding of the universe.
So, next time you find yourself in Switzerland, take a moment to celebrate the incredible legacy of Einstein and his timeless equation. It’s a testament to human intellect, curiosity, and the extraordinary power of scientific exploration that continues to shape our world.
15. Europe’s Highest Railway Station
Get ready to reach new heights in Switzerland because we’ve got a record-breaking railway station to share with you! Nestled in the majestic Bernese Alps, the Jungfraujoch proudly claims the title of Europe’s highest railway station, earning its famous nickname, the “Top of Europe.
Imagine this: perched at a mind-boggling altitude of 11,371 feet (3,466 meters) above sea level, the Jungfraujoch railway station offers an awe-inspiring experience. It’s a gateway to breathtaking vistas and a gateway to adventure in the heart of the Bernese Alps.
So, pack your sense of wonder and prepare to be mesmerized as you ascend to the summit of the Jungfraujoch. It’s a journey that will leave you speechless, surrounded by towering peaks and sweeping panoramas that will forever etch themselves into your memory.
16. Swiss Luxury Watches
Prepare to be captivated by the Swiss mastery of watchmaking, where quality, precision, and innovation reign supreme. It’s no wonder that Switzerland is hailed as the leader in this prestigious field. In fact, a staggering 50% of all luxury watches crafted across the globe bear the Swiss seal of excellence.
Picture this: iconic brands like Tissot, TAG Heuer, and Rolex are just a glimpse into the world of Swiss watchmaking greatness. Each timepiece carries a legacy of craftsmanship and attention to detail that is second to none.
17. Switzerland Has Seven Heads of State
In Switzerland, the power is in the hands of seven remarkable individuals collectively known as the Federal Council. They are the heads of state, leading the way as the executive branch of the Swiss government. Representing the country’s major political parties, this diverse group takes on the crucial responsibility of making decisions on behalf of the Swiss people.
Imagine the strength of unity as these seven heads of state come together, combining their wisdom and perspectives to shape the future of the nation. It’s a system built on collaboration and a commitment to serving the best interests of the Swiss population.
18. Longest Glacier in Europe
Prepare to be awestruck by the grandeur of the Aletsch Glacier, for it holds the prestigious title of being the longest glacier in all of Europe. Stretching across a jaw-dropping expanse of 66 square miles (171 square kilometers), this magnificent icy marvel resides east of the enchanting Gemmi Pass in the captivating Canton of Valais, Switzerland.
The sheer size and natural beauty of the Aletsch Glacier draw in droves of visitors each year, eager to witness its breathtaking splendor. Brace yourself for a visual feast as you immerse yourself in the mesmerizing landscape sculpted by this majestic ice formation.
So, if you’re seeking an unforgettable experience amidst nature’s frozen wonders, the Aletsch Glacier is the place to be.
19. World’s Oldest Operating Nuclear Power Plant
In picturesque Northern Switzerland, a true marvel of engineering stands tall—the Beznau Nuclear Power Plant. This exceptional facility, operational since 1969, proudly holds the title of the world’s oldest operating power plant. It stands as a testament to efficiency, durability, and unwavering performance.
For over 50 years, the Beznau Nuclear Power Plant has been a reliable source of safe and clean energy, continuously supplying the Swiss population with power. Its track record speaks volumes about its unwavering commitment to providing sustainable energy solutions.
20. The Dalai Lama Owns a Small Swiss Vineyard
The Dalai Lama happens to be the proud owner of a charming little vineyard nestled in Saillon, located in the scenic Canton of Valais. This vineyard was bestowed upon him as a heartfelt gift back in 1999.
The Dalai Lama utilizes this vineyard to produce a select number of exquisite wines. But there’s a twist! The proceeds from the sale of these fine wines go towards supporting underprivileged children, making each sip of these wines a gesture of compassion and hope.
21. The Aare River Holds a World Record
Get ready to dive into an astonishing world record achieved by the Aare River in Bern! In 2012, a momentous event took place as an astounding 1,268 individuals hopped aboard rubber boats and embarked on a remarkable boating adventure. Together, they created history by simultaneously floating down the mighty Aare River.
It was a testament to the power of unity and coordination as participants fearlessly embraced the river’s currents and embarked on an epic journey from Kiesen to Eichholz. The sense of camaraderie and the shared excitement brought this incredible feat to life.
So, next time you find yourself in Bern, take a moment to appreciate the Aare River and its claim to fame.
22. Social Pets Must Have Friends
The Swiss Animal Welfare Act of 2005 ensures that all our furry and feathery friends receive the love and care they truly deserve. This paw-some law has some special provisions for social animals like goldfish, budgerigars, and guinea pigs.
According to the law, these social animals must have companions of their own species for optimal socialization. It’s all about promoting their well-being and happiness by allowing them to engage in natural social behaviors with their fellow buddies.
From goldfish to budgerigars and guinea pigs, they’ll have the opportunity to form friendships and enjoy their lives to the fullest. It’s a testament to Switzerland’s commitment to nurturing the emotional and social needs of our beloved animal companions.
23. Highest Cable Car Station in Europe
Prepare to be whisked away to new heights in Zermatt, Switzerland, as we unveil the remarkable Klein Matterhorn Aerial Tramway. This extraordinary cable car station holds the prestigious title of being Europe’s highest. Ascending to a breathtaking height of 12,740 feet (3,883 meters) above sea level, it offers passengers an unparalleled experience and jaw-dropping views of the iconic Matterhorn.
Imagine the exhilaration as you soar above the picturesque landscapes, gazing upon the majestic Matterhorn from an awe-inspiring vantage point. The Klein Matterhorn Aerial Tramway grants you access to a world of breathtaking beauty and serves as a gateway to unforgettable alpine adventures, with Valais (Wallis) canton being home to some of the highest peaks in Switzerland.
24. World’s Longest Stairway
Get ready for a breathtaking feat of engineering in Switzerland! Nestled near the enchanting Lake Thun, you’ll find the Niesen Treppe, the proud bearer of the title “world’s longest stairway.” Brace yourself for a staggering 11,674 steps, taking you on a captivating ascent with an altitude gain of 8,530 feet (2,600 meters).
But hold on, there’s more to this incredible stairway. The Niesen Treppe is actually an integral part of the Niesen mountain railway, an engineering marvel constructed in the early 1900s. Originally designed to transport goods and people to the mountain’s summit, it now serves as an awe-inspiring journey for adventurers seeking stunning views and unforgettable experiences.
So, if you’re up for a physical challenge and a visual feast, set your sights on the Niesen Treppe.
25. Cleanest Air in the World
Get ready to take a deep breath of fresh air in Zurich, as this remarkable city has been crowned the champion of clean air for over a decade! Picture this: with its innovative transportation systems, streets designed for pedestrians, and a steadfast commitment to reducing pollution, Zurich sets the bar high for urban sustainability.
It’s a city where you can truly inhale the essence of clean living. The forward-thinking initiatives and conscious efforts of Zurich’s residents and authorities have paved the way for a pristine environment and a breath of fresh air.
So, whether you’re strolling along the streets, exploring the city’s efficient transportation options, or simply taking in the surroundings, you can revel in the knowledge that Zurich is leading the charge toward a greener, cleaner future.
26. Switzerland Has Not Been at War Since 1847
Two world wars – happing just around the corner but Switzerland managed to stay neutral.
Let’s turn back the pages of history to the Sonderbund War of 1847, the last armed conflict to take place within the peaceful borders of Switzerland. This brief but significant civil war spanned just a few weeks, ultimately leading to the establishment of the Swiss federal state that we know today.
Since the conclusion of this transformative conflict, Switzerland has proudly maintained a steadfast commitment to neutrality in international disputes. It has become a shining example of a nation dedicated to peace and diplomacy, choosing a path of non-involvement in conflicts beyond its borders.
27. The Swiss Celebrate Their Cows
Get ready to witness a truly magnificent Swiss tradition that takes place every September: the Alpabfahrt cattle drive festival. This enchanting event celebrates the annual journey of cow herds as they make their way from mountain pastures to the lower valleys for the winter season.
Picture this: the cows, adorned with vibrant flowers and melodious bells, create a captivating spectacle as they elegantly parade through the streets. It’s a majestic procession that captures the essence of Swiss heritage and the harmonious relationship between humans and their bovine companions.
But the festivities don’t stop there! The Alpabfahrt festival also treats you to lively music, mouthwatering culinary delights, and traditional Swiss folk dances. It’s a celebration that immerses you in the rich cultural tapestry of Switzerland, offering a glimpse into the country’s time-honored customs and cherished traditions.
So, mark your calendar for September and prepare to be swept away by the beauty and vibrancy of the Alpabfahrt cattle drive festival.
When you find yourself in Switzerland, keep your eyes peeled because you’re bound to encounter some charming Swiss cows along your journey. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that your Swiss adventure isn’t complete without a delightful encounter with these gentle bovine beauties!
28. Second-Highest Life Expectancy
Switzerland proudly holds its place as the country with the second-longest life expectancy in the world, just after Japan. With men averaging 83 years and women reaching an average of 85 years, Switzerland boasts one of the oldest populations in Europe. While I haven’t conducted extensive research on the matter, I have a strong hunch that their love for hiking plays a significant role in this impressive longevity.
Whenever I embark on hikes in Switzerland, I’m pleasantly surprised by the sight of older Swiss individuals gracefully making their way along the trails. Not only do they pass me effortlessly, but they also radiate vitality and enthusiasm. While I catch my breath, they continue their journey, seemingly unaffected by the exertion. It’s truly awe-inspiring!
The combination of breathtaking landscapes and a culture that embraces outdoor activities like hiking undoubtedly plays a part in the Swiss people’s vibrant and active lifestyles.
29. Swiss Mountains Feature in Star Wars
Get ready for a mind-blowing connection between reality and the realm of science fiction! The breathtaking landscapes of Grindelwald in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland played a vital role in inspiring the iconic mountain scenery of none other than Alderaan, Princess Leia’s home planet in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
Imagine the majestic peaks of Grindelwald serving as the picturesque backdrop, their awe-inspiring beauty captured through the lens of talented videographers. These breathtaking images were seamlessly blended with other elements to bring the stunning vista of Alderaan to life on the silver screen.
So, the next time you find yourself immersed in the Star Wars universe, remember that the real-world landscapes of Grindelwald played a significant part in creating the fictional beauty of Alderaan. It’s a testament to the otherworldly wonders that can be found right here on Earth, where imagination and reality intertwine in the most extraordinary ways.
30. The Red Cross Was Created in Switzerland
In the year 1859, a significant event unfolded before the eyes of Henry Dunant (1828-1910), a compassionate businessman from Geneva. He witnessed the Battle of Solferino and was deeply moved by the tremendous suffering he encountered. A powerful phrase emerged from this experience: “Siamo tutti fratelli” – “We are all brothers.”
In a remarkable display of compassion, the residents of the nearby town of Castiglione, irrespective of their affiliation, united to provide aid to the victims. Inspired by their noble actions, Dunant actively engaged in assisting those in need, standing at the forefront of the relief efforts. His vision for multinational humanitarian organizations resonated strongly. In 1863, he presented his visionary concept for a “Public Welfare Society” in Geneva, which marked the birth of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), known as the ICRC today.
The recognizable resemblance between the Red Cross emblem and the Swiss flag was no coincidence. Geneva became the esteemed headquarters of the ICRC, a position it still holds to this day. Over time, the ICRC expanded its operations worldwide, reaching out to over 100 countries. The organization’s workforce has grown to include 20,000 dedicated individuals, and the number of volunteers has soared to over 10 million.
In recognition of his tireless efforts for peace and humanity, the Swiss visionary Henry Dunant, alongside the French pacifist Frédéric Passy, received the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901. Their contributions continue to inspire and shape the humanitarian landscape, leaving an enduring legacy of compassion and solidarity.
31. Compulsory Military Service in Switzerland
In Switzerland, they take their military service seriously – this might be one of the most surprising Swiss facts as we all know that Switzerland has not been in wars for centuries and is politically “neutral”. So, how come?
Back in the day, Switzerland had to show off its sovereignty muscles to those big-shot powers. Can you believe it? They had a whopping 600,000 soldiers in their militia army until the Cold War called it quits. But hey, when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, peace was in the air, and the neighboring countries said, “Adios” to compulsory military service.
But hold on, the Swiss militia spirit lives on! Yep, you heard me right. In Switzerland, every citizen becomes a soldier, and it’s a part of their gig. The army size may have shrunk, but they still keep the tradition of compulsory military service going strong. It all starts between the ages of 18 and 30 with a cool 18-week basic training. Then, you commit to 10 years of service
Now, if you’re not really into the whole armed forces thing, no worries. You can opt for a longer civilian service instead. They’re all about respecting your conscience, after all. And guess what else? More and more ladies are stepping up and joining the voluntary military service.
32. 48 Swiss Mountains Surpassing 4,000 meters
Let’s talk about the enchantment of high mountains. Scaling their peaks may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but even from a distance, they offer a breathtaking spectacle. With their majestic presence and year-round ice-capped peaks, they stand tall, towering over other mountains.
Switzerland boasts an impressive count of 48 mountains surpassing 4,000 meters, and guess what? A whopping 41 of them proudly reside in the Valais Alps. It’s like they’ve found their mountain paradise there! And you know what’s even cooler? The Alpine Passes Trail cuts through this very mountain range, giving you the ultimate front-row seat to admire these majestic beauties up close.
So, if you’re ready for an unforgettable adventure, lace up your boots and hit the Alpine Passes Trail. This fantastic route will take you on a journey through awe-inspiring landscapes, with the magnificent Valais Alps as your backdrop.
34. Smoking Is Forbidden in Enclosed Areas Open to the Public
I’ve got some smoking news for you! Since 1 May 2010, Switzerland has put its foot down when it comes to smoking in enclosed areas that are open to the public or serve as workplaces for multiple people. That means no lighting up in restaurants, public buildings, or offices. Even public transport is a no-smoking zone!
Separate smoking rooms are available for all you passionate smokers out there, and if you prefer the great outdoors, you’re in luck! Lighting up is allowed outside, so you can take in the fresh air while you satisfy your craving.
And of course, when it comes to private homes, you have the freedom to puff away as you please. It’s your personal sanctuary, after all!
So, let’s keep the smoke out of public places, respect the rules, and ensure everyone can breathe easily.
35. Switzerland is Landlocked
Summer in Switzerland is a time for water enthusiasts to rejoice, despite the country being landlocked. How is that possible, you ask? Well, let me spill the secret: it’s all about the lakes! Switzerland is blessed with an abundance of crystal-clear lakes that more than make up for the lack of ocean access. These stunning lakes become the aquatic playground for locals and visitors alike.
However, let’s set some expectations straight. Whale watching and diving, unfortunately, are not part of the Swiss experience. As a landlocked country, access to water is primarily through our rivers and magnificent lakes.
Also, when you find yourself in Switzerland, prepare for an action-packed itinerary. The options are endless! Whether you’re up for exhilarating hikes, thrilling mountain biking adventures, heart-pounding river rafting, gravity-defying paragliding, adrenaline-pumping canyoning, challenging rock climbing, or even exploring the serene waters through kayaking, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Switzerland truly has it all when it comes to outdoor activities — just no access to the ocean.
36. Switzerland Has 5 Borders
Picture this: Switzerland, a land nestled in the heart of Europe, is surrounded by five bordering countries. To the south, we have the captivating Italy. As we move toward the West, France unveils its charm. Heading north, we encounter vibrant Germany. And when we venture to the east, the welcoming embrace of Austria and Liechtenstein awaits us.
Now, here’s the interesting part. The geographical proximity of these neighboring nations has influenced Switzerland’s linguistic tapestry. It’s truly fascinating how borders can shape language and culture. Switzerland, with its diverse linguistic regions, embraces the unique flavors of neighboring countries, offering an enriching tapestry of languages and traditions.
So, as you explore Switzerland, let the languages guide your journey. From French-speaking wonders in the West to the Italian-infused charm of Ticino, immerse yourself in the linguistic mosaic that makes Switzerland a truly captivating destination.
TIP: This makes day trips to neighboring countries also super easy!
37. Direct Democracy
In Switzerland, they take democracy to a whole new level! It’s like they have a Swiss Army Knife of democracy tools. Not only do they get to vote for their parliament peeps, who then play a game of “government appointing,” and “law-enacting,” but they also get to play democracy DJ and drop the beat on specific issues. It’s like democracy with Swiss precision!
And guess what? Switzerland is the MVP of voting! They’ve hosted more national votes than anyone else on the planet. The Swiss are basically the superheroes of democracy, always ready to swoop in and have their say. They practically live at the ballot box, showing up like it’s a party four times a year. They’ve got an average of 15 countrywide issues to chit-chat about. Move over, rest of the world – the Swiss are the real democracy champs!
38. The Capital City of Switzerland is not Zurich
Ah, Switzerland, the land of cities that wear multiple hats! Most people are actually surprised when they find out about the Swiss capital city.
First up, we have Geneva, the international superstar city. It’s like the United Nations’ favorite cousin. With all those international organizations, it’s as if Geneva is hosting the World Diplomacy Olympics year-round. They should rename it “Geneva-lutionary” because this city is where the world comes to sort out its problems over fondue and chocolate.
Now, let’s talk about Zurich, the financial whiz-kid of Switzerland. It’s where the Swiss banks do their banking, and the stock market goes up and down like a ski slope. It’s also the biggest city, which makes sense because if money were a city, it would definitely be Zurich. You know it’s a financial powerhouse when even the pigeons in Zurich wear tiny business suits.
And last but not least, there’s Bern, the capital city. If Switzerland were a Swiss chocolate box, Bern would be the dark chocolate center – rich, historic, and the place where all the official Swiss business happens. But let’s be honest when you think of Switzerland, you probably think of high mountains and cheese before you think of the capital of Switzerland.
Sorry, Bern, you’re like the Swiss politician of cities – important, but not quite as famous as the other two.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON SWISS FACTS
Switzerland is a country of remarkable diversity and captivating facts. From its stunning landscapes of majestic mountains and crystal-clear lakes to its renowned innovations in watchmaking and scientific discoveries, Switzerland has carved its place as a global leader.
With its multilingual society, rich cultural heritage, and commitment to sustainability, Switzerland continues to inspire and awe visitors from around the world. Whether it’s exploring charming towns, indulging in delectable chocolates, or embarking on thrilling outdoor adventures, Switzerland offers a treasure trove of experiences that leave a lasting impression.
Discover the wonders of Switzerland and immerse yourself in its fascinating tapestry of history, nature, and innovation.
While facts about Switzerland can fill volumes of books, one thing is certain: this small but mighty nation has so much to offer and these are just some of the most interesting facts!