Have you had Switzerland sitting on your bucket list for a while now? Would you like to learn some interesting facts about Switzerland so you can get even more excited about visiting this unique country? Well, we’ve got you covered. Read on for Switzerland facts that will make you book your ticket to this country of the high Alps right away.
Interesting Switzerland Facts
Switzerland is a beautiful country located in central Europe with incredible alpine vistas, world-class cities, and towering mountains. These fun facts about Switzerland will help you understand more about this tiny country in Western Europe that even though it is small, packs a huge punch.
1. Switzerland Was Neutral in Both World Wars
This is a well-known fact about Switzerland. It’s a neutral country in more than one way. Not only did it not participate in both World War I and World War II, but even now, whenever it comes to political affiliations and conflicts, Switzerland likes to stand off to the side, not leaning towards any particular faction.
You might think this is commendable because it means that it favors peace over conflict, or you might think it’s ridiculous because a powerful country like Switzerland could have a lot of clout in world affairs. Either way, this is how the Swiss like to do things.
2. Humanitarian Tradition
Switzerland is famously neutral, a policy that dates back to the Treaty of Paris in 1815. Since then, it has maintained a policy of non-participation in armed conflicts and offers its services for peace-building processes worldwide.
The country is home to the International Red Cross and hosts numerous international organizations, including the European headquarters of the United Nations. This humanitarian tradition and commitment to diplomacy continue to shape Switzerland’s international standing.
3. One of Two Countries in the World With a Square Flag
Alright, so this is genuinely out-of-the-box thinking. Who would have thought it was acceptable to have a square flag? Well, the Swiss did it. The only other country to have a square flag is Vatican City.
Interestingly, the Swiss flag is one of only two sovereign state flags that are square. The other is the flag of the Vatican City. The ratio of the cross arms in the Swiss flag is 7:6:7 (vertical) and 6:7:6 (horizontal), where the cross bars are shorter than the arms.
Switzerland’s flag looks like this: a square red box with a white cross within it. It seems a lot like the Red Cross symbol, doesn’t it? Today, the Swiss flag stands as a symbol of the nation’s unity, neutrality, and commitment to democracy and peace. It’s widely used and respected, both within Switzerland and around the world.
4. Switzerland Has More Banks Than Dentists?
Another fact that’s known worldwide about Switzerland is that rich people with money that they wish to hide from tax agencies, spouses, or anyone else, choose banks in Switzerland to do so. This is because once your money is securely located in a Swiss bank, you can rest assured that they will never disclose this information to anyone who comes asking.
There are even more banks in Switzerland than dentists, which is kind of a funny thing. Also, bank tellers in Switzerland are protected by the bulletproof glass!
5. The Biggest Nuclear Bunker in the World Lucerne
Switzerland is well-prepared for any kind of nuclear disaster as it can house all of its population in nuclear bunkers if the need arises. The biggest nuclear shelter in the world, the Sonnenberg Tunnel, which can accommodate 20,000 people for an extended period, is in Switzerland.
It seems like the best place in the world to settle in during the next major conflict would be Switzerland, by far.
6. Highest Minimum Wage in the World
Geneva (not the capital of Switzerland despite popular thinking) is home to many wealthy people. Still, it also houses many minimum wage workers, like hotel workers, servers, cleaners, hairdressers, and more.
That’s why at the end of 2020, a new hourly rate of 23 Swiss francs was instigated in Geneva. If you are wondering, that’s equivalent to £19, $25, or €22.
This would give a minimum monthly salary of 4000 francs. This is to ensure that people in working-class positions can still afford to live in Switzerland without working themselves to the bone. The United States and other nations could learn from this mandate.
7. Want to Become a Citizen of Switzerland?
If you already think that Switzerland sounds like a great place to live in, it’s true. Switzerland has been dubbed the ‘best place to be born’ by a recent quality-of-life index. It’s no wonder why.
But if you wish to become a citizen of Switzerland, you will need to live in the country for 12 years minimum before you can even apply. So think about that the next time you wish to relocate to another country.
8. Luxury Watches by Swiss Watchmakers
Are you a luxury watch lover? Maybe you have one or two already, or maybe you just like admiring them from far? Either way, half the luxury watch brands like Tissot, TAG Heuer, Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Longines are all Swiss!
Kudos to Swiss watchmakers, who have made watchmaking into such an art form that people pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for it. Here’s an interesting fact about Swiss watchmaking: the first waterproof watch was invented by Rolex in 1927 in Switzerland. Cool, right?
9. Switzerland Is Entirely Landlocked
You might think that the Swiss landscape with numerous pristine lakes, rolling countrysides and villages, and the high peaks of the Switzerland Alps sounds like the perfect landscape. And you would be correct! Read more adventures in Switzerland at 5 Lakes Hike Zermatt – Incredible Matterhorn Views
There’s only one thing that would be missing in this magnificent country: an ocean view. Switzerland is landlocked, meaning that it has no access to the coastline at all. It’s bordered by five countries: France, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, and Italy.
10. High Gun Ownership, Low Murder Rate
Another thing the world could learn from Switzerland is the peaceful nature of its citizens. Even though almost half the population possesses guns for safety, security, and defense, the murder rate is ridiculously low. Compared to the 5 per 100,000 in the United States, Switzerland only has 0.5 murders per 100,000 people.
11. Military Service Is Mandatory
Interestingly enough, Switzerland is one of the last few European countries to have mandatory military service still in its regimen. Every male Swiss citizen over the age of 18 has to serve in the Swiss army. Regular refresher courses take place until age 44, and female Swiss citizens can volunteer to serve in the military if they wish.
And, here is a fun Swiss Fact, the Swiss military has artillery bunkers right in the middle of Swiss villages disguised as homes. We never saw this, but we hear that they are there.
12. Switzerland Has Strict Pet Ownership Laws
Switzerland is an animal loving country. To avoid animal cruelty, Switzerland has stringent pet ownership laws, including the pairing law. This law says that you cannot have only one of the social animals, like a guinea pig, mouse, or fish, because that’s too lonesome and sad.
In addition, animals can be represented by lawyers in court in case of mistreatment or other cruelty.
13. The Hadron Collider Sits Near Geneva
Have you heard of the Hadron Collider? It’s the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator (collider) and was built by the European Organization for nuclear research between 1998 and 2008. More than 10,000 scientists from more than 100 countries and hundreds of universities collaborated to create this particle physics laboratory. It sits in a 27-km long tunnel near the city of Geneva. How awesome is that!
14. Switzerland’s Gotthard Tunnel
Speaking of tunnels, Switzerlan’ds Gotthard tunnel is the longest tunnel in the world.
The Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland is a feat of modern engineering and holds the title for being the longest railway tunnel in the world. The tunnel stretches a staggering 57.1 kilometers (about 35.5 miles) and is situated more than 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) under the peaks of the Swiss Alps.
The idea for the tunnel was born out of the need to improve the transport of goods across the Alps and to shift alpine traffic from road to rail, thus contributing to environmental protection efforts. Construction began in 1996 and it took nearly two decades of work before the tunnel was officially opened on June 1, 2016.
The tunnel connects the municipalities of Erstfeld in the north and Bodio in the south. It is a crucial part of the New Railway Link through the Alps (NRLA), which also includes the Lötschberg Base Tunnel and the under-construction Ceneri Base Tunnel.
15. Four Official Languages in Switzerland
If you thought learning one language was hard enough, think about poor Swiss citizens who have to abide by four official languages: French, Romansh, German, and Italian. But, at least if you feel you’d like to communicate with the locals, you have many options to choose from. The most widely spoken language is Swiss German while Italian is spoken mostly in the south and French in the West.
16. Don’t Forget About the Swiss Army Knife
Another great invention by the Swiss, Karl Elsener, has to be the Swiss Army Knife, dubbed the “world’s smallest toolbox.” You wouldn’t want to go camping or into the wilderness without one. There are four different models, and they can have a barometer, altimeter, and even a USB memory card.
17. Lots of Activities Are Prohibited on Sundays
Weirdly enough, Sundays are pretty sacred in Switzerland, and many activities are prohibited by law on Sundays. These include things like mowing the lawn, hanging out the laundry, and more. Any kind of noisy DIY is not permitted on Sundays.
Also, this applies to weekdays from 2200 to 0600 as well. This is good news for any light sleepers out there. If you get annoyed when your neighbors have loud parties at night or on the weekends, then move or travel to Switzerland and sleep restfully through the night.
18. The Swiss Are All About Cheese and Chocolate
The Swiss love Swiss chocolate and Swiss cheese. Where would the world be without them? Not only does Switzerland produce massive quantities of Swiss chocolate, but it also exports a lot of it abroad, 122,000 tonnes of it in 2018.
Also, the Swiss love their cheese, and indulging in cheese fondue is one of their favorite pastimes. So even though Switzerland is a great country to live in for many reasons, their cheese and chocolate obsession has to top the list of why everyone should think about moving to Switzerland asap.
19. Switzerland Geography and Nature
Switzerland is officially known as the Swiss Confederation. But it goes by a few names including La Suisse, Die Schweiz and here is one of the interesting fun facts we didn’t know, Switzerland’s internet code domain, ch, comes from its Latin name, Confoederatio Helvetica.
Switzerland is a landlocked country located in the heart of Europe. Sharing its borders with five countries: France to the west, Germany to the north, Austria, and Liechtenstein to the east, and Italy to the south, Switzerland is not a part of the European Union.
20. The Alps
The Swiss landscape is dominated by the Swiss Alps, a mountain range that spans across the southern part of the country, accounting for about 60% of Switzerland’s total land area. The Alps are home to some of Europe’s highest peaks; the Dufourspitze in the Monte Rosa massif stands as Switzerland’s tallest at 4,634 meters. These majestic peaks serve as a haven for winter sports enthusiasts, with famous ski resorts like Zermatt, Verbier, and St. Moritz attracting visitors from around the globe.
The remaining land consists of the Swiss Plateau, where the majority of the population resides, and the Jura Mountains to the north. The country is rich in natural beauty, from the Rhine Falls, Europe’s largest waterfall, to Lake Geneva, one of the largest lakes in Western Europe.
21. Swiss Economy and Innovation
Switzerland is one of the wealthiest countries globally and has a highly developed economy. It is internationally recognized for its high standard of living, quality of life, and excellent infrastructure. The country’s economy is characterized by its stability, high-tech manufacturing sector, and strong service sector.
Besides its watchmaking industry, chocolate, and cheese, Switzerland is a powerhouse in the financial sector. It is home to large multinational corporations, including Nestle, Novartis, and UBS, and is known for its banking industry and strong privacy laws, although transparency has increased in recent years.
In terms of innovation, Switzerland is a global leader, especially in sectors like pharmaceuticals, medical technology, and environmental technology. It is one of the countries with the highest number of patent applications per capita, reflecting its strong culture of research and development.
22. Swiss Culture and Languages
Switzerland is a country of cultural diversity, largely due to its geographical location and political structure. The nation is divided into 26 cantons, each with a high degree of autonomy, and four official languages are spoken: The national languages of Switzerland are German, French, Italian, and Romansh, each representing different cultural regions within the country. Switzerland’s most populated canton is Zürich and the the least populated is Appenzell Innerrhode.
The Swiss people are culturally and linguistically diverse. Swiss Germans, for instance, have traditions like the colorful Fasnacht Spring Carnival in Basel, while the French-speaking Swiss celebrate the annual Cow Parade in the Alps. Italian influence can be seen in the architecture and cuisine of the canton of Ticino.
Despite its diversity, Switzerland is also known for its sense of unity and common identity. The concept of “Willensnation”, a nation by will, is often used to describe this cohesion, wherein diverse linguistic and cultural communities live together peacefully under a single political system.
23. Switzerland Education and Research
Switzerland takes pride in its high-quality education system and is home to some of the world’s top-ranked universities, like ETH Zurich and EPFL. The country also hosts world-renowned research institutions and is a global leader in scientific research.
From the breathtaking beauty of the Swiss Alps to the country’s impressive economy and rich cultural diversity, Switzerland’s facts reveal a nation that, despite its small size, has a significant impact on a global scale.
The capital city of Switzerland is Bern. This beautiful Swiss Capital has a UNESCO World Heritage-listed old town.
24. Fun Swiss Sports
The Swiss are an active bunch of people and it seems that everyone is always outdoors. Here are some fun Swiss facts about sports.
Switzerland has produced some world-class tennis players. Martina Hingis, one of the best female players of all time, was born in Slovakia but became a Swiss citizen. Swiss men’s tennis has also been dominated by two major players: Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka, both of whom have won multiple Grand Slam titles.
Switzerland is home to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The IOC, established by Pierre de Coubertin, is located in Lausanne, and Switzerland often hosts various winter Olympic disciplines.
Swiss Wrestling (Schwingen) is a traditional Swiss sport, similar to sumo wrestling. The competitors wear special shorts made of jute over their clothes and attempt to throw their opponent onto their back. The largest Schwingen event, the Federal Alpine Wrestling Festival, takes place every three years and attracts large crowds.
Cycling is both a popular pastime and a competitive sport in Switzerland. The country has produced some excellent cyclists and regularly hosts stages of the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia.
25. Facts About Switzerland: Population and Demographics
There are a lot more facts about Switzerland to learn and peruse. But, as with any other place globally, the only way to honestly know a country is by living in it–or at least visiting for an extended period. Here are some fast facts about Switzerland to leave you with.
Switzerland is small. It is only 41,285 km² about the size of New Jersey or the size of New Hampshire and Vermont combined
Switzerland’s population is 8.63 million people
25% of Switzerland’s population is made up of foreign residents, half being from France, Germany, Italy, and Portugal
And these are some fun and interesting facts about Switzerland to help you better understand the country when you visit next. Are you searching for your next adventure spot and feeling confused about all the options? Consider Switzerland! It’s awesome!
Read our blog post on the 23 Exciting Things to Do in Zermatt, Switzerland’, and get excited about this country’s jewel. There are many things to explore in this country and you will be surprised by what you discover in the Switzerland Alps.