- The Swiss are very punctual!
In Switzerland, if you arrange to meet somebody it’s a good idea to be there 5-10 minutes early. If you arrive late, it doesn’t look good. In that case, if you’re running late, calling ahead is a must.
- Obligatory military service for men
Once they turn 18, men with Swiss citizenship start to receive notifications regarding army information days. It is at this point that they choose when to enrol at recruit school. Should a Swiss man be judged unfit to join the army, he must pay a tax.
- We have four national languages.
Switzerland has four official languages, German representing 63.5% of speakers, French 22.5%, Italian 8.1% and Romansh 0.5%. As a rule, your average Swiss person speaks at least two of the national languages!
- There are 7 people in charge of running Switzerland
In Switzerland, the government has 7 members. Each year, one of them becomes the federal counsellor, and will represent Switzerland on the international stage for 1 year.
- Nuclear shelters for the entire population
Switzerland has capacity for its entire population in ‘atomic shelters’. Under the federal law on the protection of the population and civil protection, each inhabitant must be allocated space within a shelter located near to his or her place of residence which can be reached within a reasonable period of time. It’s worth reminding ourselves that Switzerland has a population of 8 million.
- Geneva is not the capital of Switzerland!
Many people think that Geneva is the capital of Switzerland, but that simply isn’t the case. Geneva is the capital of international diplomacy and Zurich is Switzerland’s economic capital. The actual capital of Switzerland is Bern.
- Confoederatio Helvetica, is Switzerland’s official name.
Switzerland is officially known as the Swiss Confederation, and in Latin this translates to Confoederatio Helvetica which is also where the domain name CH used to refer to Swiss websites comes from.
- Swiss lakes
In Switzerland, there are approximately 1500 lakes! The most famous are, Lake Geneva, Lake Neuchâtel or perhaps Lake Lucerne. Switzerland is home to 6% of continental Europe’s fresh water reserves.
- Our national drink
Rivella is the soft drink of choice in Switzerland, it is available in a number of countries. It is produced using milk whey.
- Fondue and Raclette
These are two typical Swiss dishes. There are a number of fondue recipes, the best known is “half and half” fondue made up of 50% Gruyère and 50% Vacherin Fribourgeois. In winter, it is one of the most consumed dishes in Switzerland.
- The Swiss are addicted to chocolate!
Switzerland is internationally renowned for its chocolate, but it doesn’t only export huge amounts every year, in 2016 alone producers shipped 117,031 tons of it. The Swiss are also very partial to chocolate themselves, eating around 11kg each per year.
- Coop and Migros
Coop and Migros are the two leading retail stores in Switzerland. You will find one on practically every street corner in the country.
- Dog owners have to pay a tax!
In Switzerland, nothing is free. If you own a dog, you will have to pay a tax according to its size and weight. You will also have to complete some training on how to look after your animal correctly.
- The world’s largest tunnel is in Switzerland.
In 2016 Switzerland opened the Gothard tunnel which is the largest tunnel in the world. It measures 51.7km in length.
- Switzerland is not in the European Union!
Switzerland is located very much within continental Europe, but it is not part of the European Union. The people of Switzerland voted NO in a referendum on re-joining the EU.
- The Swiss Franc
Switzerland has its own currency, the Swiss Franc or the CHF which is a safe-haven currency in the event of market collapse.