Switzerland is a mountainous Central European country, home to many lakes, villages and the high peaks of the Alps.
Switzerland’s official name is still the “Swiss Confederation“. In Latin this is Confoederatio Helvetica, from which the country’s international abbreviation, CH, is derived.
Switzerland has four official languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh.
Bordering countries are Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Italy and France.
As of 1 January 2016, the population of Switzerland was estimated to be 8,064,246 people.
The Swiss Currency is the Swiss Franc.
Bern, the capital city of Switzerland, is built around a crook in the Aare River.
With a high quality of life, the Swiss cities of Zürich, Geneva and Bern regularly rank amongst most liveable cities in the world.
Switzerland has 1,484 lakes, more than 12,900 smaller bodies of water, and many waterfalls.
Lake Geneva , with an area of 581 square kilometers (224 square miles), is considered the largest Swiss lake, though its southern shore is in France.
Switzerland has stunning landscapes. The well-known Swiss Alps, with the Matterhorn in pride of place, are especially magnificent.
Switzerland is a very mountainous country with 208 mountains over 3,000 meters (9,850 feet) high and 24 over 4,000 meters (13,120 feet).
The highest summit in Switzerland is the Dufourspitze at 4,634 meters (15,203 feet) – the highest summit of the huge Monte Rosa and the second highest of all the Alpine summits.
Deer and stag, fox and marten live in the forests. The hare has become rare. Wolf, bear, lynx and beaver were extinct for about a century, but a few wolfs have reentered Switzerland coming from Italy within the last decade, while lynx and beaver were set out deliberately. Today there live some 800 beavers along Switzerland’s rivers and lakes.
A variety of almost 200 species of birds are breeding in Switzerland.
Switzerland is the oldest neutral country in the world; it has not fought a foreign war since its neutrality was established by the Treaty of Paris in 1815.
The country has been an independent country since the year 1499, apart from occupation by Napoleon’s France between 1798 and 1815.
In 2007, Swiss troops accidentally invaded its neighbor Liechtenstein after getting lost in a rainstorm.
The Swiss Guards who protect the Vatican, in the Vatican City are dual citizens and the only Swiss citizens allowed to serve in foreign armies.
Switzerland has a square flag; the only other square country flag belongs to the Vatican.
The CERN particle physics laboratory near Geneva is the world’s largest research centre. Here, more than 100 meters below ground, is the accelerator that simulates the conditions occurring fractions of a second after the big bang.
In 1891, Karl Elsener invented the Swiss Army Knife after finding out the army’s knives were actually made in Germany. He wanted to create a knife that could have multiple uses and was made in Switzerland. There are over 400 different models of the Swiss Army Knife, and designs today can include an altimeter, barometer, and a computer USB memory card. It has been nicknamed “The World’s Smallest Toolbox.”
Swiss chocolate makers Daniel Peter and Henri Nestlé invented milk chocolate in 1875.
The Nestlé Company, started by Henri Nestlé in 1867, buys up almost ten percent of the world’s coffee and cacao bean crops by itself annually. It also created Nescafe, the world’s first instant coffee in 1938.
Every single one of the seven billion Toblerone produced annually comes from the factory just outside the Swiss capital.
Swiss chocolatier DeLafée has actually developed gold chocolate. They blended 24-karat gold dust into cocoa butter to create edible chocolate gold.
Swiss people consume the most chocolate per capita in the world.
The Rolex Company invented the first waterproof watch in Switzerland in 1927.
The global watch industry is dominated by few countries, mainly Switzerland and China. China is the world’s top watch producer in terms of unit volume, but 99% are inexpensive, quartz watches. In the luxury segment, Credit Suisse’s analysts write, “Switzerland enjoys a near-monopoly position.”
Famous Swiss cheese products are Gruyere, Emmental and Appenzeller.
Gruyère cheese comes from a village in Switzerland called Gruyères. There are allegedly 75 different Alpine scents in the cheese, including vanilla, orchid, violet, chestnut, mint, wood shavings, hazelnuts, and fresh grass among them. Two-thirds of Gruyère production is consumed in Switzerland; the European Union and North America eat the rest.
Dalai Lama owns the smallest vineyard in the world, which is located in Switzerland. It consists of only three vines and has an area of 1.67 square meters (18 square feet).
In Switzerland, there are more banks then dentists.
The first ever youth hostel, established to protect the travelers from bandits, has been operating in the Swiss Alps for nearly 1,200 years.
Teaching is one of the highest paid occupation with the most vacation time: 12 weeks!
Swiss businessman Jean-Henri Dunant also known as Henry Dunant was the founder of the International Committee of the Red Cross. He received the very first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901.
Swiss mailboxes have two slots – one for letters, and one for packages.
In Switzerland, it is permissible to lease a cow, and during the duration of the lease, you get to keep all the cheese that is made from that cow’s milk.
In Switzerland, boots are made for hiking. And for some hardy souls, boots are all they wear. Naked hiking is alarmingly popular, even in winter.
In Switzerland, it is illegal to keep just one guinea pig; they must be kept in pairs.
The world’s largest meringue was baked in 1985 in Frutal, Switzerland. It consisted of 2500 eggs and 120 kg (265 lbs) of sugar, and it had to be baked in specially adapted sauna and was then served with 80 litars (21 gallons) of cream. It was polished off by locals in less than 3 hours. ~ Guinness Book of World Records ~
There is the Anti-PowerPoint Party. It’s an organization that has, at its core, the firm belief that the Microsoft presentation software is a waste of fine Swiss resources. It is 7th biggest party in Switzerland.
Charlie Chaplin’s corpse was stolen by a small group of Swiss mechanics in an attempt to extort money from his family. After retrieving his body, he was reburied under 1.8 meters (6 feet) of concrete to prevent further attempts.