Switzerland is known for its delicious milky chocolate, breathtaking alpine scenery, and many luxury brands. Alongside these notable qualities, Switzerland was and is the place where many famous people worked, lived, or still reside. Keep on reading to find out more about famous Swiss people you might have heard of but did not know were Swiss.
15 Famous Swiss People You Probably Didn’t Know Were Swiss
The list we have compiled is full of Swiss authors, tennis players, scientists, entrepreneurs, and many more. Many of them have made notable contributions to their respective fields that we can see to this day.
Although Albert Einstein was not born in Switzerland, he lived there from 1895 to 1914. He renounced his German citizenship when he was only 16 years old and was technically “stateless” until 1901. Einstein acquired Swiss citizenship in 1901 while living in Bern, Switzerland. This is the city in which he developed his famous formula “E = mc²” and the theory of relativity.
He also married Mileva, the only female student in his physics class in Zürich. The two of them had three children together Hans, Eduard, and Liesesrl. The first two were born in Switzerland.
Carl Gustav Jung
Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. He founded analytical psychology and was considered one of the founding members of modern psychology, along with famous psychologist Sigmund Freud.
Carl Gustav Jung developed psychological concepts revolving around extroversion, introversion, archetypes, and many more. A part of his work later became a foundation for the famous psychometric test. He lived near Lake Zürich with his wife, Emma Jung-Rauschenbach, who was also a psychologist.
Paracelsus or Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, was a Swiss physician that was born in Einsiedein, Switzerland. Besides being a physician, Paracelsus was also a theologian, alchemist, and philosopher of the German Renaissance. He was a pioneer in different matters of the “medical revolution” of the Renaissance, which emphasized the value of received wisdom in combination with observation. He also pioneered the usage of chemicals and minerals in medicine.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Swiss-born philosopher, but due to multiple blasphemy charges, he was forced to leave Switzerland. After that, he went to France, where he made notable contributions to Europe’s political philosophy and the French Revolution. Some of his writings, such as “The Social Contract” and “Discourse on Inequality,” have influenced today’s political thoughts.
Another Swiss psychologist on our list is Jean William Fritz Piaget, known for his work on child development. Jean Piaget placed great importance on educating children. His epistemological view and theory of cognitive development are called “genetic epistemology.”
He was born and died in Switzerland, where he also got married to Valentine Châtenay and had three kids together. He attended the University of Zurich and the University of Neuchâtel.
Le Corbusier (Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris)
Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris, or Le Corbusier, born in Switzerland, was considered the pioneer of modern architecture. He left a legacy as one of the most famous architects and designers of the 20th century.
Aside from that, he is also known for developing the popular steel frame furniture line, a design that has been adopted around the world. He was dedicated to finding a solution to people’s poor living situations in crowded countries and cities, so he designed many buildings in Japan, America, India, and some other European countries. His designs were of the highest quality, so much so that 17 of his architectural projects were picked from 7 countries and listed in the World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2016.
Alberto Giacometti was a Swiss painter, sculptor, printmaker, and draftsman. He was born and died in Switzerland, but at the beginning of 1922, he lived and worked in Paris. He regularly visited Borgonovo, his hometown, to see his family and work on his art.
Alberto Giacometti gained worldwide popularity in the year 1962 after having won the Venice Biennale Grand Prize. In tribute to his work, Giacometti’s “L’Homme qui marche I” artwork currently resides on the Swiss 100-franc banknote.
Herman Hesse was a Swiss writer who spent most of his life in Switzerland.
Before becoming a successful writer and winning his Nobel Prize Award, Hesse tried working other jobs but didn’t do so well. This may be a reason why his books may often feel dark, as many of the characters in his work mirror his doubts and despair.
Herman Hesse’s most popular books are Steppenwolf and Siddhartha. These two books are particularly similar in that they both detail the story of a man’s challenging journey to find his identity.
Anna Göldi was an 18th-century Swiss maid who was born and died in Switzerland. She is known for being one of the last people to be executed in Europe for witchcraft.
Anna Göldi was executed by decapitation in Glarus and has been called “the last witch” in Switzerland. She was then much later exonerated in 2008 by the government of the canton of Glarus.
Roger Federer is a professional Swiss tennis player. He was born in Basel, Switzerland; he is one of the best and most known professional tennis players in the world and is currently ranked number 5 in the world men’s category.
Federer was ranked number one in the world in tennis by the Association of Tennis Professionals for 310 weeks, which includes a record of 237 consecutive weeks. Roger Federer has won many trophies and titles since he began his tennis career and is considered one of the best male tennis players of all time.
Ursula Andress is one of the biggest stars in the first movie of the James Bond franchise. She was born in Ostermundigen, Switzerland, and while she was judged for her accent in the James Bond movie, her role gained her the recognition to continue playing other major roles in Hollywood.
Henri Nestlé was a Swiss-German confectioner and the founder of the world’s largest beverage and food company, Nestlé. He was born in Germany but died in Switzerland.
In 1867, Henri Nestlé, a 53-year-old businessman from Frankfurt am Main, marketed an infant formula (Nestlé’s Milk Food) in the small Swiss town of Vevey. This was his first product, an infant cereal targeted at mothers who couldn’t breastfeed—the formula combined cow’s milk, wheat flour, and sugar.
Another Swiss tennis player on our list is Martina Hingis. Martina Hingis is a former Swiss professional tennis player born in Slovakia. In 1996 she became the youngest in history, at 15 years nine months, to win the doubles title at Wimbledon, a record which she still holds.
Martina Hingis was also the youngest-ever Grand Slam winner at only 16 years and three months when she won the 1997 Australian Open.
Louis-Joseph Chevrolet was a Swiss-American entrepreneur, race car driver, and mechanic. In 1909 Louis-Joseph Chevrolet opened a garage in Detroit, Michigan, where he began designing, testing, and building four and 6-cylinder automobile engines. Two years later, in 1911, he co-founded the Chevrolet Motor Car Company.
Nowadays, the automobile company Chevrolet is known for producing high-quality and affordable cars and producing the Corvette, which is a very popular sportscar worldwide.
Johanna Louise Spyri
Johanna Louise Spyri, born and died in Switzerland, was a Swiss author of novels, primarily children’s stories, and is best known for her famous worldwide book Heidi. She was born in Hirzel, which is a rural area in the canton of Zurich, Switzerland. As a child, she spent many summers near Chur in Graubünden, a beautiful setting that she would later on use in her novels.
The Bottom Line
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading and learning more about famous Swiss people you might not have known were Swiss. Of course, there are many others that may be at the beginning of their popularity and continue to put Switzerland at the top in many different fields worldwide.