Switzerland is considered to be one of the countries with the highest standard of living and the most stable economy. While these facts definitely stand, Switzerland is also one of the safest countries to live and visit. It has, for years, ranked high in the lists of the most secure places in the world. In 2019, the Global Peace Index ranked Switzerland as the 11th safest place on earth.
Historically, Switzerland has maintained a neutral position in times of wars. This neutrality was self-imposed, permanent, and designed to promote peace and security. The last war that Switzerland was part of took place in 1847, a civil war named “Sonderbund War,” which led to the rise of Switzerland as a federal state. In 1920, it was formally acknowledged as a neutral state by the League of Nations.
Its neutral position kept Switzerland out of wars and destruction, but which are the factors that helped in building the Swiss reputation of a safe haven? Let’s see.
4 Factors That Make Switzerland Safe
Switzerland isn’t coincidentally a safe country. It’s because of four particular factors that this country gets to enjoy its safe-place reputation.
1. Low Crime Rate
When we say Switzerland is a safe country, we’re not exaggerating. The rate of crime in this country is very low. The chance of becoming a victim of a crime in Switzerland in 2017 was 0.3%. The most common crimes are pickpocketing and minor property offenses and these minor crimes most often happen only in tourist zones. Another interesting fact is that Switzerland hasn’t had a mass shooting in 19 years, despite the high number of gun owners (yes, the Swiss own a lot of guns).
2. Swiss Gun Law Regulations
More than 2 million people out of 8.3 million of this nation own a gun. While this fact may rise controversies, the homicide rate in Switzerland in 2017 was only 2.9 per 100.000 people. So, what makes this country one of the safest with such a high rate of gun ownership?
The strict laws, of course.
Switzerland is known for being a very rigorous state. It has laws for almost everything, and a police force willing to make sure those laws are respected.
Gun-control law is one of the laws that differentiate Switzerland from many European countries. It allows citizens to own a certain semi-automatic firearm but under certain conditions. The state has created this law with the intention of preventing anyone who’s violent or incompetent to own a gun. All military service people are allowed to bring home a gun and keep it until their service is over.
A random citizen in the process of buying a gun needs to justify why they need a gun and have to secure a special permit for it. Those who have been convicted of a crime or have a drug/alcohol addiction can’t own a gun. Moreover, before the authorities issue a gun to someone, they get training on how to use it. Swiss authorities keep a log on everyone who purchases one and do a background check on the people interested to be equipped with a firearm.
3. Law-Abiding Citizens
Swiss people are very educated. According to a report of OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), 86% of them hold a high school diploma. The higher the level of education, the fewer people tend to be drawn into criminal activity.
The Swiss are law-abiding people. They are amicable and very likely to avoid commotions. Even the protests and demonstrations which are held are very peaceful.
4. Equal rights
Switzerland offers its citizens equal rights. When everyone is treated in the same way it’s less likely they will become criminals. According to the Swiss Federal law, all people living in Switzerland are entitled to an education, job, and equal pay. An educated population combined with the strict laws this country has, resulted in a place with a high level of security.
Tips to Travel Safely Around Switzerland
Even though Switzerland is regarded as a safe place to go on vacation, you still need to be careful when being there. No place in the world can be completely safe despite the reputation and prestige. So, be responsible for your own safety and take these precautions that will make your travel experience even better.
Purchase travel insurance
You may have insurance in your country but they may not cover medical insurance plans outside your country. So, it’s advisable to buy travel insurance before heading to Switzerland. In the case of an accident, this insurance will cover the hospital expenses.
Look after your belongings
Be careful with your belongings. Travelers should put their wallets in the front pocket and their bags in a way that they are hanged from the neck to the side.
Be careful in crowds
Pickpockets try to take advantage of these crowds to come near you and grab whatever they can. Also, be vigilant when people bump into you as this can be one of their ruses to get your bag or wallet.
Take only what you need
When roaming the city, don’t take all your stuff around. It’s way safer to leave valuable belongings in your hotel room so you don’t accidentally lose them.
Keep your bag close to you
While in a restaurant or a coffee shop, make sure you have your bag close to you and not in a chair, as it’s an easy way for the robber to steal it.
Switzerland has for years now enjoyed its reputation of a safe country. That could be the reason why people choose it for their travel destination or residing place. However, one is never too safe, that’s why people shouldn’t be reckless when it comes to their security.
Be safe and enjoy safe Switzerland!
Is Switzerland a safe country to visit?
Yes, Switzerland is generally considered a very safe country to visit. It ranks highly in global safety indexes, and its crime rates are relatively low.
What is the crime rate in Switzerland compared to other countries?
Switzerland has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. The crime that does occur is typically non-violent and involves petty theft.
How safe is Switzerland for tourists?
Switzerland is very safe for tourists. However, like anywhere, tourists should be aware of their surroundings and keep an eye on their belongings, particularly in crowded areas.
What safety measures should I take while visiting Switzerland?
While Switzerland is generally very safe, it’s always a good idea to take standard travel safety measures: don’t leave your belongings unattended, avoid less crowded areas late at night, and be aware of your surroundings.
Is Switzerland safe for solo female travelers?
Yes, Switzerland is considered to be very safe for solo female travelers. As always, it’s important to take general precautions, but women should feel comfortable traveling alone here.
Is it safe to use public transportation in Switzerland?
Yes, public transportation in Switzerland is very safe and reliable. It’s one of the best ways to travel around the country.
What are some common scams to watch out for in Switzerland?
Scams in Switzerland are relatively rare but can include things like pickpocketing in crowded areas or overcharging at tourist hotspots. Always be cautious and double-check all transactions.
What are the emergency numbers in Switzerland?
The general emergency number in Switzerland is 112. For specific services, you can call 117 for police, 118 for fire services, and 144 for medical emergencies.
How safe is Switzerland for people of different ethnic backgrounds?
Switzerland is a multicultural country and is generally very welcoming and safe for people of all ethnic backgrounds.
Are there any specific regions in Switzerland that are considered unsafe?
There are no regions in Switzerland that are considered outright unsafe. However, some city areas may have higher crime rates than others. Always do your research before you travel.
What is the safety situation in Switzerland’s major cities like Zurich, Geneva, and Bern?
Major cities in Switzerland, such as Zurich, Geneva, and Bern, are very safe. Violent crime is rare, but petty crime like pickpocketing can occur, especially in crowded areas.
Is it safe to hike and participate in outdoor activities in Switzerland?
Yes, outdoor activities are very popular and generally very safe in Switzerland. However, it’s important to be prepared and take safety precautions, especially in more remote areas.
How safe is it to drive in Switzerland?
Driving in Switzerland is generally safe. The roads are well-maintained and traffic rules are strictly enforced. However, mountain roads can be tricky, especially in poor weather conditions.
What’s the level of English proficiency in Switzerland? Can non-German/French/Italian speakers get around easily?
English proficiency is high in Switzerland, especially in urban areas and among younger people. Tourists should have no problem getting around with English.
How good is the healthcare system in Switzerland in case of an emergency?
Switzerland has an excellent healthcare system, regarded as one of the best in the world. Emergency treatment is available and efficient, though it can be expensive.
Are there any health or safety tips for visiting the Swiss Alps?
Always check the weather forecast before you go and inform someone about your plans. Dress in layers and carry essential gear. Beware of altitude sickness and know the signs of it.
Is Switzerland safe for LGBTQ+ travelers?
Switzerland is generally a very tolerant and safe country for LGBTQ+ travelers, with robust anti-discrimination laws.
Are Swiss people generally helpful if I’m in need of assistance?
Yes, Swiss people are generally helpful and polite. Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it.
How safe is it to eat out and try local food in Switzerland?
Eating out in Switzerland is very safe. The country has high food safety standards and the local cuisine is a highlight of the travel experience.
Is the tap water in Switzerland safe to drink?
Yes, the tap water in Switzerland is safe to drink and is of very high quality. In fact, it’s often compared to bottled water in terms of its quality.