Sure we all know Switzerland as the country of chocolate, watches, and banks, but we bet you had no idea of these 37 interesting facts about Switzerland.
1. The Swiss marry late
The average marriage age for Swiss men is 31.8 and 29.5 for women. On the other hand, the divorce rate in Switzerland is about 43%, and the average age for Swiss women to have their first child is 30.4 years, which makes them the oldest women in Europe to do so.
2. CERN is located within its borders
The world’s leading particle physics laboratory CERN is located within Switzerland’s borders. Finding universities in Switzerland for international students will be an excellent and easy choice because Swiss degrees in STEM are prestigious and they offer many scholarships.
3. University is cheap-ish
E.g. In the distinguished University of Geneva, tuition fees are at 500 CHF per semester, which means 1000 CHF for a single academic year. This price range is generally seen in public universities, but you can easily find more expensive private ones. Still, comparing it to colleges in the US, it’s a bargain!
4. Switzerland has 7000 lakes
With an area of 580.03 km2 (224 sq mi), Lake Geneva is the largest lake in Switzerland. It is shared with France (40.47% is within French territory) where it’s known as Lac Léman. The largest lake completely within Switzerland is Lake Neuchâtel with a surface area of 218.3 km2 (84 sq mi). For the most part, the water is so clear that you can drink out of rivers and lakes. Only if you cannot see the bottom of a lake is it considered dirty.
5. Owns lots of guns, but has the lowest crime rates
Amongst industrialized nations, Switzerland has one of the highest rates of gun ownership. However, that does not necessarily have to lead to more crime; Switzerland has nearly half the gun-related deaths the United States has. Switzerland actually has one of the lowest crime rates of all industrialized countries. In 2010, there were only 0.5 gun murders per 100,000 people, compared to 5/100,000 in the U.S.
6. The most innovative country in the world
In 2018, Switzerland ranked first for the eighth consecutive year as the most innovative country in the world in The Global Innovation Index.
In particular, the canton Vaud’s economy has undergone some major transformations. From a farming-based economy in 1860 to a land of Start-Ups today,Vaud’s economy is now one of Switzerland’s biggest and fastest-growing, thanks to its ‘large services sector, diversified manufacturing base, and focus on niche markets.”
7. It’s very small
Switzerland is approximately 41,277 sq km and its population is 8.42 million. Comparing it to U.S. states, California is almost 10 times bigger than Switzerland or nearly the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined. It’s still known for a lot more things, though.
8. 25% of the population is foreign
Switzerland has one of the highest proportions of foreigners among all nations, about 24.6% in 2015. More than 80% of the foreigners living in Switzerland are from European countries and almost half of them come just from France, Germany, Italy, Portugal. With 19 entries per 1000 inhabitants on average in 2014, Switzerland is leading the European immigration countries, far ahead of Germany (11), UK (9.8), Spain (6.6) and France (5.1).
9. One of the countries with the highest quality of life
Switzerland may have some of the most expensive cities in the world to live in, but its citizens get value for money. According to the Social Progress Report, “medical”, “nutritional” and “access to basic knowledge” is where the country shines. It’s index is 88.87 out of 100.
10. The least obese European country
It might’ve never crossed your mind, but another reason Switzerland is a good country to live in, is for a fit life. The Swiss country is least obese European country with only 17.5% of the population being obese. If you lived in the U.S., you’d be double more likely to be obese since 33% of the country are.
11. One of the most expensive places to live in
Both the Worldwide Cost of Living Survey and the Mercer Cost of Living survey found Zurich to be the world’s third most expensive city. Zurichis also the most populated canton with 402,762 inhabitants. The median home price there is CHF 13,000 (U.S. $13,036) per square meter, while the average monthly rental price: CHF 2,324 (U.S. $2,330) for a three-bedroom apartment. However, the average salary is CHF 103,296 (U.S. $103.298), so it’s not like they can complain.
12. Is home to two of the most livable cities in the world
The concept of liveability assesses which locations around the world provide the best or the worst living conditions. They look at five broad categories of Stability, Healthcare, Culture and environment, Education and Infrastructure. Two of the most livable cities turn out to be Zurich and Geneva.
13. It’s a Nobel Prize machine
Switzerland is not only known for its banks but also for being a global player in the academic field. Swiss universities have produced 113 Nobel Laureates, and most of these Nobel Prize winners are scientists.
14. They drink a lot
The Swiss population consume 36 litres of wine, 56.5 litres of beer and 8.4 litres of pure alcohol per person per year. And these are new data which show consumption has actually gone down! It’s normal for 20% of the Swiss people to engage in binge drinking (4-5 drinks in a sitting) at least once a month.
As a result, there are 1600 alcohol-related deaths in Switzerland each year. Some are the result of booze-fuelled accidents, while others are caused by the long-term effects of alcoholism such as liver problems. There are about 250,000 alcoholics in Switzerland – or 3% of the population.
15. They have four national languages
Their four national languages are French (20.4%), German (64%), Italian (6.5%), and Romansh (just a little over 1%). So you can feel comfortable as a foreign visitor or resident since it’s perfectly acceptable to not understand what someone says to you because the Swiss don’t understand the Swiss anyway.
16. Switzerland is aging – life expectancy is high
In the 1950s the median age was 32 years old, but it’s growing every year. In 2015, the median age of Switzerland’s population was 42.2 years. On the other hand, Switzerland claims the highest percentage of people over 100 in Europe and has the second-highest life expectancy after Japan. Of course they’re going to live long having in mind the cleanliness of the air, the abundance of walking trails, and the availability of high-quality health care.
17. Less than 15% of the Alps are actually Swiss
The Swiss Alps are the highlight of any tour to Switzerland. Even though less than 15% of the Alps lie within Switzerland, it’s the country that people most closely associate with the Alps.
18. Low unemployment rates
In 2017 statistics, Switzerland’s unemployment rate amounted to around only 4.8%. This low number is due to its fairly prosperous and stable economy. ‘The majority of employed workers in the country possess a relatively high level of education and are specialized, which essentially allows for the country to offer high-end jobs with higher wages, and often guarantees a higher level of productivity and efficiency.’
19. Highest salary and job security
As a result of its economic stability, Swiss adults have on average the most amount of money compared to the average amount around the world, beating out countries such as the U.S. Switzerland has the third highest salary and job security out of all OECD countries. Swiss workers earn an average of USD 57,082 per year.
20. Switzerland has 208 mountains and the highest number of peaks in Europe
Switzerland is home to 208 mountains over 3,000 meters high. A beautiful experience for in-shape hikers is the Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route, a 12-day classic Alpine trek that will bring you straight to the well-recognized Matterhorn. Switzerland has more high peaks than any other country in Europe with 48 that are above 4000 meters.
21. Assisted suicide is legal and it attracts ‘suicide tourists’
According to Swiss law, anyone who is of sound mind and who has, over a period of time, voiced a consistent wish to end their life can request a so-called assisted voluntary death or AVD. However, people must commit suicide by their own hand, for example by taking the medication themselves.
This has lead to an influx of people called ‘suicide tourists’ who come to Switzerland, mainly to the Canton of Zurich, for the sole purpose of committing suicide. A total of 956 (539 women and 426 men) people made use of these services in 2015 according to official figures, up from 187 in 2003. There is a steadily rising trend, although assisted suicides are still only a tiny proportion of all deaths in Switzerland. The total cost is therefore 7,500 francs without funeral and administrative services and 10,500 francs with those services – usually payable in advance.
22. 1/3 of all deaths are from heart disease
The latest cause of death survey from the Federal Statistical Office showed that 21,512 – or one-third of all deaths in Switzerland in 2013 – could be traced back to heart disease. That figure, however, has decreased since 20 years ago, when it stood at 41%. Cancer was responsible for another 26% of deaths. Lung cancer, shown to be the most deadly form of the disease in Switzerland for more than 40 years, claimed about 3,200 lives in 2013.
Due to Switzerland’s aging population, the number of deaths linked to dementia is on the rise. In 2013, nearly 6,000 deaths in the country were a direct cause of dementia, while in 1995, that figure stood at 2,100.
23. Swiss meat is among the most expensive in the world
It is 124% more expensive than the average European price. Half a kilogram of meat is about CHF 12-14. A 200 gram Kentucky rumpsteak at a Swiss restaurant near to Zurich airport will set diners back CHF 37.50 ($38), while a larger 250 gram Argentinian rumpsteak in a steakhouse just over the German border in Singen costs €20.90 (CHF22.90 or $23). That’s double the price, gram for gram, in Switzerland.
High Swiss tariffs on food and drink imports are designed to protect local farmers who generally have smaller farms than international competitors and the steep costs of ‘high price island’ Switzerland.
24. Low rates of people living in poverty
Some 530,000 people in Switzerland are listed as living on the poverty line, based on a monthly income of CHF2,219 ($2,275.40) for single people and CHF4,031 for families of two adults and two children. That’s 6.6% of the population – compared to 9.3% in 2007.
The proportion of the Swiss population living in extreme poverty (4.6%) is one of the lowest in Europe (18.6% average). Some 9.7% of the Swiss population cannot afford a week’s holiday abroad – the European average is 36.9%.
25. 4 out of 5 of the most expensive cities for coffee are Swiss
Geneva, Bern, Basel, Zurich.
Starbucks was selected as a factor in the Index as it is the most most widely available, premium priced coffee chain the world over, and as such offers an interesting economic barometer between countries. The difference in price of a Grande Latte, ranged from £1.21 in Brazil to £5.72 in Switzerland, nearly a 400% price increase.
26. Switzerland is prepared for nuclear war
there are enough nuclear fallout shelters to accommodate its entire human population, due to laws that require everybody to have access to a shelter in their building or nearby. The Swiss military keeps fully stocked artillery bunkers, disguised as quaint country homes, in the middle of populated villages.
27. Place of watches
You probably know this one thanks too, but here’s the story behind the watches we use and love… When Calvinists banned jewelry from use in 1541, goldsmiths and jewelers in Geneva brainstormed the invention of watches, since a functional timepiece was acceptable. Since then, it has proven to be one of the most successful industries of the country, reaching the present status as Switzerland’s fourth largest exporter.
28. They make & eat a lot of chocolate
It’s no wonder Switzerland is known internationally for its high-quality chocolate, but do you know just how much chocolate is made and consumed there? Approximately 172,376 tons of chocolate are made, and about 11 kilos of chocolate per person are eaten per year.
29. Is eco-friendly
Switzerland is one of the world leaders in recycling and waste management. The Swiss successfully separate and recycle organic and recyclable waste whilst converting the rest to energy. Moreover, Switzerland provides nearly all CO2-friendly electricity to its citizens. 39% of electricity comes from nuclear power plants, while 56% is generated by hydroelectric power plants.
30. Birthplace of the Red Cross
You might’ve not known but Switzerland’s flag resemblance with The Red Cross is not a coincidence. Its flag is simply a color-switching of the Flag of Switzerland, showing proud Swiss roots. The Red Cross has 97 million volunteers and was founded in 1863 in Geneva, Switzerland where its headquarters still remain today.
31. LSD was first made by a Swiss chemist
Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann took the first acid trip in 1943 while he was conducting tests for a migraine cure in Basel when he accidentally absorbed the LSD compound through his fingertips. LSD’s psychedelic properties were discovered 5 years later when Hofmann himself accidentally ingested an unknown quantity of the chemical.
32. You can’t name your child however you want
In Switzerland, it is prohibited to give a child a name that could damage the child’s interest. This right was exercised when authorities banned Swiss musician Christine Lauterburg from calling her daughter ‘Lexicon’ (an ‘object’, not a name); ‘Djonatan’ (the phonetic spelling of Jonathan) also got the thumbs down, as did ‘J’ as a child’s fourth name based on the potential for it to be misunderstood and pronounced incorrectly in German (as ‘yot’ and not ‘Jay’ as intended).
33. Switzerland’s Gotthard tunnel is the longest in the world
Switzerland’s Gotthard tunnel is the longest in the world measuring 57km in length (it is 7km longer than the Channel Tunnel between England and France). It took 17 years to complete it.
34. It’s home to Einstein’s most famous formula
Albert Einstein developed his famous formula for Mass–energy equivalence E=MC2 in Switzerland. He developed his theory of relativity while studying and living in Bern, after renouncing his German citizenship to avoid military duty.
35. Europe’s highest railway station in Switzerland
The highest railway station in Europe is in Switzerland, on top of the Jungfraujoch at 3454 meters.
36. Home of world’s longest staircase
This staircase is 11,674 steps and a height of 1,669 m (5,476 ft) which makes it the world’s longest stairs. It is not open to the public, but there is a public run once a year to enjoy this sight (and sweat a little).
37. One of the smartest countries in math and science
In a new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ranking countries’ school systems based on students math and science test scores. Switzerland came in 8th.
Switzerland is, indeed, a country of wonders. Did these facts make you want to go there even more?