Switzerland is a country in the heart of Europe, a neighbor of France, Germany, Italy, Austria, and the microstate Lichtenstein. The country is quite known by people in and out of Europe, in spite of its small size. It is only 41,285 square kilometers and has a population of around 8 million people. The median wage is $30 563 a year and there are four national languages German, French, Italian and Romansh.

The neutral state

Switzerland is known as a neutral state. You will often, in situations of conflict, hear people say “I’m Switzerland”. This epithet is put given its neutral position in regional conflicts and beyond. While their army is one of the most advanced ones in the world, Switzerland hasn’t been to war since 1505. Its neutrality has also given them the advantages they enjoy today, inside and outside Europe. They are in the Schengen zone and have implemented a few EU laws to accommodate trade, but are not a member of the EU.

The Cliches

When we think of Switzerland, our mind goes to skiing resorts, lakes, chocolate, and cheese. The Alp mountains are the perfect setting for swiss people to grow their livestock of cows and produce cheese and chocolate. They also make great skiing tracks and winter destinations. You can say that Switzerland is blessed by nature.

Switzerland produces over 400 types of cheese and the Swiss consume about 35 pounds of cheese per person each year. They also consume more chocolate than any other country in the world. Both cheese and chocolate are a product of milk. The reason why they are so good is the livestock living conditions and the way they are produced. One might say “cocoa is not even grown in Switzerland” due to the climate. But a country’s success in a certain industry correlates more with its manufacturing rather than if they are able to grow the raw material.

The success behind great Swiss chocolate and cheese is the use of unpasteurized milk. This is basically raw milk. The benefits of raw milk are a better taste, better nutrition, and a healthier immune system. This is due to the conditions they raise their cows in. Farmers continue old traditions by living in the mountainside and keeping their livestock in good conditions.

Another thing Switzerland is quite famous for is their watches. Swiss watches dominate the watchmaking industry. Brands like Tag Heuer, Rolex, Rado, Omega, etc are all Swiss brands and they are the biggest companies in the industry.

Banks are another thing people think of when they hear “Switzerland”. This is due to the fact that their banks are some of the safest ones regarding their privacy policy. They are known for keeping their client’s identity hidden, except in cases of terrorist threats.

What makes Switzerland

While all of the aforementioned are things Switzerland is generally known for, this country is the home to some great tourist destinations, amazing culture, beautiful festivals, and delicious food.  All of these are what make Switzerland the amazing place that it is.

Tourism

Switzerland is a beautiful, tourist attractive country. While it is most famous for its ski resorts during the winter it is beautiful all year round.

Skiing in Switzerland should be on everyone’s bucket list. The Alpine mountains stretch across the Balkans to France, making Switzerland the perfect skiing destination. St. Moritz, in particular, is a very popular tourist spot. This resort has hosted the Olympic games twice and is the birthplace of Alpine winter tourism.

During the summer, Switzerland is a hiking paradise. There are different sized mountains and the views are amazing. The lakes and the cities are also must visit places in Switzerland, but the most special ones are the towns. Stein am Rhein is a town near Germany that will amaze you with its unique facade. It has so much history and gives you the feeling of being in a fairytale.

Culture


Self-Portrait of Swiss dada artist Sophie Taeuber-Arp with Dada-head © Nic Aluf Studio, 1920, Courtesy of the Foundation Arp

The high living standards in Switzerland are of course a factor of the financial stability but also of the traditions and values of Swiss people. They value highly honesty, hard work, tolerance, and a sense of responsibility. Considering their neutrality, you can gather that they are very peaceful people. They also value material possessions and the wealth that saving brings.

Their overall culture has affected the way they do business. Swiss people will expect you to always be on time and great them with a handshake. The business field has especially embraced women these past few years.

Art is a big part of the culture in most countries, and Switzerland is no different. The architecture, the museums, and galleries are some of Switzerland’s most precious art.

Dadaism is a perfect example of art movements in Switzerland. It is a movement that started at the beginning of the 20th century, 1916 to be exact. It is an art movement that celebrates luck in place of logic and irrationality instead of calculated intent. This was an expression of con serious and important issues hidden under humor and clever turns.

Food

Swiss cuisine is a combination of French, German, and Northern Italian food. Cheese is of course at the center of most dishes and takes many forms. Cheese fondue is a traditional dish in Switzerland. Other famous foods include Raclette, Älplermagronen, Rösti, etc.

Deserts hold an important place in Swiss people’s hearts. Being the biggest consumers of chocolate in the world, the Swiss really do have a sweet tooth. But the most famous deserts don’t actually have chocolate in them. They are mostly made of hazelnuts, chestnuts, apples, and Kirsch (cherry liqueur).

When it comes to drinks, the Swiss are not much different than their neighbors. They love wine, the same as the French, and they love beer just like Germans. But a slight difference in the wine is the fact that they like new wine. Other famous drinks in Switzerland are Liqeours.

The Swiss love food so much that they have food festivals, such as the Street Food Festival that takes place in Zurich.

Festivals

Food festivals are not the only Festivals that take place in Switzerland. There is something to do for everyone. Festivals are great cultural and entertaining events that definitely shine a bright light on a country.

Grindelwald World Snow Festival is an event that gathers around all artists and sculptors that specialize in ice sculptures. This festival goes on for six days, during which the sculptures are exposed around the city. They stay there, giving an unforgetful experience to locals and tourists until the ice melts. Another winter festival is the International Balloon Festival held in the village of  Château-d’Oex. For eight days, more than 80 hot air balloons from 20 different countries float over the snowy Alps. White Turf is a horse racing, gourmet catering, lively music, and inspiring art exhibitions festival, taking place in St Moritz.

The warmer months are very attractive and eventful times of the year. Starting from March, all the way until September, the summer festivals are plenty. The Interlaken Music Festival is a classical music festival that gathers around orchestras and soloists from around the world. A festival called the Lucerne Festival gathers around more than 120,000 visitors. It is held three times a year, but the most popular one is the one in July. Some other summer festivals are Montreux Jazz Festival, National Yodelling Festival in Basel, Gstaad Menuhin Festival, Paléo Festival Nyon, etc. But by far the most popular festivals and the ones that gather around most people are the open air festivals on Frauenfeld and Lumnezia. They have been the host of huge modern artists like Depeche Mode, The Killers, Gorillaz, Eminem, etc.

The Cities

Switzerland is a confederation composed of 26 cantons. This is done for administrative purposes. The cantons are further organized in subdivisions and cities. These cities are a factor of the great development that Switzerland has had for the past century. Although they are modern cities, they still hold the history that has shaped them. These cities not only have perfect living conditions but are also great places to study in and visit as a tourist. The two largest cities in Switzerland are Zurich and Geneva. However, none of them is the capital city.

The capital city of Switzerland is Bern. This is a gorgeous city with a panoramic view. A famous and beautiful tourist destination in Bern is the old town. The city is also known for its pastries, hot chocolate, and ice cream. Lucerne is also a big tourist destination thanks to its great lake and mountain backdrop.

Nature

If there is one thing that Switzerland is known for it’s their nature. The lakes and the mountains are Switzerland’s greatest pride. Not only do they attract a huge number of tourists but they also are the perfect environment for a number of sports. The Swiss mountains probably serve some of the greatest sceneries in the world.

Matterhorn in Zermatt is considered to be one of the most photographed mountains in Switzerland. It is traversed by cable car and is the first choice for many people looking to ski. The Jungfrau Region is another great tourist destination. It is composed of three mountains, Jungfrau, Monch, and Eiger, in the middle of which lies Interlaken, a rustic town that has become quite famous. Another famous mountain with beautiful scenery is the Swiss National Park in Zernez.

Rhine Falls is Europe’s greatest waterfall. It attracts visitors during the whole year but it is most visited on the Swiss national day, August

Universities

Switzerland is the home to some of the best universties in the world. Its education system enables them to have diversity by leaving it up to the cantons to regulate schools and most of the universities. Out of all 12 universities in Switzerland, only two are administered and regulated by the central government. Switzerland has a high numer of international students studying bachelors and masters in general and one of the highest numbers of doctoral students.

The universities in Switzerland are categorized in three pillars, fundamental research, applied sciences and arts, and teacher education. The highest ranking university in Switzerland is ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne followed by the University of Zurich and the University of Basel. Most of the universities in Switzerland offer their courses in english and are welcoming to international students.

CERN

This laboratory, located in Geneva, is one of main attraction to visit Switzerland, for people with interests in science and the universe. The European Organization for Nuclear Research has been established in 1954 and its main area of research is particle physics. Today, CERN unites scientists from around the world in the pursuit of knowledge.

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