Are you thinking about traveling around Europe? In that case, planning a trip to Switzerland is a must! If you are curious to know more about this small mountainous country in the heart of the old continent, you came to the right place! Before you begin making arrangements, there are some key things to know about Switzerland first.
When thinking about Europe, many people see it as a single place. However, the reality is that 44 countries differ greatly from one another. First of all, not all the countries in Europe are members of the European Union or Schengen space. Then, of course, there are plenty of differences in terms of history, culture, and people in all of these countries.
Today, we are going to talk about one of the most known countries in Europe, which is not part of the EU but is a member of the Schengen area – Switzerland. That means that if you have the right to travel as a tourist to the European Union without a visa, you can freely travel to Switzerland too.
Switzerland: The Playground of Europe
Now, what are some things to know about Switzerland?
It is a small country located in Central Europe, between France and Italy. But, it also borders Austria, Germany, and Liechtenstein. Although Zurich and Geneva are the most known, the administrative capital is Bern. However, Bern is only considered as a capital because it is where the federal government sits. In reality, we can say that Switzerland doesn’t have a capital.
Most of the people live on a plateau between the Alps and the Jura mountains. But what are the first things that come to our mind when we hear about Switzerland? Most people first think about chocolate, of course, cheese, and skiing!
Okay, some of you more interested in physics maybe know about CERN – European Center for Nuclear Research, but that is about it. Switzerland, however, has much more to offer!
After all the lockdowns, restrictions, and playing games such as sizzling hot, we decided to visit Europe this year, this beautiful country was on top of our list. Like any good traveler, we armed ourselves with tons of information and embarked on our first adventure after almost a year of not traveling.
However, all the knowledge we had wasn’t enough to prepare us for all the wonderful things we experienced and saw. That is why, after the return, we decided to share some things to know about Switzerland.
Ten Things to Know about Switzerland
1. Animal Rights Are Incredibly Important in Switzerland
Since we are animal lovers, this is something that we are super interested in. The country has unique regulations, as animal rights are protected by the Swiss constitution.
That means that animals have legal protection from humiliation or any other interference with their abilities or appearance. Practically, people are not allowed to dye their pet’s fur, dock dogs’ tails, or crop their ears. Also, to have a dog, you have to attend a course to learn how to be a good owner.
If you have a pet that belongs to so-called social species, you have to make sure they live with a pair. It is mandatory for cats to be in daily contact with humans and to see other cats.
2. Switzerland Has a Very High Life Expectancy
When talking about Switzerland and aging, it is essential to say that people in this country live longer than in many others. It has the second-highest life expectancy in the world, right after Japan.
Compared to other European countries, Switzerland has the highest number of inhabitants older than 100. The median life expectancy is 83. For women, it is even higher – 85 years. Are you wondering why? We can’t say the exact reasons, but we believe that the high life expectancy has something to do with clean air, hiking, and more than a superb healthcare system.
3. People Marry Late in Switzerland
In general, we know that once we graduate from college, get a job, etc., parents and relatives start to pressure us to get married and have kids. Hence, in the United States, on average, people get married between 25 and 30 years.
However, in Switzerland, people get married when they are a bit older – men are usually 32.5 and women are 30 years old. The divorce rate in Switzerland is about 40%, with the average marriage lasting about 15 years. According to the Swiss Federal Statistics Office, two out of every five marriages will end in divorce, shortly.
4. Swiss Use Many Languages
In most countries, you will hear one or maybe two official languages, right? Then there are some dialects or languages that are not official, but people use them, like the Basque language, for example. But in general, in France, people are speaking French, in Germany, they speak German. What about the Swiss language? Believe it or not, Swiss people have four official languages – French, German, Italian, and Romansh.
5. Switzerland Keeps its Neutral Position
If you don’t want to side with any of your friends who are in conflict, you can say “I am Switzerland” and everyone will know what it means. For your history lovers, this is one of the most interesting things to know about Switzerland. The country hasn’t taken part in any military intervention since 1815, which means that it wasn’t involved in any of the World Wars.
Some people think that it is a good thing because it means that Switzerland favors peace over conflict. Others believe that it makes no sense because a powerful country like that should be involved in world affairs.
However, the reality is that Switzerland will keep the neutral position for as long as possible, regardless of what people think.
6. Switzerland Has a Very High Standard of Life
One of the things you notice when you arrive in Switzerland is that it is very expensive. But what is interesting is that most of the people who live in Switzerland are quite well off. The country ranks third of the countries with the highest disposable income in Europe.
When it comes to Switzerland and poverty, it is essential to say that a very low percentage of people live in poverty – about 6.6 percent. Data shows that Switzerland’s unemployment rate is at about 2.8 percent.
7. One of Two Countries with Square Flag
Have you ever seen Switzerland’s flag?
Many people don’t think about the possibility of countries having a square flag. However, it is exactly the shape of the Swiss flag! It practically looks like a red box with a cross in the middle. Some people confuse it with the Red Cross flag.
Do you know the other country with a square flag? It is the Vatican!
8. Swiss Have Lot of Guns – But Low Crime Rate
It seems that Swiss people are generally peaceful. Why do we say that?
Almost half of the population possesses some sort of weapon. They mainly have it for security, safety, and defense. At the same time, the murder, but also the crime rate in general is very low. In the U. S, there are 5 murders for every 100,000 citizens. In Switzerland, there are 0.5 murders for every 100,000 people.
9. Swiss People Love Wine as Much as They Love Chocolate
When thinking about Swiss culture, people would say “Oh they love and make really good chocolate!” That is true! But did you know that Swiss love wine as much as chocolate? Since France is labeled the motherland of wine, we tend to think that only French wine is good.
However, Switzerland produces around one million hectoliters of wine annually, and they export only 2 percent. Swiss people are the fourth-biggest wine consumers in the world, drinking about 36 liters of wine per person annually.
10. Switzerland is a Country of Thousands Lakes
Many of you have heard about Geneva Lake, right? But did you know that there are 7,000 lakes in Switzerland?
Yes, you read that correctly! Of course, Geneva Lake is not only the most famous but also the largest, with an area of 580 square kilometers. However, around 40 % is in France, and it is called Lac Leman. Within the borders of Switzerland, the largest is lake Neuchatel, with an area of 218 square kilometers.
Now you are richer with 10 interesting things to know about Switzerland. Hence you can impress both your friends and the Swiss people in case you decide to visit this beautiful country. However, you should know that this list is inexhaustible! Have you ever been to Switzerland? What are your experiences? Are you planning to go there?