When we think of Switzerland, we think of Swiss chocolate, the Alps, yodeling, fine timepieces and cuckoo clocks. But this European leg of a country is steeped in history, culture and political intrigue. Indeed, you may find some of these facts about Switzerland are quite interesting to say the least.
Whether you are taking a vacation there or considering moving, there are definitely some things that you should know about this fascinating country. Before we dig in though, make sure that you have set yourself up to get there with a low-cost or even free air fare, and once there, if you are staying any length of time, you’ll need a safe and inexpensive place to stay at the end of a day filled with sightseeing.
If you are a seasoned traveler, you might already have some frequent flyer miles or rewards at your fingertips. Find out how to set up a system that will enable you to take inexpensive vacations to places such as Switzerland using rewards already earned. It’s called travel hacking.
For the less seasoned traveler, there’s travel hacking for beginners. Your first trip to Switzerland can earn you enough rewards to return or take a trip somewhere else at a very low-cost rate.
There’s more than one way to turn your miles and rewards into a trip to Switzerland that will hardly cost you anything. Learn the expert’s system for earning and redeeming rewards for free flights and hotel rooms.
- Switzerland has 26 cantons, or what Americans may call counties, with the largest encompassing Zurich with more than a million of the country’s 8 million citizens.
- Confoederatio Helvetica, aka Switzerland, has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, even though it has liberal gun laws. The population is around 8 million; however, it’s estimated that as many as 4.5 million of its people have guns. Yet, Switzerland’s death rate relating to guns is only .5 per 100,000, compared to 5 per 100,000 in the U.S.
- Talk about a melting pot – 23% of the country’s population are foreigners.
Not a Lot of Wedded Bliss
Switzerland may be a great spot for a honeymoon, but it’s not so great a place to get married. First of all, the men and women in this European romance center marry on average way later than most other so-called civilized countries. Men wait until they are almost 32, while women wait until they are nearly 30. And the divorce rate is a whopping 43 per cent!
However, there is some good news for the ladies, especially those not tied to a career. A lot of women, once married, don’t work. One of the reasons for this is that children in Switzerland come home for lunch.
People in Switzerland like to have a good time. In fact, as of late 2013, according to research, this country has one of the highest rates of marijuana use on the planet. Hash is on deck, too. The latest study shows that the Swiss go through about 100 tons of the happy leaves a year. And it’s not just goofy grass – the Swiss like beer, too. And wine – here are the numbers: as of late 2013, nearly 57 liters of beer per person a year and 36 liters of wine per person per year. And get this: only 2 per cent of wine made in Switzerland ever makes it out of the country. Cheers!
One more “high” fact: Switzerland has 208 mountains that reach at least 3,000 meters, with 24 of them going higher than 4,000 meters.
More Fascinating Stuff About Switzerland
- Switzerland has four, not one, national languages. They are French, German, Italian and Rhaeto-Romantsch, which stems from Latin.
- Of course, you have to get some chocolate while there. It won’t be hard to find, as 18 chocolate companies make close to 175,000 tons of the sweet stuff a year.
- Speaking of chocolate, the Swiss love it. In fact, the average citizen there eats about 23 pounds of it a year, compared to the U.S., which only takes in about 12 pounds per person per year.
- The largest clock face in the world is at St. Peters Church in Zurich. Another Zurich fact: the city has 1,224 fountains, so take a lot of coins when you go visit.
- The man who found Ikea, Ingvar Kamprad, is Switzerland’s richest citizen.
- Switzerland is about a third of the size of the state of New York.
- If you think Minnesota has a lot of lakes, how about this: Switzerland has more than 1,500 lakes. The joke is that you are never more than 10 minutes away from a lake when in Switzerland.
- Speaking of lakes, Lake Geneva has in excess of 40 shipwrecks.
- Switzerland has more fallout shelters than just about any other country in the world. In fact, it’s law, so the country has enough room in its fallout shelters for every one of its citizens.
- The typeface called Helvetica was created there.
- Switzerland has the highest rate of employment in the free world.
- Swiss people have the second longest life expectancy in the world (Japan is first).
- The Swiss are a very modern, technologically advanced, yet environmentally conscious people. More than half of the country’s power comes from hydroelectric power, which is a renewable energy.
- If you are a “Big Bang Theory” fan, you will appreciate this fact: Switzerland is host to CERN, which is the European Organization for Nuclear Research. The biggest particle physics lab in the world, it received the Nobel Prize for physics in 2012.
- Speaking of science, Albert Einstein was a clerk in a patent office in Switzerland when he announced his famous theory of relativity.
Some History Is In Order
In addition to those facts about Switzerland, there is a whole lot of deep history. And even today, it remains a hot spot for political intrigue. How about this for a fun political fact: not all women could vote in Switzerland until 1990!
Indeed, the country has a longstanding history of remaining neutral. It didn’t even join the United Nations until 2002. Switzerland has stood on it own two feet – independently – for centuries. It was 1499 since it was last a colony of another country.
It’s a fact that Germany and Adolf Hitler did not invade or even engage in aggressive actions against Switzerland in the 1930s and 1940s. While there were a lot of political issues surrounding the German/Swiss relationship, one reason was the fact that Switzerland is mountainous and its army well trained, so it would have been a costly move for Germany to even attempt an invasion. In addition, it’s been said that the Swiss strategically placed explosives along the Germany/Italy railway and would have destroyed it had Germany made an aggressive move on Switzerland.
Interestingly enough and quite ironically, in 2007, Switzerland inadvertently invaded its neighbor, Lichtenstein. The Swiss military was conducting an exercise, got lost and “accidentally” crossed the border, rifles and all. The mistake was caught in due time, rather quickly actually, and no harm was done. Besides, the lore about the incident claims that the Swiss soldiers had no ammunition in their rifles!
Although, as mentioned above, Switzerland does have a low crime rate, it’s best to follow basic safety rules. Traveling abroad can be quite a different experience than traveling in your home country. Check out this guide to staying safe while traveling in Switzerland.
Hopefully, these facts have made you want to visit Switzerland as much as ever.