Switzerland is the country famous for watches, chocolates, cheese, banks and DDLJ(this is India or should I say Bollywood specific). In the 90s, most of the foreign shoots in any Bollywood movie happened in Switzerland. It is still one of the most desired places to visit. But before you get on that train in an attempt to find your Raj or Simran, check out these cool facts from the country.
Interesting facts about Switzerland
1. Switzerland loves chocolates. It is the home of the famous Toblerone chocolate bars. Every year about 170,000 tons of chocolate is produced and more than half of it is consumed in the country itself. Still Switzerland remains one of the world’s great exporters of chocolate.
Do you know it was Swiss chocolate makers Daniel Peter and Henri Nestlé who invented milk chocolate in 1875. Swiss chocolatier DeLafée has actually developed gold chocolate. They blended 24-karat gold dust into cocoa butter to create edible chocolate gold. Chocolate is a craze here.
2. When talking about consuming your own goods, the people of Switzerland should definitely be given a trophy. Apart from chocolates, they are also known to consume almost all of their home produced wine. The Swiss produce about 200 million liters of wine per year and consume almost all of it themselves with only 2% leaving the country.
Fun fact: The Dalai Lama owns the smallest vineyard in the world, which is located in Switzerland. It consists of only three vines and has an area of 6.4 square miles (1.67 square meters).
3. Switzerland is one of the only two countries to have a square flag; Vatican City being the other. The Swiss flag is a red square with a white cross in the center.
4. Switzerland has more than 1500 lakes. In fact, you are never more than 10 miles away from a lake when traveling in the country. Lake Geneva is the largest lake in Switzerland.
5. The country has liberal gun laws. The reason for a great amount of people owning guns in Switzerland is the mandatory military service in the country. After they finish their service, all of them are supposed to take their assault rifles or pistols at home. However, the crime rates are one of the lowest in the world.
6. And even though the crimes rates are low, assisted suicide is legal here. 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. 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.
7. Keeping a pet also comes with rules and laws in Switzerland. You are not allowed to keep social pets unless you have a pair. That means it is illegal to keep just one guinea pig, mouse, ferret, fish, canary, pig, or other social animals. The country even has pet lawyers for the protection of the animals.
If you wish to own a dog in Switzerland, then you will have to pay a tax to do so. Taxes are taken annually on the type, height, weight and size of the dog. Dog owners are also required to take a training course to learn how to properly care for their pets.
8. Switzerland is not governed by one head of state. Instead, it is governed by a seven-member council, and council members rotate in one-year terms as federal president.
9. Switzerland works in a very direct form of Democracy. The citizens can challenge any law passed by Parliament if they can gather 50,000 signatures against the law within 100 days. The next step is national level voting where the majority votes decide whether to accept or reject the law.
10. Despite being a model of direct democracy, Switzerland lags behind many European country in areas of gender equality. Women did not gain the vote at federal level until 1971. Appenzell Innerrhoden, the smallest populated canton (county), was the last to allow women to vote on November 27, 1990. There are not a lot of women in leading roles and the gender inequality in salaries is also present with around a 17 percent difference.
11. How can you not talk about trains when in Switzerland? The Swiss rank second behind the Japanese in traveling by train. And the accuracy of trains is mind blowing, to the point that the train stops at the exact second. If the schedule reads that the train will come at 9:15:10, it will stop at that particular second.
The highest railway station in Europe is in Switzerland, on top of the Jungfraujoch at 3454 meters.
Switzerland also has one of the most beautiful train rides in the world. Click here to read about it.
12. We all have heard about Swiss banks and the secret wealth they contain. The country has a bank for every 1,400 residents. In fact, there are more banks than the dentists.
13. Albert Einstein was in Bern, Switzerland when he came up with his special theory of relativity and the famous formula E=MC2. Do you think the beauty of Switzerland helped him?
14. One of the most famous comic actors, Charlie Chaplin spent his last 25 years in Switzerland. He is also buried there, and his corpse was stolen by a small group of Swiss mechanics in an attempt to extort money from his family. After retrieving his body, he was reburied under 6 feet of concrete to prevent any other attempts. This must have been quite an ordeal for the family but it feels like that Chaplin was giving some comic relief even from his grave.
15. In case of a nuclear war, Switzerland is prepared to save its entire population. The Swiss laws require everybody to have access to a shelter in their building or nearby. The world’s largest nuclear bomb shelter is the Sonnenberg tunnel in Lucerne which is able to house up to 20,000 people.
16. Switzerland’s Gotthard tunnel is the longest in the world measuring 57km. It took 17 years to complete and with a total cost of some 11 billion Euros, it’s also the world’s most expensive tunnel.
17. Switzerland has the third highest salary and job security after Luxembourg and US. But it is also one of the most expensive places to live in. Despite the expensive life, the citizens are happy and Switzerland has been voted the third happiest country in the world after Finland and Denmark.
18. If you are a coffee lover, then be ready to shell out a lot more for a cuppa in Switzerland. Zurich has the most expensive coffee in the world. 4 out of 5 of the most expensive cities for coffee are Swiss.
19. Have you noticed the similarity between the flags of Switzerland and Red Cross? It’s not just a coincidence. The Red Cross was founded in 1863 in Geneva. The Red Cross flag was created just switching the colours of the Swiss flag to show its roots. Today, there are 97 million volunteers working for this humanitarian movement.
20. The country has also given us Roger Federer, the most successful tennis player with a record 20 Grand Slam singles titles to his name.
21. Swiss watches are very famous worldwide. But do you know how they came into existence? When Calvinists banned jewelry from use in 1541, goldsmiths and jewelers in Geneva brainstormed the invention of watches, and presented it as a functional timepiece was acceptable. Since then, the market has only been growing and watches account for fourth largest export in Switzerland.
22. Switzerland is the snow covered paradise with Alps in the background. Switzerland has more high peaks than any other country in Europe with 208 that are above 3000 meters.
23. The first person who was trippin on LSD was Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann. Hofmann was conducting tests for a migraine cure in 1943 when he accidentally absorbed the LSD compound through his fingertips.
24. Switzerland continues to lead the world in innovation. In 2019, Switzerland ranked first for the ninth consecutive year as the most innovative country in the world in The Global Innovation Index. They have created Velcro, cellophane, the Swiss Army Knife, absinthe, the potato peeler, Helvetica font, LSD, muesli, edible chocolate gold, and milk chocolate to name a few.
25. The personal bodyguards of the Pope are called the Swiss Guard, and they really come from Switzerland. They are recruited from the Catholic cantons of Switzerland. They wear the same particular uniforms that they did the day it was started in the 16th century.
26. The country celebrates Christmas in a little different way. They welcome Santa Claus who is usually accompanied by a strange-looking individual with a blacked-out face. The guy’s name is Schmutzli and his job is to beat naughty children with sticks. The naughty children not only don’t get gifts but they also get a beating. A double secured process for the children to behave!
27. World’s oldest ski resort was opened in 1864 by Johannes Badrutt in St. Moritz. The town has hosted the Winter Olympics twice in 1928 and 1948.
Trip leader Sakshi’s Recommendations if you are visiting Switzerland:
Lucerne: Lucerne is a beautiful medieval town surrounded by Lake Lucerne with snow-capped mountains serving as a backdrop. With historic architectural masterpieces placed on both sides and the famous Kapellbrucke bridge running through its middle, the place is just picture perfect.
Take a stroll around the lake and see the swans gracefully swim while people sip coffees in the numerous umbrellas covered cafes. A sight to behold!
The cogwheel railway up to Mount Pilatus is literally the steepest in the world, with a staggering gradient of 48% incline! The views at the top are spectacular, definitely one of the things you must see in Switzerland.
Lauterbrunnen: One of the most picturesque places in the entire nation, this should be on top of your list when you visit Switzerland. There are several adventure activities for all the adrenaline junkies out there. You can go paragliding, skydiving or hiking the many trails. There are 72 waterfalls to jump into. With mind-blowing scenery and a peaceful atmosphere, this part of Switzerland is the perfect place to spend a few days.
Gstaad: Gstaad is a charming alpine village surrounded by some of Switzerland’s best scenery. This car-free village offers endless walking path to explore the beauty. In winters, it converts into a white fairyland and people can enjoy skiing with other snow activities.
Visa Process: Check https://onhisowntrip.com/visa-switzerland for details