Switzerland – The Country of High Peaks and Brilliant Minds

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Apart from its beautiful scenery, snow covered mountains and crystal clear lakes, Switzerland is also the country with a diverse population, famous for its watches, delicious chocolate, quality cheese and Roger Federer.

Here are sixteen facts about one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

Fact 1: Switzerland’s official name is Confoederatio Helvetica, hence the abbreviation “CH”.

Fact 2: Switzerland has four official languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh.

Fact 3: Foreigners account for a total of 23.3% of the Swiss population.

Fact 4: Switzerland gives its citizens a chance to directly make decision about their country. In their version of direct democracy, citizens can propose legislation of their own, or impede legislation already accepted by government.

Fact 5: Switzerland may be small but is well known for its research and scientific contribution. Euler, the pioneering mathematician and physicist, was Swiss, Einstein developed his theory of relativity in the Swiss capital Bern, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born in Geneva.

Fact 6: Switzerland is made up of 26 cantons, each with its own government, legislation, constitution and courts.

Fact 7: The Red Cross was founded in the Swiss city of Geneva in 1863. If you haven’t earlier noticed, the flag of the Red Cross is the same as the Swiss flag with its colors inverted.

Fact 8: Geneva is the seat of the European headquarters of the United Nations, the World Health Organization, The World Economic Forum and many other world important organizations.

Fact 9: Switzerland’s life expectancy is among the highest in the world, with the male life expectancy projected at 80.5 and the female at 84.8 years of age.

Fact 10: There are 2.1 divorces per 1000 inhabitants in Switzerland, to put things in perspective, in America this rate is at 3.6 per 1000 inhabitants.

Fact 11: The story of „Heidi“, a novel about the life of a young girl in her grandfather’s care in the Swiss Alps, is considered Switzerland’s most famous book and has been translated into 50 languages. It is a two-volume novel written by Johanna Spyri and published in 1879/1880.

Fact 12; The Basel carnival, Fasnacht, is one of the most famous and longstanding Swiss traditions. The carnival begins at 4 am when the street lights are turned off, tossing the city into the dark; it is then that the sounds of the piccolo and drums begin. The citizens are masked or costumed as they enjoy the processions and the music that takes over their streets. Celebrations continue into daytime with plenty of noise and confetti.

Fact 13: The Swiss Alps cover nearly two thirds of Switzerland’s total surface area.  There are 48 mountains which are 4,000 meters (13,120 feet) or higher and about 1,800 glaciers. The highest mountain is the Dufourspitze in Canton Valais, at 4634 m (15,203 ft.).

Fact 14: Switzerland has the highest per capita chocolate consumption in the world. This is not a surprise since the streets are lined with chocolate cafes and all sorts of handcrafted, delicious chocolates.

Fact 15: At the mention of Switzerland, banks quickly come to mind, well, that’s because the Swiss financial market is the most significant in the world. At the end of 2008, there were 327 banks in Switzerland, including branches of foreign banks.

Fact 16: CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is located in Geneva and is the world’s largest physics laboratory where scientists from all over the world study the structure of matter a 100 meters below the ground.

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