Switzerland is a small and modest country. It doesn’t make it to the news very often, and to be honest, Swiss news is usually the opposite of exciting. But when you take a closer look and learn the facts about Switzerland, it is far from boring. It is a fascinating, unique country.
Here are some facts about Switzerland:
- Around 8 million people live in Switzerland. It is one of the smallest countries in Europe.
- The capital is Bern. The largest city is Zurich.
- The highest mountain in Switzerland is Dufourspitze (Monte Rosa), but the most popular one is the Matterhorn (4,478 meters). Do you like Toblerone? Well, its shape is actually inspired by Matterhorn!
- The Swiss flag is made of a red cross on a white background. Fun fact: the Red Cross’ emblem was designed as the inverse of the Swiss flag, in honor of Henry Dunant and his Swiss citizenship. Learn more about the Red Cross, Switzerland’s gift to the world.
- Switzerland is the only country after ancient Athens to practice direct democracy. Swiss citizens choose their representative in national and local elections. But they also vote on everything from banning smoking in restaurants, or school hours, to renovating the museum, or changing a local bus route. The Swiss vote more often than any other nation in the world.
- You might notice that cars from Switzerland carry the “CH” sticker, not “S” (taken by Sweden), or anything that would resemble the word Switzerland, Suisse, Schweiz, or Svizzera. Instead they are using the old “Confederation Helvetica” (Helvetiqe Confederation).
- One of the most interesting facts about Switzerland is that it has 4 official languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. It doesn’t mean that every Swiss person speaks more than one language, but most of them do. It can be best experienced on a train, where the conductor speaks all these language, and all the announcements are made in the languages of the regions it will go through. Multilingualism within one country sounds exciting but it makes anthem singing quite difficult.
- The currency in Switzerland is called Swiss Franc, marked as a CHF.
- There are 1,484 lakes in Switzerland, the biggest of which is Geneva Lake (Lac Leman), although its southern shore is in France.
- Trains are on time, always. And they can take you anywhere, even to the top of the Jungfraujoch. Every Swiss town is connected to the railway system which also coordinates with an amazing bus system. The extensive railway system and strong regulations on truck transport make Switzerland’s air less polluted.
- Swiss meal? Fondue – typically made of two kinds of cheese melted in a big pot with garlic, white wine, and spices, and loads of bread to soak in that cheese. It’s super fat, super heavy, and extremely delicious.
- Swiss dessert? Chocolate. To taste the best Swiss chocolate you will have to come and visit, what’s exported is not considered as the best by locals. Switzerland is the world’s largest chocolate producer! Not only that, Switzerland is also known for being the world’s largest chocolate eater! An average Swiss eats around 9kg (20 lbs) of chocolate per year.
- More facts about Switzerland and food: small Switzerland produces around 450 varieties of cheese, the most renown being Gruyere and Emmentaler. My favorites are Tete de Moine, and Vacherin Mont d’Or.
- Schweppes tonic was invented in Geneva!
- National beverage – Rivella. It’s a soda drink, based on milk (or lactoserum to be exact). If it sounds weird, it’s only because it tastes weird, too.
- Football and ice-hockey are the most popular sports in Switzerland.
- One of the most known landmarks of Switzerland is Geneva’s Jet d’Eau – a water jet fountain. On an average day it is 140 metres high, and it shoots around 500 litres of water per second with a speed of 200 km/h.
- The world’s longest tunnel is the Gothard Base railway tunnel in Switzerland. It is 57 km long!
- Switzerland is home to MANY international organizations: United Nations, World Health Organization, International Committee of the Red Cross, UEFA, FIFA, CERN, International Olympic Committee. 23 international organizations are based in Geneva alone.
Oh, and of course there’s watchmaking, and banking, but each should have their own 5 minutes in separate posts, someday.
We hope that these facts about Switzerland make you want to learn more about this beautiful country.
This post is part of our series Global Learning for Kids. Each month we will feature a country and host a link party to collect posts about teaching kids about that country–crafts, books, lessons, recipes, etc. It will create a one-stop place full of information about the country.by
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