30 Fun Facts about Switzerland

Switzerland, a charming and picturesque country nestled in the heart of Europe, is renowned for its breathtaking mountains, delectable cheese, rich chocolate, and precision timepieces. However, beyond these recognized traits lie lesser-known details that make this a truly fascinating country that attracts international students all over the world.

Here are 30 intriguing fun facts that are sure to surprise you.

1. Four Official Languages

Switzerland is a multilingual country, with four official languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. German is the most widely spoken, with about 63% of the population using it as their first language. French is spoken by about 23%, Italian by about 8%, and Romansh by less than 1%. English is also widely spoken, especially among the younger generation and in the urban areas.

2. World’s Longest Tunnel

The Gotthard Base Tunnel is the world’s longest and deepest railway tunnel, stretching for 57 km (35 miles) under the Swiss Alps. It connects the northern and southern parts of Switzerland, reducing the travel time between Zurich and Milan by about an hour. The tunnel was opened in 2016, after 17 years of construction and at a cost of over 12 billion Swiss francs.

3. Over 1,500 lakes

Switzerland is a land of lakes, with more than 1,500 of them covering about 6% of its surface area. The largest and most famous ones are Lake Geneva, Lake Zurich, Lake Constance, and Lake Lugano. The lakes provide not only scenic beauty, but also drinking water, hydroelectric power, and recreational opportunities. You can swim, sail, fish, or just relax by the shore.

4. Swiss Chocolate

Switzerland is a chocolate lover’s paradise, and the origin of one of the world’s most-loved chocolates; Toblerone. According to the International Cocoa Organization, the average Swiss person consumes about 10 kg (22 lbs) of chocolate per year. That’s equivalent to about 111 chocolate bars. Switzerland is also the birthplace of milk chocolate, invented by Daniel Peter in 1875, and the Toblerone, created by Theodor Tobler in 1908.
5. Nominal Wealth Per Adult

The average wealth per adult in Switzerland was $564,653 in 2020, more than twice the global average of $76,984. Switzerland also has the highest proportion of millionaires, with about 14% of its adult population having a net worth of more than $1 million.

6. Nobel Laureates

Since the inception of the Nobel Prize in 1901, 32 Swiss citizens have won the prestigious award, in fields such as physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace. Some of the most notable Swiss Nobel laureates include Albert Einstein, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Henry Dunant.

7. The Highest Mountain

Switzerland is a mountainous country, with about 70% of its territory covered by the Alps. The highest mountain in not only the country, but also in Europe, is the Matterhorn, which stands at 4,478 m (14,692 ft) above sea level. The Matterhorn is also one of the most iconic and recognizable mountains in the world, thanks to its distinctive pyramidal shape and its appearance in movies, books, and even chocolate wrappers.


8. Low Obesity Rates

Switzerland is a healthy country, with the lowest obesity rate in Europe, according to the World Health Organization. Only about 10% of the Swiss population is obese, compared to the European average of about 23%. This is partly due to the Swiss diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and whole grains, and low in processed foods and added sugars. The Swiss also enjoy an active lifestyle, with plenty of outdoor activities and sports.

9. A Historic Democracy

Switzerland is a democratic country, with the oldest democracy in the world. The Swiss Confederation was founded in 1291, when three cantons (states) formed an alliance to resist foreign domination. Since then, Switzerland has expanded to 26 cantons, each with its own constitution, government, and laws. The Swiss people have a direct say in the federal and cantonal matters, through referendums and initiatives. The Swiss also elect their parliament and president every four years.

10. Coffee

If you’re a coffee drinker, you will love this aspect of Switzerland. The average Swiss person drinks about 7.9 kg (17.4 lbs) of coffee per year, or about three cups per day, more than anywhere else in Europe. Coffee is a part of the Swiss culture, and can be enjoyed in various ways, such as espresso, cappuccino, latte, or mocha. The country is also the home of Nespresso, the popular coffee capsule system.

11. Zurich’s Cost of Living

Zurich, the largest city and financial center of Switzerland, ranked highest worldwide for the cost of living, in 2020, followed by Paris and Hong Kong. The city’s reputation for a high quality of life often comes with a price tag. Goods and services, including food, clothing, transportation, and entertainment, tend to be more expensive here. However, there are ways for international students to navigate these challenges and ensure an enjoyable experience without breaking the bank.

12. Railways

Switzerland has about 5,132 km (3,188 miles) of railway tracks, one of the highest railway densities in the world.. The Swiss railway system is efficient, punctual, and comfortable, and offers scenic views of the countryside and the mountains. The most famous railway in Switzerland is the Glacier Express, which runs between Zermatt and St. Moritz.

13. Recycling

Switzerland recycles about 53% of its municipal waste, compared to the OECD average of about 35%. The Swiss are also good at composting, incinerating, and reducing their waste. The Swiss government encourages recycling by imposing a fee on garbage bags, and providing separate bins and collection points for different types of waste.


14. Life Expectancy

The average life expectancy at birth in Switzerland was 83.6 years in 2019, compared to the European average of 78.3 years. The Swiss enjoy a high standard of living, a universal health care system, a clean environment, and a low crime rate, all of which contribute to their longevity.

15. Cheese

The average Swiss person consumes about 21.6 kg (47.6 lbs) of cheese per year, or about 59 g (2 oz) per day. Switzerland produces about 450 varieties of cheese, some of the most famous ones being Emmental, Gruyère, Appenzeller, and Raclette. Cheese is a staple of Swiss cuisine, and can be enjoyed in dishes such as fondue, rösti, and croque-monsieur.


16. Patents

Switzerland filed about 988 patent applications per million inhabitants in 2019, more than three times the global average of 295. Switzerland is also a leader in innovation, ranking first in the Global Innovation Index 2020, which measures the innovation performance of 131 countries.

17. Foreign-Born Residents & Naturalization

About 25% of the Swiss population was born outside of Switzerland, compared to the European average of about 10%. The foreign-born residents come from various countries, such as Italy, Germany, Portugal, France, and Kosovo. Switzerland also has a high naturalization rate, with about 40,000 people becoming Swiss citizens every year.

18. Ski Resorts

Switzerland has about 338 ski resorts, covering about 7,107 km (4,415 miles) of ski slopes. The Swiss ski resorts offer a range of activities and facilities, such as skiing, snowboarding, sledding, ice skating, and spa treatments. Some of the most popular ski resorts in Switzerland are Zermatt, St. Moritz, Davos, and Verbier.


19. Michelin-Starred Restaurants

With its rich gastronomic heritage and commitment to quality, Switzerland has become a top destination for food lovers and connoisseurs. The country is home to about 122 Michelin-starred restaurants.

Swiss cuisine is influenced by the four official languages, as well as the neighboring countries of France, Germany, Italy, and Austria. Some of the typical Swiss dishes are cheese fondue, raclette, rösti, and bircher muesli.

20. Museums

There are 1,111 museums in Switzerland, a country that is known for its rich cultural heritage and love for the arts. These museums offer students opportuinties to explore Swiss art, history, science, technology, sports, and more. Some of the most famous museums in Switzerland are the Swiss National Museum, the Kunsthaus Zurich, the Olympic Museum, and the Einstein House.

21. Organic Farms

According to the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, Switzerland boasts the highest proportion of organic farms in Europe, making it a truly green country. About 15% of the Swiss farms are organic, compared to the European average of about 7%. These organic farms produce about 10% of the total agricultural output in the country, such as milk, cheese, meat, eggs, and cereals. Swiss consumers are also keen on organic products, spending about 312 Swiss francs per person per year on them.

22. Nuclear Shelters

Switzerland is a well-prepared country when it comes to emergencies, with approximately 300,000 nuclear shelters (that’s about one shelter for every 27 people in Switzerland). These shelters are specifically designed to safeguard the population from potential nuclear, biological, or chemical attacks, as well as natural disasters. Swiss law mandates that every new building must include a nuclear shelter and guarantees that every citizen has access to one.

23. Cows’ Rights

Switzerland is known for its thriving dairy industry. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, Switzerland has the highest number of cows per capita in Europe, with approximately 1. 6 million cows. These cows are contribute primarily to dairy production, but sometimes to meat and leather production. What sets Swiss cows apart is their well-being: they are carefully looked after and are afforded the right to regular exercise, access to fresh air, and a diet consisting of natural feed. The Swiss prioritize their animals’ welfare, leading to healthier livestock and high-quality products derived from them.

24. Watch Exports

Switzerland exported about 20.6 million watches in 2019, worth about 21.7 billion Swiss francs. The Swiss watches are renowned for their quality, craftsmanship, and innovation. Some of the most famous watch brands are Rolex, Omega, Swatch, and Patek Philippe.


25. Public Holidays

Switzerland has about 26 public holidays per year, compared to the European average of 11 public holidays. The holidays vary by canton, and celebrate religious, historical, and cultural events.

26. International Organizations

Switzerland has a significant role in the world as a neutral country, hosting at least 40 international organizations including the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the World Trade Organization. The country also participates in many international initiatives, such as the Geneva Conventions, the Schengen Agreement, and the Human Rights Council.

27. Cable Cars

Switzerland has about 1,700 cable cars, which are used for transportation, tourism, and recreation. They offer spectacular views of the country’s picturesque landscapes and mountains. Some of the most famous cable cars are the Titlis Rotair, the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, and the Schilthorn Piz Gloria.


28. Banks

Switzerland boasts approximately 253 banks that provide a wide array of financial services including savings accounts, loans, investment opportunities, and expert wealth management. One of the key reasons for their global acclaim is their reputation for security, stability, and confidentiality. Notable Swiss banks include UBS, Credit Suisse, and Julius Baer.

29. Referendums

Switzerland has about four referendums per year, allowing the people to vote on federal and cantonal matters, such as laws, treaties, and constitutional amendments. Swiss referendums can be mandatory, optional, or popular, depending on the type and origin of the issue.

30. Alphorns

There are about 10,000 alphorns in Switzerland. An alphorn is a traditional Swiss instrument, made of wood and measuring about 3.5 m (11.5 ft) in length. It produces a deep and resonant sound, and is usually played in the mountains, as a signal, a call, or a melody. The alphorn is also a symbol of Swiss culture and identity.


Apply to Study in Switzerland

If you’re intrigued by these facts, then Switzerland could be the perfect country for you to pursue your studies abroad. With its outstanding reputation for academic excellence and breathtaking natural beauty, Switzerland offers a unique educational experience. It is home to world-class universities that offer a diverse range of programs taught in English. Its central location in Europe provides easy access to explore other countries and cultures during your time as a student

Whether you’re interested in business, engineering, hospitality management, or any other discipline, studying at a university in Switzerland can open doors to exciting career prospects and unforgettable experiences. Find your dream program and apply through Global Admissions today.


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