Posted on July 30 2020
It's August 1st again, Switzerland's national day. Chocolate, cheese, watches and banks – the clichés about the people of the alps in the heart of Europe are well known. But did you know...
1. ... that there are more than 1'500 lakes in Switzerland? So no matter where you are in Switzerland, you are never further than 16 kilometres away from a lake. It is therefore not surprising that Switzerland generates around 60% of its electricity from hydropower.
2. ... that around 70% of Switzerland consists of mountains? 208 of them are over 3'000 metres high, 24 over 4'000 metres. And the highest peak, the Dufourspitze (canton of Valais), is 4'634 metres above sea level, while Switzerland's lowest point is on the shores of Lake Maggiore (canton of Ticino) and is only just 195 metres above sea level. This point is only 70 kilometres from the highest Swiss mountain, named after a former Swiss general, Guillaume-Henri Dufour.
3. ... that it is illegal in Switzerland to keep guinea pigs individually? You must own at least two of them. On the other hand, the Swiss devote themselves relatively late to eternal togetherness. On average, men do not get married until they are 31.8 years old, women 29.6. Whether the marriage will last forever is another question. The divorce rate is 41.3%.
4. ... that Switzerland occupies one of the top ranks in the world for cannabis use? It is estimated that about 600'000 smokers consume around 100 tons of hashish and marijuana annually. The situation is no different with alcohol. In 2012, the Swiss drank around 56 litres of beer and 36 litres of wine per head. The majority was produced and consumed in Switzerland, leaving only about 2% of Swiss wine for export.
5. ... that in the same year 18 Swiss chocolate manufacturers produced about 172'376 tonnes of chocolate? Apparently, the average Swiss person consumes around 10 kilos of chocolate per year, the average American at 5.3 kilos consumes only about half.
6. ... that women in Switzerland, despite the progressive social system, were not granted the right to vote at federal level until 1971? In the canton of Appenzell women have only been allowed to go to the ballot box since 1990. But we have four official national languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh.
7. ... that Switzerland is the world champion in recycling? In Switzerland, bottles are brought to glass collection points for recycling, where you can also get rid of your aluminium and tin waste. PET bottles and empty batteries are collected and recycled separately. Paper and cardboard is neatly bundled, placed by the street and collected weekly. Household waste is packed into bags for which a fee is charged and is also collected. Garden waste is either handed over in the house's own compost or put into a green container, which is emptied once every two weeks. It goes without saying that these pick-up services take place on different days and this can vary depending on where you live – if you move, this complex waste calendar must be taken into account.
8. ... that the herb butter mixture "Café de Paris" does not actually come from Paris, but is named after the Geneva restaurant Café de Paris, where it was invented in the 1930s. You can buy it in any supermarket, with the 1000 Swiss franc banknote, the paper with the highest monetary value in the world.
9. ... that Switzerland currently has around 8.57 million inhabitants – slightly more than New York City with its 8.4 million? Switzerland's area is also only 41'285 square kilometres, which is less than a third of the area of the state of New York (141'299 square kilometres). One who also lived in Switzerland was none other than one of the most important physicists in world history. Albert Einstein graduated from the Alte Kantonsschule in Aarau (not far from Lenzburg) and worked at the Patent Office in Bern when he published his theory of relativity.
10. ... that one of the most popular fonts in the world was invented in Switzerland? The name suggests it – Helvetica – was developed in 1957 by the graphic artist Max Miedinger in Basel.
And now we wish everyone a happy 1st August, when one of the only two square national flags (besides Vatican) in the world is celebrated. The soil and forests are dry – that's why our beautiful Switzerland can be celebrated well without fireworks, because we don't want the Swiss Air Force to have to move out, because they are only available during office hours. ;-)