Is Switzerland known for chocolate or cheese?

From soaring Alps to beautiful lakes, Switzerland has breathtaking scenery. The country has for centuries been a neutral state and is one of the world’s wealthiest countries. Let us find out more about this beautiful country in Europe.


The earliest stones discovered in Switzerland are more than 250,000 years old. During the last glacial period in Alpine Europe, the Wurm stage, which began around 70,000 years ago, the region was covered with ice. At about 12,000 BC. Homo sapiens appeared after the melting of the glaciers, Neolithic cultures established com growing and animal breeding in parts of the Rhone and Rhine valleys.

The region that constitutes present-day Switzerland became part of the Roman Empire at the beginning of the 3rd Century BC With the end of the Western Roman Empire. the Roman administration in the region dismantled in the 5th and 6th centuries. In the Middle Ages, the region witnessed migratory flows. Various peoples also settled in Switzerland, bringing with them new ways of life and languages

Switzerland was formed in 1291 and became an independent country in 1815. Though the country faced tensions and armed conflicts like the rest of Europe, it developed its unique characteristic of being neutral in wars. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the country experienced periods of peace and rising prosperity.


Switzerland is a landlocked country bordered by France, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein and Italy. It is the nexus of the diverse physical and cultural geography of Western Europe.

It has deep Alpine lakes and grassy valleys with farms and small villages. Among the snow-covered Swiss Alps, Matterhorn is the most famous peak. The highest among them is Dufourspitze at 15,203 feet.

In the past several decades. the country has faced severe environmental stress, resulting in pollution and debates over the exploitation of natural resources. During the 1970s and 1980s. environmental policies were adopted by the municipalities that led to an impressive progress on pollution abatement. For example, air pollution emissions here are among the lowest in industrialised countries.

Flora and fauna

In the warmer months, Switzerland is graced with a variety of flora. The most beautiful blooms can be found high in the mountains.

The vegetation here is a mix of four European climatic regions that converge in the country. It includes the beeches and oaks of the maritime west; hornbeam and larch trees in the more continental east, predominantly in the Engadin and the dry Valais; extensive spruce forests in the northern subalpine region; and chestnut groves in the south. The most famous flower in the country is the edelweiss (native to alpine areas of Europe and South America).

Though the country’s animal life is primarily Alpine, it has a mixture of species familiar to southern and north-central Europe. Here, one can find ibex, which is a species of mountain goat that was hunted to near extinction in the early 1800s. It was reintroduced and more than 15,000 ibex now live in the Swiss Alps. Besides, one can find marmots in the high meadows, and chamois. The forests of Switzerland are also home to deer, rabbits, foxes, badgers, squirrels, and many bird species.


Most of Western Europe’s culture has its presence in Switzerland. The Swiss constitution recognises German, French, Italian and Romansh (a Rhaeto-Romance language with Latin roots) as official languages. Though English is not an official language, most of the country’s official documents are in it.

Most of the citizens live in towns and cities. The cities are international centres of industry and commerce.

Since the beginning of the 20th Century, the population of Switzerland has more than doubled. The foreign-born population here increased in the 1990s as it provided refuge to those fleeing the violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Kosovo.

The country boasts an impressive list of contributors to the arts and sciences. It has won more Nobel Prizes and registered more patents per capita than any other country.

Switzerland’s neutral stance In wars and laws of political asylum have attracted many creative persons during times of unrest or war in Europe. For example, the rise of fascism in the 1930s and 1940s caused a number of German, Austrian, and Italian writers such as Thomas Mann, Stefan George, and Ignazio Silone to seek refuge in Switzerland.

Traditional Swiss cuisine is marked by important cultural and regional variations. Cheese dishes are an integral part of the country’s cuisine. Its famous and national dish is fondue neuchateloise, which is a mixture of melted Emmentaler and Gruyere cheeses and wine into which bread cubes are dipped.

The Swiss chocolate industry is also world-famous. Meanwhile, the western region of the country is influenced by French cuisine and culture, and in Ticino, pasta, polenta, and risotto from Italy are popular.

Typical Swiss folk culture such as yodeling and playing the alphorn is practised in some rural regions. Folk arts here include music, poetry (usually song), dance, wood carving, and embroidery. The traditions can be seen in the country’s many holidays and festivals. For example, Fasnacht is celebrated in late winter throughout the country. It exhibits regional variations such as in some places people wear masks to chase away evil spirits. Masks are also part of Sylvesterklause (New Year) celebrations, particularly in rural Switzerland.

The country has made a significant mark in science. The famous Swiss scientists include Paracelsus, who introduced chemistry into the field of medicine in the 16th Century. Zurich’s Federal Institute of Technology has produced many Nobel Prize winners, among them physicists Albert Einstein, Wolfgang Pauli, and Heinrich Rohrer. The Swiss are well known for their watches and clocks.


The 1848 Constitution of Switzerland, modelled on the United States, was revised in 1874 and then in 2000. It does not allow for troops to be sent to serve in foreign wars. During both World Wars, the country remained neutral.

One of the unique aspects of the Constitution is that it allows citizens to have a direct say in their own affairs under Switzerland’s system of direct democracy. The citizens can also call a national vote on any issue by collecting 100,000 signatures.

The leader of the government is the President. Both the President and Vice-President are elected by the Federal Assembly from the Federal Council. They serve a one-year term and elections are usually held in December. Ruth Dreifuss was the first woman to serve as President, holding the office in 1999.

Though the country has been a member of the United Nations since 2002, it is not a member of the European Union.

Picture Credit: Google

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