Bordering Germany, France, Austria, Lichtenstein and Italy, Switzerland is a mountainous country with Alpine peaks, lakes and many small villages in Central Europe. The capital is Bern.
Switzerland lies between Lake Constance and Lake Geneva, the Alpine Rhine and the Jura, the Upper Rhine and the southern edge of the Alps. It is roughly divided into five geographical areas with large climatic differences: the Jura, the Central Plateau, the Pre-Alps, the Alps and the southern side of the Alps.
38% (14,813 km²) of the area of Switzerland is used for agriculture, 30.4% (12,522 km²) is forest. 5.8% (2,418 km²) are built over. 25.5% (10,531 km²) – mainly in the mountains – are considered unproductive natural areas. The maximum north-south extension is 220 km, the largest west-east extension is 348 km.
Switzerland is divided into 26 cantons (member states), with the canton of Jura not being formed until 1979. The country is a member of the European Free Trade Area, the Council of Europe, the World Trade Organization (since 1995; member of the predecessor organization General Tariff and Trade Agreement since 1959), the United Nations (since 2002), the Schengen Agreement, but not the European Union.
With a gross domestic product of 87,000 Swiss francs per resident and year, it is one of the economically strongest countries in the world. Established internationally, it is a recognized location for teaching, innovation and research. Three quarters of the workforce are employed in the service sector. The cities of Zurich and Geneva are at the top of the list of cities with the highest quality of life.
Switzerland has a pronounced federalism. The cantons (comparable to the federal states in Germany) retain all tasks that are not assigned to the federal government in the federal constitution. The neutral foreign policy is another plus point. Switzerland has not participated in any wars in other countries since 1815. The military is only there for defense.
Around 8 million people live in Switzerland. About 26% of them are foreigners. Today, Switzerland is known to be a country of immigration. But today’s federal territory, and in particular Zurich, were already the target of major migration movements in earlier times. At the time of industrialization there was a great internal migration, mainly from the Alps.
In recent years, immigration from Germany to Switzerland has also increased, as the chances of finding a job are perceived as better here. In 2018, German citizens with 308,696 were the second largest group of guest workers in Switzerland after citizens from Italy (322,645) and ahead of the Portuguese (266,448).
The typical Swiss are known for their reserved, friendly and orderly manner. This picture is rounded off by hard work, serenity, hospitality and punctuality. Quality takes precedence over quantity. Rather untypical characteristics are spontaneity, openness and determination. Of course, the mentality of the people also depends on the respective region or age group and is therefore different.
The national languages are German (63.7% – red), French (20.4% – blue), Italian (6.5% – green) and Romansh (0.5% – yellow) are territorial as on the map (see Language areas) distributed across Switzerland. Yenish and Yiddish were recognized as non-territorial languages.
High German is spoken and understood in Switzerland, but the vast majority of Swiss speak the so-called Schwyzerdütsch. This is not a separate language, but rather a hodgepodge of many German-speaking dialects.
Even if Standard German is your mother tongue, you will have problems understanding Swiss at the beginning. Since the dialects also differ greatly within Switzerland, it is sometimes a challenge for the Swiss themselves to understand each other. You collect plus points if you understand the dialect common in your area or can even imitate Swiss singsong – of course without making fun of yourself. So why not even tame it with a hoi! attempt?!
Of the Swiss citizens, 41 percent are Roman Catholic, 40 percent Evangelical Reformed, 2.5 percent in free churches, 5.5 percent belong to other religious communities and 11 percent are not religious. Of the foreigners in Switzerland, 44 percent are Roman Catholics, 5 percent Protestant Reformed, 17 percent Orthodox, 18 percent Islamic, and 2 percent are without confession.
The culture is influenced by the neighboring countries, but over the years an independent culture has developed. 4 national languages combined in such a small area suggest an unbelievable cultural diversity. Due to the different language and thus also cultural regions, it is difficult to speak of a uniform Swiss culture.
Yodelling, blowing the alphorn or waving flags have been well-protected Swiss traditions for decades and an integral part of their culture. Switzerland is also famous for its pocket knives, watches, chocolate and cheese fondue.
Homeschooling, homeschooling, free learning
An increasingly popular alternative to normal school attendance is homeschooling (home tuition or home tuition) or free learning (unschooling). In Switzerland, home schooling is legal in around three quarters of the cantons, with many being restrictive to very restrictive.
One possibility to be examined is to have the children taught at home in German by the Wilhelm von Humboldt Online Private School.
Climate and Weather
North of the Alps there is a temperate Central European climate, mostly characterized by oceanic winds. South of the Alps it is more Mediterranean. The climate is regionally very different, due to the altitude as well as the geographic location.
Geographically, Switzerland can be divided into four zones:
- Jura arch: following the hilly range of the same name as well as the areas north of it (especially northwestern Switzerland)
- Mittelland: the area between the foothills of the Alps and the Jura arches
- Pre-Alps and Alps: the mountainous area south of the Central Plateau
- Southern Switzerland: Area primarily south of the Alps: Valais, Ticino, Engadin, Graubünden southern valleys
Basically, the weather is similar every day from the Jura bend over the Central Plateau and the foothills of the Alps / Alps, while the weather in southern Switzerland can be completely different. Visit weddinginfashion for Switzerland Tour Plan.
The seasons can be clearly distinguished from one another. In spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) the average temperatures are between 8 and 15 degrees, in summer (June to August) between 25 and 30 degrees and in winter (December to February) between -2 and 7 degrees.
About 30% of the land surface in Switzerland is forested. In the Alps, conifers dominate (fir, spruce, larch, Swiss stone pine). In the Central Plateau, in the Jura and on the southern side of the Alps below 1000 meters, mixed deciduous forests and deciduous forests grow. There are extensive chestnut forests in Ticino.
Since the climate in the south of Switzerland is very different from that in the north, you can also find “tropical” plants here. These include, for example, almond trees, cypress trees and laurel. In the south of Ticino, for example on the shores of Lake Maggiore, some palm trees (for example dwarf or hemp palms) thrive as ornamental plants in parks and gardens, as well as on roadsides. The very rare gentian and edelweiss can be found in the Alps.
There are 83 species of mammals in Switzerland, the majority of which can be assigned to bats and other small mammals. Lynx, wolf and bear are under protection and are slowly being found again. The red fox can be seen most frequently. He also feels very much at home in Swiss cities.
Numerous bird species also inhabit Switzerland. The Swiss lakes and rivers are important resting and wintering areas for numerous water birds. Several thousand tufted, pochard and red poched ducks as well as coot, goosander and great crested grebe overwinter here every year. Of the birds of prey, the kestrel and the buzzard are particularly common. But red and black kites also occur regularly. The golden eagle colonizes the entire Alpine region again. The hawk and sparrowhawk populations have also recovered and are stable.