More than 16 million tourists visit Switzerland every year. For most of them, Switzerland is initially associated with watches, chocolate, Swiss cheese and ski resorts. However, tourists very quickly realize that this country has unique medieval architectural buildings, amazingly beautiful nature, a large number of attractions, the annual international automobile show in Geneva, as well as excellent thermal resorts.
Geography of Switzerland
The Swiss Confederation is located in the center of Europe, it has no access to the sea. Switzerland borders France to the west, Italy to the south, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. The total area of this country is 30,528 sq. km., and the total length of the border is 1,850 km.
The territory of Switzerland is divided into three main geographical regions – the Alps (occupying 60% of the country), the Swiss Plateau (30% of the country’s territory) and the Jura Mountains in the north of the country (about 10% of the territory). The country’s highest peak is Dufour Peak in the Alps (4,634 m).
Several rivers flow through Switzerland – Rhone, Limmat, Rhine, etc. But tourists are more interested in Swiss lakes – Zurich in the east, Geneva, Thun, Firwaldstet in the south, Neuchâtel and Biel in the north of the country.
Since 1848, the capital of Switzerland has been the city of Bern, which is now home to about 135 thousand people. According to itypejob.com, Bern was formed in 1191 by order of Duke Berthold the Rich.
Switzerland speaks four languages. The most common of them is German (more than 67%). Next come French (more than 20%), Italian (6.5%) and Romansh (0.5%) languages.
More than 38% of the inhabitants of Switzerland belong to the Roman Catholic Church. Protestants (31% of the population) and Muslims (4.5%) also live in this country.
State structure of Switzerland
Switzerland, according to the 1999 Constitution, is a federal parliamentary republic. The head of state is the President, elected from 7 members of the Federal Council for 1 year. It is the Federal Council that has the executive power in the country.
According to computerminus.com, legislative power for many centuries has belonged to the bicameral parliament – the Federal Council, consisting of the Council of Cantons (46 representatives, two from each canton) and the National Council (200 deputies).
Administratively, the Swiss Confederation consists of 26 cantons.
Climate and weather
In general, the climate in Switzerland is temperate, continental, but it has regional differences. In the west of Switzerland, the climate is strongly influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, in the Alps the climate is mountainous, alpine. South of the Alps, the climate is almost Mediterranean. The average annual temperature is +8.6C. In winter, there is a lot of snow in Switzerland, which guarantees a long ski season.
Average air temperature in Bern:
– January – -1С
– February – 0С
– March – +5С
– April – +10С
– May – +14С
– June – +17С
– July – +18С
– August – +17С
– September – +13С
– October – +8С
– November – +4С
– December – 0С
Rivers and lakes
Switzerland has several large rivers – the Rhone, Limmat, Rhine, as well as the most beautiful lakes – Zurich in the east, Geneva, Thun, Firwaldstet in the south, Neuchâtel and Biel in the north of the country.
History of Switzerland
People on the territory of modern Switzerland lived 5 thousand years ago. In 58 B.C. Roman legions led by Gaius Julius Caesar defeated the troops of the Helvetian tribe living in Switzerland. In 15 B.C. the Roman emperor Tiberius conquers the tribes in the Swiss Alps, and from that time Switzerland becomes part of Ancient Rome.
In the early Middle Ages, Switzerland was under the rule of the Franks, and was divided into two parts – Middle Francia and East Francia. Only in 1000 AD. the Swiss territories were reunited under the Holy Roman Empire.
In 1291, the three Swiss cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden united to resist external enemies, and by 1513 this confederation included 13 cantons. The first half of the 16th century in Switzerland was marked by religious wars.
Only in 1648, according to the Peace of Westphalia, European countries recognized the independence of Switzerland from the Holy Roman Empire.
In 1798, revolutionary French troops conquered Switzerland and gave it a new constitution.
In 1815, the independence of Switzerland was again recognized by other states. Switzerland has since become a neutral country.
In 1847, some Swiss Catholic cantons tried to create their own union by separating from the rest of Switzerland, but they did not succeed. The civil war in 1847 in Switzerland lasted less than a month and killed about 100 people.
In the 20th century, during two world wars, Switzerland remained a neutral country. However, during the Second World War in Switzerland, the mobilization of men into the army was announced, because. there was a strong threat of invasion by German troops. An important role during the Second World War was played by the International Red Cross, whose main office was in Geneva.
The first Swiss cantons granted women the right to vote in elections in 1959. At the federal level, Swiss women gained the right to vote in 1971.
In 2002, Switzerland became a full member of the UN.
Culture of Switzerland
The culture of Switzerland was greatly influenced by neighboring countries – France, Germany, Austria and Italy. However, Swiss culture is now very distinctive and unique.
Until now, the Swiss zealously preserve their ancient traditions, the “soul” of which is expressed in music, dances, songs, embroidery and woodcarving. Even small Swiss villages have several musical folklore ensembles or dance groups.
In the mountainous regions of Switzerland, yodel, a type of folk singing, is popular (as in Austria). Every three years Interlaken hosts the International Yodeling Festival. A typical Swiss folk instrument is the accordion.
Tourists in Switzerland are advised to visit the following annual events:
- Art Basel
- Geneva Auto Show
- Montreux Jazz Festival
- Omega European Masters
- White Turf Events
- Lucerne Festival
- Locarno International Film Festival
- Ascona Music Festival
Swiss cuisine is characterized by precision and accuracy in the preparation of dishes. Swiss cuisine uses a lot of vegetables and herbs. In general, Swiss cuisine is formed on the basis of numerous regional traditions. However, in every canton of Switzerland, cheese is often used in cooking. In general, dairy products are very popular among the Swiss.
About 450 types of cheese are produced in Switzerland. Each Swiss eats an average of 2.1 kilograms of cheese annually.
The national Swiss dishes are “rösti” (“roshti”), which is grated potatoes fried in a pan (i.e. a kind of potato pancakes, they are served with herring, scrambled eggs or cheese), and “fondues” (“fondue” ), prepared from cheese and meat.
The Swiss are very fond of chocolate. Each Swiss eats more than 11.6 kilograms of chocolate every year. Now Swiss chocolate is famous all over the world.
Landmarks of Switzerland
Switzerland has not been at war with anyone for a long time, and given that the Swiss are very thrifty and economical, it becomes clear why a large number of various historical and architectural monuments have been preserved there. The top ten attractions in Switzerland, in our opinion, include the following:
- Chillon Castle on the shores of Lake Geneva. The famous Chillon Castle was built in 1160 and belonged to the Dukes of Savoy for a long time. The famous English poet George Byron, after a trip to Chillon Castle in 1816, wrote his famous poem “The Prisoner of Chillon”.
- Swiss national park. The Swiss National Park was formed in 1914. It covers an area of 169 sq. km. In this reserve, deer, chamois and mountain goats are found in large numbers.
- Jet d’Eau fountain in Geneva. The Jet d’Eau fountain was built in 1881. It hits from Lake Geneva to a height of 140 meters. Now the Jet d’Eau fountain is considered one of the symbols of Geneva.
- Medieval villages in the canton of Grisons. There are many old villages in the canton of Graubünden with houses dating back to the 13th century.
- Monument to the Duke of Brunswick. A monument to the Duke of Brunswick was built in Geneva in 1879. Not far from this monument is the Jet d’Eau fountain.
- Cathedral of St. Peter in Geneva. The construction of the Gothic St. Peter’s Cathedral in Geneva lasted from 1160 to 1310. It is in this cathedral that the chair of the famous reformer of the Catholic Church, Han Calvin, is located.
- Museum of ceramics and glass “Ariana”. The Ariana Museum is located near the Palais des Nations, in the Ariana Park in Geneva. The museum presents works of art from ceramics, porcelain and glass from around the world.
- Bastion Park in Geneva. Parc de Bastion is the oldest botanical park in Switzerland (it was founded in 1817). The magnificent building of the University of Geneva is located in this park.
- Russian Orthodox Church in Geneva. This church was built in 1866. Now she is one of the decorations of Geneva.
- Rhine Falls. In the canton of Schaffhausen, on the border with Germany, there is the famous Rhine Falls (i.e. this is a waterfall on the Rhine River).
Cities and resorts
The largest Swiss cities are Geneva, Basel, Zurich, Lausanne, and, of course, Bern.
Switzerland is, apparently, the classic country of ski resorts. The skiing season in Switzerland starts in November and lasts until April inclusive. The most popular Swiss ski resorts are Zermatt, Saas-Fee, St. Moritz, Interlaken, Verbier, Crans-Montana, Leukerbad, Villars/Grillon.
For many tourists, Switzerland is associated with ski resorts. However, in this country there are a lot of balneological resorts on thermal waters. The most popular Swiss balneological resorts are Leukerbad, Bad Ragaz, Yverdon-les-Bains, Baden, Ovronna, etc.
We advise you to bring Swiss chocolate (the most famous brands are Toblerone, Cailler, and Lindt), cheese, Swiss watches, cuckoo clocks, Swiss army knives, small cow bells, handicrafts, towels, etc. from Switzerland as souvenirs.
Mon-Fri: 08:00-12:10 and 14:00-17:00
Mon-Fri: 08:00-12:10 and 14:00-18:30
Ukrainians need to get a visa to visit Switzerland.
Currency of Switzerland
The Swiss franc is the official currency of Switzerland (its international designation is CHF). 1 Swiss franc = 100 centimes.
In Switzerland, you can import (and export) currency without restrictions. Customs regulations in Switzerland are the same as in other Western European countries.
Useful phone numbers and addresses
Address of the Embassy of Switzerland in Ukraine:
Zip code – 01015, Kyiv st. Kozyatinskaya, 12, PO box 114 Т
: (044) 281-61-28
Email: [email protected]
Address of the Embassy of Ukraine in Switzerland:
Index – 3005, Suisse, Bern, Feldeggweg, 5
352-23-16 address: [email protected]
All emergencies – 112
Police – 117
Fire department – 118
Ambulance – 144
The difference with Ukrainian time is -1 hour. Those. if in Bern, for example, in the summer it is 9:00 am, then in Kyiv it is 10:00 am.
Tipping in Switzerland is already included in the bill. However, if you are satisfied, for example, with the service in a restaurant, then you should round up the bill to a higher amount. So, with an account of CHF 47, they are rounded up to CHF 50.
Porters in hotels are usually given CHF 1-2 for each bag, and it is customary for a maid to leave CHF 1 per day. In a taxi, if passengers are satisfied with the trip, it is customary to leave 5% of the bill for tea.
There are no mandatory vaccinations to enter Switzerland. Medical insurance for 30,000 euros is required.
Very few crimes are committed in Switzerland. However, this does not mean that tourists, traveling or relaxing in Switzerland, can be careless. Still, you need to be attentive to your belongings in Switzerland.
We recommend skiing in Switzerland only on specially equipped slopes where there is no danger of avalanches.