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Switzerland is a European country located in Western and Central Europe. It shares borders with several countries including Italy, France, Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein. This landlocked country is divided by major land features like the Swiss Plateau and the Swiss Alps. There are over 8 million people in Switzerland and the majority of them live within global cities like Zurich and Geneva. If you wish to travel to Switzerland, take the time to learn more about this beautiful country with this travel guide.
The Swiss Confederation was founded in 1291, which is celebrated annually via Swiss National Day observance. The history of Switzerland included mostly that of armed neutrality. It was only until 2002 when Switzerland became a member of the United Nations. Even though the country is a part of the European Free Trade Association, it is not a part of the Schengen Area and the European Union.
Switzerland earns a high ranking in terms of economy, human development and quality of life. Two of its major cities, Zurich and Geneva, are recognized as global cities with its citizens enjoying the highest quality of life.
Currency: Swiss franc
Official Language: There are four officially recognized languages in Switzerland: German, French, Italian, and Romansh.
Airport/s: The Zurich Airport is the largest gateway for international flights that travel to Switzerland. It has an average passenger traffic of 22.8 million (as of 2012). Other notable international airports in Switzerland are Geneva Airport and Bern Airport.
Visa Required: US citizens only need a valid US passport in order to travel to Switzerland for business or tourist purposes. All citizens from the Schengen nations do not need a visa to travel to Switzerland. Proof of sufficient funds and return ticket might be required.
Driving: In Switzerland, you must drive on the right side of the road.
International Driver’s License Accepted? If your foreign driver’s license is written in a language not recognized by the Swiss, it is important to carry around an international driver’s license.
Crime: Switzerland is generally a safe country with a very low crime rate.
Electrical Adapters: The electrical voltage used in Switzerland is the same as most other European countries. The electrical voltage is at 220 volts and 50 Hertz.
Trivia: There is no official state religion in Switzerland. The majority of the people observe Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. Christianity makes up for 71% of the population while immigrants introduced Islam in Switzerland.
There are several notable dishes linked to Swiss cuisine such as rosti, fondue and raclette. However, there are also variant dishes that have developed across various regions of Switzerland. Traditional ingredients used in this cuisine include dairy products and cheeses. Two types of cheeses that originate in Switzerland are Gruyere and Emmental (both of which are named after the valleys from which they are produced from).
Chocolate is another popular component of Swiss cuisine. Chocolate has been around in Switzerland since the 18th century. In fact, the Swiss are known as the world’s largest consumer of chocolates.
Aside from cheese and chocolate, wine is also widely produced and consumed in Switzerland. The variant grapes grown in the country also contributed to a wide range of wines available in Switzerland.
Top Destinations in Switzerland
The Greater Zurich Area – Zurich is one of the most popular cities in the world and is ranked as one of the top global cities for its economic advancement and high human development. There are over 1.5 million people living in Zurich. Meanwhile, it is a highly industrialized city with over 150,000 companies operating within the city.
The Federal Palace – This is the seat of Federal Assembly and Federal Council.
Augusta Raurica – Lucius Munatius Plancus founded this first Roman settlement in 44 BC. Today, the ruin of this Roman settlement is one of the most important archaeological sites in the country.
Lake Geneva – This is the largest lake in Switzerland (which is made up of numerous lakes). Hence, sailing is a popular sport in Switzerland.
Engadin Valley – This is a popular tourist attraction in Switzerland, which is one of the most picturesque valley regions in the country. The valley encompasses several towns including the St. Moritz area.
Where I’ve Been to in Switzerland
- UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Switzerland
- Old City of Berne
- Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps
- Photo Essay – Switzerland