Switzerland Overview

Animal drawings on bone finds from the Kesslerloch, a cave in the canton of Schaffhausen used by Neolithic hunters (15,000‒11,000 BC), are considered to be very early artistic testimonies of people in what is now Switzerland. Excavations in many places brought to light the remains of buildings, everyday objects and art objects from Roman times, for example the Augusta Raurica near Basel.

Some church buildings go back to the 5th century. The Romanesque ceiling paintings of St. Martin in Zillis (Graubünden) and the St. Gallen Abbey Library are famous. Fortresses and historic city centers have been preserved in many places. Half-timbered buildings shape entire villages in northeastern Switzerland. Overall, there is a pronounced openness to modern architecture. One of the most influential architects of the 20th century, Le Corbusier , comes from Switzerland, contemporaries like Herzog & de Meuron are in demand around the world.

There are many important art museums in Switzerland. Switzerland uses this slogan to advertise: “Switzerland has no Louvre, it is one!” Due to its multilingualism, Swiss literature is closely linked to the literatures of neighboring countries. In the 14th century, the Manessian manuscript, one of the most beautiful and extensive Middle High German song manuscripts, was created in Zurich. School reading includes works by Jeremias Gotthelf (* 1797, † 1854) and Gottfried Keller , Friedrich Dürrenmatt and Max Frisch . The classic children’s book “Heidi” by Johanna Spyri has become known worldwide.

In German-speaking Switzerland, popular music is often sung in dialect. DJ BoBo has had great success outside of Switzerland since the 1990s. Yodelling is a typical feature of traditional music.

The proximity to the mountains enables a variety of leisure activities. Winter sports play a major role. The Swiss Alpine Club maintains an extensive network of hiking trails and operates numerous huts. National peculiarities in sport are swinging (a form of freestyle wrestling), stone pushing (a lawn power sport) and hornussen (a team sport). With Roger Federer , the most successful tennis player in the world to date comes from Switzerland.

In addition to Swiss chocolate, the cheese fondue is one of the best-known culinary specialties.


According to bridgat, most of Switzerland has a humid, moderate climate with high levels of precipitation; three quarters of the country’s area receive over 1,000 mm annually; the maxima are on the north-facing mountain flanks (up to 4,000 mm annually). The inner-alpine valleys and the leewards of the Jura and Black Forest receive noticeably less precipitation, such as the Rhône Valley (around 550 mm per year) and the Central Plateau (around 800 mm). The mean annual temperature varies depending on the altitude. In large parts of the Central Plateau it is between 8 ° C and 10 ° C, on the Jungfraujoch (3,471 m), for example, at around −8 ° C.

The climate on the southern side of the Alps clearly shows Mediterranean influences, which are particularly noticeable in the vegetation. Lugano at 273 m, for example, has an average annual temperature of around 12 ° C. An important component of the Swiss climate is also the intense solar radiation (often combined with long hours of sunshine) in the high mountains.

National symbols

The national flag was introduced in 1848. It is a coat of arms flag and one of the few square flags of sovereign states.

The coat of arms goes back to old Schwyz standards from the 13th century. It was established as a seal in the constitution of 1814, introduced as a coat of arms in 1848, and last established in 1889. It shows a white, free-standing cross in the red field.

National holiday: The “Rütli oath” of 1291 is commemorated on August 1st (federal celebration).


Due to the different political traditions of the cantons, the party landscape is very diverse. The parties represented in the Federal Council are the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP, founded in 1971), the Social Democratic Party (SPS, founded in 1888) and the liberal, medium-sized FDP. The Liberals (FDP, emerged in 2009 from the merger of the Free Democratic Party [FDP, founded 1847] and the Liberal Party of Switzerland [LPS, founded in 1961 as Liberal-Democratic Union]) and the bourgeois-conservative Christian Democratic People’s Party (CVP, founded in 1912). In addition, v. a. the Swiss Civil Democratic Party (BDP, created in 2008 at federal level as a split from the SVP), the Swiss Green Party (GPS, founded 1983), the Green Liberal Party of Switzerland (GLP, founded at federal level in 2007), the Evangelical People’s Party (EPP, founded 1919), the Labor Party (PdA, founded 1944), and the Christian Social Party (CSP, founded in 1997) plays a role. A right-wing populist regional party is the Lega dei Ticinesi (founded in 1991).

Switzerland Overview