Alphorn – This bizarre looking wind instrument is a national symbol of Switzerland and was originally used by shepherds as far back as the 16th century (and possibly earlier). The wooden instrument is around 3.5 metres in length, and has a conical shape at the end. There are nearly 2,000 alphorn blowers worldwide.
Chocolate – The Swiss are famous for producing high quality chocolate, with techniques perfected over centuries. It tastes so good, it’s no wonder that the Swiss are the biggest consumers of chocolate worldwide, per head of population. Among the internationally-known brands are Lindt, Nestlé, Suchard, and Toblerone.
Fondue – A Swiss speciality, this is a dish of melted cheese that you dip bread into with a long fork. As it is eaten communally, the pot is placed centrally on the table so everyone gets to dip in. The Swiss Cheese Union promoted it as a national dish back in the 1930s and it has been popular ever since.
Heidi – Written by Johanna Spyri and published in the late 19th century, the Heidi books tell the stories of an orphaned girl growing up in the Alps. An international sensation, 50 million copies of the books have been sold worldwide and there have been several Heidi films, TV shows and theatre adaptations.
Lakes – Although Switzerland is a landlocked country, it has dozens of scenic lakes, some of which are shared with neighbouring countries France, Italy, Germany or Austria. Among the most well known are Lake Geneva, the largest lake, and Lake Como, which is famous for its beauty. Celebrities and royalty have lived by Swiss lakes over the years – among them the King of Thailand and pop star Phil Collins.
Lifestyle – Move to Switzerland and you can expect a good standard of living, as the country has the highest wealth per capita in the world. Although Geneva and Zurich have been named the world’s most expensive cities to live in, they are also among the cities offering the highest quality of life in the world.
Mountains – The majority of the landscape in Switzerland is occupied by the Swiss Alps and the Jura Mountains, presenting a dramatic and stunning landscape. If you enjoy being active, the mountains present plenty of sporting opportunities such as skiing, snowboarding, hiking and mountain biking. For those who like to take long walks, the hiking routes are easy to spot as they are marked with yellow signs revealing how long it takes to complete the route.
Neutrality – Switzerland has a history of armed neutrality and is often involved in peace keeping processes around the world. It is also home of the Red Cross, which was founded in Geneva in 1863 and helps to provide international aid to people affected by war, natural disasters or disease.
Swiss Army Knives – This is a handy multi-functional tool that you should never be without! Choose from a range of sizes, from knives with a just a single sharp blade and a few extra tools (such as scissors or nail files), up to ‘The Giant’ which is the biggest version and has 87 tools performing more than 140 functions.
Watches – Whether it is watches, jewellery, clocks, pipes or gadgets, the Swiss are famous for producing items of quality, precision and aesthetic appeal. In the 1840s, Switzerland accounted for more than half the world’s watch production, and by 2005 Switzerland’s watch exports topped the CHF 12 billion mark. TAG Heuer, Rolex, Chopard and Patek Philippe are among the famous names in watches.
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