"In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed — they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."That's not really fair on the Swiss (they didn't even invent the cuckoo clock—it comes from Swabia in Germany), but they do have a strong tradition in making clocks. They also produced the Swiss Army Knife, the Geneva Conventions and the International Committee of the Red C-Thing, among other things.note They also arguably influenced federalism, their system of government being one of several that inspired the writing of the US Constitution - and funnily enough they influenced the Australian Constitution as well. Switzerland (German: Schweiz, Italian: Svizzera, French: Suisse, Romansh: Svizra), officially known as the Swiss Confederation (Latin: Confoederatio Helvetica), which is why Swiss cars are distinguished by a CH sticker and the Swiss top level domain is .ch, is a country with four official languages (counting the very small Romansch-speaking population - the others are French, German and Italian), holds referenda all the time on many things and has not been involved in a war anywhere since 1815. It's one of the richest countries (per capita) in the world. One of the few countries in western Europe not part of the EU, although they often adopt EU regulations in the interest of trade. As a result, they still have their own currency, too. The Swiss also didn't join the United Nations until 2002, though the UN did have an office in Geneva long before them. In an interesting bit of trivia, the Swiss franc has recently become strong to the point of challenging the Euro, in part due to the debt issue. Though it has always been a very strong currency. There are actually two companies that produce MacGyver's favourite device for the Swiss military (who as usual refuse to play favourites between them, and split the order equally);
- Victorinox - the Original Swiss Army Knife
- Wenger - the Genuine Swiss Army Knife
- Bern, in the central-western part of the country, is the Federal City and seat of its government. The vast majority here are German-speakers.
- Zurich, in the northern part of the country, is the largest city with the largest airport and seat to many big companies and many of the famous banks. Also majority-German-speaking.
- Geneva, on the westernmost tip, is home to the ICRC and other international organizations as well as a good number of embassies of other countries. The main language here is French.
- Davos, in the eastern part of the country not far from the border with Austria, is the venue of the World Economic Forum. Primary language is German.
- Lausanne, in the southwestern part of the country, is home to several sports federations, most notably the International Olympic Committee. Primarily French-speaking.
- Basel, in the northwest on the Rhine at the point where Switzerland, France, and Germany meet, is central to the chemical industry and being the host for large art exhibitions and jewelry/watch trade shows. Mostly German-speaking.
ICRCThe International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement originates in Switzerland, being founded by a Swiss businessman horrified by the lack of basic battlefield medical care during the Austro-Sardinian War. The movement, also responsible for the Geneva Conventions, is the most famous humanitarian organisation. The symbols of the organisation are protected under the Geneva Conventions from any other use bar actual non-partial wartime medical provision, which means the ICRC tends to get rather annoyed when they're used as generic medical symbols. This is fairly frequent.
- In The Living Daylights, the bad guys disguise narcotics as ICRC aid parcels. The ICRC reported it to the authorities, but the charges weren't proceeded with by UK prosecutors. One VHS release of the movie has a disclaimer pointing out the major illegality - nay, war crime, of what the bad guys do.
Anonymous BankingFor a very long time in works of fiction, Switzerland was primarily referred to for its "Numbered Swiss Account", the favorite hiding place of illicit money. Switzerland no longer (as of 2005) protects the confidentiality of numbered accounts from other governments (at least the United States), though it still has control over the matter. This change in policy being one impact of the international pursuit of terrorists. As of late however, Switzerland has increasingly become known for anonymous and secure data protection, protecting clients' digital information in a similar if updated manner to the old "Numbered Swiss Account".
ReferendaSwitzerland is famous for its love of direct democracy, holding frequent referenda on a wide variety of issues, including a highly controversial one that passed to ban minarets. This is also the main reason why Switzerland hasn't joined the EU, since the idea of giving up this direct means to influence politics didn't sit well with voters.
Famous Swiss People
- Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, better known as Le Corbusier. An architect from Neuchâtel who moved to France and became French as fast as he could). One of the pioneers of what is now called modern architecture, he designed United Nations headquarters and many other beautiful buildings; also responsible for the Brutalist style, which developed into something rather different.
- Celtic Frost, one of the most influential and important bands in Extreme Metal.
- Henri Dunant, the founder of the Red Cross, the logo of which is an inversion of the Swiss flag.
- Leonhard Euler, mathematician, physicist, astronomer, logician and engineer.
- Roger Federer, 17-Grand Slam-winning tennis player, former World No. 1.
- H. R. Giger, surrealist painter and sculptor. Most notably, he is the creator of the Xenomorph design.
- Martina Hingis (though she was born in Slovakia), 5-time Grand Slam champion.
- Carl Jung, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst and founder of analytical psychology.
- Stéphane Lambiel, Olympic silver medalist and two-time world champion figure skater.
- Hermann Rorschach, inventor of the Inkblot Test.
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau, one of the leading philosophers of The Enlightenment, was born in Geneva and moved to France.
- American children's author/illustrator Richard Scarry set up his studio in Gstaad in 1972; much of the architecture and clothing in his work (such as Huckle's lederhosen) has an Alpine feel to it.
Switzerland in DiplomacyDue to Switzerland's permanently neutral status, they have not been in a war since 1815. Often in games, people can choose to be a "Switzerland". They essentially sit there, disconnected with everything else except selling. They don't get in any trouble and do absolutely nothing except get rich, famous and be a good-two-shoes (peace forces, etc.) Although there are other countries like this, Switzerland is the oldest and most prominent. Often, in games, an accusation is "Don't be a Switzerland!".
Switzerland in fictionAnime
- Switzerland is one of the nation-tans in Axis Powers Hetalia.
- Heidi, Girl of the Alps, 1974 anime series.
- In Diplomacy, Switzerland is an impassable territory- one of the few in the game, including Ireland. Units may not enter it at all.
- Astérix in Switzerland. Asterix and Obelix go to Helvetia to find and bring an edelweiss in order to save a Quaestor who was poisoned. Along the way, we see several things associated with Switzerland, like the cuckoo clock, Swiss cheese, William Telling and Lake Geneva.
- Third Man on the Mountain
- Es geschah am hellichten Tag, a Swiss-German crime thriller about a pedophile serial killer roaming the Alps. Scripted (and later turned into a novel) by Friedrich Dürrenmatt.
- William Tell
- The title character of Frankenstein is "by birth, a Genevese."
- Heidi, one of the internationally best known books from Switzerland.
- The Swiss Family Robinson: Doesn't take place in Switzerland, but it is kind of you know, about a Swiss family.
- The Fear Index is based in the city of Geneva. For a couple of reasons, it's a tax haven for the super rich (at least compared to the UK), it's the location of CERN and as such has extremely fast internet connections with the rest of the world.
- In most Video Games where a map of Europe is present, Switzerland is usually deemed neutral territory and cannot be entered. One notable exception being recent Command & Conquer games, both Tiberium Wars and Red Alert 3 have missions in Switzerland
- Europa Universalis is another exception that almost goes without saying; you can indeed play as Switzerland. Of course, the game's timeline antedates the country's famous neutrality. A bug in the 3.0 release would sometimes give huge tracts of New World colonies to Switzerland, much to the amusement of After-Action Report writers.
- On AlternateHistory.com, using stereotypes related to Switzerland's neutrality and supposed isolationism in Alternate History stories is commonly regarded as cliché. Notably, one of the most widespread Alternate History clichés is that Switzerland is uninteresting and nothing happens there or that it can't ever be invaded by anyone (á la Diplomacy), no matter the era or reasons.
- Speaking of AH.com, there are several timelines which try to avert the above clichés and feature the country in meaningful ways. A notable example is Protect and Survive: A Timeline, in which the Swiss are among the better off European countries after a nuclear war in late February 1984 decimates civilization. They even try to help the less fortunate European countries as much as they can, providing them with surplus supplies and valuable intel. In the post-war world, they become a power to be reconed with. Another TL that uses Switzerland in an interesting way is The Smallest Possible Difference.
See also:The Swiss Flag
The white cross has been in use since the days of the Old Swiss Confederacy of the 14th century, though its exact origins are relatively unknown. The red field was first used in 1800 and was based on the banner of the Canton of Schwyz, one of the three founding cantons of Switzerland (along with Uri and Unterwalden) and de facto leader, thus giving the nation its name.