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"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."
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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 Central/Western European 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 anywherenote  since 1815. It's one of the richest countries (per capita) in the world.

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One of the few countries in Western Europe not part of the EU, the others being the United Kingdom (although they were part of it until 2020), Monaco (though they do use the Euro) and Liechtenstein, 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.

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 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.

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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") and Wenger ("The Genuine Swiss Army Knife"). The former now owns the latter, but the two brands remain. In addition to pocket-knives, Switzerland is famous for the production of finely-crafted mechanical watches by such brands as Breitling and Omega, and the country is also renowned the world over for making some of the finest milk chocolate anywhere, with modern milk chocolate and white chocolate in general originating from the country.


Notable Cities

  • 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. Although the common English name for the lake it sits on is "Lake Geneva", it's actually Lac Leman, no matter what Deep Purple might say.
  • Montreux, at the other end of Lac Leman from Geneva, is home to the world famous Jazz Festival, still going strong today. Primarily French-speaking. Has a notable statue of Freddie Mercury on the waterfront.
  • 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.

ICRC

The 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.

Swiss with Army Knives

The Swiss Armed Forces (who actually have patrol boats) are a rather unique military. The Swiss military, as well as being pretty high-tech, is a trained militia, who keep their automatic rifles at home, though the ammunition is kept in military armories. Once people leave, they can keep the guns (as of recently, only until a certain age unless certain criteria are met), but they have to be rendered semi-auto only and a weapon acquisition permit is required.

Switzerland thus has a very high gun ownership rate, but you need a permit to buy weapons and ammo. In addition, concealed carry permits are issued sparingly and with several restrictions.

95% of Swiss have beds available for them in a nuclear bomb shelter, and new buildings were required to either include one or have access to a public one. Switzerland is rich like that. (And has a lot of stone mountainsides to dig into.)

In addition, the country also is said to defend, though no one ever signed a treaty, a mini-state in the form of Liechtenstein, which the Swiss tend to invade every so often due to navigation errors.

Switzerland is also famous for its tasty chocolate and Swiss Cheese. To a lesser extent, precision machinery, especially watches. With few natural resources, the country has always focused on importing raw materials, making high quality wares out of them and exporting the results.

The place is fairly easy to defend—with the exception of Basel (which is situated in the Rhine valley), Switzerland is surrounded by high mountains and a lake and the few tunnels can be easily closed in a war.

Anonymous Banking

For 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".

Referenda

Switzerland 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.
  • Ursula Andress, actress, model, and sex symbol.
  • 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, 20-Grand Slam-winning Tennis player, former World No. 1.
  • Bruno Ganz, a renowned German language film, theatre and television actor.
  • 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.
  • Vincent Perez, actor and director.
  • 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.
  • Paracelsus, full name Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, a Renaissance-era physician, alchemist, and astronomer.
  • Claudio Castagnoli, Swiss Professional Wrestler who became famous in the U.S. in CHIKARA and Ring of Honor and competes for WWE as Cesaro.

Switzerland in Diplomacy

Due to Switzerland's permanently neutral status, they have not been in a war since 1815 (when Napoléon Bonaparte invaded the country). Neutrality also keeps Switzerland out of many international organizations; it refuses to join the European Union in part out of respect for its neutrality policy, and refused to join the United Nations until 2002 despite hosting the European offices of many UN institutions.


Switzerland in fiction

Anime

Board Games

  • In Diplomacy, Switzerland is an impassable territory- one of the few in the game, including Ireland. Units may not enter it at all.

Comic Books

  • Asterix 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.

Film

Literature

  • A satirical version called "New Swissland" is the home country of Captain Underpants villain Professor Poopypants, a country where everyone has a silly name.
  • 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.

Video Games

  • 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.
  • Out to Lunch!: The first world takes place here.
  • The first flashback mission in The Bourne Conspiracy takes place at Zurich International Airport as Bourne attempts to assassinate a Turkish war criminal.
  • The penultimate mission of Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain takes place in Zurich.
  • The Gran Turismo series has a number of race tracks in Switzerland. All appear to be road courses (Grindelwald, Eiger Nordwand, Matterhorn) or dirt courses (Swiss Alps, other Eiger Nordwand tracks).

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Totally Spies!: The main villain of Passion Patties is a Swiss cookie maker named Dr. Inga Bittersweet. However, the name Inga sounds more Swedish.

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The Swiss Flag
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/flag_of_switzerland.png
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.

Coat of arms of Switzerland
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/coat_of_arms_of_switzerland.png
The coat of arms has the same meaning as the flag.

The Swiss national anthem
Trittst im Morgenrot daher,
Seh’ ich dich im Strahlenmeer,
Dich, du Hocherhabener, Herrlicher!
Wenn der Alpenfirn sich rötet,
Betet, freie Schweizer, betet,
Eure fromme Seele ahnt...
Eure fromme Seele ahnt...
Gott im hehren Vaterland!
Gott, den Herrn im hehren Vaterland!

Kommst im Abendglühn daher,
Find ich dich im Sternenheer,
Dich, du Menschenfreundlicher, Liebender!
In des Himmels lichten Räumen
Kann ich froh und selig träumen;
Denn die fromme Seele ahnt
Denn die fromme Seele ahnt
Gott im hehren Vaterland!
Gott, den Herrn, im hehren Vaterland!

Ziehst im Nebelflor daher,
Such ich dich im Wolkenmeer,
Dich, du Unergründlicher, Ewiger!
Aus dem grauen Luftgebilde
Bricht die Sonne klar und milde,
Und die fromme Seele ahnt
Und die fromme Seele ahnt
Gott im hehren Vaterland!
Gott, den Herrn, im hehren Vaterland!

Fährst im wilden Sturm daher,
Bist du selbst uns Hort und Wehr,
Du, allmächtig Waltender, Rettender!
In Gewitternacht und Grauen
Lasst uns kindlich ihm vertrauen!
Ja, die fromme Seele ahnt
Ja, die fromme Seele ahnt
Gott im hehren Vaterland!
Gott, den Herrn, im hehren Vaterland!

Sur nos monts, quand le soleil
Annonce un brillant réveil,
Et prédit d'un plus beau jour le retour,
Les beautés de la patrie
Parlent à l'âme attendrie;
Au ciel montent plus joyeux
Au ciel montent plus joyeux
Les accents d'un cœur pieux,
Les accents émus d'un cœur pieux.

Lorsqu'un doux rayon du soir
Joue encore dans le bois noir,
Le cœur se sent plus heureux près de Dieu
Loin des vain bruits de la plaine
L'âme en paix est plus sereine;
Au ciel montent plus joyeux,
Au ciel montent plus joyeux,
Les accents d'un cœur pieux,
Les accents émus d'un cœur pieux.

Lorsque dans la sombre nuit
La foudre éclate avec bruit,
Notre cœur pressent encore le Dieu fort.
Dans l'orage et la détresse,
Il est notre forteresse.
Offrons-lui de cœurs pieux
Offrons-lui de cœurs pieux
Dieu nous bénira des cieux,
Dieu nous bénira du hauts des cieux.

Des grand monts vient le secours,
Suisse! espère en Dieu toujours!
Garde la foi des aïeux, vis comme eux!
Sur l'autel de la partrie
Met tes biens, ton cœur, ta vie!
C'est le trésor précieux
C'est le trésor précieux
Que Dieu nous bénira des cieux,
Que Dieu nous bénira du hauts des cieux.

Quando bionda aurora
il mattin c'indora
l'alma mia t'adora re del ciel!
Quando l'alpe già rosseggia
a pregare allor t'atteggia;
in favor del patrio suol,
in favor del patrio suol,
cittadino Dio lo vuol,
cittadino Dio, si Dio lo vuol.

Se di stelle è un giubilo
la celeste sfera
Te ritrovo a sera o Signor!
Nella notte silenziosa
l'alma mia in Te riposa:
libertà, concordia, amor,
libertà, concordia, amor,
all'Elvezia serba ognor,
all'Elvezia serba ognor.

Se di nubi un velo
m'asconde il tuo cielo
pel tuo raggio anelo Dio d'amore!
Fuga o sole quei vapori
e mi rendi i tuoi favori:
di mia patria deh! Pietà
di mia patria deh! Pietà
brilla, o sol di verità,
brilla sol, o sol di verità!

Quando rugge e strepita
impetuoso il nembo
m'è ostel tuo grembo o Signor!
In te fido Onnipossente
deh, proteggi nostra gente;
Libertà, concordia, amor,
Libertà, concordia, amor,
all'Elvezia serba ognor
all'Elvezia serba ognor.

En l'aurora la damaun
ta salida il carstgaun,
spiert etern dominatur, Tutpussent!
Cur ch'ils munts straglischan sura,
ura liber Svizzer, ura.
Mia olma senta ferm,
Mia olma senta ferm,
Dieu en tschiel, il bab etern.
Dieu en tschiel, il bab etern.

Er la saira en splendur
da las stailas en l'azur
tai chattain nus, creatur, Tutpussent!
Cur ch'il firmament sclerescha
en noss cors fidanza crescha.
Mia olma senta ferm,
Mia olma senta ferm,
Dieu en tschiel, il bab etern.
Dieu en tschiel, il bab etern.

Ti a nus es er preschent
en il stgir dal firmament,
ti inperscrutabel spiert, Tutpussent!
Tschiel e terra t'obedeschan
vents e nivels secundeschan.
Mia olma senta ferm,
Mia olma senta ferm,
Dieu en tschiel, il bab etern.
Dieu en tschiel, il bab etern.

Cur la furia da l'orcan
fa tremblar il cor uman
alur das ti a nus vigur, Tutpussent!
Ed en temporal sgarschaivel
stas ti franc a nus fidaivel.
Mia olma senta ferm,
Mia olma senta ferm,
Dieu en tschiel, Il bab etern.
Dieu en tschiel, il bab etern.

When the morning skies grow red
And o'er their radiance shed,
Thou, O Lord, appeareth in their light.
When the Alps glow bright with splendour,
Pray, free Swiss, Pray,
For you feel and understand,
For you feel and understand,
That he dwelleth in this land.
That he dwelleth in this land.

In the sunset Thou art nigh
And beyond the starry sky,
Thou, O loving Father, ever near
When to Heaven we are departing,
Joy and bliss Thou'lt be imparting,
For we feel and understand
For we feel and understand
That Thou dwellest in this land.
That Thou dwellest in this land.

When dark clouds enshroud the hills
And gray mist the valley fills,
Yet Thou art not hidden from Thy sons.
Pierce the gloom in which we cower
With Thy sunshine's cleansing power
Then we'll feel and understand
Then we'll feel and understand
That God dwelleth in this land.
That God dwelleth in this land.

Towards us in the wild storm coming,
You yourself give us resistance and stronghold,
You, almighty ruling, rescuing!
During horror and nights of thunderstorms
Let us childlike trust Him!
Yes, we feel and understand;
Yes, we feel and understand;
That God dwelleth in this land.
That God dwelleth in this land.

Government
  • Federal semi-direct democracy under a multi-party assembly-independent directorial republic
    • Federal Council: Guy Parmelin (President), Ignazio Cassis (Vice President), Alain Berset, Ueli Maurer, Simonetta Sommaruga, Viola Amherd and Karin Keller-Sutter
    • Federal Chancellor: Walter Thurnherr

Miscellaneous
  • Capital: None (de jure), Bern (de facto)
  • Largest city: Zurich
  • Population: 8,570,146
  • Area: 41,285 km² (15,940 sq mi) (132nd)
  • Currency: Swiss franc (Fr) (CHF)
  • ISO-3166-1 Code: CH
  • Country calling code: 41
  • Highest point: Monte Rosa (4634 m/15,203 ft) (35th)
  • Lowest point: Lake Maggiore (193 m/633 ft) (61st)
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