10 surprising facts and figures about Switzerland that will surprise you

Switzerland is a beautiful country that is rich in a variety of features that make it stand out on the international stage. That's why today we have prepared a selection of amazing facts about Switzerland for you:

1. The ratio between the most and least populated cantons is 1:40

In the French-speaking part of Switzerland, between the canton of Vaud, the most populous canton (over 805,000 inhabitants), and the canton of Jura (about 73,000 inhabitants), the population ratio is 1:11. In Switzerland as a whole, the ratio is even higher: between the canton of Zurich (1.5 million inhabitants) and the canton of Uri (36,700 inhabitants) it is 1:40!  Obviously, this has to do with history and also provides an interesting insight into the country's culture. Since 1291, when a mythical treaty was concluded that bound the original cantons of Unterwalden, Uri and Schwyz into one union that became the nucleus of modern Switzerland. Although the union was originally created for political and economic reasons, Switzerland has set an example of successful cooperation between "big" and "small" political players.

2. More than 10% of the Swiss population has been caught by the political police

As incredible as it may seem today, the Swiss political police operated for more than 100 years until the late 1980s, keeping files on almost 1 million people and organizations. Faced with a phenomenon of this magnitude, the East German Stasi seemed like an almost harmless organization. Perhaps this also explains Switzerland's rather radical stance on personal data.

3. Swiss banks were ruined by the French Republic

Of course, we are talking about the times of the French Revolution. Nevertheless, it is a fact that the French Republic did not want to pay the debts of its royal families, who took large loans from Swiss banks to finance large-scale wars. As a result, several Swiss banks went bankrupt. Any resemblance to the debts that France regularly delays paying to the cantons of Jura and Geneva under the Border Trespass Compensation Scheme is purely coincidental!

4. Switzerland ranks 10th in the World Press Freedom Index

You might say that out of the 180 countries analyzed, that's not bad. But since Switzerland is the only true direct democracy, citizens are obliged to be particularly well and independently informed on all matters of politics and society. Therefore, one would like to see Switzerland at least in the top five.

One possible reason for the relatively low index could be the Swiss bank secrecy law, which contradicts the principle of freedom of the press. In Switzerland, journalists can be convicted and even receive prison sentences for publishing data related to the activities of large banks. Even when this information is in the public interest!

5. Switzerland is the most innovative country in Europe

In 2021, Switzerland has surpassed 27 countries in the European Union in terms of innovation. Zurich also ranks 5th among the most innovative regions in Europe. Switzerland owes these results to its highly efficient research system, talented researchers and well-trained and generously funded scientific activity.

Top 10 surprising facts about Switzerland

6. Titles of nobility have not existed in Switzerland since 1793

In a country where federalism puts all citizens on an equal footing and privilege is frowned upon, it is not surprising that titles of nobility disappeared more than 200 years ago, as in much of Europe's republican states.

7. Insurance accounts for almost 10% of Swiss household budgets

Are the Swiss anxious? You'd think so, judging by the size of the insurance bill in the Swiss household budget. We've known for a long time: the Swiss are one of those countries whose citizens suffer from an overabundance of insurance.

8. Switzerland is one of the least corrupt countries in Europe

We've often talked about dirty money and business in Switzerland. But according to the Transparency International index, Switzerland is the 3rd least corrupt country in the world (France 23rd, Italy 52nd, Germany 9th). From a practical point of view, corruption is really low here, and the huge fines and close supervision by the state only help to prevent it. Petty corruption and bribery at lower levels is very rare, and civil servants and courts are widely regarded as honest and impartial.

9. Tax evasion by the Swiss is estimated at more than 5 billion Swiss francs

Switzerland has long been labeled as a country that encourages offshore tax evasion. What is less well known is that the Swiss themselves evade about CHF 5.3 billion in taxes. According to Margret Keener Nellen, former chair of the National Council's finance committee, the figure was estimated at CHF 18 billion. There is no reason why only the French, Germans or Italians should be involved in fraud! However, it is estimated that Switzerland receives CHF 11.9 billion a year from other countries, so the country is still a "beneficiary" in this respect.

10. Europe's highest railway station is in Switzerland at 3,454 meters high

Europe's highest railway station is located at the foot of the Jungfrau mountain in the Swiss Alps. It starts in a small mountain pass Kleine-Scheideg and rises in a tunnel cut through the rocks. The road is about 9 kilometers long, 7 of which are in the tunnel. This is a good opportunity to point out that Switzerland probably has one of the densest and most developed rail networks in the world.


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