Switzerland Facts

Facts about Switzerland

What is National Day?

Swiss National Day is celebrated on 1 August, which is said to be the date In 1291, when the three cantons of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden signed the Federal Charter. The signing of the charter has now become regarded as the foundation of Switzerland. To celebrate the foundation of Switzerland, here are some interesting facts about Switzerland.

19 Facts about National Day

Switzerland didn't have an official national anthem until 1981. On 1 April 1981, the Swiss Psalm, was officially adopted after a 20 year trial

Switzerland is one of the only places in the world to have a square flag. The Vatican City has the other one. One of the few times that a rectangular Swiss flag is allowed to be used is at the Olympic Games.

Switzerland has the highest percentage of people over the age of 100 in Europe and have the second longest life expectancy in the world after Japan.

The Swiss eat the most chocolate in the world - on average, 11.3kg per person per year

The official name of Switzerland is 'Confoederatio Helvetica', which means 'Swiss Confederation' in Latin. Nowadays the Latin name is only used on official documents but it is the reason why Switzerland's abbreviation is CH. Helvetica is named after the Helvetii, who were a prominent tribe in the region during Roman times.

Switzerland has been an independent country since the year 1499, when it became independent within the Holy Roman Empire. The French, under Napoleon Bonaparte, are the only nation to ever conquered Switzerland. They occupied Switzerland from 1798 - 1815.

Switzerland has four national languages. French (spoken as a first language by 20.4%), German (64%), Italian (6.5%), and Romansh (1%)

Switzerland has no single Head of State. Instead it has a seven-member executive council, which serves as the Swiss collective head of state.

Switzerland may be landlocked, but this lack of coastline is compensated by having more than 1,500 lakes, and nobody is ever more than 10 miles from a lake.

In Switzerland, citizens can challenge a law passed by Parliament, if they are able to gather 50,000 signatures against the law within 100 days. If they manage to get the required number of signatures, a national vote is held where voters decide whether to accept or reject the law.

Switzerland is a very cosmopolitan country, with people born outside of Switzerland accounting for almost a quarter of the Swiss population.

In Switzerland, it is illegal to keep just one guinea pig; they must be kept in pairs. Guinea pigs are considered to be social animals, which means owners are obliged to have two pets at the same time so that the single pet does not feel lonely.

In 2007, Swiss troops accidentally invaded Liechtenstein after getting lost in a rainstorm.

Women did not gain the vote at federal level until 1971.

The Pope is protected at the Vatican by Swiss Guards.

Switzerland's Sonnenberg Tunnel is the world's largest nuclear shelter. It can hold up to 20,000 people.

Tim Berners Lee invented the World Wide Web in Switzerland in 1989.

Switzerland's Gotthard tunnel is the longest in the world - measuring 57km in length, located 2.3km under the Alps. It took 17 years to complete and is also the world's most expensive tunnel.

St Peter's Church in Zürich has the largest church clock face in Europe, measuring 8.7m in diameter.


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