ABCs of Culture

Krishnasai and Victor


A is for Art

An example of an item that is considered beautiful is "La fontaine de Jo Siffert" by Jean Tinguely. Switzerland also boasts Jean Tinguely (1925-1991) with his creative and colourful installations, whose philosophy was that though machines made of scrap metal have no purpose they can have a meaning.

B is for Building

An example of architecture is the UBS building in Basel by Mario Botta. Lugano-based Mario Botta and the Basel-based partnership Herzog and de Meuron are arguably the best-known Swiss architects practicing today. Botta's buildings include several museums in Switzerland and abroad, churches, banks, and even the bus terminal in Lugano. His museums include the Tinguely Museum in Basel, the Durrenmatt Centre in Neuchatel and also the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. He has taught in a number of universities and been honoured by many more.

C is for Communications

This is a communication tower near Mount Rigi in Switzerland. This is used to transmit ideas across places.

D is for Dress

Traditional Swiss clothing is often colorful. They include puffy blouses and skirts for women. The men traditionally wore cropped jackets and lederhosen, which are shorts made of leather.

H is for History

  • In 1648, the Treaty of Westphalia gave Switzerland its independence from the Holy Roman Empire.
  • French revolutionary troops occupied the country in 1798 and named it the Helvetic Republic, but Napoléon in 1803 restored its federal government.
  • By 1815, the French- and Italian-speaking peoples of Switzerland had been granted political equality.
  • In 1815, the Congress of Vienna guaranteed the neutrality and recognized the independence of Switzerland.
  • In the revolutionary period of 1847, the Catholic cantons seceded and organized a separate union called the Sonderbund , but they were defeated and rejoined the federation.
  • In 1848, the new Swiss constitution established a union modeled on that of the U.S.
  • The federal constitution of 1874 established a strong central government while giving large powers of control to each canton.
  • Strict neutrality was its policy in both world wars. Geneva was the seat of the League of Nations (later the European headquarters of the United Nations) and of a number of international organizations.
  • Women were not given the right to vote or to hold office until 1971. Switzerland's first woman president (as well as the first Jew to assume the position) was Ruth Dreifuss in 1999.
  • In Sept. 2000, the Swiss voted against a plan to cut the number of foreigners in the country to 18% of the population (in 2000 foreigners made up 19.3%). Since 1970, four similar anti-immigration plans have failed.
  • On Sept 10, 2002, the Swiss abandoned their neutrality and joined the UN.

I is for Icons

Switzerland is known for Swiss Army Knives, Swiss cheese, Swiss bank, International Committee of Red Cross, Swiss watches, and Swiss chocolate.

J is for Jobs

There are numerous number of jobs in Switzerland.

Here is a link to the categories of the jobs in Switzerland:

Men and women both work in Switzerland.

K is for Knowledge

Both local and international school systems in Switzerland offer excellent facilities and educational opportunities for students. Swiss school options tend to be most appropriate for younger students, who can maintain their English in the home environment, and for students who do not require an equal development of both languages on a written level. Switzerland has 38 international schools, which together form the Swiss Group of International Schools (SGIS). With a reputation for high teaching standards and strict discipline, Swiss international schools are among the best in the world. Examples include John F. Kennedy International School, Gstaad International School, and Institut Le Rosey. In Switzerland, almost all children attend the free public schools. Children automatically go to school in the community in which they live. It is obligatory for all children to attend school for at least 9 years.

L is for Language

In business meetings or at national conferences, it frequently happens that everybody speaks in their mother tongue, and it is assumed that they understand the language of their opposite numbers. Usually, however, the Ticinese and Rumantsch speakers adapt to the situation by speaking French or German - or, more and more, everyone speaks English.

"Ordre du giorno: esparnissi dans les ausgabi fédérali. Un rednero ergreift la parole. Viele membri andiano dans le vorzimmero pour rauchare un cigarro; les autres lesano les zeitungen."

M is for Movement & Migration

Most people travel by car, train, or postcar.

N is for National Pride

An example of a flag would be their national flag which is a red square with a white cross on it, whose arms do not reach the borders. The Swiss Cross, as it is often called by the native population, is a generalization of the coat of arms of canton Schwyz, one of the three founding members of the Swiss confederation back in 1291.

P is for Population

Population: 7,996,026 people

Age Groups:

  • 0-14 years: 15.2% (male 621,785/female 586,205)
  • 15-24 years: 11.7% (male 471,703/female 454,174)
  • 25-54 years: 44% (male 1,754,394/female 1,736,083)
  • 55-64 years: 11.9% (male 470,295/female 474,934)
  • 65 years and over: 17.1% (male 584,809/female 771,135)

Ethnic Groups:

  • German: 65%
  • French: 18%
  • Italian: 10%
  • Romansch: 1%
  • Other: 6%

Q is for Quality of Life

Life Expectancy:

Life expectancy at birth in Switzerland is currently one of the highest in the world, resulting from a significant rise during the 20th century. It has almost doubled since 1900: From 46.2 to 80.5 for men and from 48.9 to 84.7 for women. Nevertheless a gradual slowing-down of this trend can be observed.


The GDP of Switzerland is currently 632.2 in billions of U.S. dollars.

Number of Doctors:

4.07 medical doctors/1,000 population

R is for Religion

Some of their customs are a handshake are appropriate for both men and women. Close friends may exchange three kisses on the cheeks, first on the left, then the right, and back to the left. When entering or leaving an elevator or a store, most Swiss exchange simple greetings, even with strangers.

T is for Taboos

A few taboos would be:

  • Pointing your index finger to your head is considered an insulting gesture.
  • Also do not speak loudly in public, especially on a cell phone nor make big noise, or joking loudly.
  • As a rule, Swiss people do not like noise and dislike others make jokes about them.
  • Do not address someone by their first name until invited to do so. Use surnames and titles instead.

U is for Urban or Rural

An example would be a big city like Zurich because it's a “metropolis of experiences” by the water, with a magnificent view of the snowcapped Alps on the horizon, Zurich offers a unique mixture of attractions and that's why a lot of people live there making it a big city.

V is for Vacations and Recreations

An example of what they do for fun is a lot of normal things like video gaming, hiking, skying, watch TV series, meet friends for coffee, cook, go shopping, plan their vacations and so on.

W is for Ways for Everyday Life

Interview with a parent:

I think our lifestyle had improved after moving here. I always had a help to do my household chores. Now I do all that on my own. It has not only brought more discipline and time management in my life, but has also helped me burn calories with no extra effort. We are eating healthier food and doing more cycling/walking than before. My son who used to love watching TV and playing the video games is now into more outdoor activities. The food aspect may not be the same if you are used to eating a lot of meat (we do not eat meat or fish). Meat is generally expensive here.

X is for X Marks the Spot

An example of important places in Switzerland is Zurich because over 50 museums and more than 100 art galleries, shops selling international fashion labels as well as Zurich designs. Also the city is easy to reach, by train, plane or car. Its international airport is only a 10-minute train ride from downtown.

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Y is for Yup

Swiss cuisine combines influences from the German, French and North Italian cuisine. However, it varies greatly from region to region with the language divisions constituting a rough boundary outline. Many dishes have crossed the local borders and become firm favourites throughout Switzerland. These dishes include cheese fondue, raclette, alplermagronen, rosti, birchermuesli, swiss cheese, and most importantly swiss chocolate.