Shirley asked if I could write something for her blog. Since I’m Swiss I like to give you some information about that beautiful country and their inhabitants you might not have heard of:

History  One man representing each of the cantons, Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden, meet on a summer’s day in 1291 in a clearing over Lake Lucerne called “Rutli”. They swear an oath to defend the other cantons against the Hapsburg oppressors. Since then, the Swiss have had neither lord nor king nor emperor. Their peasants and burghers ruled themselves generally in a successful way. Since 1515, the Swiss have not participated in European wars. Poverty overpopulation and the promise of adventure enticed the peasant boys to take up arms for foreign rulers. They were highly sought after as Swiss fighters had a reputation for courage. More and more cantons joined. From 1815, there were 25 cantons, increasing to 26 after the secession of the canton of Jura from Bern in 1979.

Shirley and Pat this time visited the Cantons Zurich (city of Zurich, Winterthur, Seeleger Moor), Freiburg (Murten), Nidwalden (Klewenalp-Stockhutte), Appenzell  (Hoher Kasten, city of Appenzell), St. Gallen (city of St.Gallen, Rapperswil), Aargau (LAUFENBURG), Thurgau (Romanshorn), Tessin (Isle of Brissago).

Diversity   The Swiss are not a single ethnic group but made up of various nationalities, shaped by their German, French and Italian neighbours. They’re only held together by their common will to be a nation.

Geography  Switzerland is all about mountains. They shape and define its geography and its mentality. But there’s much more: glittering lakes, ancient cities, lush meadows, broad and fertile valleys traversed by mighty rivers.

Fauna and Flora About 40,000 different species of animals inhabit Switzerland, most of them insects. Despite being densely settled, still more than half of the country’s territory is woodland or pristine nature. Switzerland has 3,000 different native plants, nearly a third of which are flowers. Pretty and pleasing to the eye. The Swiss have one of the world’s strictest environmental and nature protection laws – and not just recently: in 1914 they created their first national park.

Cows No other animal is so much associated with my country. They seem to be everywhere and they  assault all your senses: you see them, hear their bells, and their cowpats carry an unmistakable smell. Every summer, cows take a holiday in the mountains. Fresh air, fresh water, grass and herbs make for happy cattle and good milk. Farmers swear that cows look forward to their vacation…..The meadows containing up to 50 different tasty species of plants per 100 m2. In autumn, decorated with flowers and weighed down by big bells which are tuned differently, cows make their way back to their stables. Switzerland’s air rescue service has to bring cattle to safety that have strayed off into inaccessible parts of the mountains. Beset by low milk prices, more and more farmers resort to rent-a-cow schemes aimed at city dwellers. You may not take your cow home, though, just visit, pat or even milk her.

Education – The Swiss are among the world’s best educated people. A specialty is that Apprentices learn at a workshop and attend classes at a vocational college at the same time.

There is much more that I can tell you about my country so Part 2 will follow soon…….




FRIDAY, 9th June

Zurich is a city of culture and business. Over the centuries the region has developed from a small Roman customs post into a world-renowned tourist destination. In past years Zurich has repeatedly been chosen as the city in the world with the highest quality of life. The population of Switzerland is around 8 million.

Some facts about Switzerland and Zurich in particular.  Zurich is Switzerland’s largest city.

Zurich is not the Capital of Switzerland – the Capital is Bern.

In Switzerland, Zurich is spelt six different ways.

Zurich is the proud owner of the largest Church clock face in Europe on St. Peters Church – even bigger than Big Ben’s.

The Latin name for Switzerland is Confoederatio Helvetica or Helvetia, hence the”CH” abbreviation which denotes Switzerland.

Bircher Muesli was developed in 1904 by the Swiss Doctor Maximilian Bircher-Benner.

The Swiss traditionally tend to live as Tenants.

Rosti is the favourite potato dish in German speaking Switzerland.

In 1925 MIGROS revolutionised the food industry. In 1948 the first self-service operation opened in Switzerland.

There are 26 Cantons in Switzerland – Zurich has the largest population. Each Canton has its own flag.

Zurich has over 1,200 drinking fountains.

The Swiss are the world’s largest consumers of chocolate. Chocolate has been made in Switzerland since the 18th century.