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…….