ALL ABOUT SWITZERLAND ……… or almost. (Part 2)

Health – You couldn’t find a better place to fall ill than in Switzerland, with 572 modern hospitals filled with state-of-the-art equipment and exceedingly well-trained doctors and nurses. Everyone residing in the country has to have health insurance. As they’re all private and not state-run providers, they need to be quite pricey. In any other country one can go to a supermarket and buy an Aspirin or any other over-the-counter medications. But not in Switzerland. Good and healthy food, lots of sport and outdoor activity (62,416 km maintained hiking trails), as well as a high quality of life, the Swiss are a pretty fit, trim and contented lot. This is reflected in the life spans: men can expect to live until 81 and women until 85.2 years of age – second only to Japan.

Defence and Safety  Air bases and arms depots inside mountains, secret tunnels everywhere – Switzerland resembles an explosive Swiss cheese. Add fortifications and hidden gun emplacements. The Swiss population can find refuge in underground shelters big and small – car parks, hospitals or private homes. In peacetime, private shelters are used to store ski equipment and wine. The Swiss Army Knife has been developed in the 1880’s and is still issued to every soldier. With annual sales of 26 million knives it’s also a global success story largely thanks to American soldiers returning home with them after World War ll. Originally they were only handed out to officers, which probably explains the thoughtful inclusion of a corkscrew. Not only Swiss men have a knife, but me too ………

Food and drink – Switzerland is anything but a culinary wasteland. The traditional cuisine may betray its rustic peasant origins – cheese, bread, potatoes – but it has been refined to a high standard. The Swiss love eating out.

Muesli, the world’s favourite breakfast dish started life as a dinner option, often in jails. In 1990, medical doctor Maximilian Oskar Bircher soaked oatmeal in water, then added lemon juice, condensed milk, grated apples and nuts. Today exists many varieties of Muesli.

Rosti, the roast potatoes are golden, warm and nourishing. Crunchy outside and soft within, the secret lies in the right potatoes..

Bread, the Swiss love their bread in any of the more than 200 traditional forms. “Zopf” is the traditional must-have for Sunday’s breakfast.

Switzerland boasts more than 20 natural springs. Not only tap water is drinkable, but so too is water from many rivers and lakes. Whey is the unpalatable part of milk, which is why the Swiss turned it into a soda called “RIVELLA”,  first concocted in 1950.

Chocolate  For a long time after its introduction in Europe chocolate was an acquired taste.The Swiss changed everything. They were the first to add sugar, milk and hazelnuts. Chocolate’s inadvertant genius was Rudolph Lindt. One Friday evening he forgot to turn off a mixer. The unexpected 78 hours of stirring created chocolate as we know it: soft, sweet and melting in the mouth.

Cheese – There are 246 different kinds of cheese. The typical Swiss cheese comes from cow’s milk. However, there are odd cheeses like those made from Buffalo milk, sheep and goats. It takes up to 13 litres of milk to make 1 kg of cheese.

Economy  – Switzerland is bare of any natural resources. Trade was hampered domestically by mountains, internationally by the absence of coastlines and harbours.If they wanted to make money, the Swiss had to use their prime resources: their wit, their business sense, their inventiveness and their thrift.

Transport  The network of trains, cable cars, buses and boats crisscross the country with precision. A remarkable feat, considering that in transportational terms, Switzerland is a bit of a contradiction. On the one hand largely inaccessible due to its mountains topography, on the other hand a major European thoroughfare due to its geographical centrality. Some Swiss get mad when their train is just two minutes late. Swiss rail claims to be on time 97% of the time – meaning, not more than three minutes late.

 Science – Swiss scientists have changed our lives considerably. They invented Nescafé, Swiss Army Knife, electric guitar,Velcro (two-sided fastener) pre-fab concrete,LSD, cellophane, stock cube, zipper, computer mouse, micro scooter, Robidog, toilet cistern, Stewi clothes dryer, ………








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.