Surprising Things About Switzerland

From 1997 to 2004, I had the good fortune to live in Switzerland. When I first moved to Switzerland from the United States, people told me "Oh, it's not that different." And, in fact, for the most part it isn't. Switzerland, after all, is firmly anchored in the Western world. Moreover, the influence of American culture (for good or bad) is easy to spot: McDonald's and (gasp) Starbucks!

Yet, Switzerland is also a country that has been fiercely independent for more than 700 years. Thus, it's not surprising (or shouldn't be), that there are some things which are surprisingly different. So, to amuse myself, and perhaps to give other Americans (as well as expatriate Swiss who have been away for a while) moving to Switzerland some idea of what they are getting themselves into, I have compiled the following list of "surprising things about Switzerland".

If you spot any errors (factual or otherwise), or if you wish to add more things, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thanks to everyone who has already contributed!

In Switzerland...
Last updated: 6 May 2010