What Is Switzerland Known for? 10 Things the Swiss Love About Themselves

Written by Kellianne Matthews
Published: February 21, 2024
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Overflowing with crystal-clear alpine lakes, enormous snow-capped mountains, and romantic medieval castles, Switzerland seems like the setting for a paradisical dream. Yet, beyond its breathtaking scenery, the country also serves as a bustling international hub, with innovative buildings, advanced railways, and multilingual residents. Let’s take a look at what Switzerland is best known for and the 10 things the Swiss love about themselves!

1. Natural Beauty

Rhine River

Some call Switzerland the “country of mountains and lakes”.

©Leonid Andronov/Shutterstock.com

Switzerland is a small country in Europe, with a total area of just 15,940 square miles. The United States, in contrast, has a total area of 3,796,742 square miles! However, despite its small size, Switzerland is home to some of the most spectacular natural scenery on earth. The country possesses incredible mountain ranges, gorges, valleys, gardens, waterfalls, UNESCO World Heritage sites, glaciers, canyons, caves, grottos, moors and marshes, and crystal-clear lakes. 

The Alps — the largest mountain range in Europe — stretches across Switzerland, covering nearly 60% of the country. Here you’ll find some of the most beautiful snow-capped mountains in the world, along with luxury resorts, charming towns, and world-class slopes. The Matterhorn — one of the most iconic mountains in the world — sits right on Switzerland’s border. 

2. Outdoor Activities

Skier skiing downhill in high mountains in fresh powder snow. Snow mountain range with Matterhorn in background. Zermatt Alps region Switzerland.

People all over the world travel to Switzerland to ski in the Alps.


The amazing landscape of Switzerland is integrated into its identity and people, leading to a fairly outdoor lifestyle. Snow in winter provides plenty of fun activities like skiing, snowshoeing, curling, and ice hockey. 

During the warmer months, many people continue to visit the mountains for hiking, mountain biking, paragliding, and even white-water rafting. Between the jagged mountains beautiful alpine meadows bloom with vibrant wildflowers and a certain pastoral tranquility as sheep graze along the valleys. 

The Swiss enjoy a variety of national sports, but football is by far the most popular. Many people also enjoy mountaineering, shooting, golf, paragliding, dog racing, hiking, swimming, and sailing. In some areas, traditional sports like Schwingen and Hornussen are still played as well. 

3. Environmental Stewardship

bernina express

You can experience the natural beauty of Switzerland from the comfort of a train car.

©Viacheslav Lopatin/Shutterstock.com

The Swiss people are proud of their country’s natural beauty and work hard to protect it. By 2050, Switzerland aims to achieve climate neutrality — in other words, no more harmful greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve this aim, the Swiss people are working to abandon fossil fuels for cleaner alternatives like renewable energy and implementing innovative programs to slash emissions down to zero. 

In addition, Switzerland is moving toward greener, innovative architecture, like that seen in The Circle at Zurich Airport. Designed by Riken Yamamoto, The Circle bridges the gap between the airport and a vibrant park. It is LEED Platinum certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and has a very compact footprint that minimizes its energy needs. 

Switzerland also strives to protect biodiversity throughout the country. The Federal Council adopted the Swiss Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan to help improve the variety of wildlife across the country. The government is also putting more money and resources into conservation effects, encouraging farmers to use sustainable practices, and creating an “ecological infrastructure” network of protected natural areas across the country. 

4. History

White clouds above mountains and Chillon Castle

Chillon Castle inspired Romantic writers like Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, Alexandre Dumas, and Victor Hugo.

©&#169 kavram/iStock via Getty Images

Switzerland’s rich history can be seen all across the country. Some of the best-preserved fossils of the Triassic period are found at “Fossil Mountain” (Monte San Giorgio) near Lugano. The country is also home to the Ancient Roman cities of Augusta Raurica and Aventicum, where you can still see Roman baths, the ruins of an old temple, and a well-preserved ancient theatre dating back to 44 BCE. Albert Einstein formed his Theory of Relativity in his home in Bern, and the last woman executed for witchcraft died in the Swiss town of Glarus

In addition to these historical sites, one of the most visited is that of Chillon Castle (Château de Chillon). The castle was built on the island of Chillon, which has served as a strategic passage since the Ancient Romans. Historical records show that Chillon Castle has been standing since at least 1005 AD, although its purpose has shifted countless times over the centuries. It has served as a summer home for the Counts of Savoy, as a prison, as a munitions and weapons depot, and now as an open historical site. Today, the castle receives hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. It even served as inspiration for Prince Eric’s castle in Disney’s 1989 animated film, The Little Mermaid. 

5. Precision and Craftsmanship

brown swiss cow on mountain pasture in Switzerland

The premium milk produced in Switzerland contributes to its amazing cheese and chocolate.

©Mathias Pabst/iStock via Getty Images

Switzerland is well known across the globe for its high-quality precision and craftsmanship. From Swiss watches, Swiss army knives, and Swiss soap, to Swiss chocolate, Swiss cheese, and Swiss milk, everything produced here is made with the highest quality. The Swiss people highly value education, always passing on knowledge and expertise to the next generation. Everything they do — no matter how small and insignificant — is done with respect and exceptional skill.

One of the most iconic examples of Switzerland’s precision and top-notch craftsmanship is the country’s watch industry. For hundreds of years, Switzerland has been the go-to place for precision timekeeping. Today, the country is home to six watchmaking schools and over 500 watchmaking companies. 

6. Multiculturalism

Streets with shopping area and Zytglogge astronomical clock tower in the historic old medieval city centre of Bern, Switzerland

There is a great deal of diversity in Switzerland.

©Marina Datsenko/Shutterstock.com

Switzerland is composed of many distinct regions that each have their own unique culture and language. With 26 cantons — member states of the Swiss Confederation — there is a wide range of cultural traditions across the country. Switzerland has four national languages: French, German, Italian, and Romansh. English, Albanian, and Portuguese are also common languages in Switzerland. 

Stereotypical “Swiss” traditions — such as yodeling or the alphorn — are not as common as the media portrays. However, many other folk traditions are alive and well throughout most of the country, as seen in the wide variety of Swiss embroidery, music, dance, art, and wood carving.

7. Neutrality and Diplomacy

United Nations Headquarters Building - UN in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Headquarters of the United Nations is located in Geneva, Switzerland.

©advjmneto/iStock via Getty Images

Although Switzerland is surrounded by other powerful European countries, it continues to stick to a centuries-old policy of neutrality. Since the Napoleonic Wars, this policy has transformed Switzerland into a type of buffer zone. Even during the World Wars, Switzerland kept its army ready and mobilized, but avoided fighting. Instead, the Swiss people welcomed refugees into their country. 

Neutrality in Switzerland isn’t just a policy; it is part of the country’s national identity. However, that doesn’t mean that the country stays separate from the rest of the world. For example, the Swiss city of Geneva is home to organizations like the United Nations. Switzerland also collaborates with NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and its “Partnership for Peace” program, although it remains outside the alliance itself. 

8. Direct Democracy

administration, architecture, assembly, bern, Berne, building, bundesplatz, canton, capital, city, cityscape, confederation, culture, day, destination, europe, european, exterior, facade, famous, Federal, federal palace, government, governmental, heritage

The Federal Palace of Switzerland in Bern is the seat of the government and parliament.

©StockByM/iStock via Getty Images

Another unique aspect of Switzerland’s government is direct democracy. Direct democracy allows common, everyday people to get involved in making decisions. Swiss citizens can propose new laws or constitutional changes through initiatives, which are then proposed in a national vote. They can also reject laws passed by parliament through referendums. Swiss citizens can vote on anything from national issues to local town matters.

9. Innovation and Education

Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover is exploring surface of Mars. Perseverance rover Mission Mars exploration of red planet. Space exploration, science concept. .Elements of this image furnished by NASA.

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers use motors built in Switzerland.


Switzerland is known as a global leader in education, research, and innovation. Education in Switzerland starts at a young age and goes all the way up to advanced learning. Some of the world’s best universities are in Switzerland. Both fundamental and practical research is encouraged, and universities work closely with businesses and encourage real-life applications. Switzerland also offers apprenticeship programs for alternative learning, creating a well-rounded, adaptable workforce within the country.

10. High Quality of Life

young people sitting on a meadow surrounded by Swiss nature

Quality of life in Switzerland is high due to its natue, fresh air, public transport, and stable economy.

©tora1983/iStock via Getty Images

Switzerland is known far and wide for its high quality of life. In 2023, it was ranked as the #1 Best Country Overall by U.S. News. While much of the world struggled greatly during the COVID-19 pandemic, Switzerland was ranked among the top five countries in the United Nations’ World Happiness Report. In addition, Switzerland continues to top the charts in the Better Life Index across various aspects like comfortable incomes, fulfilling jobs, top-notch education, and excellent healthcare. As you can see, the Swiss people continually strive for the highest quality in everything they do! 

The photo featured at the top of this post is © kavalenkava/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Kellianne Matthews is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on anthrozoology, conservation, human-animal relationships, and animal behavior. Kellianne has been writing and researching animals for over ten years and has decades of hands-on experience working with a variety of different animals. She holds a Master’s Degree from Brigham Young University, which she earned in 2017. A resident of Utah, Kellianne enjoys creating, exploring and learning new things, analyzing movies, caring for animals, and playing with her cats.

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