General facts

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Facts about Switzerland

  • Switzerland: How to

    How do you dispose of rubbish in Switzerland? Will a foreign diploma be recognised? From Switzerland's visa requirements to how the school system works, here you'll find useful tips, facts and links to practical information about Switzerland from SWI...

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  • Security, Criminality and Insurance

    Health and Insurance Drinking and eating-out is hygienic and the tap water is safe. Immunization for contagious diseases is only required if the traveler has been in an infected area within 14 days preceding arrival in Switzerland. Personal...

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  • Climate

    The climate is moderate with no excessive heat, cold or humidity. From July to August the daytime temperature range is 18 to 28 °C (65° - 82° F) and from January to February the range is -2 to 7 °C (28° - 45° F). In spring...

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  • Population

    There are approximately 8 million people in Switzerland. Demographic trends are being influenced by multilingualism, the rising average age and the high proportion of foreigners living in the country. Over 22.7% of the country’s approx. 8 million...

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  • Language distribution

    Switzerland has four unevenly distributed languages and a wealth of dialects. German (63.5 %) German is by far the most widely spoken language in Switzerland: 19 of the country’s 26 cantons are predominantly (Swiss) German-speaking. French (22.5 %)...

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  • Religion

    The majority of people living in Switzerland are Christian. Approx. 38% are Roman Catholic, and 27% Protestant (2015 figures). There are also many other religions represented in Switzerland: 5% Muslim, 0.5% Buddhist, 0.3% Jewish. The number of people...

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  • Politics

    1848: The founding of Switzerland The establishment of the modern state of Switzerland dates back to 1848. Prior to this, Switzerland consisted of a loose alliance of independent cantons. In 1848 Switzerland formed a modern constitution which made a...

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  • Swissness

    The language communities eat different things and have different traditions and customs. Even their shared history only goes back about two centuries. The Swiss themselves are sometimes puzzled about what they have in common apart from their...

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  • Geography

    Switzerland has an area of 41,285 square kilometres (15,940 square miles). The productive area - that is, the area without the lakes, rivers, unproductive vegetation and no vegetation at all - covers 30,753 square km (11,870 square miles). It...

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  • Economy

    Switzerland’s economy is based on a highly qualified labour force performing highly skilled work. The main areas include microtechnology, hitech, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, as well as banking and insurance know-how. The service sector now...

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  • Sustainability & environment

    Switzerland - Nation of recyclers Swiss citizens are champions when it boils down to recycling – and 94% of old glass and 81% of PET containers make their way to special collection points instead of household bins. Tree-land is on the...

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General Information

  • Electricity

    The voltage in Switzerland, as in most of Europe, is 230V/50 Hz. Switzerland uses type C (2-pin) and Type J (3-pin) plugs. (Type C 2-pin plugs also fit J sockets.) Most power sockets are designed for three pin round plugs. The standard continental...

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  • Public Holidays

    Certain public holidays are celebrated throughout Switzerland – such as Easter, Christmas, New Year and Swiss National Day on 1 August . Other public holidays vary from canton to canton; find a detailed list here: Public holidays Folk...

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  • Drinking water

    The water distributed in Switzerland meets very high-quality standards. Eighty percent of the water comes from underground sources, the rest is taken from the lakes. The establishment of groundwater protection zones makes it possible to distribute...

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  • Telephone and mail

    Phoning home and within Switzerland If calling from Switzerland, you need to enter the international country code. For example, for Germany the international country code is "+49", for France "+33". The country code is followed by the area code...

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  • WiFi

    Want to avoid expensive roaming and WiFi charges? Here are a few tips to help you get online in Switzerland without spending a fortune if you have a device with WiFi or a network connection.

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  • Food and drink

    If variety is the spice of life, Swiss food truly presents a flavourful platter. Regional cuisine is wide and varied. Masterful local chefs create new ways to present traditional treats. Some gain international acclaim with edible artworks based on...

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  • Smoking policy

    Since 1 May 2010, smoking has been forbidden in Switzerland in enclosed areas when they are open to the public or serve as a workplace for more than one person. Hence it is forbidden to smoke in restaurants, public buildings and offices. Smoking is...

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  • Alcohol and tobacco

    Alcohol is sold in supermarkets. The age limit for the purchase of wine and beer is 16 years, and 18 years for high-proof alcohol. There is no nationwide minimum age for the purchase of tobacco in Switzerland. Depending on the canton, the minimum age...

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  • Important telephone numbers

    Emergency Calls: 117 Police 118 Fire 144 Ambulance 1414 Swiss Rescue 112 European emergency number General inquiries: 1811 General inquiries, e.g. doctors, theatres, etc. 140 Breakdown service 162 Weather report 163 Road report 187...

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  • Time zone

    During the winter, Central European Time (CET) applies in Switzerland. From the end of March to the end of October, Summer Time applies (CET + 1 hour).

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  • Sports

    Mountain climbing/hiking Both hikers seeking relaxation and experienced mountain climbers find their ideal holiday destination in the Swiss mountains. Good equipment is necessary and the weather forecast should always be studied. Hiking...

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  • Flying drones in Switzerland

    Switzerland offers many beautiful places, and we are pleased whenever our guests use their drones to produce films about Switzerland’s sights. Flying drones is not a problem in a lot of places in Switzerland. However, there are a few...

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  • Hospitals and Clinics

    Heart patients are in good hands in Switzerland, as are lung and rehab patients. The hospitals and clinics are highly specialised and address the specific needs of their patients.

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  • Medical care

    Medical care in Switzerland is among the best in the world. You can consult any attending doctor in Switzerland. For emergencies, you may go to the nearest hospital or emergency practice, or in urgent cases, call the ambulance (144). Each hospital...

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  • Pharmacies

    Pharmacies in Switzerland have a sign saying "Apotheke" and are usually open during regular business opening times (8 am to noon, and 2 pm to 6 pm, and on Saturday to 4 pm/5 pm). Some pharmacies (often at stations and airports) have longer hours or...

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  • Lost and Found

    If you lose something during your stay in Switzerland, please contact the nearest lost property office. If anyone finds lost property, it should be handed in there. Lost property offices are usually run by the local municipality. In addition, public...

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  • Dentist

    In the case of toothache or a dental emergency, please contact the nearest dentist. Unless you have the necessary insurance, you will usually have to bear the costs yourself. For emergencies outside of opening times, please contact an emergency...

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  • Safer Travel

    Travelling is special and nothing should spoil the enjoyment it brings. That’s why we want to ensure that you and your belongings are kept safe on your trip. And if any problems do arise, you will find on all the...

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Money and shopping

  • Currency

    Please note that Switzerland remains with the Swiss franc, usually indicated as CHF. While Switzerland is not part of the European Union and thus is not obliged to convert to the Euro, many prices are nonetheless indicated in euros so that visitors...

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  • Creditcards

    The safest and easiest form of money are traveler's checks and credit cards. The cards most used are American Express, MasterCard and Visa. Many banks in Switzerland have equipped their ATM machines with the CIRRUS or MAESTRO system. Many other...

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  • Prices and quality of life

    Although living in a Swiss city is fairly expensive, the quality of life is also correspondingly high. In 2006, Zurich and Geneva occupied the first two places in an international comparison of 350 cities by Mercer Consulting. The study took 39...

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  • Money exchange places

    You can change money at the following places: any Swiss bank airport main railway stations (western union) major hotels Swiss banks offer the best exchange rates for your traveler's checks or cash for foreign currencies (only bank notes). Official...

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  • Tax free shopping

    The VAT you pay on purchased goods in Switzerland is 7.7%. You may ask at the shops for your Tax Free Form and reclaim the VAT. Your total purchases in a shop must amount to more than CHF 300 (including VAT). You must be a resident outside...

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  • Business Hours

    Banks Banks are usually open Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Once a week they extend their hours. Please check locally. They are closed Saturdays, Sundays and on public holidays. However, money can also be changed at major train stations....

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  • Shopping

    Switzerland's superb products make it a shopper's paradise. English is spoken in most shops and department stores. Any stay in Switzerland is incomplete without buying a famous Swiss watch. Fine watches come in an infinite variety and are generally...

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  • Tipping

    You never have to worry about tipping in Switzerland, as tips are included in the price. You can, however, add a smile to the face of someone who has provided good service by rounding up to the nearest franc or round figure.

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