Switzerland is a small landlocked country located in central Europe, mostly famous for its banks, political stability and wealth. Other than that it is a country of thousands of lakes, white peaks of the Alps and chocolate.
In order to describe the country a little better, here we introduce you to nineteen interesting facts about Switzerland as well as further links to the best books and detailed guides of mountains in Switzerland and the Alps and some accessible adventures in the Alps to get you fired up and packing your rucksack!
1. At the elevation of 1,578 m (5,177 ft) a beautiful lake of turquoise water called Oeschinensee appears in a shape of a horse shoe. The lake is the UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is made by Mother Nature from the scratch. This site is really popular amongst tourists as it easily accessible by a short gondola lift.
2. The largest plain waterfall in Europe is located in Switzerland on the Upper Rhine between Neuhausen am Rheinfall and Laufen-Uhwiesen. It is 150 m (492 ft) wide and 23 m (75 ft) high and in flood season during summer it can push over 700,000 liters of water per single second.
3. The largest glacier in the Alps - the Great Aletsch in the eastern Bernese Alps is 23 km (14 mi) long and it covers an area of 81,7 sq km (31,5 sq mi). Its highest elevation reaches 4,160 m (13,648 m), but it goes all the way down the mountain to 1,650 m (5,413 ft).
4. Mount Matterhorn is only the 10th highest mountain in Switzerland, yet due to its triangle shape and crooked peak, it is highly recognizable. This 4,478 m (1072 ft) high mountain on the Swiss-Italian border is the face of the Swiss chocolate Toblerone, the chocolate’s box is shaped in a triangle and features the picture of Mount Matterhorn on it.
5. The first ascent of Mount Matterhorn was quite literally a race that lasted nearly a decade. In fact, in July 1865 there were at least two teams climbing the mountain and when the Swiss team took the upper hand, it is said that the Italian team was just 380 m (1,250 ft) below. The story goes that once Swiss climbers Edward Whymper and Michel Croz first reached the summit they gloated at their competitors shouting “The Italians turned and fled”. Unfortunately, the descend was not that successful as four out of seven climbers fell to their deaths while heading down.
6. Lauterbrunnen Valley is a 3 km deep glacial valley in the Alps. The valley features 72 waterfalls, including the highest free-falling waterfall in Europe – the Staubbach Falls (297 m / 975 ft).
7. The North face of Mount Eiger (3,970 m / 13,025 ft) is a challenge that only the most experienced mountaineers are willing to take. The route is considered to be among the most complicated of its kind and even earned the name of the Death Wall. While the route has been completed successfully quite a few times now, many mountaineers have tried and died either ascending or descending the peak.
8. The highest mountain in Switzerland is Mount Dufourspitze or Monte Rosa. It is 4,634 (15,200 ft) high and was first climbed in 1855 by the Swiss party of 8 climbers led by Matthias and Johann zum Taugwald and Ulrich Lauener.
9. Switzerland is a country of chocolate. It has 18 different companies that make over 170,000 tons of chocolate every year. The Swiss also eat more chocolate than any other nation in the world, averagely a single Swiss eat 11,8 kg of chocolate per year. What is more, the Swiss are the mastermind behind the milk chocolate. We guess we all owe them a thank you!
10. There are around 1,500 lakes in Switzerland and as the country is only 41,277 sq km (15,937 sq mi), they are all located no further away from each other than 16 km (10 mi).
11. Switzerland is the only country in the world that is about to be fully prepared for a nuclear war. The Swiss government has decided to construct shelters for every single person living in Switzerland.
12. Albert Einstein came up with his best-known formula E=MCsq in Bern, Switzerland, while working in a clerk firm as a clerk. It is believed that he simply was writing formulas during the job because the job was too boring for him.
13. Switzerland has around 48 peaks over 4,000 m (13,123), which makes it the highest country in Europe.
14. Switzerland is one out of only two countries in the world that has a square flag, the white cross on the red background, the other one being the Vatican City.
15. Even though first to climb Mount Everest was Edmund Hillary from New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay from Nepal in 1953, the second expedition to reach the top of the planet was entirely Swiss. In 1956 four Swiss mountaineers reached the summit, Ernst Schmied and Juerg Marmet on May 23rd and Dolf Reist and Hans-Rudolf on the following day.
16. The Swiss mountaineer Erhard Loretan is considered to be one of the greatest climbers of all time. He was the third man in history to had climbed all of the 14 eight-thousanders. In fact, he was the second to complete the list without supplemented oxygen!
17. One of the main principles of Switzerland’s foreign policy is neutrality that has first been established during the Reformation. Switzerland has declared neutrality in 1815 and it is the second longest lasting neutral country in the world.
18. The Swiss National Park was founded in 1914 and it is the oldest in the Alps. The park is a perfect destination for outdoor activities; it has numerous hiking trails, rivers, and lakes in an area of 170 sq km (66 sq mi).
19. Lake Geneva is among the biggest lakes in the whole Western Europe. It takes up the space of almost 17,000 sq km (6563 sq mi) and is located within two countries -Switzerland and France.
ADVENTURES IN Switzerland
- Books about the Eiger
- Books about the Alps
- Books about Monte Rosa
- Books about the Matterhorn
- Top Long Distance Walks in Europe