Written by Jasmine Grace, High School Intern
French is one of the four languages spoken in Switzerland. This landlocked European nation is known for its diversity, neutrality, chocolate, cheese, and picturesque scenery. But this small nation is home to so much more.
Many people think of Switzerland as Johanna Spyri portrays it in the country’s best-known literary piece, Heidi. But this nation isn’t just alpine lakes and villages; there are also many cities and urban areas. A unique art style originated in one of those beautiful cities, Zürich. When WWI refugees were being housed here, Switzerland’s artistic movement, called Dadaism, began in protest of the war. This art style is best described as nonsensical. It is organized artistic chaos, defined by negation, absurdity, and its spontaneous nature. Dada artists use a variety of mediums such as music, sculpture, literature, painting, theatre, and photography.
The city of Geneva is home to CERN, Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (European Council for Nuclear Research). It is the largest physical laboratory in the world, and is located 100 meters underground. The laboratory’s mission is to study nature at a subatomic level and create a diverse scientific community. Scientists from all over the world come here to search for answers about how our world works at a fundamental level and how the universe was created. These scientists use innovative technology and inventions to conduct their research.
Another world-famous Swiss innovation is their chocolate. They were the first to add milk to their chocolate and developed a recipe that makes it flavorful. You’ve probably heard of the glory that is Swiss chocolate, and I’ll tell you everything you’ve heard is true. But of course, chocolate isn’t the only great food in Switzerland. The country is also known for its cheese. And not just the Swiss cheese. Switzerland has over 450 varieties of cheese. Fondue (melted cheese dip served with bread cubes) is very popular. As for the more nutritious foods, Switzerland is also the birthplace of birchmüesli, which is like oatmeal but many times more delicious. A Swiss doctor who thought of a diet of cereals, fruits, and veggies invented oatmeal which proved healthier than a meat-based diet. He created birchmüesli for the patients of his sanatorium in Zürich.
Switzerland is also famous for its cultural diversity. Since the beginning of the nation, different languages, religions, and cultures coexisted peacefully. Many Swiss take pride in their nation’s diversity. And these different cultures living together means Switzerland is neutral by necessity. They avoid taking sides when their neighbors run into conflict. Switzerland has had no part in any war since 1505!
Switzerland even avoided both world wars, despite the internal strife. There were tensions between German, French, and Italian-speaking Swiss citizens. And the working class struggled because they had to take time off from their jobs to protect Switzerland’s borders, but weren’t compensated for their time off. After a nearly violent public demand for reform, several changes were implemented. This included a change to the voting system and more benefits for the unemployed.
Because of this guarded neutrality, Switzerland maintained a stable economy, allowing them to become a major economic power on the world stage. This nation is a beautiful and peaceful place with a unique history, unique art form and many delectable dishes.