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Switzerland

Its products are sought after the world over, from dangerously delicious cheese and chocolate to luxurious watches whose timekeeping is as sharp as a Swiss army knife, another popular export from this clever little nation in the Alps. Switzerland’s famed political neutrality and isolated location, ring-fenced by mountains, have enabled it to play a safe but central role in European affairs. These factors also gave rise to the coveted Swiss bank account, whose anonymity, along with tax relief and what may be the safest banks in the world, have made Zürich one of Europe’s major financial hubs.

Practical Information

Area: 41 284 km² (15 940 miles²)

Capital: Bern. Population: 127 000

Population: 7.5 million

Currency: Swiss Franc (CHF) = 100 rappen or centimes

Government: Federal Republic since 1848.

Tipping: A service charge is included in all restaurant, cafe and bar services by law; further gratuities are not usually required.

Time zone: GMT + 1 (GMT + 2 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October)

Languages: German in central and eastern areas, French in the west and Italian in the south

Additional descriptions

Switzerland: Social customs

It is customary to give unwrapped flowers to the hostess when invited for a meal. Avoid red roses; never give chrysanthemums or white asters as they are considered funeral flowers. Informal wear is widelyRead more acceptable. First-class restaurants, hotel dining rooms and important social occasions may warrant jackets and ties. Black tie is usually specified when required.

Switzerland: Food and local specialties

Swiss cuisine is varied. The great speciality is fondue, a delicious concoction of Gruyère and Vacherin cheese, melted and mixed with white wine, flour, Kirsch and a little garlic. Other cheese specialitiesRead more are Emmental and Tête de Moine. Pork sausages or salami come in a variety of local recipes including Beinwurst, Engadinerwurst, Kalbsleberwurst (calf’s liver pâté), Knackerli, Landjäger and Leberwurst (pâté). A great variety of Swiss wines are available throughout the country. Swiss beer of a lager type is also available. Bottled mineral water is an accepted beverage, with local brands including Henniez. Things to know: Bars/cocktail lounges have table and/or counter service. Although there are many self-service snack bars, table service is normal. The national specialties are: Viande sèchée (dried beef or pork) from Valais and the Grisons where it is called Bündnerfleisch, served with spring or pickled onions. Pieds de porc (pigs’ feet). Rösti (shredded fried potatoes). Fondue Bourguignonne (cubed meat with various sauces). Leckerli (spiced honey cakes topped with icing sugar, decorated in Bern with a white sugar bear). Kirsch, Marc, Pflümli and Williams (spirits).

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