Rotary Jugendaustausch - Switzerland

 

 

 

General information about Switzerland

Switzerland is situated in the heart of Europe, surrounded by Germany in the north, France in the west, Italy in the south and Liechtenstein and Austria in the east.

With its area of about 41‘300 square kilometers, Switzerland is one of the smallest countries in Europe. 60% of its surface is covered by the Alps and glaciers. From north to south it measures about 220 km, from east to west about 350 km.

The population of Switzerland was a bit more than 8.5 million in 2019. About 20% of the people living in Switzerland do not hold the Swiss passport.

Switzerland is a federal republic with elements of direct democracy. The federal state is divided into 26 cantons and about 2600 communities.

The country code „CH“ has its origin in the Latin expression “Confoederatio Helvetica” (= Swiss Confederation).

Berne has been the capital of Switzerland since the state was founded in 1848. The Swiss franc (CHF) is our currency. 

Climate

Switzerland has a mixed climate with four seasons. In July and August, the average temperatures range from 18°C to 28°C during the day, in January and February they figure around -2°C to +7°C. However, they can easily fall to -10°C in winter. Therefore, warm clothing is important for a stay in Switzerland from autumn to spring.

Public Transport

Switzerland has a very sophisticated and well-functioning public transport system. Almost every place in Switzerland can be reached by train or bus. There are 2 classes of travel on the trains, first class and second class. These sections are clearly marked. As the Swiss are usually quiet and reserved, it is uncommon to hear loud talking or to see bad behavior on public transport. 

Culture

Culturally, Switzerland has much more to offer than just mountains, cheese, chocolate and watches. There are vine festivals in the western part of Switzerland, Carnival in the German part, traditional markets, music and yodelling events, theatres, museums, castles and ancient ruins. The language diversity is yet another unique aspect of Swiss culture.

Four languages are spoken in Switzerland: German 63.7%, French 20.4%, Italian 6.5%, Romansh 0.5%. About 8.9% of the population speak another mother tongue.

Exchange students are mainly placed in either the German or the French part.

In the German part of Switzerland, people do not use standard German (also called 'proper' or 'High German') in their daily life but rather speak different regional dialects like „Bernese German“, “Zurich German“, etc. Some of these dialects differ very much from the High German spoken in Germany and are very hard to understand at the beginning. However, most exchange students learn to understand these dialects by the end of their exchange year. It is essential that exchange students ask their Swiss friends and families repeatedly to speak High German with them.

In school, High German is used during the lessons.