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13 facts you (probably) didn’t know about Switzerland

From architecture to food, learn 13 interesting facts about Switzerland which will guarantee you some legitimate bragging rights at the next cocktail party!


The portable cassette player was first tested in St. Moritz

Facts You Didn't Know about Switzerland - SONY Walkman Stereobelt

The portable personal cassette player with headphones ("Walkman") was first tested in the woods of St. Moritz, Switzerland, in 1972. Inventor Andreas Pavel wanted to add a soundtrack to real life "by allowing the user to play high-fidelity music through headphones while participating in daily activities." He was right on, as he had no idea how omnipresent his vision was to become...


Europe's largest clock face is in Zürich

Facts you didn't know Switzerland - Largest Clock Face

The clock of St. Peter's Church in Zürich is the largest church clock face in Europe. Would you believe that it is even bigger than Big Ben's?


Swiss grocery chain MIGROS has a twin in Turkey

Facts You Didn't Know about Switzerland - MIGROS in Turkey

It came as a surprise to me to find out that MIGROS, my favorite grocery chain in Switzerland, actually has an international twin. In fact, MIGROS is the biggest grocery chain in Turkey, with a legacy dating back to 1954!

Ikea founder Kamprad is Switzerland's richest resident

Facts You Didn't Know about Switzerland - Ikea Founder

Sweden's Ingvar Kamprad, founder of furniture chain Ikea, remains Switzerland richest resident for the tenth year, according to an annual ranking by business magazine Bilanz. His assets, including the chain of Ikea stores, are valued at 35'000'000'000 Francs.


The cheapest item for sale in Zürich in 2009 was an egg from a foreign farm

Facts You Didn't Know about Switzerland - Eggs in Zurich

Every December, the Zurich Statistics Office is keeping residents amused and entertained by revealing fresh nuggets of information. Hence, an egg from a foreign farm cost 32 Rappen (cents) and was therefore the least expensive item for sale!


Zürich has a staggering 1224 fountains

Facts You Didn't Know about Switzerland - Fountains in Zurich

If you are visiting Switzerland for the first time, you will undoubtedly notice the many fountains with crystal clear drinking water! As it turns out, with no less than 1224 fountains, Zürich is one of the world's most fountain-friendly cities!


Swiss mailboxes have two slots - one for letters, and one for packages

Facts You Didn't Know about Switzerland - Swiss Mailboxes

Just as the US has iconic mailboxes, almost every home in Switzerland has the same type of mailbox. The top slot for letters is usually locked, and the bottom section has a door for packages. Unlike the US, letters to be mailed cannot be left in the mailbox for pick-up.


Freddie Mercury and Queen had a recording studio in Montreux

Facts You Didn't Know about Switzerland - Queen Montreux

Freddie Mercury and Queen really loved Switzerland and ended up buying a recording studio outside Montreux on Lake Geneva. There is a statue to Freddie on the shore, featured on the cover of their album "Made in Heaven".


The thumb is used to indicate "1" when counting with fingers

Facts You Didn't Know about Switzerland - Counting

The Facebook "Like" button has a whole other meaning in Switzerland, where it also signifies the number "1"... By the way, the number "1" is often written like a "7" in the US (a "7" is written with a horizontal cross)!

Chinese and Mexican restaurants are considered exotic and are generally quite expensive

Facts You Didn't Know about Switzerland - Mexican Food

On the other hand, Kebab stands are abundant and affordable.


Shopping carts have to be unlocked with a coin

Facts You Didn't Know about Switzerland - Shopping Carts

In order to use a shopping cart at the grocery store, you have to deposit a 1 or 2 Franc coin in a slot on top of the cart. This will release the chain by which the cart is attached to the next one. When you return the cart to its place, you will get your deposit back - without interest though.


Latin is the third most prevalent language

Facts You Didn't Know about Switzerland - Latin

Latin is not actually spoken, but appears on the stamps and coins as "confoederatio helvetica" or "helvetia". This is the Latin name of Switzerland. The spoken languages are: German, French, Italian, Romansh. Now you know why the international abbreviation for Switzerland is "CH"!


Lac Leman contains more than 40 shipwrecks

Facts You Didn't Know about Switzerland - Lac Leman Shipwrecks

That's a fact! If you don't believe it, check out this listing to find out about the more than 40 shipwrecks in Lac Leman (Lake Geneva), including four railway cars from the mid to late 1800's!


Now, download our e-book with 77 interesting facts about Switzerland:

77 Facts about Switzerland - e-book from Newly Swissed

(Photographs copyright by Zadio.Tv, CFA Schweiz, Tres Amigos, Christoph Seidler)

Dimitri Burkhard

As the founder, editor, and community manager of Newly Swissed, Dimitri owns the strategic vision. He is passionate about storytelling and is a member of Swiss Travel Communicators.

Dimitri loves discovering new trends and covers architecture, design, start-ups and tourism.


  • Kamprad……….tax must have something to do with this!

    Thumb for ONE is shown perfectly in Inglourious Basterds!

    Shopping carts have to be unlocked with a coin…….but not at some Volg’s

    Didn’t know that about Freddy & Queen! ;-)

  • Totally correct – Zurich has indeed 1200 fountains. I am trying to find them all…. This will week will publish the 100th on my blog.

  • Actually, some of the things mentioned, I think they are not Swiss idiosyncrasies, like the letters to be mailed, the coins in the shopping carts, and how numbers are written.
    The same is happening in Greece, and I think in other places of Europe too.

    One interesting point that could be added is Helvetica, which was created by a Swiss designer, in Switzerland, while it means “Swiss”(in Latin).

  • Taiwan mailboxes also have two slots. One is for letters that’ll distribute in the same city, the other is for those will go outside the city. Packages will have to mail them from post offices. Recently the postmen are protesting that they are working over time. However, postmen are the kind of job well guaranteed by governement that usually only 1-2% of applicants get the job. They wear long sleeves green uniforms working under 35-40C all day in summer. Dog-bites are the fearest thing happened to them.

  • The one in Switzerland is not like an American seven; rather it is a one straight hook from the top of the one towards the left, sometime al the way down and sometimes just a short way, and yes, the seven is crossed through.

  • The Swiss mail box – the lower part, known as “Milchkasten”, was originally used for depositing milik delivered by the milkman.

  • I was looking for more info on the statue… was sure I would see it on a list of Swiss oddities! We have to pay to rent a shopping cart at some Canadian grocery stores, either a quarter or a loonie.

  • Migros is a French store that spread to the rest of europe. Most shopping carts in europe have a coin-operated locking mechanism. After spending 4 mounths in swizarland I did not see one of those mailboxes. A couple of facts about Swizarland: the Swiss postal service is also a bank and one of their main cheeses is named after a 13th century town ( not what we consider to be swiss cheese).

    • I’m sorry but you’re wrong, Migros is a Swiss Store! You can find it on Wikipedia if you don’t believe me. The mailboxes are everywhere, I don’t know how you couldn’t see them. It’s Switzerland not Swizarland…

  • I don’t know where you got the info that Migros is French. Migros was founded in 1925 by Gottlieb Duttweiler in Zürich. Check ou the web about the history. Every kid knew that.
    Re: postboxes I never seen a house without it or an apartment block got one for each flat. It’s right the bottom part was used for the milk delivery in the good old days. Not ideal in the summer, as the milk was sour by lunch time.

    • It’s about as much an “old Latin” as Italian is. Also, there isn’t THE Romansch. There are several quite different idioms.

  • Chinese and Mexican are considered as exotic but when you taste them, they are absolutely not exotic. The spices for example are (almost) completely removed.
    And btw, the thumb up and the shopping carts parts are not unique to Switzerland. In addition, 1 isn’t written like a 7.

Dimitri Burkhard

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