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20 surprising facts about Switzerland

Surprising Facts about Switzerland

After a while, things tend to become normal and you start to forget that you ever had a fridge twice the size of the current one or used to buy milk in half-gallons at a time... But before the initial "wow effect" wears off after having lived here for several years, we wanted to share some of the most surprising facts we have learned about Switzerland.


1. Switzerland has more than 1500 lakes.

Surprising Facts about Switzerland - Lakes

2. This explains why you are never more than 16 km from a lake...

3. And why 60 percent of Switzerland’s electricity is produced by hydroelectric power.

4. Not surprisingly, 70 percent of Switzerland is covered in mountains.

5. More surprisingly, the landscape ranges from 196 meters above sea level in Ascona to 4'634 meters above sea level in the Dufour Peak.

6. Most surprisingly, these spots are less than 70 km apart!

7. Switzerland's rail system extends some 5'251 km.

Surprising Facts about Switzerland - Trains

8. Thus, it makes sense that the Swiss rank only second behind Japan in relying on trains.

9. However, you can’t turn right at a red light. But who cares? Everyone rides trains anyway...

10. If you still want to drive a car, you would be surprised to find out that fuel economy is measures in "quantity per distance" (liters per 100 km). In the US, it is measured in "distance per quantity" (miles per gallon).

11. By law, you need to buy a liability insurance sticker for riding a bicycle on public roads.

12. On public buses, you can buy a ticket directly from the driver.

Surprising Facts about Switzerland - Public Bus

13. Drivers have to stop for pedestrians to cross the road.

14. There are more banks than dentists.

15. There are now more Starbucks coffee shops than banks!

16. Most grocery stores close by 8 PM, and only the airport locations stay open on weekends.

17. Employee rights are sometimes more important than customer service, which is reflected in the fact that quite a few businesses are closed for lunch from noon through 2 PM.

18. Teaching is one of the highest paid occupations with the most vacation time: 12 weeks!

19. Switzerland has the most hospital beds per 1000 people: 5.8 beds.

20. Very much unlike the US, bank tellers are protected by bullet-proof glass.


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

77 Facts about Switzerland - e-book from Newly Swissed

Check out some more surprising facts about Switzerland or facts about lakes and mountains in Switzerland. Plus, you will surely be surprised by this latest batch of facts about Switzerland.

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.


  • I’ve heard somewhere that they’re planning to abolish the liability insurance sticker for riding a bicycle on public roads. Hope it’s true! :-)

  • This was a really fun post to read :-)

    But this point gave me pause:
    “There are now more Starbucks coffee shops than banks!”

    What did you use to measure this? Because even in Zurich, where there are A LOT of Starbucks coffee shops, there are still more banks. Unless by bank you mean the whole of the UBS, the whole of Credit Suisse, etc.

  • cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Dimitri. A couple of points if I may?

    Number 9. What do mean by not being able to turn right at a red light?
    Number 13. Drivers only stop for pedestrians at designated (i.e zebra crossings etc) places.
    Number 16. Coop Pronto outlets and similar shops stay open every day of the year.
    … and finally number 20. In just about every bank I’ve been in here in Switzerland the tellers are quite unprotected. The large bank in my village is so open that I could probably without any difficulty whatsoever, walk behind the counter if I wanted to.

  • 17. Employee rights are sometimes more important than customer service, which is reflected in the fact that many stores are closed for lunch from noon through 2 PM

    Labor is not exploited as in the US. Thats why things such as eatin out, taxi rides, hair dressers etc are very expensive and imported stuff such as electronics and cars relatively very cheap. People working at a bar actually get a decent salary and there are humane working hours :)

    I think employee rights should always be more important than customer service. If you want longer opening times, hire more people!

  • […] 20 SURPRISING FACTS ABOUT SWITZERLAND [3] 30 facts about […]

  • I wonder whether you have been in other European countries. Many, if not most of the fun facts are European, not exclusively Swiss. Nowadays, with not much money passing the counter at the bank, the counters are open again and only the cashier is still in a bullet proof glass box. We have coin-operated trolleys in Europe since more than 30 years, introduced by the biggest trolley manufacturer in France. At traffic lights one has to wait for green light before turning right. All traffic going straight, including pedestrians, must be given way by turning traffic. That’s all European, not Swiss.

  • These facts are true for many European countries. Moreover the #12 is wrong. Or at least not always true. Actually I never could buy a ticket inside the bus from the driver. I always had to buy it to a machine at the bus stop. Meaning that you have to arrive slightly in advance to have time to buy it if you need. It happens that drivers in bad mood don’t want to wait for you.

Dimitri Burkhard

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