From lightning strikes to lobsters: we have turned over every stone in our quest to find fresh facts about Switzerland.
In the past decade, much has been written about the lesser known sides of Switzerland. And when I look into our website statistics, it is evident that the popularity of fact articles is extremely high. Because: who doesn't like to learn tidbits of information that make you look smart among your friends and colleagues? I do.
Here are all new facts about Switzerland to quench your thirst:
Switzerland is home to 1'462 glaciers.
Since 1900, more than 500 glaciers have disappeared.
Heat waves caused by global warming are "murdering" these glaciers.
In Sept 2019, the Swiss held a funeral for one of the victims, the Pizol glacier. It has lost up to 90 percent of its volume since 2006.
The commemoration for the dying #Pizol #Glacier was a full success! About 250 people marched up to the last remnants of ice. The topic was extensively covered by international media. Many thanks to the organizers! @KlimaschutzCH @alpeninitiative @fastenopfer pic.twitter.com/vIHc5Cno6k
— Matthias Huss (@matthias_huss) September 23, 2019
There are palm trees in Switzerland, a fact that might surprise some.
This landlocked alpine country with its glaciers has a Mediterranean south called Ticino. Bordering Italy, Ticino has a mild climate and is home to a lush vegetation. It also boasts Europe's second highest longevity with an average lifespan of 85.2 years.
Some 1500 years ago, a tsunmami ocurred in Switzerland.
A rockslide onto the delta where the River Rhône enters Lake Geneva caused 8-meter tall waves that would have reached Geneva 70 minutes later.
Swiss cartographers have long hidden secret doodles in official topography maps.
It all started in 1980 with a white spider at the top of Eiger. Later drawings showed a face near Interlaken, a marmot on a glacier or a fish in a lake. Can you spot the fish?
A Swiss company literally sucks harmful CO2 from the atmosphere. Using massive fans, Climeworks filters carbon-dioxide from ambient air.
(Read our article about Climeworks, photograph copyright Climeworks)
There are 4.6 million registered cars in Switzerland. The most popular makes/models sold in 2020 are Škoda Octavia, followed by VW Tiguan and VW Golf.
The Universal Postal Union was founded in Switzerland (and is still headquartered here).
The UPU was founded at Restaurant "Zum Äusseren Stand" in Bern in 1874. Since then, the UPU has grown from the initial 22 countries to 192 member nations. It coordinates and regulates global mail traffic, including matters like postage rates.
(Photograph copyright Svenkaj/Wikimedia Commons)
A uniquely Swiss way of measuring the amount of paperwork is by the count of "Bundesordner".
This standardized binder is used by businesses and government far and wide. Hence, it is easy to say that a court case has transcripts amounting to 50 "Bundesordner".
(Photograph copyright ofrex.ch)
As a teenager, Kim Jong Un, the North Korean dictator, lived in a Bern suburb for about four years.
He lived there under a disguise with his aunt, attended the Liebefeld-Steinhölzli international school, played basketball and skied in the Alps. His favorite dish allegedly was raclette, and his classmates thought he was Thai.
(Various sources; photograph copyright Sandstein/Wikimedia Commons)
The widow of the famous painter, Wassily Kandinsky, was murdered in her Gstaad chalet.
On the fateful night of September 2, 1980, Nina Kandinsky was home alone. After strangeling her, the invader(s) stole her precious jewelry collection, yet left the original Kandinsky artwork untouched. The crime has never been solved and the artwork is on display at the Museum of Fine Arts Bern.
The 124-meter tall cell tower on top of Mount Säntis is hit by lightning 100 times per year. Measurement devices help researchers study the formation of lightning.
The first photograph ever uploaded to the Web came from inside the CERN laboratory in Geneva.
The girl band, Les Horribles Cernettes, was created for a talent show, and their picture was used to promote the (still running) Cern Hardronic Festival.
Geneva has the world's highest minimum wage.
In September 2020, it was decided to set the minimum wage for all workers, regardless of their nationality or visa status, at 23 francs per hour.
And finally, some more good news: in Switzerland, it is illegal to boil lobster alive out of fear that the animal can feel pain.
According to article 23/paragraph 1 of the animal protection regulation, the lobster's brain must be electricuted before dipping it into boiling water. Since another law prohibits chefs from storing live animals on ice, freezing lobster before boiling it is out of the question, too.