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17 interesting facts about Switzerland’s lakes and mountains

Switzerland was pretty flat a few million years ago. This was until the plates started moving, creating the Alps as we know them today. What is left of the earth’s sliding and shifting is a unique geography with hundreds of valleys, river sources, lakes, and peaks.

Here are some interesting facts and figures about Switzerland’s lakes and mountains:

For a landlocked country, 1500 lakes are not too shabby.

Some lakes are more special than others, such as the largest lake in the Alpine region (Lake Geneva) and the largest body of water in Switzerland (Lake Neuchâtel). Among the smallest lakes are Lago di Poschiavo and Oeschinensee.

Bernina Pass Lake

Switzerland’s land mass is only 0.4 percent that of Europe, but the country holds 6 percent of the continent’s freshwater reserves.

Forty percent of water originates from snow melt (“discharge”), and barely 2 percent from the melting of glaciers.

The freshwater is so clear that you can drink from rivers and lakes. And if you cannot see the bottom of a lake, it is considered dirty.

Lake Zurich

Switzerland has more high peaks than any other European country: 48 above 4000 meters.

Gornetgrat Glacier, Zermatt. Switzerland

In fact, mountains cover a whopping 60 percent of Switzerland’s land area.

If Switzerland’s surface flattened like a pancake, the country would be 12.5 percent larger.”

With all these mountains, does it surprise that Switzerland has over 60’000 km of signposted hiking trails?

Switzerland Hiking Trails

The highest railway station in Europe is in Switzerland, on top of the Jungfraujoch at 3454 meters.

Switzerland has nearly 5000 cable cars, inclines, and ski lifts.

Cable Car Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

For those who want to take the stairs, the world’s longest staircase, with 11’674 steps, leads to Mt. Niesen in the Bernese Alps.

Europe’s highest wind farm is on the Nufenen Pass at 2500 meters above the sea. As of this writing, there are just 37 wind turbines in Switzerland.

Nufenen Pass WindPark by Paul Hilliard(Photograph courtesy of Paul Hilliard)

Although the Alps are generally associated with Switzerland, they also stretch through the following countries: Austria and Slovenia in the east, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Germany to France in the west.

Many of the mountains contain hollowed-out bunkers for army and civilian protection in the event of an attack.

The world’s longest railway tunnel is in Switzerland. It measures 57.1 km, and the construction took 17 years.

Gottardo Rail Tunnel

The Swiss are so clean they even wash their tunnels! You gotta see it to believe it…

Tunnel Cleaning Machine Switzerland(Photograph copyright Atelier mécanique Vincent Bourguet)

The Matterhorn has got to be the most iconic mountain in Switzerland. Have you added a visit to Zermatt to your bucket list yet?

Matterhorn Zermatt

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

77 Facts about Switzerland - e-book from Newly Swissed

(Sources: Surface area of Switzerland by, Mountains above 4000 m by Wikipedia, land area by Wikipedia, cable car statistic by, Mt. Niesen on Wikipedia, Water discharge stats and water sources)

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.

Dimitri Burkhard

Download our e-book: 77 Facts about Switzerland