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Swiss

Swiss

PRONUNCIATION: SWIS

LOCATION: Switzerland

POPULATION: About 7 million

LANGUAGE: Schwyzerdütsch (Swiss-German dialect); French; Italian; Romansh; English

RELIGION: Protestantism; Roman Catholicism

1 INTRODUCTION

Switzerland is located at the crossroads of Europe. Although a small country, it is the meeting point for three of Europe's major culturesGerman, French and Italian. It is a country known for its stability, multiculturalism, and prosperity.

Archeological evidence shows that the area that is now Switzerland was inhabited as early as 40,000 bc. The development of modern Switzerland can be traced back to a confederation (loose political grouping) of several Alpine valley communities and states in the Middle Ages. These original communities were called cantons, and today Switzerland's twenty-six provinces are called by the same name. Swiss history is unique in Europe since the Swiss never had a monarchy. Instead, the different members of the confederation governed political affairs. In today's political system, many powers are still left in the hands of the cantons.

Switzerland's present boundaries were fixed in 1815 at the Congress of Vienna. Switzerland was neutral (refused to take sides) in World War I (19141918) and World War II (19391945). Its neutral stance has also kept it from joining the United Nations.

The Swiss live in a democracy where the average citizen often has greater influence than in other countries. A unique example of direct democracy found in parts of Switzerland is the Landsgemeinde (People's Assembly). Citizens gather under the open sky on a Sunday in spring to pass laws and elect officials by a show of hands.

2 LOCATION

Switzerland is one of Europe's smallest countries in terms of both territory and population. It is roughly equal in size to the combined area of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Although it is a place of contrastsof plains, lakes, rivers and mountainsapproximately 70 percent of the country is covered by mountains.

Switzerland's three natural geographic regions are the Jura Mountains in the northwest, the Alps in the south, and the central plateau, or Mittelland. This central plateau contains all of the larger towns and most major cities.

The most famous of the Swiss Alps is the Matterhorn, rising 14,692 feet (4,478 meters) above sea level. Two of Europe's principal rivers, the Rhine and the Rhone, have their sources in the Swiss Alps.

Switzerland's population of almost 7 million people is very diverse. It is composed of four major ethnic groups: German, French, Italian, and Romansh.

3 LANGUAGE

Switzerland has four national languages. Speakers of Schwyzerdütsch (the German dialects spoken in Switzerland), account for about two-thirds of all Swiss. Another 18 percent speak French, about 10 percentmostly in the Ticino regionspeak Italian, and roughly 1 percent speak Romansh, a dialect spoken mostly in the Grison region. The remainder of the population consists of foreign workers who speak the languages of their homelands. Most native Swiss are bior multi-lingual, and many speak English.

4 FOLKLORE

The national hero of Swiss legend is William Tell, supposed to have lived in the early 1300s. He was forced to shoot an apple off his son's head as punishment for disobeying the imperial governor Gessler. Tell later escaped from his captors to slay the tyrant. This legend inspired popular ballads during the fifteenth century. It has also been made famous by the overture to Italian composer Gioacchino Rossini's (17921868) opera Guillaume Tell (1829), which English-speaking audiences are familiar with as the William Tell overture.

The Rütli Schwur (Rutli Oath) is another powerful symbol in Swiss folklore. This oath refers to an agreement made in the Rutli meadow between several Swiss valley communities in the Middle Ages. Together they created an alliance for common protection and defense. Although historians question whether or not this event actually took place, for many it symbolizes Swiss freedom and democracy. During World War II when Switzerland was surrounded by Nazi Germany, the Swiss army commander, General Guisan, gathered his officers on the Rutli meadow as a symbol of Swiss determination to fight for their freedom.

5 RELIGION

Switzerland is evenly divided between Protestants and Roman Catholics (48 percent versus 49 percent). The mostly German-speaking cantons, or provinces, are divided nearly equally between the two religious affiliations. Catholicism is the major religion of the French-speaking cantons and the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino. Throughout Switzerland there are both Protestant and Catholic youth organizations, labor unions, and women's associations. In addition, the Swiss political parties have been shaped by the religious differences of the past.

Switzerland's continuing close ties with the Catholic Church can still be seen today in the Swiss Guards at the Vatican. They once protected the Pope but now serve as an honor guard with their colorful uniforms and shiny helmets.

6 MAJOR HOLIDAYS

Switzerland's legal holidays are New Year's Day (January 1), Good Friday and Easter Monday (in March or April), Ascension Day and Whitmonday (in April or May), Bundesfeier (which resembles the American Fourth of July and occurs on August 1), and Christmas (December 25). The German-speaking Swiss mark the seasons and many religious days with festivals, which vary with each canton (province) and commune (city or town). Altogether, over one hundred different festivalspagan, Christian, and patrioticare celebrated in Switzerland. The most famous celebration is Basel's Fastnacht, or carnival. Marking the final days before Lent, it is similar to the Mardi Gras festivities held in New Orleans. For three days, masked and costumed merrymakers parade through streets filled with decorative floats while the strains of pipe-and-drum bands are heard.

7 RITES OF PASSAGE

In Switzerland many rites of passage are similar to those found in the United States. These include religious rituals such as baptism and first communion and family events such as births, deaths, and marriages.

For men, one of the most important aspects of life in Switzerland is military service. All male citizens serve compulsory periods of military duty between the ages of twenty and fifty. They keep all of their equipment, including weapon and ammunition, at home. Swiss military duty may be considered a rite of passage because serving in the army is seen as a sign of true citizenship. However, women are not required to perform military service, and many women criticize their exclusion from the army.

8 RELATIONSHIPS

The Swiss are known for their tolerance, politeness, and independence. Relationships among the Swiss reflect the country's diversity of languages, religions, and regions. A number of stereotypes exist between the various regions. An example of this is the Röstigrabenthe ongoing tension between the French-and German-speaking parts of Switzerland. The German-speaking Swiss see themselves as hard working and efficient. They see their French-speaking countrymen as easy-going and friendly. However, the French-speaking Swiss tend to see the German speakers as arrogant, pushy, and too serious.

A handshake is the normal greeting between men and women unless one is very familiar with the person. In this case, a triple kiss on each cheek is appropriate. This consists of first one kiss on one cheek, then one on the next cheek, and finally back to the first cheek. Two men greet each other by shaking hands. It is customary to greet and say good-bye to a person using their name. The Swiss use formal forms of address both in German (Sie rather than du ) and in French (vous rather than tu ). Formal speech is used in less intimate situations, such as in business settings.

9 LIVING CONDITIONS

The Swiss enjoy an impressive standard of living. Those living in the Alpine or forest regions have traditionally lived in wooden houses with shingled or tiled roofs and carved gables. Corners and roofs have often been reinforced with stone. Kitchens have been encased in stone or masonry to prevent fires. Today, fewer houses of this type are constructed. Even in remote rural areas, newer houses are commonly of brick or block. However, mountain chalets (country houses) built by city-dwellers as vacation homes often imitate the older rural styles. In general, most Swiss live in apartments rather than owning their own houses.

10 FAMILY LIFE

Most Swiss women today prefer to have no more than one or two children, and an increasing number of people choose to remain single. Women who marry do so at a later age than their mothers did and also have their children later. In general, the German-speaking Swiss tend to marry among themselves.

The status of Swiss women is below that of women in most other European countries. They have only had suffrage (the right to vote) since 1971. By law, a woman has traditionally needed her husband's permission to get a job, open a bank account, or run for political office. Although Swiss women gained their political equality late, they have been catching up quickly. Today they fill 15 percent of all elected posts, a figure slightly above the European average.

11 CLOTHING

Western-style clothing is the norm. However, traditional costumes can still be seen at local festivities and parades. Many display the Swiss art of fine embroidery. Herdsmen in the Gruyère region wear a short blue jacket of cloth or canvas called a bredzon with sleeves gathered at the shoulders. On special occasions, women in this region wear silk aprons, long-sleeved jackets, and straw hats with ribbons hanging from the brim. Other traditional women's costumes include gold lace caps in St. Gallen and dresses with silver ornaments in Unterwalden. Traditional male dress common to many Alpine areas are the leather shorts called lederhosen, often worn with sturdy leather boots.

12 FOOD

Swiss cuisine combines the culinary traditions of Germany, France, and Italy. It varies by region. Throughout the land, however, cheese is king. The Swiss have been making cheese for at least 2,000 years. The hole-filled Emmentaler, which is popularly called "Swiss cheese," is only one of hundreds of varieties produced in Switzerland. The country's most typical national dish is fondue, melted Emmentaler or Gruyère cheese in which pieces of bread are dipped, using long forks. A recipe follows.

Also popular is another melted-cheese dish called raclette. A quarter or half a wheel of cheese (a big, round slab) is melted in front of an open fire. Pieces of it are scraped off onto the diners' plates with a special knife. The cheese is traditionally eaten with potatoes, pickled onions or other vegetables, and dark bread.

A popular dish in German-speaking regions is rösti, hash-browned potatoes mixed with herbs, bacon, or cheese. Typical dishes in the Italian-speaking Ticino region are a potato pasta called gnocchi ; risotto, a rice dish; and polenta, which is made from cornmeal. French specialties such as steaks, organ meats, and wine-flavored meat stews are prevalent in French-speaking parts of the country. Besides cheese, the other principal food for which the Swiss are known is chocolate.

13 EDUCATION

Education at all levels is the responsibility of the cantons, or provinces. Thus Switzerland actually has twenty-six different educational systems. They have varying types of schools, curricula, length of study, and teachers' salaries. However, all require either eight or nine years of schooling beginning at age six or seven. In secondary school those students entering an academic track take a course of instruction to prepare them for university study. Students in a vocational program continue to take classes while also entering into an apprenticeship. Afterward students receive certification in a specific trade and are ready to enter the work force. Post-secondary education is offered at nine universities and two federal institutes of technology at Zurich and Lausanne.

Recipe

Cheese Fondue

Ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 cups white wine or white grape juice
  • ¾ pound Swiss cheese, cut into small cubes
  • ¾ Gruyere cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 4 Tablespoons flour
  • 4 Tablespoons kirsch (cherry liqueur)
  • Crusty French bread and apple slices
Procedure
  1. Cut the clove of garlic in half. Rub the inside of an electric fondue pot with the cut side of the garlic clove.
  2. Heat the fondue pot to medium-high, and pour in the wine or white grape juice. Heat the liquid until it begins to bubble.
  3. Place the cubes of cheese in a large plastic bag with the flour. Seal the bag and shake well to coat the cheese with the flour.
  4. Add the cheese, a few cubes at a time, to the simmering liquid. Stir constantly in a figure-eight pattern until all the cheese is melted. Don't rush this process or the cheese will become stringy.
  5. Add kirsch and stir until blended.
  6. Cut the bread into bite-size cubes.

To serve, spear cubes of bread and apple slices, one at a time, with long-handled forks. Dip into melted cheese and enjoy!

Adapted from Recipes from Around the World. Howard County, Md.: Foreign-Born Information and Referral Network, 1993, p. 8.)

14 CULTURAL HERITAGE

Switzerland's cultural achievements have been wide-ranging and significant. Swiss who have made significant achievements in the arts during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries include playwright Friedrich Dürrenmatt, novelists Gottfried Keller and Max Frisch, sculptor Alberto Giacometti, architect Le Corbusier, and painter Paul Klee. Also well known are psychologist Carl Jung and child psychologist Jean Piaget.

Switzerland has also made a unique contribution to world culture by providing a neutral refuge for leading intellectuals fleeing their own countries for political or other reasons. Distinguished emigrés (emigrants) welcomed by the Swiss include authors Thomas Mann, James Joyce, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn, film star Charlie Chaplin, scientist Albert Einstein, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, and musician Richard Wagner.

15 EMPLOYMENT

The percentage of Swiss people engaged in agriculture has declined sharply since the nineteenth century. Today fewer than 6 percent of the Swiss are farmers. Almost a third of Switzerland's labor force is employed in the machinery, electronics, and metal industries. The chemical, pharmaceutical, and textile industries are also major employers. One traditional type of labor for which the Swiss are famous is watchmaking. Today Switzerland produces over seventy million watches and watch parts annually. More than half the work force is employed in service jobs. Tourism and banking are among the most important employers.

There are relatively few labor strikes in Switzerland due to special agreements called "industrial peace treaties." Employers and employees agree to cooperate with each other, and strikes and lockouts are forbidden.

Many young Swiss spend a period of apprenticeship outside the country before entering the labor force. A unique Swiss practice is the Welschlandjahr. Young Swiss from the German-speaking region spend time in the French-speaking area in order to learn French and become familiar with the way of life there.

16 SPORTS

Both summer and winter sports are extremely popular among the Swiss. The country's Alpine peaks provide a setting for skiing, bobsledding, tobogganing, mountain walking, and climbing. After skiing, ice skating is Switzerland's favorite winter sport. Summer activities include tennis, hiking, golf, cycling, fishing, and a variety of water sports. Two especially popular sports are handball and soccer.

Traditional Swiss sports are still enjoyed at festivals. These include the baseball-like Hornussen, or farmer's tennis, and stone-putting (Steinstossen), where the object is to throw a stone weighing 184 pounds (80 kilograms) as far as possible. In Swiss wrestling (Schwingen), each wrestler wears a pair of canvas-like shorts over his pants and tries to throw his opponent to the ground by grabbing hold of these shorts.

17 RECREATION

Relaxing after hours is important to the Swiss, who have one of the longest work days in Europe (usually 8:00 am to 5:00 pm). Much of their recreation is family oriented, and they often entertain at home rather than going out. A favorite leisure-time activity is simply reading the newspaper, either at home or at a cafe. A card game called Jass is extremely popular. It is played with thirty-six cards according to rules that vary from region to region. Concerts and the theater are also enjoyed by many Swiss. The youth scene is dominated by dancing and parties, with a subculture centered around techno music.

At their many festivals, the Swiss still enjoy traditional activities, including dancing and yodeling. Each region of Switzerland has its own festivals and special events.

18 CRAFTS AND HOBBIES

Switzerland's traditional decorative arts include weaving, embroidery, dressmaking (Frauentracht), wood carving, and painting. A unique form of Swiss folk art is Senntumsmalerei, or herd-painting. It originated among Alpine dairy farmers who carved and painted farm implements as far back as the early eighteenth century. There are several typical forms of Senntumsmalerei. Fahreimebödeli are wooden pails with decorated bases. Sennenstreifen are long boards or strips of paper picturing cattle drives to the high Alpine pastures. Wächterbild are large-scale paintings of cow herders traditionally found on window shutters.

19 SOCIAL PROBLEMS

The influx of foreign, or "guest," workers (Gastarbeiter) from southern Europe and north Africa since World War II has produced a fear of Übezfremdung (over-foreignization). Anti-immigrant feeling subjects Ausländers (foreigners) to discrimination and social isolation.

The problems of youth are another area of concern, especially drug abuse. Switzerland has the highest instance of drug abuse and AIDS in Europe. Approximately 20 percent of youth between the ages fifteen and twenty-four have used hard drugs.

Another major challenge facing the Swiss is the debate over greater cooperation and unity with the other countries of Europe, an issue known as "European integration." Fears over European integration have raised concern about the preservation of Switzerland's neutrality and democratic institutions.

20 BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bouvier, N., G. Craig, and L. Gossman. Geneva, Zurich, Basel: History, Culture & National Identity. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994.

Hilowitz, Janet. Switzerland in Perspective. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1990.

Levy, Patricia. Switzerland. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1994.

Recipes from Around the World. Howard County, Md.: Foreign-Born Information and Referral Network, 1993.

WEBSITES

Embassy of Switzerland, Washington, D.C. [Online] Available http://www.swissemb.org/, 1998.

Switzerland Tourism North America. [Online] Available http://www.switzerlandtourism.com, 1998.

World Travel Guide. Switzerland. [Online] Available http://www.wtgonline.com/country/ch/gen.html, 1998.

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Swiss

Swiss

ETHNONYMS: none

The Swiss are citizens of the nation of Switzerland (Swiss Confederation). Switzerland is located in central Europe and covers 41,295 square kilometers of territory. The estimated population for 1990 is 6,628,000. Switzerland is a pluralistic society with about 65 percent of the population German-speaking, 18 percent French-speaking, 12 percent Italian-speaking, and about 1 percent Romansch-speaking. The population is split about equally between Catholics and Protestants. Politically, Switzerland is divided into twenty cantons and six half-cantons. The Swiss Confederation was founded in 1291 when three cantons joined together for defensive purposes and gradually expanded over the centuries. Switzerland is known today for its military neutrality, banking industry, and as the headquarters for many international organizations.

See German Swiss; Jurassians; Romansch; Swiss, Italian

Bibliography

Kurian, George T. (1990). Encyclopedia of the First World. 2 Vols. New York: Facts on File.


Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations (1988). 7th ed. New York: Worldmark Press.

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Swiss

Swiss / swis/ • adj. of or relating to Switzerland or its people. ∎  [as pl. n.] (the Swiss) the people of Switzerland. • n. (pl. same) a native or national of Switzerland, or a person of Swiss descent. ORIGIN: early 16th cent.: from French Suisse, from Middle High German Swīz ‘Switzerland.’

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Swiss

Swissabyss, amiss, bis, bliss, Chris, Diss, hiss, kiss, Majlis, miss, piss, reminisce, sis, Swiss, this, vis •dais •Powys, prowess •loess, Lois •Lewes, lewis •abbess • ibis •Anubis, pubis •cannabis • arabis • duchess • purchase •caddis, Gladys •Candice •Sardis, Tardis •vendace • Charybdis •bodice, goddess •demigoddess • Aldiss • jaundice •de profundis • prejudice • hendiadys •cowardice • stewardess • preface •Memphis • aphis • edifice • benefice •orifice • artifice • office •surface, surface-to-surface •undersurface • haggis • aegis •burgess •clerkess, Theodorákis •Colchis

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Swiss

Swiss

LOCATION: Switzerland
POPULATION: About 7.5 million
LANGUAGE: Schwyzerdütsch ( Swiss-German dialect), French, Italian, Romansh, English
RELIGION: Protestant; Roman Catholic

INTRODUCTION

Switzerland is located at a crossroads in Europe and is known for its stability, multiculturalism, neutrality, and prosperity. The country's central location in the heart of Europe and the right mix of features has helped to link Switzerland with the rest of Europe in many ways-culturally, economically and politically. Although a small country, it is the meeting point for three of Europe's major cultures-German, French and Italian. This, along with a unique history and political institutions, contributes to the belief that Switzerland is a special case (Sonderfall), incomparably different from other countries.

The area that is now Switzerland was inhabited as early as 40,000 bc as shown by archeological evidence. Various Celtic tribes-among them the Helvetii and Rhaetians-settled in the region around 1,000 bc. For almost 500 years-from 58 bc to ad 400-Switzerland was part of the Roman Empire. Starting in ad 260 a number of Germanic tribes-the Alemanii and the Burgundians being the most important-started to make their way onto the scene.

The development of modern Switzerland can be traced back to a confederation of several Alpine valley communities and a number of city-states in the Middle Ages. These original communities have given their names to the present cantons (provinces) of Switzerland of which there are 26 (20 full cantons and 6 half cantons). The official (Latin) name of the country- Confoederatio Helvetica-bears witness to its old confederate past and can be seen in the "CH" decal on cars in Switzerland. Swiss history is unique in Europe since the Swiss never had a monarchy. Instead, the different members of the confederation governed political affairs. Today, the Swiss political system is federal, with many powers left in the hands of the cantons.

Switzerland's present boundaries were fixed and its neutrality guaranteed in 1815 at the Congress of Vienna. In the 20th century, its neutral stance kept it out of both world wars and dictated its refusal to join the United Nations, although it houses such UN agencies as the International Labor Organization and the World Health Organization (as well as the International Red Cross).

The Swiss live in a democracy where the average citizen can have greater influence than in other countries. This is accomplished through two institutions-the referendum and the initiative. A referendum allows the Swiss electorate to vote on laws passed by parliament, constitutional amendments and important international treaties. An initiative lets Swiss citizens make suggestions for either constitutional amendments at the national level or regular laws at the local level. A truly fascinating example of direct democracy is also found in parts of Switzerland-the Landsgemeinde (People's Assembly) where the electorate gathers under the open sky on a Sunday in spring to pass laws and elect of officials with a show of hands.

LOCATION AND HOMELAND

One of Europe's smallest countries in terms of both territory and population, Switzerland is roughly equal in size to the combined area of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. It is also a place of contrasts-of plains, lakes, rivers and mountains. Still when one thinks of Switzerland, one thinks of mountains, since approximately 70% of the country is covered by them.

Switzerland's three natural geographic regions are: the Jura Mountains in the northwest, making up 10% of the Swiss landscape; the Alps-which cover three-fifths of the country-in the south; and the central plateau, or Mittelland, which comprises 30% of the country. This central plateau contains all larger towns and most major cities, the most highly developed agriculture area and three-fourths of the total population of Switzerland. This last condition leads to a very high population density since three-fourths of the population is forced to live in only one-third of the country's entire geographical space.

The Alps have inspired poets and artists across Europe. It was this attraction of the mountains for sport and nature enthusiasts which originated the modern tourism industry. Sometimes called "a nation of hotel keepers," the Swiss welcome some 20 million international visitors annually, many of whom continue to be drawn to the Alps. The most famous of the Swiss Alps is the Matterhorn, rising 4,478 m (14,692 ft) above sea level. Two of Europe's principal rivers, the Rhine and the Rhone, have their sources in the Swiss Alps.

A unique feature of the Alpine climate is the föhn, a special Alpine wind. This occurs mainly in spring and autumn, when a depression north of the Alps draws air from south of the Alps. This air falls into the northern valleys as warm, dry and cloud-free wind. Its effects are many: average temperatures rise, fruit ripens faster, and a number of ailments occur in humans, such as migraine attacks, blood circulation problems, and mood swings.

Switzerland's population of almost 7.5 million people is very diverse, being composed of four major ethnic groups: German (65%), French (18%), Italian (10%), and Romansh (1%). Th ere are also over a million foreigners, accounting for about 22% of the total population. The country is becoming increasingly urban, with significant internal migration from the mountains to the cities of the plateau. This is particularly intense in the five largest Swiss cities-Basel, Bern, Geneva, Lausanne, and Zurich-which combined account for one-third of the total Swiss population.

LANGUAGE

Switzerland has four national languages. In 2008 speakers of Schwyzerdütsch, a Swiss-German dialect, accounted for about two-thirds of all Switzerland's people. Another 20% spoke French, about 6.5%-mostly in the Ticino region-spoke Italian, and less than 1% spoke Romansh, a Rhaeto-Roman dialect that is found mostly in the Grison region. The remainder of the population consisted of foreigners who spoke the languages of their homelands, particularly Albanian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Serbo-Croatian. Most native Swiss are bi- or multi-lingual and many speak English. While Schwyzerdütsch is clearly distinct from ordinary German (which is used in formal contexts such as books and newspapers), the French and Italian spoken by the Swiss are basically similar to those languages as spoken in their home countries.

Schwyzerdütsch is itself not a single language, but a term used to describe the various German dialects spoken in Switzerland. In other words, the dialects spoken in Basel, Bern, and Zurich, while mutually intelligible, have their differences. In contrast, people in a couple of places in Switzerland speak a dialect that most other Swiss-German speakers have difficulty understanding. Likewise, Romansh consists of five major dialects. Attempts have been made to preserve Romansh, while other efforts to create a single Romansh language from the five dialects have met with resistance. The balance of languages in Switzerland is reflected in its political system, with each canton bearing the responsibility of language policy.

FOLKLORE

The national hero of Swiss legend is William Tell, supposed to have lived in the early 1300s shortly after the Habsburgs came to dominate Switzerland. Forced to shoot an apple off his son's head as punishment for insubordination toward the Habsburg governor Gessler, Tell later escaped from his Austrian captors to slay the foreign tyrant. This legend, which inspired popular ballads during the 15th century, provided the subject for a drama by the German poet Friedrich Schiller in 1804 and has been made even more famous by the overture to Gioachino Rossini's opera Guillaume Tell. In 1970 Swiss author and social critic Max Frisch wrote an essay entitled, "William Tell for the School." In this essay Frisch questioned the truth of this legend and portrayed a less heroic Tell. Frisch's purpose was to force the Swiss to reevaluate their past in the hope of helping them think more about the present.

The Rütli Schwur ( Rutli Oath) is another powerful symbol in Swiss folklore. This oath refers to an agreement made on the Rutli meadow between several Swiss valley communities in the Middle Ages to create an alliance for common protection and defense. Popular opinion sees this oath as the founding of Swiss freedom and democracy-in other words, the founding of Switzerland itself. Historians question whether or not this event ever took place. Still, the story of the Rütli Schwur is a powerful illustration of the role that national myths can have. For example, during World War II when Switzerland was surrounded by Nazi Germany, the Swiss army commander, General Guisan, gathered his officers on the Rutli meadow as a symbol of Swiss determination to fight for their freedom. People today still remember this act by General Guisan as a sign of the special position of the Rutli legend in Switzerland.

The traditional folk beliefs of German-speaking Alpine dwellers invested natural forces such as avalanches, landslides, and storms with malevolent qualities. More important has been the key position that the mountains have played in shaping the beliefs the Swiss have about themselves. For a long time the Swiss saw themselves linked to the mountains, with special qualities that made them different from other people. The mountains were associated with simple living, self-reliance and innocence. An example of this is the story of Heidi, written by Swiss author Johanna Spyri. Heidi and her grandfather represent the simple and wholesome qualities the Swiss saw in themselves.

RELIGION

At the 2000 Swiss Census, about 42% of the population was Roman Catholic and 35% Protestant. The predominantly German-speaking cantons are divided nearly equally between the two religious affiliations. Catholicism is the predominant religion of the French-speaking cantons and the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino is mostly Catholic as well. Religious tensions have historically been a source of unrest and even today Switzerland's religious division between Protestant and Catholic remains significant. This can be seen in all aspects of life. Th ere are both Protestant and Catholic youth organizations, labor unions, and women's associations and the Swiss political parties have been shaped by the religious differences of the past.

In the history of Swiss Protestantism, two figures stand out-Huldrych Zwingli and Jean Calvin. Zwingli began the Reformation in Switzerland from his pulpit in Zurich's main cathedral. He helped spread the new faith throughout Switzerland and debated Martin Luther on a number of issues in a famous debate that almost turned violent. Calvin is responsible for bringing Geneva into the Protestant fold. Calvin formalized Protestant thought into a more systematic doctrine and governed Geneva with a strict moral code. Other parts of Switzerland maintained close ties with the Catholic Church, which can still be seen today in the Swiss Guards at the Vatican. Th ey once protected the Pope but now serve as an honor guard with their colorful uniforms and shiny helmets.

MAJOR HOLIDAYS

Switzerland's legal holidays are New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Ascension Day, Whitmonday, Bundesfeier (which resembles the American Fourth of July) on August 1,and Christmas. The German-speaking Swiss mark the seasons and many religious days with festivals, which vary with each canton (province) and commune (locality). Altogether, over 100 different festivals-pagan, Christian, and patriotic-are celebrated in Switzerland. The most famous celebration is Basel's Fastnacht, or carnival, marking the final days before Lent (and similar to the Mardi Gras festivities held in New Orleans). For three days, masked and costumed revelers parade through streets filled with decorative floats to the strains of pipe-and-drum bands.

RITES OF PASSAGE

In Switzerland many rites of passage are similar to those found in the United States. These include religious rituals such as baptism and first communion and events in the family such as births, deaths, and marriages.

For men, one of the most important aspects of life in Switzerland is military service. The Swiss army is a militia army, which means there is no professional military force. Instead, all male citizens serve a compulsory period of military duty throughout their lives, keeping all of their equipment, including weapon and ammunition, at home. Until recently, conscientious objectors were subject to imprisonment. Nevertheless, military service is required of all Swiss males between the ages of 20 and 50. Military training is conducted regularly throughout one's lifetime until age 50. First is a four-month basic training program. Then between the ages of 21 and 32 there are eight refresher courses which are each three weeks long. Between the ages of 33 and 42, three additional training courses of two weeks each are required. Finally after age 42, two more weeks are necessary before the age of 50. This adds up to one full year of service. Swiss military duty is a rite of passage because serving in the army is seen as a sign of true citizenship. An individual is seen as a full citizen through defending the country. The Swiss army is also called a citizen army to reflect the ideal that the Swiss citizens protect and defend their rights and freedom themselves. This equation of military service with the values of citizenship has been challenged by both women and the younger generation. Women are not required to perform military service and many women criticize their exclusion from the army and the consequences this has for them in society. Many younger Swiss citizens are also questioning the need of mandatory military service for everyone-they see it no longer as a patriotic obligation but as a nuisance and inconvenience.

INTERPERSONAL RELATIONS

With its combination of ethnic, linguistic, and religious affiliations, Switzerland has historically fostered tolerance, politeness, independence, and reserve in its people. Relationships between the Swiss reflect these differences of language, religion and region. In a country with four languages, communication between people can lead to problems and a number of stereotypes exist between the various regions. An example of this is the tension between the French-and German-speaking parts of Switzerland, referred to as the röstigraben-or hash brown chasm. The German-speaking Swiss see themselves as hard working and efficient, while they see their French-speaking countrymen as easy-going, friendly, and open. The French-speaking Swiss see the German speakers as arrogant, pushy, and too serious. According to recent polls, the German speakers tend to like the French speakers more than the other way around.

In a social setting between individuals, a handshake is normal between men and women unless you are familiar with the person. In this case, a triple-kiss on the cheeks-first one kiss on one cheek, then the next cheek and finally back to the first cheek-is appropriate between men and women and among women. Men continue to shake hands. Another feature of social interaction that may seem unfamiliar to many Americans is the use of a person's name and formal speech. In Switzerland it is customary to greet and say goodbye to a person using their name. This makes it important to pay attention when meeting people for the first time, since you will be expected to remember names. Formal speech refers to the use of special forms of addressing people in the languages spoken in Switzerland (e.g. in German: Sie versus Du; in French: vous versus tu). Formal speech is used in less intimate situations, such as in business settings.

LIVING CONDITIONS

The Swiss enjoy one of the highest per capita incomes in the world and a correspondingly impressive standard of living. The Swiss, especially those living in the Alpine or forest regions, have traditionally lived in wooden houses with shingled or tiled roofs and carved gables. Corners and roofs have often been reinforced with stone, and kitchens encased in stone or masonry to prevent fires. Fewer and fewer houses of this type are constructed. Even in remote rural areas, newer houses are commonly of brick or block. However, mountain chalets built by urbanites as vacation homes often imitate the older rustic styles. In general, most Swiss live in apartments while fewer live in houses that they own.

Switzerland's standards of health and medical care are excellent. Over 84% of men and women consider their health to be good or very good. In 2008 the average life expectancy was estimated at about 79 years for men and 84 years for women. A law providing medical insurance to most citizens has been in effect since 1911. The nation's pharmaceuticals industry is a world leader in the production of specialized pharmaceutical products.

Situated at the center of Europe, Switzerland is both a center for international air traffic and a crossroads for road and rail travel. The renowned Swiss efficiency is evident in the nation's excellent transportation network. Within each community, there are excellent bus and metro-train systems. The government-run Swiss Federal Railways is one of Europe's best rail systems, connecting all of the country's major cities. Cog railways, cable cars, and chairlifts transport people to popular resort towns and Alpine summits, including the Jungfrau near Interlaken. A network of expressways includes several tunnels through the Alps, such as the Great Saint Bernard and Saint Gotthard tunnels. Inland waterways are also an important means of transportation. The Rhine river is navigable to Basel, the only river port, by barge traffic.

Due to this extensive transportation system, many people can get around quite easily without an automobile-it takes only three to four hours to get from one end of the country to the other by train. Also in order to get a driver's license, an individual must be 18 years old and pass an expensive driver education course. Thus, many choose to rely on public transportation.

Switzerland, with its high standard of living, is a consumer society like many others. There is an increasing enthusiasm for American products in Switzerland. Items like Levi's jeans, Coca-Cola, pop music, and Marlboro cigarettes are popular. McDonald's and other American fast-food restaurants, like Subway and Pizza Hut, are becoming more widespread. Not only are American brands popular with Swiss consumers, but Swiss companies use the image of America and the American way of life to sell their own products. As a result, "American" theme restaurants are becoming more common, as is the use of English in advertising.

FAMILY LIFE

The traditional family household-a married couple with children-is still the predominant lifestyle among the Swiss. At the 2000 Swiss Census, about 63% of all households were family households, with about 48% of family households consisting of a married couple with children and another 24% consisting of a married couple without children.

Traditionally, the family structure has been male-dominated, with the husband working outside of the home and the wife taking care of the home and the children. However, more and more women are finding greater opportunities in the work-force and a greater number of men and women are choosing to remain single or to marry later in life. In 2000 approximately 35% of all households were single person households. The size of the average Swiss household dropped from 3.3 people in 1960 to 2.3 in 2000. The number of marriages has decreased from 7.6 for every 1,000 people in 1970 to 5.4 per 1,000 in 2005. It has also been estimated that about 53% of all the marriages that took place in 2005 will end in divorce. In general, the German-speaking Swiss tend to marry among themselves.

CLOTHING

Western-style clothing is the norm, although traditional costumes, many displaying the Swiss art of fine embroidery, can still be seen at local festivities and parades. Herdsmen in the Gruyère region wear a short blue jacket of cloth or canvas called a bredzon with sleeves gathered at the shoulders. On special occasions, women in this region wear silk aprons, long-sleeved jackets, and straw hats with crocheted ribbons hanging from the brim. Other traditional women's costumes include gold lace caps in St. Gallen and dresses with silver ornaments in Unterwalden. Traditional male dress common to many Alpine Swiss includes the leather shorts called lederhosen , often worn with sturdy leather boots.

FOOD

Swiss cuisine combines the culinary traditions of Germany, France, and Italy and varies from region to region. Th roughout the land, however, cheese is king. The Swiss have been making cheese for at least 2,000 years and today produce hundreds of varieties (of which the hole-filled Emmentaler popularly dubbed "Swiss cheese" is only one). Switzerland's most characteristic national dish is fondue, melted Emmentaler or Gruyère cheese-or a combination of both-in which pieces of bread are dipped, using long forks. The cheese is often melted in white wine and commonly seasoned with garlic, lemon juice, pepper, and other ingredients. Also popular is another melted-cheese dish called raclette, traditionally made of cheese from the Valais region, although other varieties are also used. A quarter or half a wheel of cheese is melted in front of an open fire and scraped off into onto the diners' plates using a special knife. The cheese is traditionally eaten with potatoes, pickled onions or other vegetables, and dark bread.

A popular dish in German-speaking regions is rösti, hash-browned potatoes mixed with herbs, bacon, or cheese. Typical dishes in the Italian-speaking Ticino region are a potato pasta called gnocchi; risotto , a rice dish; and polenta , which is made from cornmeal and is something like American grits. Gallic specialties such as steaks, organ meats, and wine-flavored meat stews are prevalent in French-speaking parts of the country. Besides cheese, the other principal food for which the Swiss are known is chocolate.

EDUCATION

Education at all levels is the responsibility of the cantons, so Switzerland actually has 26 different educational systems, with varying types of schools, curricula, length of study, and teachers' salaries. However, all require either eight or nine years of schooling beginning at age six or seven and track students into either academic or vocational programs in secondary school. At this point those students entering an academic track take a course of instruction to prepare them for university study. Other students in a vocational program continue to take classes while also entering into an apprenticeship-after which students receive certification in a specific trade and are ready to enter the work force. Post-secondary education is offered at nine cantonal universities and two federal institutes of technology at Zurich and Lausanne. In 2004 about 30% of all persons between the ages of 25 and 34 had obtained a higher education degree.

Swiss schools tend to be more oriented toward academics and less toward extra-curricular activities. Activities such as sports-like in the United States with football and basketball teams, pep rallies, homecoming, etc.-are found more in a private club setting rather than in the schools. Besides the cantonal schools mentioned above, there are many private boarding schools in Switzerland. Swiss boarding schools attract students from abroad and many of these schools have a well-known reputation.

CULTURAL HERITAGE

From 18th-century philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau to psychologist Carl Jung and child psychologist Jean Piaget in the 20th century, Switzerland's cultural achievements have been wide-ranging and profound. In addition to a number of native intellectual and artistic figures, Switzerland has made a unique contribution to world culture by providing a neutral haven for leading intellectuals from Voltaire to Lenin. Significant Swiss artistic personages include playwright Friedrich Dürrenmatt, novelists Gottfried Keller and Max Frisch, sculptors Alberto Giacometti and Jean Tinguely, architects Le Corbusier and Mario Botta, and painter Paul Klee. The International Committee of the Red Cross owes its founding to Swiss humanitarian Henri Dunant from Geneva, where today many other international organizations have their offices.

The number of foreign intellectuals and artists that have called Switzerland home at one time or another is many. Fleeing the communist regime of the former USSR, Alexander Solzhenitsyn first emigrated to Switzerland where, appropriately, he wrote a novel about Lenin. Other distinguished emigrés welcomed by the Swiss include authors Hermann Hesse, Thomas Mann, James Joyce, and Erich Maria Remarque, film star Charlie Chaplin, scientist Albert Einstein, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, and composer Richard Wagner.

WORK

The percentage of Swiss people engaged in agriculture has declined sharply since the 19th century, when 60% were farmers. This figure had dropped to 22% by World War II and fell to about 4% in 2005. Almost 23% of Switzerland's labor force is employed in industries, particularly machinery, electronics, and metallurgical industries. The chemical, pharmaceutical, and textile industries are also major employers. In 2005 about 73% of the labor force was employed in services. One traditional type of labor for which the Swiss are famous is watch-making, begun by French refugees in the 16th century. Mass production had begun by 1845, and today Switzerland produces over 70 million watches and watch parts annually. The quartz watch was developed by the Swiss in the 1960s, and the most recent advances in the industry include a watch that is responsive to the human voice. More than half of those employed work in the expanding service sector. In this area, tourism and banking are important providers of employment.

Switzerland and the Swiss economy benefit from a comparatively low level of strikes due to what are popularly called "industrial peace treaties"-special collective bargaining arrangements-between labor and management. Employers and employees agree to cooperate with each other and strikes and lockouts are forbidden. The first of these no-strike agreements was signed in 1937 in the watch and metal industry and has been renewed over the years and copied in practically all other Swiss industries as well.

Many young Swiss spend a period of apprenticeship outside the country before entering the labor force. A unique Swiss practice is the Welschlandjahr, in which young Swiss from the German-speaking part spend time in the French-speaking part in order to learn French and become familiar with the way of life in this part of Switzerland.

SPORTS

Both summer and winter sports are extremely popular among the Swiss. The country's Alpine peaks provide a setting for skiing, bobsledding, tobogganing, mountain walking, and climbing. After skiing, ice skating is Switzerland's favorite winter sport, and the team sport of curling is gaining increasing popularity. Summer activities include tennis, hiking, golf, cycling, fishing, and a variety of water sports.

Two popular sports are handball and soccer. Handball in Switzerland is played with two teams and a ball slightly smaller than a volleyball that is easily held in the hand. Each team attempts to score against the other team by trying to get the ball into a guarded goal smaller than a soccer goal but larger than a hockey goal. The ball can be thrown directly into the goal or can be bounced in to get around the goalie. Soccer enjoys even greater popularity, especially as a spectator sport. In 1994 the Swiss National Team qualified for the World Cup Soccer Championship. This created a wave of enthusiasm and support across Switzerland.

ENTERTAINMENT AND RECREATION

Relaxing after hours is important for the Swiss, who have one of the longest work days in Europe-usually 8:00 am to 5:00 pm-and average between 2,000 and 2,300 hours of work per year. Much of their recreation is family oriented and they often entertain at home rather than going out. One of the most universal leisure-time activities is simply reading the newspaper, either at home or at a cafe, over a cup of coffee or glass of wine. Extremely popular is a card game-Jass-played with 36 cards and a variety of rules which vary from region to region. Concerts and the theater are also enjoyed by many Swiss. The youth scene is dominated by parties and music.

At their many festivals, the Swiss still enjoy traditional activities, including dancing and yodeling, and local sports such as the baseball-like Hornussen, or farmer's tennis, stone-putting (Steinstossen) where the object is to throw a stone weighing 80 kg (184 lbs) as far as possible, and Swiss wrestling (Schwingen) in which each wrestler wears a pair of canvas-like shorts over his pants and tries to throw his opponent to the ground by grabbing hold of these shorts.

Each region of Switzerland has its own festivals and special events. Some important ones include the Tellspiel at Interlaken and Altdorf where the heroic story of William Tell is reenacted for audiences; the world famous Montreux Jazz Festival which hosts jazz performers from around world; and the well-known and popular Locarno Open Air Film Festival. Across all of Switzerland, shooting dubs and tournaments are very popular, even among teenagers.

FOLK ART, CRAFTS, AND HOBBIES

Switzerland's traditional decorative arts include weaving, embroidery, dressmaking (Frauentracht), wood carving, and painting. A unique form of Swiss folk art is Senntumsmalerei, or herd-painting, which originated among Alpine dairy farmers as far back as the early 18th century with carved and painted farm implements. Characteristic forms include Fahreimebödeli, wooden pails with decorated bases, Sennenstreifen, long boards or strips of paper picturing cattle drives to the high Alpine pastures (traditionally hung in the living room or above the door to the cowshed), and Wächterbild, large-scale paintings of cow herders traditionally found on window shutters. Senntum-Tafelbilder, small, brightly colored, stylized paintings of cattle drives and other pastoral scenes, were especially popular in Eastern Switzerland from the mid-19th to the mid-20th centuries and can be seen in the many Swiss folk museums today.

SOCIAL PROBLEMS

The influx of foreign, or "guest" workers (Gastarbeiter) from southern Europe and North Africa since World War II-who made up a quarter of the labor force in 2006-has produced a backlash and a fear of Überfremdung (over-foreignization). The Swiss have voted three times on the question of expelling much of the foreign work force, defeating such a measure all three times, although immigration laws have been tightened. Many foreign workers also returned to their home countries in the 1970s due to recession. However, anti-immigrant feeling persists against some Ausländers (foreigners), who are subject to discrimination and social isolation.

Drug use and alcoholism are the biggest challenges facing Swiss youth. Many view this as a rejection of society or as a sign of youth's inability to cope with social pressures. There-fore, there is a need, which is slowly being met, to provide youth with positive outlets-such as cultural centers, or movements to get the younger generation interested in social issues.

A very important area of consideration is the issue of European integration. Switzerland is not a member of the European Union and in December 1992 voted not to join the European Economic Area-a step towards joining the European Union. The vote was very close, 50.3% against membership and 49.7% in favor. This has sparked what many have referred to as an identity crisis within Switzerland. Since the majority of those in favor of integration with Europe lived in the French-speaking part, questions were raised over whether or not the division between French- and German-speaking Swiss-the Röstigraben-was widening. Fears over European integration focus on the consequences for Swiss neutrality, federalism, and democratic institutions. Many believe that these will be done away with membership in the EU. Still, a good portion of the Swiss populace favors greater links with Europe.

There are a range of other problems which, like other countries, Switzerland is now facing-air pollution from trucks and automobiles resulting in the government encouraging greater reliance on rail travel; unemployment and economic restructuring; and political reform in order to make government more efficient and responsive to the needs of people.

GENDER ISSUES

The status of Swiss women, who were only granted suffrage in 1971, is below that of women in most other European countries. By law they have traditionally needed their husbands' permission to get a job, open a bank account, or run for political office (although they were allowed to volunteer for military service). Husbands have also had the last word on such important matters as where a family would live and, in case of a disagreement, what they would name their children. In 1981 a constitutional amendment was passed giving women equal rights, especially in the areas of work, education, and family matters, and in 1985 a law mandating equal rights in marriage was passed by a slim majority of the voters (54.7%). In situations of divorce, women are more likely than men to end up as single parents relying on public assistance. This is a result of a divorce law dictating that the primary wage earner in a divorce must be left with finances sufficient enough to remain above the poverty level. Since the primary wage earner is generally a man, a divorced woman is not always entitled to spousal support or sufficient child support and is more likely to fall below the poverty level.

Swiss women in general must still overcome attitudes that their place is in the home or only in certain kinds of jobs- like salesclerk, office worker, waitress, teacher, or nurse. The difficulties Swiss women must confront include the belief that working women neglect their children, find self-fulfillment at the expense of the family, and steal jobs from men who have to support families. Thus, women in Switzerland continue tomeet the challenge of combining roles-in the workplace and at home.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bennett, A. Linda, ed. Encyclopedia of World Cultures (Europe). Boston: G. K. Hall, 1992.

Birmingham, David. Switzerland: A Village History. Athens, OH: Swallow Press, 2004.

Bouvier, N., G. Craig, and L. Gossman. Geneva, Zurich, Basel: History, Culture & National Identity. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994.

Church, Clive H. The Politics and Government of Switzerland. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

Coordinating Committee for the Presence of Switzerland Abroad. Switzerland As We See Ourselves. Zurich: Der Alltag/Scalo Verlag, 1992.

— — —. Switzerland Through the Eyes of Others. Zurich: Der Alltag/Scalo Verlag, 1992.

Flüeler-Grauwiler, Marianne, ed. Switzerland. Insight Guides. Singapore: APA Publications, 1992.

Gall, Timothy, and Susan Gall, ed. Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations. Detroit: UXL, 1996.

Hilowitz. Janet. Switzerland in Perspective. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1990.

Hughes, Christopher. Switzerland. London: Ernest Benn Ltd, 1975.

Hubbard, Monica M., and Beverly Baer, ed. Cities of the World: Europe and the Middle East. Detroit: Gale Research, 1993. Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mankind. London: Marshall Cavendish, 1978.

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Steinberg, Jonathan. Why Switzerland? 2d edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Steinberg, Rolf, ed. Continental Europe. Insight Guides. Singapore: APA Publications, 1989.

Swiss Federal Statistics Office. http://www.bfs.admin.ch (22 April 2008).

—revised by K. Ellicott

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