Switzerland Essay, Research Paper
The majority of Switzerland?s people live in cities and towns. Bern
is the country?s capital. Zurich is Switzerland?s largest city. Other
large Swiss cities include Basel, Geneva, and Lausanne.
Language. The Swiss Constitution provides for three official
languages and four national languages. The official languages are German,
French, and Italian. As a result, Switzerland has three official
names?Schweiz (in German), Suisse (in French), and Svizzera (in Italian). All
national laws are published in each of these three languages. The
Federal Tribunal, Switzerland?s highest court, must include judges who
represent each language group.
The four national languages are the three official ones plus
Romansh, which is closely related to Latin. Romansh is spoken only in the
mountain valleys of the canton of Graubunden, by about 1 percent of the
total Swiss population.
About 70 percent of the people speak a form of German that is called
Schwyzerdutsch (Swiss German). They live in the northern, eastern, and
central parts of Switzerland. Schwyzerdutsch is almost a separate
language, and even people who speak German find it hard to understand. The
language and its name vary from place to place. For example, it is
called Baseldutsch in Basel and Zuridutsch in Zurich. However, wherever
Schwyzerdutsch is spoken, standard German is used in newspapers, books,
television and church sermons.
French, spoken in western Switzerland, is the language of almost 20
percent of the people. Italian is used by nearly 10 percent of the
people, in the south. Both these languages, as spoken by the Swiss, are
much like their standard forms in France or Italy.
One difficulty, especially for visitors, is that many place names in
Switzerland vary by language. The most complicated example?the city
known as Geneva to English-speaking people?is called Genf in German,
Geneve in French, and Ginevra in Italian. English-speaking people know
almost all other Swiss cities and towns by their French or German name.
Religion. Switzerland has complete freedom of religion. About half
the people are Roman Catholics, and about 45 percent are Protestants.
Of the 26 cantons and half-cantons in Switzerland, 15 have a Roman
Catholic majority, and 11 are chiefly Protestant.
The Protestant Reformation took a special form in Switzerland.
Calvinism developed there and spread to France and many other countries
during the 1500?s. As a result, the Protestant movement split into two
major camps, Calvinists and Lutherans.
Education. Swiss children are required by canton law to go to
school, but the age limits vary. In most Cantons, children must attend
school from 6 through 14. Instruction is held in the local national
language, and each child also has the opportunity to learn one of the other
Students who plan to attend a university may go to one of three
kinds of high schools. These schools specialize in (1) Greek and Latin,
(2) modern languages, or (3) mathematics and science. Other students go
to trade or technical schools while serving an apprenticeship. An
increasing number of people take adult education courses in order to
achieve their career goals.
Switzerland has seven universities and various other schools of
higher learning. The oldest, the University of Basel, was founded in 1460.
The University of Zurich, with about 16,000 students, is the largest.
All universities are public institutions. Their students pay no
Arts. Most Swiss literature has been written in German. Famous
books include two children?s classics, Heidi by Johanna Spryi and The
Swiss Family Robinson by the Wyss family. Major Swiss authors of the
1800?s were Jeremias Gotthelf, Gottfried Keller, and Conrad Ferdinand Meyer.
Carl Spitteler won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1919 foe his epic
poetry and other writings. Later writers of the 1900?s include Max
Frisch and Friedrich Durrenmatt, whose plays have been preformed in Many
countries. Charles Ferdinand Remuz wrote novels in French.
Tourism. Since the early 1800?s, large numbers of tourists have
come to Switzerland. Today, more than 11 million tourists visit yearly.
Switzerland has thousands of hotels and inns for tourists. Sports
centers in the Alps, including Davos and St. Mortiz, attract many
vacationers. Skiing is especially popular. Most of the ski runs are free of
trees because they are higher than the elevation at which trees stop
growing. In summer, guides take tourists mountain climbing. Many visitors
come for the healthful clear, dry, mountain air, as well as to enjoy
the beauty of the Alps. Water sports on Lake Geneva and other lakes are
also popular vacation attractions.