Monday, February 4, 2013

Week 28: Switzerland

The journey continues....

...In Switzerland!!!  We're travelling from the Andes Mountains to another mountain range - The Alps, which make up most of the country.  Switzerland is a landlocked country in western Europe.  Bordered by Germany to the North, France to the West, Italy to the South and Austria and Liechtenstein to the East, it is a country that has learned to live peacefully and remain neutral in a sometimes crazy world.  The people of Switzerland are among the richest in the world and (probably because of that) have a very high quality of life.  The are well educated and speak multiple languages.  In fact, the country has 4 official languages- German, French, Italian and. less commonly, Romansh.  The capital city of Bern, for those of you still charting the latitude and longitudes, is 46.95°N / 7.44°E.  The largest and best known cities are Zurich and Geneva.  Here are some more interesting facts:
  • The Red Cross was founded in Switzerland in 1863.  The symbolic red cross on the white flag is the Swiss flag reversed.

  • One of the most famous children's books to come out of Switzerland was Heidi, written by Johanna Spyri.  It tells the story of a young orphan girl raised by her grandfather in the Swiss Alps.  I remember watching the Shirley Temple version on TV when I was young.

  • The alphorn, a long trumpet like instrument, the accordion and yodeling are all aspects of traditional Swiss music.

  • The Swiss are the biggest consumers of chocolate in the world.  They are said to consume 23 pounds per person each year.  That is a lot of chocolate!!!  Americans eat 11 pounds/year.

  • Speaking of chocolate, the Nestle company was founded and is headquartered in Switzerland.  It is the biggest food company in the world.

  • Switzerland is also the world leader in private banking.  Surely you've got a few million in a Swiss bank account - doesn't everyone?!? Not me.

  • The country is also a leader in fine watch manufacturing.  I don't have a fine watch either.

  • The rail system in Switzerland covers over 3,100 miles and the Swiss rely on the trains for much of their transportation needs.

  • Between the glaciers in the Alps and the 1,500 lakes in the country, Switzerland contains over 6% of the freshwater in all of Europe.

Another interesting country!  It seems the world is just full of them!  We are looking forward to learning about yet another wonderful area in this wonderful place called Earth - hope you'll join us!!!!

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