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"In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed -- they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

Guy: Shut your eyes, think of Switzerland -- what do you see?

[...]

Mac: I see a chocolate Phil Collins coming out of a clock every hour, to tidy up his Nazi gold."

That's not really fair on the Swiss (they didn't even invent the cuckoo clock--it comes from Swabia in Germany), but they do have a strong tradition in making clocks. They also produced the Swiss Army Knife, the Geneva Conventions and the International Committee of the Red C-Thing, among other things. [1] They also arguably helped produce the United States, their system of government being one of several that inspired the writing of the US Constitution.

Switzerland, or officially the Confœderatio Helvetica (which is why Swiss cars are distinguished by a CH sticker) is a country with four official languages (counting the very small Romansch-speaking population - the others are French, German and Italian), holds referenda all the time on many things and has not been involved in a war anywhere since 1815. It's one of the richest countries (per capita) in the world. One of the few countries in western Europe not part of the EU, although they often adopt EU regulations in the interest of trade. As a result, they still have their own currency, too.

In an interesting bit of trivia, the Swiss franc has recently become strong to the point of challenging the Euro, in part due to the debt issue. Though it has always been a very strong currency.

There are actually two companies that produce MacGyver's favourite device for the Swiss military (who as usual refuse to play favourites between them, and split the order equally);

  • Victorinox - the Original Swiss Army Knife
  • Wenger - the Genuine Swiss Army Knife

The former now owns the latter, but the two brands remain.

Notable cities

Berne is the Federal City of Switzerland and seat of its government. Zurich is the largest city with the largest airport and seat to many big companies and many of the famous banks. Geneva is home to the ICRC and other international organisations as well as a good number of embassies of other countries. Davos is the venue of the World Economic Forum.

ICRC

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement originates in Switzerland, being founded by a Swiss businessman horrified by the lack of basic battlefield medical care during the Austro-Sardinian War.

The movement, also responsible for the Geneva Conventions, is the most famous humanitarian organisation.

The symbols of the organisation are protected under the Geneva Conventions from any other use bar actual non-partial wartime medical provision, which means the ICRC tends to get rather annoyed when they're used as generic medical symbols. This is fairly frequent.

  • In The Living Daylights, the bad guys disguise narcotics as ICRC aid parcels. The ICRC reported it to the authorities, but the charges weren't proceeded with by UK prosecutors. One VHS release of the movie has a disclaimer pointing out the major illegality - nay, war crime, of what the bad guys do.

Swiss With Sniper Rifles

The Swiss Armed Forces (who actually have patrol boats) are a rather unique military. The Swiss military, as well as being pretty high-tech, is a trained militia, who keep their automatic rifles at home. Once people leave, they can keep the guns (as of recently, only until a certain age unless certain criteria are met), but they have to be rendered semi-auto only.

Switzerland thus has a very high gun ownership rate, but you need a permit to buy weapons.

95% of Swiss have beds available for them in a nuclear bomb shelter, and new buildings were required to either include one or have access to a public one. Switzerland is rich like that. (And has a lot of stone mountainsides to dig into.)

In addition, the country also is said to defend, though no one ever signed a treaty, a mini-state in the form of Liechtenstein.

Switzerland is also famous for its tasty chocolate and Swiss Cheese. To a lesser extend, precision machinery, especially watches. With few natural resources, the country has always focused on importing raw materials, making high quality wares out of them and exporting the results.

The place is fairly easy to defend- it's surrounded by high mountains and a lake and the few tunnels can be easily closed in a war.

Anonymous Banking

For a very long time in works of fiction, Switzerland was primarily referred to for its "Numbered Swiss Account", the favorite hiding place of illicit money. Switzerland no longer (as of 2005) protects the confidentiality of numbered accounts from other governments (at least the United States), though it still has control over the matter. This change in policy being one impact of the international pursuit of terrorists.

Referenda

Switzerland is famous for its love of direct democracy, holding frequent referenda on a wide variety of issues, including a highly controversial one that passed to ban minarets. This is also the main reason why Switzerland hasn't joined the EU, since the idea of giving up this direct means to inflence politics didnt sit well with voters.

Famous Swiss People

  • Roger Federer, 16-Grand Slam-winning tennis player
  • Stéphane Lambiel, Olympic silver medalist and two-time world champion figure skater
  • Martina Hingis
  • Carl Jung
  • Hermann Rorschach, inventor of the Inkblot Test
  • Leonhard Euler
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau (a Genevan who moved to France and became French as fast as he could).
  • Le Corbusier (a Neuchatelien who moved to France and became French as fast as he could). Designed United Nations headquarters and many other beautiful buildings; also responsible for the Brutalist style, which developed into something rather different.

In fiction

Anime

Board Games

  • In Diplomacy, Switzerland is an impassable territory- one of the few in the game, including Ireland. Units may not enter it at all.

Film

Literature

Video Games

  • In most Video Games where a map of Europe is present, Switzerland is usually deemed neutral territory and cannot be entered. One notable exception being recent Command and Conquer games, both Tiberium Wars and Red Alert 3 have missions in Switzerland
    • Europa Universalis is another exception that almost goes without saying; you can indeed play as Switzerland. Of course, the game's timeline antedates the country's famous neutrality. A bug in the 3.0 release would sometimes give huge tracts of New World colonies to Switzerland, much to the amusement of After Action Report writers.

the Swiss flag

File:125px-Flag of Switzerland svg.png

Notes

  1. Besides the fact that the cuckoo clock was a far greater achievement than is thought. It is both a marvel of medieval craftsmanship and as a precursor to modern technology-one of the first machines. And it helped measure time with greater precision which certainly had many great effects.
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