Top 10 clichés about Switzerland

Say “Switzerland” and a host of images come to mind: mountains, watches, chocolate, banks... To celebrate “Cliché Day” on 3rd of November we’ve asked all of our Facebook fans what were the strongest Swiss clichés for them.

Here’s the top 10 images most associated with Switzerland!

1. Swiss cheese

Of course we love eating cheese in Switzerland and we have no problem at all with the idea of eating a fondue in the middle of summer. While we produce more than 450 variety of Swiss cheese it is usually the Emmentaler and its famous holes that comes to mind when people think of Swiss cheese.

Map of the cheeses produced all over Switzerland
Map of the cheeses produced all over Switzerland ©

2. Swiss chocolate

Why is Swiss chocolate so famous abroad? It’s probably thanks to its famous international brands that Switzerland has earned a worldwide reputation for high quality in chocolate. Maybe it’s also because Swiss chocolate makers distinguished themselves with clever inventions in the past (Daniel Peter and Henri Nestle invented the milk chocolate in 1875, Rodolphe Lindt the conching in 1879). Or maybe chocolate is just associated with Switzerland because of the Swiss themselves. Yes, with 11,9kg per capita, the Swiss are world's biggest chocolate consumers!

Swiss Chocolate
Swiss Chocolate © Joana Kruse

3. Swiss cows

If we produce such famous cheeses it is of course thanks to our cows. Beside, other facts make our Swiss cows famous:

  • Our tradition of Alpine cattle descent
  • The Brown Swiss, the dairy cattle breed was originated on the slopes of the Swiss Alps and is now worldwide of highest interest. (this breed is with 37% of the cows in Switzerland the most common).
  • The bells of our Swiss cows (Swiss farmers hang bells around their cows' necks to make it easier to find them in Alpine meadows)
Swiss cow
Swiss cow © Pinterest

4. The Swiss are all rich

It is true that the average Swiss earns more money than in the neighbouring countries and that the quality of life is usually better in Switzerland. Though we have to keep in mind that life in Switzerland is also more expensive. Even if no one starves in Switzerland we still have almost 1 person over 10 living in poverty.

Swiss piggy bank
Swiss piggy bank

5. Swiss cleanliness

Cleanliness is commonly considered a Swiss trait. Swiss Tourism even capitalised on that perception in one of its advertising campaign.

6. The confusion between Switzerland and Sweden

“Why are you not blond?”, “I did a cruise and passed by Switzerland”. These are things the Swiss frequently hear! Why do people get confused with Sweden and Switzerland? Probably because of the names that are similar and especially how the peoples are addressed (Swiss vs Swede). Swedish government even made an April fool of it in 2016.

2016 April fool
2016 April fool @swedense on Twitter

7. We all can yodel in Switzerland

We wish we could! Yodeling is part of Swiss tradition but is not widespread and is limited to only some mountain areas. It has its origins in the call from mountain to mountain, the communication from Alp to Alp. Yodeling is now no longer really practiced in the Italian and Romansh-speaking areas of the country, and if so, predominantly German-language songs are sung.

Yodeling choir
Yodeling choir ©

8. We all always have an Swiss Army Knife in our pocket

It’s true that the Swiss Army Knife is part of the iconic products of Switzerland. But in fact the first Swiss Army knives were actually produced in Germany. The Swiss military force required quality compact knives for its army, but no Swiss company had the capacity to produce such a knife. It’s in 1891 that Victorinox founder Karl Elsener decided to bring the Swiss Army Knife — and the production jobs it entailed — to Switzerland.

Swiss Army Knife
Swiss Army Knife © Victorinox

9. Punctuality

Many things explain why Switzerland has gained this reputation of punctuality. First of all, the reputation of our watchmaking industry, resulting of over 500 years’ hard toil and meticulous attention to detail that makes it Switzerland’s third major exporter. Also, our trains are known to be the most punctual in Europe with 87,7% of trains arriving on time to their destination. And yes, we must confess that being on time is something we really value in Switzerland and see as an expression of respect for other people.

Swiss train
Bang on time just as the railway © Stefan Wohlfahrt/bahnbilder

10. Our backyard view is like this...

The Ponte dei Salti, over river Verzasca
The Ponte dei Salti, over river Verzasca © Switzerland Tourism

Or like these...

Lauterbrunnen in the Bernese Oberland
Lauterbrunnen in the Bernese Oberland © Switzerland Tourism