What the abbreviation CH stands for, what languages people speak in Switzerland, how many foreigners live here - you can find out all this and much more in the questions and answers on the subject of Switzerland.

More about Switzerland

Canton Obwalden


01. What languages do people speak in Switzerland?

Switzerland has four national languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh.

The largest part of the population speaks German (approx. 60%). French (approx. 20%) is spoken in western Switzerland (Romandie). Italian is spoken in Ticino and in small parts of the canton of Grisons. This accounts for about 10% of the population. Only about 0.5% of the Swiss population speak Romansh. This is thus the least represented of the four national languages and is spoken exclusively in parts of the canton of Graubünden.

Multilingualism is a great identifying feature of Switzerland. Most people in Switzerland speak at least one to two of the national languages, as well as English.

02. Why do people learn High German in German-speaking Switzerland?

In German-speaking Switzerland, people speak dialect - one of numerous, sometimes very different dialects. While dialect is spoken in everyday life, High German is the official written and official language. High German is therefore learned in school. Newspapers, magazines and most books are written in High German. There is relatively little Swiss literature written in any of the Swiss dialects.

03. What religions are there in Switzerland?

The Christianity is the most widespread religion in the country, represented primarily by the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches. One of the two denominations dominates in each of the individual cantons.

However, other religions are also practiced in Switzerland: Islam and Judaism, for example, but also other religious communities such as Hinduism or Buddhism. In addition, there are also many people who do not belong to any denomination.

In Switzerland, church and state are separate. The Right to freedom of belief, conscience and culture is firmly anchored in the Federal Constitution. Every person therefore has the right to freely decide whether or not to be a believer and which religion to practice. One is also allowed to change one's faith or religion, to change one's beliefs express oneself freely and live them out. This applies to individuals as well as to faith communities. 

04. What manners are common in Switzerland?

Just as in other countries, Switzerland has numerous common rules of conduct and manners. Knowing them makes living together with Swiss people much easier.

Punctuality: It is expected that you show up on time for a meeting. This applies equally to the professional world, public authorities and private events. If you notice that you are going to be late, call ahead and let them know.

Encounter: If you walk past someone in a small community, you say hello - even if you don't know the person. In cities, this happens very rarely.

Greeting: In German-speaking Switzerland, people shake hands in greeting. It is considered polite to look your counterpart in the eye. Among friends, people sometimes give each other three kisses on the cheeks (left, right and then left again - or vice versa). But be careful: This does not apply in every case. It is best to find out what is customary in your own region.

Visit: Most Swiss people do not like spontaneous visits to their homes. It is best to call ahead and ask if a visit is wanted now. Before entering the apartment, one inquires whether one should take off the shoes.

Invitation: If you're invited to dinner, it's a popular custom to bring a small gift - such as a bottle of wine, chocolates or flowers. But be careful: Not all flowers are suitable (red roses only for partners, white asters are common at funerals).

At the table: Before you start eating together, you wish each other a good appetite. If wine is drunk, the glass is raised at the beginning. You look each other in the eye, clink glasses and say "Cheers" or "Cheers".

Conversation on the phone: When you call someone, you first greet them and say their name. Only then does the actual conversation begin.

These behaviors can vary significantly by language region or social group. If you are unsure about a situation, it is best to ask. This relaxes the situation and you get to talk to other people.

05. Are men and women equal in Switzerland?

Equality between women and men is an important
Fundamental right of equality of rights.

Equal rights for men and women have been guaranteed since 1981 in 
Art. 8 para. 3 of the Swiss Federal Constitution anchored:
"Man and woman have equal rights. The law provides for their equality in law and in fact, especially in the family, education and work. Man and woman are entitled to equal pay for work of equal value."

The Equality Act enables women and men to defend themselves against direct and indirect discrimination - in the family, in working life or in cases of sexual harassment in the workplace.

According to the law, the spouse who takes care of the household, looks after the children or helps the other in his or her profession or trade is entitled to "an appropriate amount at his or her free disposal" from the other spouse's income or assets. The Federal Act on Equality between Women and Men (Equality Act GIG) can be found at here.

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