Switzerland is a mosaic of different historical experiences, languages, religions and dialects, and it is therefore difficult to define a particular Swiss culture. In the cantons, people keep to their own traditions and customs.

The Swiss are happy to point out that the country’s unity is best preserved if diversity is strengthened, although this can hardly be said to include the immigrant cultures.

A number of Swiss cultural figures have historically gained international attention, such as the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, authors such as Gottfried Keller, Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz, Max Frisch and Friedrich D├╝rrenmatt, artists such as Alberto Giacometti, Paul Klee, Jean Tinguely and Ferdinand Hodler, the architect Le Corbusier, composer Arthur Honegger and filmmaker Alain Tanner.

The spa town of Montreux on Lake Geneva is famous for its annual jazz festivals. Until 2003, the international TV festival Guldrosen was also held here, but it was then moved to Lucerne.

A special foundation pays for translations of literature from one national language to another.

Switzerland Immigration Statistics



Yes to phase out nuclear power

May 21

About 58 percent of the participants in a referendum vote yes to the government’s so-called energy use strategy. According to the so-called Energy 2050 strategy, the country should gradually stop using nuclear power and switch to renewable energy sources.

  • Countryaah: Overview of the capital city of Switzerland, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.


Easier to get citizenship for certain groups

February 12

In a referendum, more than 60 percent of participants approve a constitutional amendment that will make it easier for so-called third-generation immigrants to become Swiss citizens. SVP had run a campaign before the referendum to try to convince voters to vote no.


New union president takes office

January 1st

According to Abbreviationfinder, Doris Leuthard will become the union president for 2017.



Law on labor migration from the EU

December 17

Both Parliament’s chambers finally adopt a law on labor immigration from the EU. No quotas for immigration required in the 2014 referendum are not introduced. On the other hand, employers are required, among other things, to give jobseekers in the country the opportunity to apply for services that they plan to employ with workers from an EU country (see further Current policy).


Supervision law is approved

September 25

In a referendum, just over 65 percent of voters voted for a law that gives Swiss security services the right to intercept phones and monitor e-mail traffic, after approval by the court and government.

Compromise attempts on EU immigration

September 21

The National Council votes for a law which means that residents of Switzerland – both citizens and others – should have priority over employment before persons from abroad. The law is intended as a compromise to prevent the EU from banning Switzerland from its internal market, which threatens the Union if quotas are introduced for EU citizens (see February 2014). The Standing Council will discuss the proposal in December.


The EU application is withdrawn

June 16

The Standing Council votes to withdraw Switzerland’s 1992 EU application, which has been dormant. The National Council, Parliament’s second chamber, voted for a withdrawal in March. In both chambers, the decision is made by a good margin.


Soldiers ready to respond to the refugee crisis

April 20

The government announces that 2,000 soldiers are ready to move in should the refugee crisis worsen. The statement comes after Italy recently received more and more migrants arriving by boat from Libya.


No for deportation after minor crimes

February 28

In a referendum, 59 percent of participants say no to SVP’s proposal to introduce a law that allows foreigners to be expelled if they have committed minor crimes. Such a law already exists for serious crimes (see November 2010).



New government ready

SVP retains its second place in the Bundesrat from BDP when the newly elected parliament elects Guy Parmelin as new finance minister after Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf left office (see also March 2008)


Agreement with the EU cancels banking secrecy

October 27th

Switzerland and the EU sign an agreement on automatic exchange of information on bank accounts. The agreement, which comes into force in 2018, essentially eliminates what remains of the banking secrecy and makes it difficult for other EU citizens to avoid taxes in their home countries by hiding them in Switzerland. The agreement is in line with the 2014 OECD Tax Convention.

Elections to the Federal Assembly

October 18

Right-wing populist SVPs strengthen their position in the elections. One reason is believed to be the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe, which causes concern among Swiss people that the country will be forced to accept more asylum seekers. SVP receives close to 30 percent of the votes and 65 of the 200 seats in the lower house. The Social Democrats remain the country’s second largest party, but back with three seats and get 43. The Liberal Democrats instead go ahead with three seats to 33, which together with the SVP mandate means that Parliament becomes more dominated by center-right forces than before.


Swissleaks gives strike to big bank

Police conduct a house search of the bank HSBC in Switzerland (part of the British banking group HSBC). The bank is suspected of money launderingby helping wealthy clients around the world avoid taxes. Among those who have opened accounts at the bank in Switzerland are businessmen, politicians, celebrities and criminals. Several countries, including France, the United States, Belgium and Argentina, have initiated legal proceedings against the bank. The banking scandal, the so-called Swissleaks, got its start in 2014 when reporters in the French newspaper Le Monde received in their hands thousands of documents with information about bank accounts of a whistleblower. The journalists took advantage of the Washington-based journalist network ICIJ to investigate the suspicions. It is now reported that HSBC’s Swiss branch has helped customers in 200 countries avoid taxation of a total of $ 119 billion on accounts.


The franc is released

The central bank cancels its earlier decision on the Swiss franc’s exchange rate ceiling against the euro (see September 2011).

Switzerland Culture and Traditions
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