Relations between United States and Switzerland


History, Culture and Lifestyle

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Economic Situation

The Relationship between the United States and Switzerland



The Swiss Cuisine

The Swiss Lifestyle

Religion in Switzerland

Demographics in Switzerland

Holiday Celebration in Switzerland

Fashion in Switzerland

Tradition and Customs in Switzerland

History, Culture and Lifestyle

Switzerland, or the Swiss Confederation was founded in 1921 and initially it was intended to be a defensive alliance among three cantons. The alliance developed in the following years, as more cantons joining the initial alliance. Even so, the Swiss Confederation only gained its independence from the Roman Empire in 1499.

Much later, in 1848, the confederation was replaced with a centralized federal government, through the constitution that was also modified in 1874.

Some of the country’s trademarks are its sovereignty and neutrality. These values were accepted and saluted by the world’s powers. This allowed for Switzerland not to be part of any of the two world wars, or other major conflagrations.

Even more, the country has played an important and active role within the UN and other important organizations on international level. The country’s involvement in the process of the European integration has increased the country’s influence.

Economic Situation

The country’s economy is best described by the stable and modern market economy that helped Switzerland become one of the most prosperous countries in the world, in accordance with its size and resources.

The services sector is the most developed and profitable one, being influenced mainly by financial services. The manufacturing industry is also a profitable sector for the country, focusing on high-technology knowledge-based production.

Even so, the economic and financial crisis that affected the entire world did not make an exception for Switzerland. The country was affected by the crisis, although not as severely like the case of most countries. As a consequence of the crisis, the country’s exports have stalled.

The country’s unemployment rate is a relatively low one, reaching 2.6%. Switzerland’s inflation rate has increased as a consequence of the financial crisis, reaching 2.4% in 2008, which is almost a recommendable inflation rate level.

In order to portray a more complex image of Switzerland’s economic situation, it is important to take into consideration the following data: GDP – $318.1 billion; GDP real growth rate — 1.8% in 2008 compared to 3.6% in 2007 and 2006; GDP per capita – $42,000; GDP composition by sector — agriculture 1.5%, industry 22.8%, services 73.2%; unemployment rate — 2.6%; investment — 21.2% of GDP; Budget — revenues: $189.8 billion, expenditures: $185.2 billion; public debt — 40.2% of GDP; inflation rate — 2.4% in 2008 compared to 0.7% in 2007 (CIA, 2009).

The main industries include machinery, chemicals, watches, textiles, precision instruments, tourism, banking, and insurance. The industrial production growth rate reached 6.5% in 2006.

The country’s most important exports partners are Germany 19.8%, U.S. 9.6%, Italy 8.7%, France 8.6%, and the U.K. 5.2%. The most exported commodities include machinery, chemicals, metals, watches, agricultural products. The country’s exports reached $241.3 billion in 2008 compared to $200.5 billion in 2007.

The country’s imports partners are Germany 33.3%, Italy 11%, France 9.4%, U.S. 5.8%, Netherlands 4.6%, Austria 4%. The most imported commodities include machinery, chemicals, vehicles, metals, agricultural products, and textiles. The country’s imports reached $227.4 billion in 2008 compared to $187.7 billion in 2007.

The Relationship between the United States and Switzerland

As mentioned above, there is an economic relationship between the U.S. And Switzerland. U.S. is Switzerland’s second most important exports partner. But the vice versa is not applicable, since the U.S. does not benefit from significant exports to Switzerland.

It is difficult to discuss about a potential influence of Switzerland on the U.S. And the vice versa. Switzerland is culturally influenced by the U.S. through music, movies, and other types of arts that transcend geographical borders and barriers, influencing other regions of the world. Even so, one cannot state that Switzerland is more culturally influenced by the U.S. than other countries are.

As mentioned above, Christmas celebration in Switzerland resembles more and more the American celebration style, given the fact that young people in particular seem to orient towards this.

English is spoken by only 1% of the Swiss residents, which also reflects that the U.S. does not influence Switzerland in a significant manner.

Also, it is quite improbable that Switzerland significantly influences the U.S. In other words, the relationship between Switzerland and the U.S. is a normal relationship between two countries, with economic and cultural exchanges.


Regarding culture, it is almost impossible to define Swiss culture as a unitary one, given the regionalism character of the country that manifests in all aspects. However, one thing is certain, the fact that the Swiss culture was significantly influenced by the German, French, and Italian culture, while the Rhaeto — Romanic culture produced significant effects in the eastern part of the country.

In music, Switzerland did not make significant contributions. The most renowned Swiss composers are Arthur Honegger, Othmar Schoeck, and Frank Martin. However, the city of Lucerne hosts annually the Lucerne Festival of international music.

Science has been much of an interest for Switzerland throughout the history. The field of chemistry was introduced into medicine by Paracelsus. Mathematics are represented by the Bernoulli family, and Leonhard Euler. The most important Swiss scientist is Albert Einstein, who received Swiss citizenship in 1901, although he was born in Germany.

The most important names in the Swiss literature that gained international prestige include Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Jacob Burckhardt, Gottfried Keller, Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, Jeremias Gotthelf, Charles Ferdinand Ramuz, Hermann Hesse, Carl Spitteler.

Regarding the visual arts, it is worth mentioning that the Dada movement originated in Switzerland.

Sports is another field where Switzerland is represented by top athletes, like Martina Hingis and Roger Federer. International sports events in Switzerland are represented by a tennis tournament held annually in Basel and other championships.


The country’s performance in the field of sports is also reflected in the citizen’s lifestyle. Swiss are very much oriented towards a healthy, active lifestyle that includes practicing a series of sports and related activities. Given the characteristics of the country, winter sports are preferred by most citizens.

Tourists also benefit from the country’s setting for winter sports, especially during the cold season where mountain resorts are booked by tourists coming here to ski and to enjoy the country’s beautiful landscapes.

Football and ice hockey are also popular sports for both professional athletes and the rest of the population.

The Swiss Cuisine

The Swiss cuisine lacks homogeneity just like the country’s culture does, since it is very diversified, and it differs significantly from one region to another. Each of these regions have created their own type of gastronomy in accordance with geographical and climate characteristics, and also based on the foreign influence received by each region.

However, there are certain dishes that can be found in all of Switzerland’s regions, dishes that include fondue, raclette, and rosti. The ingredients used by the Swiss cuisine do not differ from those used in other European countries. In addition to this, Swiss benefit from several traditional products, especially dairies. Such dairy products include cheeses like Gruyere and Emmental.

Another product in which Switzerland has excelled in the past two centuries is chocolate. The country is responsible for developing and introducing techniques like conching and tempering in the chocolate production process, allowing for high quality chocolate to be produced. Milk chocolate was also invented in Switzerland.

The Swiss Lifestyle

The Swiss lifestyle is admired and envied by many countries that do not seem to benefit from the same conditions. Swiss earn more money than the citizens of most countries, their lifestyle seems to be more casual and carefree. They seem to suffer from less stress than other nations. They probably report low crime rates, and they generally have better living conditions.

The Swiss lifestyle is different from one region to another. For example, German speaking cantons are different from French speaking and Italian speaking ones. Swiss are perceived by expats living in Switzerland as being reserved, not very outgoing. Social networking is very important for the Swiss society (Richards, 2005).

As mentioned above, Swiss benefit from better living conditions provided by the government, which allows them to have higher living standards than the citizens of other countries. For example, the Swiss healthcare system is known as a high quality and very efficient one. Compared to the healthcare costs in the U.S., in Switzerland healthcare is considered to be affordable. Also, all residents must have medical coverage.

Education in Switzerland is also recognized as setting and following high standards. The country also provides a high number of private schools. These schools often provide international education.

Religion in Switzerland

Although there is no official state religion in Switzerland, many of the country’s cantons have acknowledged official churches. The majority of these churches belong to the Catholic Church or to the Swiss Reformed Church. Other churches attended by Swiss citizens include the Old Catholic Church and several Jewish congregations. The churches’ founds come from official taxation of the people who attend them.

In most of Switzerland’s cantons, the main religion is represented by Christianity. It is estimated that 41.8% of the population belong to the Catholic Church, while 35.3% belong to Protestant denominations. Other religions, which were brought by immigrants include Islam accounting for 4.3%, and Eastern Orthodoxy accounting for 1.8% of the population.

Demographics in Switzerland

The country’s population in 2009 reached 7,604,467. The age structure is the following: 0 — 14 years: 15.6%, 15 — 64 years: 68.1%, 65 years and over: 16.3%. The median age is estimated at 41 years. The population growth rate in 2009 reached 0.276% (CIA, 2009).

Ethnic groups in Switzerland are represented by German 65%, French 18%, Italian 10%, Romansch 1%, other 6%.

The national and official languages in Switzerland are: German 63.7%, French 20.4%, Italian 6.5%, and Romansch 0.5%. Other languages include Serbo-Croatian 1.5%, Albanian 1.3%, Portuguese 1.2%, Spanish 1.2%, English 1%, and other 2.8%.

Holiday Celebration in Switzerland

The most important holiday in Switzerland is Christmas, which is celebrated in a similar way compared to the U.S. And other European countries. For example, the Christmas tree is decorated on Christmas Eve in general, presents are exchanged among family, friends, and colleagues.

Santa Claus is also present in the Swiss Christmas celebration (California Mall, 2009). However, the Swiss seem to follow more and more the American celebration style, by decorating outdoors and indoors locations all through December.

Another popular holiday celebration is obviously New Year’s Eve. The moment is celebrated by most people in the same style as it is celebrated in other corners of the world.

Other holidays include Berchtold’s Day, Easter, Labor Day, National Holiday on August 1st, and others (About, 2006).

There is a series of other local holiday celebrations that vary from one canton to another, in accordance with the characteristics of each region, the religion practiced in each canton, and other specific traits.

Fashion in Switzerland

Much like the country’s gastronomy and arts, Switzerland’s fashion is also quite diversified amongst its cantons. The German, French, and Italian regimes have influenced the respective regions’ dressing style in different manners.

The German dressing style is a stricter one, very simple, very pragmatic, oriented more on the comfort and functionality of clothes, rather than on esthetics.

The French and the Italian dressing styles are quite the opposite, focusing on the esthetics of the clothes, rather than on their functionality. They pay a lot of interest towards accessories, and clothes are sometimes very charged with certain embellishments.

Tradition and Customs in Switzerland

The country’s continuous modernization process has replaced many traditions and customs with new habits. Customs in Switzerland are also diversified, varying from one region to another (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2009).

But one of the common traditions is represented by the country’s orientation towards ecology, recycling waste material, and the preservation of nature.


The practical application of sociology as a science is represented by the study of human societies. This paper focuses on presenting an overview of the Swiss society, by providing information on the aspects that compose the life of the Swiss nation.

The paper analyzes important aspects addressed by sociology, like culture, economy, history, traditions, religion, demographics, and others. For example, the section referring to economy is important from sociology’s point-of-view because of the fact that it allows to observe the economic context of the country and how this affects its citizens, the standards of living, and the country’s possibilities.

The paper also provides an image of the Swiss citizens’ lifestyle, their way of thinking and acting both on individual level and as a society.

Reference list:

1. Richards, C. (2005). Living in Switzerland. Transitions Abroad. Retrieved December 11, 2009 from

2. Switzerland (2009). Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook. Retrieved December 11, 2009 from

3. Holiday Traditions in Switzerland (2009). California Mall. Retrieved December 11, 2009 from

4. Holidays in Switzerland (2006). Retrieved December 11, 2009 from

5. Switzerland (2009). Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved December 11, 2009 from

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