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name Switzerland is written in many forms as there are four official languages in
the country. This name comes from the word "Schwiizer," which is an inhabitant
of the Swiss canton of Schwyz as stated in German. The Swiss outside this region
only began using the term in about 1500.
Switzerland is also known as Confoederatio Helvetica, which is Latin for Helvetica
Confederation. Helvetica is a term that refers to the Helvetii people, who were
Gauls living on the lands prior to the Roman arrival.
die Schweiz / Suisse / Svizzera / Svizra
Switzerland is a country of many cultures and it may seem each ethnic group has
more in common with the people in neighboring countries, yet they remain tied together
through history, tradition, and similar beliefs. For much of this history these
ethnic Germans, French, Italians, and Romansch among others were divided and living
off the lands.
For these historic people life was simple and divided, but they also shared many
cultural similarities, such as Catholicism, lifestyle, foods, and more. In 1291
the defining characteristic of the country was forged with the creation of the state.
Historically people have united by ethnicity or language, but Switzerland united
based on independence and neutrality, political and philosophical beliefs.
Switzerland has a square flag and
a simple white cross design. This flag was used at least as early as 1339 in the
Battle of Laupen to distinguish the troops of the Swiss Confederation, but its actual
origins are unknown.
Name: Swiss Confederation (Confoederatio Helvetica)
Independence: August 1, 1291
Currency: Swiss Franc
Population: 7,996,026 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: German, French, Italian, & others
Language: German, French, Italian, & Romansch
Religion: Roman Catholic & Protestant
Despite the political unity of Switzerland and the many similarities in lifestyle,
the people are culturally diverse. The ethnic French, ethnic Germans, and ethnic
Italians share languages, foods, dress, and cultures with other French, Germans,
and Italians. Their cultural similarities are very strong across borders, however
these cultural ties are not as strong as the political ties the people hold to one
another. These political ties are what make the ethnic French, Germans, and Italians
in Switzerland different from those elsewhere.
Switzerland exists due to a shifting in priorities: political priorities, philosophical
priorities, and identity priorities. Despite the huge number of cultural similarities
to people abroad, the Swiss first tend to identify with their nation, their neutrality,
and their leadership as peacemakers and peacekeepers. These things are held more
dearly to the Swiss than their language, their ethnicity, or their foods, which
are only secondary when defining themselves. It is a very outwardly thinking model
that is not proud, but selfless. It is a role that is needed in this world and thankfully
their openness and acceptance also means their beautiful country is open to visitors
as few will ever want to leave the peace and solitude of the impressive Swiss Alps.
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