Sunday, October 28, 2012

Random facts about where I live..

As I celebrate my six month anniversary this week, I thought I’d take the time to learn a little bit more about my adopted country (also since I have time on my hands recovering from surgery and all)  Herewith are some of the more interesting (and unusual) things I’ve found about the land I now call my home…

Though I’d consider Switzerland a progressive country, women didn’t earn the right to vote until 1971.  Though they quickly made progress after that because the first female president was elected in 1999.

Switzerland is fiercely protective of their neutrality and fear that another country could attack because of that.  It’s the law that a Swiss citizen never be more than a few minutes away from a nuclear shelter.  Also, there are rumors that the tunnels have stockpiles of weapons, “just in case”.

To drive thru the entirety of Switzerland from North to south would take just over 3 hours and East to West about 4 hours.  But don’t even think of trying to rush it because Swiss speeding fines are some of the steepest in the world. If you have been speeding excessively, Swiss judges have the option to fine you based on your total worth.  In 2010, a driver going 2.5 times the speed limit received a speeding fine of 650,000 euros.

The “CH” on license plates stands for Confederation Helvetica the official name of Switzerland.  Yes, the same Helvetica that’s a font option on documents you type.  That font was also invented in Switzerland.

Switzerland has what’s called a direct democracy.  If a group of citizens can gather 50,000 signatures within 100 days of a new law, that law has to go to a referendum and if rejected, the new law can be overturned.   I, as a non Swiss citizen, am not eligible to vote unless I would get Swiss citizenship (which takes 10 consecutive years and a lot of hoops to jump thru to get)

Sure, Switzerland is famous for chocolate, watches, banking, Ricola candies and Swiss knives but some random things invented in Switzerland: Rayon, Cellophane and Velcro.

Switzerland isn’t officially part of the EU.  Though they are part of the Shenghen agreement (which allows the free movement of people across Europe.  That means if I drive to Italy to go out for dinner or go grocery shopping, I cross a border guard station.  The border guards have the right to ask for documents and search the car, but most of the time they just stand around and chat.  And if it rains or it’s past 8pm, you rarely see anyone!

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