Switzerland explained For Members

REVEALED: What the Swiss like and dislike about their country

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
REVEALED: What the Swiss like and dislike about their country
People in Switzerland have strong opinions of their country. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

Neither the Swiss nor foreign residents are neutral about living in Switzerland — in fact, they have some strong opinions about the pros and cons of living here.


As The Local previously reported, generally speaking the Swiss have a high opinion of themselves and their country.

They tend to think they are better than others, believing other nations are to blame for anything that is out of whack in Switzerland, according to surveys.

For instance, the Germans and Italians are blamed for the lack of punctuality of their Swiss-bound trains, and the French are blamed for just about everything else.
READ ALSO:  Why do the Swiss think they are superior to everyone else? 

At times, the Swiss even point accusing fingers at each other, mostly along the Rösti- and Polentagraben lines: the German speakers say their French and Italian speaking counterparts lack discipline and meticulous organisational skills prevalent in the Swiss German part, while the French and Italian speakers say Swiss Germans are too persnickety.

READ ALSO: Röstigraben: The invisible barrier separating Switzerland

But all the linguistic groups are usually unanimous in blaming the foreigners in Switzerland for the country’s troubles.

But what do the people Switzerland really think of their country and each other?

The answer comes from a large-scale survey of 50,000 residents from all linguistic regions carried out in 2023 by Tamedia, Switzerland’s largest media organisation.

Here are the main findings:

Happy population

Not only are  people in Switzerland happy in general, but this feeling is spread evenly regardless of gender, age, place of residence, or political beliefs.

Eighty-five percent of survey respondents said they are ‘happy’ or ‘rather happy’.

And while you might think happiness wanes as we get older, this is not the case here: the proportion of people over 65 who say they are satisfied with their lives is 91 percent.

This percentage is, however, lower among foreigners — 77 percent say they are happy, which is below the 88-percent national average.


And  low-income individuals are understandably not quite as happy: only 69 percent say they are, which is less than the national average, but still a relatively high number, all things considered.

While this survey does not look into why an overwhelming majority of Swiss residents feel happy, other evidence points to longevity, high per-capita GDP, democracy and political stability, as well as social support, as the primary reasons.

READ ALSO: Why Switzerland is one of the world's 'happiest countries' 


The Swiss love their country

Ninety-one percent of study participants answered ‘yes’ when asked whether they liked Switzerland; the proportion is even higher — 94 percent —among people over the age of 65.

What exactly do they like most about the country?

The majority of respondents (73 percent) said they most appreciate the country’s beauty and 63 percent like the safety and security in Switzerland.

Next is the healthcare system (61 percent), followed by direct democracy and cleanliness (55 percent), and a well-developed public transport system (51 percent).

Surprisingly (as Switzerland is known for its high wages), only 26 percent cited salaries.

The least appreciated aspect of living in Switzerland (18 percent): its lack of ‘internationalism’.

This refers to the way Switzerland’s policy of neutrality keeps it from joining international alliances like the EU or NATO — though the country has gotten closer to the latter in recent months.

Despite their feeling superior (as mentioned above), the Swiss are also capable of seeing the less attractive side of their country.

Top among them is the cost of health insurance premium, which is a major concern for 71 percent of respondents.

There is a good reason for that: not only have the premiums increased significantly in 2023, but they will likely soar further next year as well.

Next is the high cost of housing and rents (56 percent) and high cost of living in general (52 percent).

Fewer respondents (35 percent) are worried about immigration, and only one in five thinks Switzerland has too many rules and regulations.

What do the people in Switzerland think of each other?


As stated above, at times people judge each other along the linguistic lines, but the survey revealed other interesting facts as well — and some of them align with general perceptions foreign nationals have about the Swiss people.

For instance, 61 percent of respondents find the Swiss to be aloof; among foreigners, this proportion is a bit higher — 68 percent.

Overall, the self-analysis is not very flattering: 61 percent believe the Swiss are stingy and the same proportion sees them as and tense; pedantic (43 percent), and boring (41 percent).

Only 26 percent say the Swiss are funny, which may be an unfair assessment, as many Swiss have a biting sense of humour:

READ ALSO: Swiss wit: Jokes that prove the Swiss are actually funny 

How easy (or not) is it to make friends in Switzerland?

This is a much-discussed topic among foreigners living in Switzerland, and the predominant opinion is that it is a difficult and lengthy process.

READ ALSO: 'Five years to make friends': The ups and downs of life in a Swiss village

In fact, one foreign resident once jokingly (or perhaps seriously) said he is thinking of writing a book titled ‘Making friends in Switzerland in 300 steps.’

So what does the survey show?

This question was put only to foreign residents, the majority of whom (60 percent) said, predictably, that making friends here is ‘not easy’ or ‘mostly not easy.’

Just over one-third of respondents (37 percent) found friends either ‘easily’ or ‘mostly easily.’

Are the Swiss racist?

Just over 50 percent of respondents answered ‘yes’ to this question, but the number is much higher among the foreigners: 60 percent think the Swiss are indeed racist.

It is not surprising that the proportion of ‘yes’ answers is higher among immigrants, as they are the ones who may feel discriminated against.

READ ALSO: Jobs in Switzerland: Foreigners 'less likely to be hired than Swiss nationals


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