Switzerland explained For Members

What do the Swiss do better than anyone else?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
What do the Swiss do better than anyone else?
The Swiss like to think they do things better than everyone else. Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

Yes, there are watches and chocolate, but the Swiss like to think that they excel at many other things as well. And they truly believe nobody in the world does it better than them.


This holier-than-thou attitude may at times smack of arrogance; after all, the Swiss truly believe they are superior to anyone else — maybe not so much in the culinary arts (where they grudgingly accept being trumped by neighbours France and Italy), but in just about everything else.

And they do have a point. For instance, the Swiss are very skilled at:

Keeping the peace

While other countries  have been involved in various armed conflicts and episodes of unrest and upheaval, Switzerland has been successfully using its shield of neutrality to — literally — dodge the bullet(s).

This longstanding policy has not only kept Switzerland out of two world wars, but is still used as an excuse why the country prohibits the sale (and resale) of its military equipment to nations  at war, such as Ukraine.

Whether neutrality is a good thing or bad, there is no doubt the Swiss have benefited from it.

Its army has not fought, or invaded, any other nations — except for Liechtenstein.

READ ALSO: How the army attacked Liechtenstein three times — by mistake

Democracy/political system

No other industrialised country has the same (or even similar) system of direct democracy as Switzerland.

The frequent referendums mean that the people, rather than politicians, have the last say in how the country is run, and what laws are passed (or not).

Also, the Swiss system of having a collective, rather than just one, head of state, results in an enviable political stability.

Rather than settling for one president from one political party, Switzerland has a government made up of seven ministers from all four of the country' biggest parties. And while there is a rotating presidency, with one member of the council elected Swiss president each year, all of the government ministers have equal —and equally important — say in all matters.


And that unique feature leads us to the next point...

Compromise and negotiations

This system of having multiple parties in the government means that politicians are forced to constantly negotiate and seek middle-of-the ground solutions, rather than get at each other's throats. 

And this kind kind of mindset explains why the Swiss are so good at mediating and arbitrating international conflicts.

The Swiss may not have invented the art of negotiating, but they have certainly perfected it.

US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Geneva in 2021. Photo by DENIS BALIBOUSE / POOL / AFP

Crisis-proofing the economy

While Switzerland's economy has certainly has had its ups and downs, it has never reached the desperate lows experienced by other countries.

It is certainly true that Switzerland’s economy is robust.

Its inflation rate, now and generally, is lower than across the eurozone, and its unemployment rate is far below the EU’s as well.

READ ALSO: Why Switzerland's inflation rate has stayed low compared to elsewhere


Even during the Covid pandemic in 2020, Switzerland’s economy, while certainly weakened, was still “the most resilient" in the world, according to research conducted at the time.

The reason is that Switzerland “combines world class governance with high levels of social capital and high social resilience. It also has strong financial systems, manageable debt levels and good health system resilience,” research shows. 

Other countries can only envy that.

Shifting from rags to riches

This may be difficult to believe, but Switzerland was once so poor, a large portion of the population struggled to survive. In fact, many of those living in the countryside or in mountain regions suffered from widespread famine.

In the 1950s, however, Switzerland shifted from industrial to a service economy; its financial sector started to flourish by offering confidential — and not always totally legal — services and protection to the wealthy. (However, new laws have been enacted in past years, making Swiss financial institutions more transparent and compliant with international regulations).

But its success story goes far beyond banking.

Other industries, such as pharmaceutical, watchmaking, and tourism, have been growing and boosting the economy.

And let’s not forget the aforementioned direct democracy and political stability, both of which have contributed greatly to transitioning Switzerland from a pauper nation to a very prosperous one.

READ ALSO: Why is Switzerland so rich?

Healthy population

According to the Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD), the Swiss have the world’s highest life expectancy.

Experts attribute this to a variety of factors, including wealth, healthy lifestyle, and efficient and accessible healthcare system.

Perhaps because they have such a high life expectancy, people in Switzerland feel healthier than residents of any other country in Europe, according to a report  by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO). 


Speaking more languages than anyone else

As they sometimes like to point out to assert their superiority, the Germans speak German, French speak French, and Italians speak Italian. But the Swiss speak all three — and then some.

While it is true that not every Swiss speaks all three national languages (though some do), most have varying levels of fluency in two, plus at least some English.


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