Business and Economics
Switzerland is a poor commodity country whose business sector is characterized by a highly specialized manufacturing industry and a significant service sector, especially in banking and finance. The tourism industry is also important. The economy is stable and has expanded significantly during the post-war period, for example through the utilization of foreign labor. The commodity shortage and the geographical location in central Europe have made Switzerland highly dependent on foreign trade, which also means that the country is vulnerable to international economic downturns. Developments in the German economy have a great impact on the country in particular, as trade exchanges with Germany dominate.
International contacts and good economic development, combined with efficient banking secrecy, have helped to make Switzerland one of the world’s leading banking centers. The financial system accounts for over 10 percent of GDP. However, during the 00s, banking secrecy began to loosen up, mainly as a result of international pressure. Switzerland also felt the international financial crisis of 2008–09, but the country recovered rather quickly. During the 10th century, the euro crisis caused many foreign investors to apply to Switzerland.
Agriculture and forestry
The natural conditions have meant that Swiss agriculture consists of relatively small units. In recent times, however, the agricultural structure has begun to change as small family farms have become increasingly common in larger units. Cereals are grown mainly in Mittelland in northern and northwestern Switzerland, while the alpine areas are characterized by livestock management with livestock farming. Despite some relief during the 1990s, the market for agricultural products is largely regulated, and most of the industry’s income comes from state aid. Much of the support goes to organic farming. Switzerland is not self-sufficient in food.
Forests, mainly coniferous forests, cover just over a quarter of the country’s area. In addition to supplying the timber industry with raw material, forestry is governed by nature conservation and recreation interests. The forest suffers from severe environmental damage.
Raw material resources and energy consumption
The ore reserves in Switzerland are largely depleted and the only mineral mined (2012) is rock salt, mainly for road maintenance and water treatment. In addition, industrial minerals, preferably cement, are mined for domestic consumption. Some deposits of oil and precious metals are known but not recovered. The processing and production of metals, mainly aluminum, lead, steel and copper, from recycled or imported material is significant.
Nuclear power is the largest domestic energy source and covers just over 25 percent of the country’s energy needs, while water energy accounts for just under 10 percent. Most of the energy must be imported, mainly in the form of oil (just over 40 percent) and natural gas (just under 10 percent). Renewable energy (2011) contributes almost 20 percent to the total energy demand.
Since the oil crisis in the early 1970s, nuclear energy expansion, connection to the European natural gas network and energy savings have reduced oil dependency. The expansion of nuclear energy was halted following a 1990 referendum, with a majority voting for a ten-year halt to the expansion. In 2003, a proposal for a continued halt to nuclear energy expansion was voted down and in 2007 it was decided that successive old reactors would be replaced with new ones. In 2011, however, both chambers of parliament decided not to build new nuclear energy capacity but instead gradually phased out the existing one until about 2034.
The largest industrial branch in Switzerland is the engineering industry, which is heavily export-oriented. Due to the lack of domestic raw materials, we have specialized in products with a very high technical standard and high value added. In the 1970s, the traditional watch industry experienced a decline in connection with the introduction of the quartz watch and the fierce competition from mainly Japan. In the 1980s, the former position was regained in terms of high quality watches. The chemical industry increased its production significantly in the 1980s and 1990s, and during the 1990s the country was one of the world’s largest drug exporters. Other important industries are the food industry with large companies such as Nestlé.
Trade policy is basically focused on the free exchange of goods with the outside world. agricultural products, which are protected by import restrictions. As a result of its dependence on imports, Switzerland had a constant trade deficit until the 1990s. During the 1990s, it was eliminated and a significant surplus is created through income from insurance and banking, foreign investment and tourism. The international financial crisis of 2008–09 meant an export decline, but by 2010 exports had recovered.
According to Countryaah, the most important export goods are machine shop products, pharmaceuticals, other chemical products and watches. The most important import goods are machine shop products, chemistry raw materials, cars and clothing. By far the largest trading partner is Germany. Then follows the US, China and Italy.
Tourism and gastronomy
The country has a well-developed tourism built up since 1865, when the first wealthy foreign tourists arrived in Davos and St. Moritz. The development went hand in hand with the interest in mountaineering and mountain tourism. Tourism was favored by two seasons and by the central location of Europe’s railway network. Early on, luxury hotels were developed, often in connection with spa resorts and lakes. Great professionalism was applied from the start at hotels, restaurants and attractions and the hotel schools in Switzerland quickly became world leaders.
the country’s biggest attraction is the Alps, both winter and summer. The most complete experience of plant and animal life in the Alps provides a visit to the country’s only national park, Parc Naziunal Svizzer, where you can see the gems, capricorn and marmot. The Bernal Alps, with peaks over 4,000 m, can be explored from e.g. Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald in the area of the Jungfrau Massif. The Canton of Graubünden has important winter sports resorts, but in hidden valleys there are also outstanding cultural monuments from the Middle Ages, eg. Saint Mary’s Church in Müstair from Carolingian times or Europe’s oldest painted wooden ceilings in the church of Zillis. Anyone who wants to ski in the summer can do so in the car-free Zermatt at the foot of the Matterhorn.
The main sights of the plain include the city centers of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Baroque (Bern, Friborg, Geneva, St. Gallen and others) with remarkable cathedrals and notable museums. These include the Swiss Museum Landesmuseum and the Kunsthaus in Zurich; important art museums are also located in Basel and Bern. Outside the big cities is the Oskar Reinhardt Collection in Winterthur in the Canton of Zurich and the Gianadda Foundation in Martigny in the Canton of Valais.
Ancient monuments from Roman times can be seen in several places, but perhaps best in Avenche between Friborg and Lake Neuchâtel, with well-preserved remains of a Roman city. In the open-air museum in Ballenberg in central Switzerland, Swiss farmer culture is not only illuminated by a large number of buildings from all parts of the country, you also use or revive old pet breeds and utility plants, traditional crafts, etc. Many people choose to visit Lugano, Locarno or Ascona to meet our spring the mild climate of the northern Italian lakes, but there are also opportunities for strange cultural experiences, for example. baptistery from about 500 in Riva San Vitale on Lake Lugano.
The country has about 8.8 million visitors annually. German visitors dominate followed by Americans, Japanese, British and French. The tourism industry is an important source of income and accounts for just over 5% of GDP.
The country has no distinct culinary tradition of its own, but the individual cantons have their own specialties, influenced by the German and Austrian-Hungarian in the north and northwest, in the French and the south in the Italian cuisine. The rich supply of top quality domestic raw materials guarantees one of Europe’s most varied kitchens.
A common factor is the cheese, which is included in almost all dishes – soups, pastries, puddings, meat and fish dishes – but above all in the national dishes above others: fondue and raclette. Of the more than 150 varieties of cheese produced in Switzerland, the most famous are emmentals, gruyère, tender, vacherin, appenzeller and sbrinz. There are also meat dishes throughout the country, such as sausages (Schublige and Emmentalerli), ham (Schufeli or Schinkli) and the salted and dried beef Bündnerfleisch, and many meals consist of just cheese, cold-cut meat and bread.
Heavy dishes with plenty of cabbage, mangold, potatoes and powerful, saturating soups can also be said to be a national feature. On the main course you will find the Geschnetzeltes Kalbfleisch, thin strips of veal sautéed in white wine and cream and often served with potato roast, Bernerplatte (cooked meat with sauerkraut or green beans), stufato alla ticinese (beef stew with wine), and beef stew with wine, cream sauce. Perch, char and trout are often eaten whole with a creamy sauce.
The desserts are often made of heavy cookies and cakes with nuts, fruit and chocolate, for example. Engadine Nusstorte, which contains nuts, cream and honey, and Kirschtorte (with cherries).