Xenophobe's® Guides: How the Swiss see themselves

Xenophobe's® Guides: How the Swiss see themselves

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With a healthy regard for anything Swiss, how do Switzerland's residents see themselves when compared to each other?

Xenophobe's® Guides: A book series that highlights the unique character and behaviour of different nations with insight and humour.

The Swiss have a healthy belief that whatever originates in their own country, and preferably their own area, is the best, particularly the people. Thus, if the supermarket offers Italian strawberries at half-price, the Swiss will still buy home-grown ones in the firm belief that theirs are vastly superior.


They will rarely have a good word to say about their fellow countrymen. Town-dwellers scorn their country cousins as prehistoric and naive folk, while they in turn treat town-dwellers with deep suspicion for being too flash and smooth for their own good.


There is also intense rivalry between Swiss towns. With its international airport, high-tech industry and smoothly efficient financial sector, Zurich regards itself as the only world-class Swiss city. But, as the inhabitants of Berne are more than pleased to point out, Zurich is not the capital.


The Berners find the Zurchers too much like the hard-nosed bankers of that city. Both the slow Berners and the slick Zurchers look down on Baslers. Perilously close to France and Germany and home of Switzerland’s smellier industries, Basle is thought of as being contaminated by these influences and therefore not quite Swiss-German. Baslers get their own back with their sparkling humour and will take every opportunity to pull the collective legs of their fellow cities. Hundreds of Baslers and Zurchers, both firmly convinced that they live in the best place, commute daily to each other’s cities rather than move house.


Geneva, like Basle, has a reputation of being ‘not quite Swiss’. Every day thousands of French pour across the border into the city to work, and a fifth of Geneva’s residents has English as its first language. Clearly Geneva loses out to smaller Lausanne in the Swiss-ness stakes.


Similar rivalries are played out between the Ticino towns of Lugano and Locarno – easily confused by tourists but worlds apart to the Ticinese. But both have a brake on their antagonism by having to bow to Bellinzona, which, though smaller, is their cantonal capital.


For more, read The Xenophobe's Guide to the Swiss.


Reproduced from Xenophobe's Guide to the Swiss by kind permission of Xenophobe's® Guides.

Photo credit: Kecko (thumbnail)

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1 Comment To This Article

  • Chris posted:

    on 26th February 2014, 13:22:22 - Reply

    Sounds miserable all round doesn't it...