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    Slovakia: Tatra Mountains. Go Now!

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    The Tatra Mountains (pictured) form the backdrop of this rural country, whose culture is rooted in this beautiful landscape. Go Now!

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    Bulgaria: An old Turkish bridge. Go Now!

    Bulgaria
    The isolated mountains of Bulgaria hide cultural gems around every corner, including this old Turkish bridge in the Rhodopi Mountains. Explore Bulgaria!

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    Italy: Rome' historic buildings. Go Now!

    Italy
    Crumbling buildings in Rome (pictured) only add to the atmosphere in a country where old is redefined and western civilization begins. Explore Italy!

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    Portugal: Palace of Pena. Go Now!

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    Although next to the seas and made famous by trade, Portugal boasts dynamic landscapes and architecture, including the Palace of Pena (pictured) near the town of Sintra. Go to Portugal!

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    Denmark: Landscape. Go Now!

    Denmark
    From cities like Copenhagen to islands, beaches, and vast fields (pictured), Denmark offers incredible history, architecture, scenery, and more. Begin Your Journey!

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    Armenia: Noravank Monastery. Go Now!

    Armenia
    With a unique language, foods, architecture, and identity, Armenia is a fascinating country and culture unlike no other in the world. Begin Your Journey!

Culture & Identity of Switzerland

Introduction

Switzerland is a diverse country with a varied daily way of life. The ethnic French and Italians prefer late dinners and a more relaxed lifestyle, while many ethnic Germans tend to have a more rigid daily schedule. No matter the ethnicity, the people are heavily centered in cities, with nearly 75% of the people living in urban areas. However, the mountains also provide thousands of small towns and villages that provide a simple way of life.

The overwhelming majority of Swiss work in the services sector, but there is a noticeable industrial presence as well. For most of these people the working hours and daily life follow a regular pattern as most jobs begin at about 8:00 am and end at about 6:00 pm. In some positions, such as entertainment positions, the hours can move late into the night and Saturday hours are common, although even on Saturdays most places close by late afternoon, unless they are restaurants or bars. Many jobs also have a lunch worked into the schedule, this is especially true in smaller towns and among the ethnic French and Italians who may take a long lunch, but then may also work later into the evening. Schools also run on a schedule, with days generally beginning at about 8:00 am and ending at about 4:00 pm. Again many schools have an extended lunch break when many children go home to eat.

Evening schedules vary significantly; most people spend the evenings with family, but the Germans tend to eat a bit earlier, while the French and Italians tend to dine a bit latter, but this varies based on the individual family. Weekends are the time nearly everyone gets out to enjoy the money they have worked hard to earn. For many people without children this may mean heading down to the local bar or restaurant with family or friends; for some this is an opportunity to debate politics, while for others it's a time to hit the dance clubs and meet new people. The Swiss also have a great appreciation for the outdoors and on any nice weekend the mountains are sure to be filled with people. Of course, weekend entertainment varies from person to person, but Switzerland has no shortage of entertainment options.

Identity

The Swiss primarily identify by their nationality, which is Swiss. Being Swiss defines their history, attitude, beliefs, and even their stance on many international issues. However, the people are also quick to identify by ethnicity (French, German, or Italian). It seems the two go hand in hand for many of the people, as if to say what their ethnicity is, but also their citizenship, since there is a difference between the Swiss Germans and the Germans of Germany, etc. However, this somewhat dual identity seems to work well since being Swiss doesn't imply a person is any particular ethnicity and being ethnically German, French, or Italian doesn't necessarily mean those individuals are a citizen of their ethnic namesakes. The Swiss have many commonalities and one is that they are well educated in each other's languages and cultures, which is needed to understand each other and to have a stable country. Although nearly everyone clings to these two identities, most people primarily identify with being Swiss, a priority that has allowed them to maintain independence from France, Germany, and Italy as the people first see themselves as being united and only secondly do they recognize their differences in ethnicity, language, culture, etc.

This page was last updated: November, 2013