Swiss culture

Switzerland is divided in many separate regions called cantons. Each has their own history and thanks to the nations strong federal system there are many cultural differences between them as well. As an expat you need to be aware of the differences you may come across and how they could affect your daily life in Switzerland.

Switzerland is home to a thriving arts scene and its architects have often won worldwide acclaim for their designs. Due to the canton system the culture of Switzerland is highly diverse with even the Swiss themselves wondering what keeps the country together.

With Switzerland divided between French and German speakers you will likely hear the term Rostigraben to describe that divide.  The cultural differences in Switzerland have also created some clichés that have increased the Röstigraben. The French speakers are regarded by the German speakers as lazy people who don’t work hard and who only like to party. In contrast, the German speakers are regarded as less open-minded, less easy going and less friendly.

As well as language being diverse in the cantons expats may be surprised to discover that wages too change depending on which canton you opt to live and work in. For example you will be better paid working in Zurich than say in the canton of Basel Stadt.

Public holidays also vary depending on which canton you choose to live in. Switzerland has only one national holiday which is shared by all citizens, which is Swiss national day held on the 1st of August. The holiday celebrates the founding of the Old Swiss Confederacy and sees Swiss celebrate by holding paper lantern parades, bonfires and firework displays.