THE BALANCE OF FACTS
Follow this quick review of some of the positive and negative facts and figures on Switzerland
Words: Aleksandra Georgieva
Photography: Malte Schmidt, Artiom Vallat, Simon Fitall
15 August 2019
Over the past years Switzerland may consistently have been ranked amongst the best places to live in, but there is a fine balance between the facts and figures that measure the European country’s economic, social and cultural progress.
Home to approximately eight million people, Switzerland is leading the global reports’ lists regarding positive livelihood of local people. The World Health Organization (WHO) puts the country at second place for the location with the longest average life expectancy. It was outranked only by Japan. But with the estimated 81.3 years life expectancy for men and 85.3 years for women the Swiss population has also began ageing. In 2015 around a fifth of the citizens were over sixty-five years old.
While the figures battle the two sides of the coin in regard to the prosperity of the country, Switzerland has additionally been facing gender equality issues for longer period of time than the remaining western European countries. Alongside the considerable wealth gap between rich and poor, there has also been a significant difference in the percentage of full-time employed women as opposed to men. The pay gap is another pressing issue alongside the gender inequality in the national decision-taking posts in the country. However, there have been attempts to balance the figures. In 2017 one-fifth of new executive positions were taken by women. According to the Schilling report the rise in female positions in this sector over last year was as much as the rise of the previous ten years combined.
It is safe to say that Switzerland is one of the most well-organised countries in the world today. For example, if there was ever a nuclear war, the Swiss would be safe with enough nuclear fallout shelters prepared to accommodate the country’s entire population. Amidst some of the most populated villages the Swiss military also keeps fully stocked artillery bunkers designed as country homes. The possibility of a foreign invasion is yet another concept well-thought of. An estimation of 3000 locations alongside Switzerland’s main access points are wired to blow at a moment’s notice.
The European country is also the birthplace of some of the world’s leading scientists in research of mental illness treatments. In 2017 Switzerland was the world’s innovation leader for seventh year in a row, ahead of US (4th) and UK (5th), according to the World Intellectual Property Organization.
Switzerland has an ongoing need for people suitable for executive positions. The number of foreign executive workers rose to 45 per cent according to a 2017 Schilling report. The cultural diversity in the country is vividly present with four official languages and a population that consists of representatives of nearly every ethnic group or nationality worldwide. The country has been renowned for admirable tolerance and direct democracy. Controversially since the beginning of 2014 Swiss voters have been attempting to impose anti-immigrating initiatives and limits to the amount of elsewhere born people allowed to enter Switzerland. Despite that close to 25 per cent of the Swiss population consists of foreign-born citizens, in the future there might be an end to the free movement accord between the country and the European Union.
Switzerland also faces climate change issues and on the verge solutions to some of them. Large snowfalls in the mountains, freezing temperatures and severe winters have been having less and less impact especially across locations with lower altitudes. The summers become hotter by the year creating dangerous climate anomalies. The Alps create an effect similar to a climate barrier. The north part remains colder due to Atlantic winds and the weather in the south is milder by influence from the Mediterranean. Alike any region on the planet, Switzerland faces various negative impacts of the ongoing climate cataclysms. Yet, the government finds ways to create some balance by developing ecologically friendly projects. The most important renewable energy of the country is hydroelectricity. More than half of Switzerland’s households are powered by hydroelectric power plants, which produce around 19 million gigawatt hours a year.