Living in Switzerland (II): The crossroads of Europe

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If you want to travel to Europe a country, but also to experience a different culture, then to Switzerland on the right. Switzerland, the country in terms of culture or geography, are worthy of a European crossroads. Switzerland East and West, respectively, with Austria, France, Italy and Germany border, are (or were) the leading European powers, Switzerland can be described as a buffer zone between the great powers. Between eastern Switzerland and Austria as well as a small country of Liechtenstein, is now regarded as a subsidiary of Switzerland, have also succumbed to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Switzerland, though not a large country, there are 26 highly autonomous state (Kanton), and became a division of German, French, Italian three major language areas.

Geographically, Switzerland has always been the hub of Europe, it is a buffer. In inaccessible era, crossing the Alps is a very difficult and dangerous thing. Roman Empire for hundreds of years built many roads across the Alps, from the north and south to make large-scale trade becomes possible. Today is no longer a natural moat Swiss Alps, the Swiss in the last hundred years to repair roads and railways countless large and small tunnel in Yamaguchi canyon. Today, the Swiss are still tirelessly to invest in transportation systems at a cost of 12 billion Swiss francs Gotthard Base Tunnel in June this year, just opened across the Alps mountain and thus shortens an hour.

Geneva Street

Figure: Geneva Street

In addition to German-speaking area I live in Zurich, Geneva and Basel, Switzerland also notoriety. Geneva is the headquarters of the United Nations, who is also the headquarters of the League of Nations predecessor, with large and small international bodies. It is located in French-speaking Switzerland is the largest city of immigrants. The train from Zurich to Geneva about three hours, almost as far as Switzerland is already the train route. And most Swiss cities, Geneva is a beautiful lake, the lake is half Swiss, half French, called Lake Geneva in Switzerland, in France, called Leman. Lake Geneva, there are two famous cities, namely the north shore of Lausanne (Laussane), and the South Bank of the Evian (Evian). Lausanne is the seat of the International Olympic Organizing Committee, Evian in France, also called the Evian (Evian), Evian mineral water because the plant is located here.

Montreux on Lake Geneva

Figure: Montreux on Lake Geneva

Basel in Switzerland, Germany and France, the three countries at the junction of the Rhine at the turn of the north, the ancient trade center and military hub, but also Latin culture and Germanic cultural crossroads. Basel is also the German-speaking area of ​​the city, although it is on the French border. In fact belongs to the neighboring Alsace region of France, the people here before being assimilated in France, has been speaking Alsatian dialect, with the German is very similar.

Not far from Basel, there is a Augst (Augst) called the town, unremarkable. In Roman times but it is the largest city on the Rhine: 奥古斯塔劳里卡 (Augusta Raurica). It is an important line of defense north of the empire, against Celtic and Germanic barbarian centuries of invasion.

奥古斯塔劳里卡 Roman ruins

Figure: 奥古斯塔劳里卡 Roman ruins

The southern border of Switzerland and Italy, Ticino, Switzerland's Italian-speaking. Here is the largest city of Lugano (Lugano), it is also a yard, lake town. Lugano city not far north Bellinzona (Belinzona) is an ancient military trading center, is located two routes across the Alps meet. Although the Ticino people speak Italian, but it is entirely Swiss character, with the Italians completely free lazy do not touch.

Switzerland southeast of Grisons (Graubünden) Switzerland's most remote and least populated areas, and therefore retain the original ecology of the natural environment, and the ancient language Romansh (Romansh), Switzerland's only national park in Grau Bindon states. In addition to the three languages, in addition to a fourth official language in Switzerland Romansh. Graubünden Engadine valley in southeastern Switzerland is the only Romansch area, most of the people here are also German. Romansch language is a Romance language family, with Italian, French close with German far. Romansch dates back to the Roman Empire during the reign of the Alps, from the Classical Latin evolved.

Although Switzerland has three major language areas, but virtually everyone will speak German. Swiss national identity of their own language is much higher than national identity, even Swiss will agree with Swiss nationality, even if the language barrier. Each language region of Switzerland who deliberately make a clean break with its neighbors, keep their distance. German-speaking Switzerland who did not like that they have been recognized as the German, French and Italian region also true.

European nations

European ethnic jokes

There is a joke, saying that heaven is such a place where the police are British, the chefs Italian, the mechanics are German, French lover, and this is all managed by the Swiss. And hell is such a place where the police are German, the chef is British, mechanics are French, the lovers Swiss, and this is all managed by the Italian people.

Thus among different ethnic groups in different countries in Europe are very different, the Europeans see the joke will smile, but do not understand the culture of the European peoples foreigners may not understand. In fact, on the European continent it seems to have so many large and small countries, but according to the language and cultural habits but can be divided into three national (as well as a number of small ethnic). These three are ethnic Germans, Latin and Slav.


Germanic people, including a German, Dutch, English, Danes, Swedes, Norwegians and Icelanders. These ethnic languages ​​belong to the Germanic language family, in Roman times was considered barbarian language, so the early literature is very small. German and Dutch language are two similar, also known as German standard High German, and Dutch lowlands belongs to the Germanic languages ​​(different from the Low German). England known as the Anglo-Saxons, because they come from the history of Lower Saxony region of Germany and Jutland in Denmark, but later was repeatedly conquered England, the most important one is the 11th century Duke of Normandy conquered, since a large number of mixed English French ingredients, so other Germanic and not a small difference. Scotland, Wales and Ireland were not Germans, even though the vast majority of their native language is English. Danes, Swedes, Norwegians and Icelanders and the Scandinavians are collectively referred to as (Scandinavian) or Norse (Norse), their language is very close to each other, and the difference was not too German too far.

Germans tall, blond high proportion live in colder northern and central Europe, Hitler considered the highest like humans. Germans are thought to be a serious, serious, reliable people, like everything in good order. Germany and Switzerland are the two major industrial powers in Europe, not only excellent quality, technology is very advanced, German and Swiss products worldwide reputation. Germans are Europe's most economically developed country, the best country governance, which the Germans rigorous attitude not unrelated. Germans respect the rules of public order very seriously, especially in public infrastructure. German police the name of strict enforcement and unreasonable, sometimes on the order of compliance to achieve the very point of collapse. But while the Germans character seem more indifferent, but when people really need or would be willing to lend a helping hand.

Germanic peoples most are not good that can be said of food. Compared to the Franco-Italian cuisine, English cuisine is notoriously unpalatable. Britain's most famous "national dish" is a fish with french fries, greasy and tasteless, who eats who knows. The only worth mentioning that the reputation of English afternoon tea is also good, but this is not the ordinary people of Britain the traditional diet, but the nineteenth century pastime genteel, more importantly, a variety of desserts are mainly tea French. German cuisine although not so notorious, but not a high grade. German diet relatively straightforward, meat-based, in particular, prefer pork, the most famous German cuisine is probably the crispy pork knuckle and colored countries of the sausage. As for the source of the starch, the UK and Germany people prefer potatoes and rye bread. German cuisine in the most favorable should be beer, especially the annual Oktoberfest in Munich is attractive countries people booze, usually gathered in the open-air beer garden (Biergarten) are served with roast pork knuckle, sausages, sauerkraut and bread salt and pepper (Brezel) you'll feel. Because of the sea, the Nordic people prefer to eat fish, but only the fish, rather than a variety of seafood, even if it is the type of fish is limited. Nordic people do not eat squid, octopus like seafood, this makes the Mediterranean coast residents are very difficult to understand. Because in Nordic culture, the octopus is not in their diet, but a terrible sea monster, such as the legendary Norwegian sea monster (Kraken). Nordic cuisine is probably the most renown Swedish meatballs, with furniture giant Ikea force in the global expansion of the spread around the world.

Typical German cuisine

Figure: A typical German cuisine


Generalized Latin languages ​​are spoken by people, including French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian. The language of these countries are Romance language family language from Vulgar Latin evolved and affected indigenous languages ​​of the region. Latin and Germanic boundary line roughly frontier of the Roman Empire's most prosperous period, in fact, may be the Italians are Roman descended from Latin, spoken by other ethnic country who is completely other romanization nationality, living in the Roman Empire province. Not, strictly speaking, the French are mostly of Roman Gaul, Brittany region in addition to also speak some language other than Celtic, have all speak French. Spanish and Portuguese are a mix of Moorish North African descent and indigenous Iberian Peninsula, the Arabs. Romanians are descendants of Roman Dacians, Dacians Roman Empire was conquered (Trajan's Column) after romanization, and because many are surrounded by Slavs, there is not a Slavic language whose ingredients . Moldova's largest ethnic Romanians in this country is actually, but had been occupied by the Russian Empire, and later became Soviet territory. Moldova now has three ethnic strife, are Romanians, Russians and Gagauz people (Turks).

Roman Empire

Latin looks and blond Germanic people have significant differences in their darker skin, dark brown or black hair is almost all fat, height is relatively low. In appearance, the Latins, especially Italian, Spanish, Portuguese Mediterranean complexion with other ethnic groups and there is no great difference, that is, North Africa and the Middle East, Arabs, Berbers. A month ago there is a ridiculous news story , an American economist at the Italian-American plane was mistaken for terrorists , just because mathematical formulas in calculus (and looks like a Middle Eastern). Since the French and the Romanians have historically been surrounded by aliens, so it is a race or language with traditional Mediterranean Latins there are some differences.

Speaking Latinos, most people think is romantic, especially France and Italy. Paris, Rome, Milan are in the hearts of countless people all art, romantic, is also true, national historic Latin long, there are many artists and cultural monuments, it is a great place to travel. Compared cold Germans, Latin people are very warm, if a girl a man walking in Spain encountered countless strangers. However, Latin for governance not the line, people in these countries generally considered more likely to be emotionally controlled, the history of France on a variety of continuous revolution of the famously Italian government replaced several tenth, Spain, and Portugal has been struggling with the economic crisis. Latinos also have a major feature, but not very tricky, like almost everything, to compare the rules "flexible", like loopholes, and even Italian World Heritage town of " Alberobello " is to escape tax evasion of.

Compared to hard-working Germans, Latins are more enjoy life, food is the most important part of their lives. When it comes to high-end expensive food, it must be French. Over the years in various international high-end social occasions, both in Britain and America or Eastern Europe, even in India and Japan, French has been dominated by the most prominent position. Wide selection of French ingredients, cooking methods varied, so that neighbors Britons surprised. Whether it is high-end French daily occasion or civilian, we are very particular about the meals never fool. French wine is a major feature, only a particular region in France produces sparkling wine can be called champagne. Italians prefer pasta, pasta and pizza are popular around the world civilians cuisine, but also pay attention to fine Italian cuisine, freshness of ingredients really care. Spanish, Portuguese dishes like tricks, than German "main course" a meat market, Spain and Portugal prefer smaller components, but many kinds of style. Spain and Portugal can be seen everywhere selling small Tapas bar, which has a wide variety of snacks, which can be called on Spaniards friends, a glass of wine on the spot, from morning to eat in the afternoon.

Spanish Tapas

Figure: Spanish variety of Tapas

A diet rich in culture behind, in fact, developed agriculture and Mediterranean spice trade. Food culture is not able to produce several generations, and it is the embodiment of history. Roman Empire, the Mediterranean already have rich and varied diet, but the Roman Empire opened the way to the east of the road, so the type of diet is very rich and varied since then. Germans have lived in the north of the Alps in the bitter cold, the sunshine time is short, agriculture has always been underdeveloped, produce very limited, not to mention spices aristocratic privilege. Even just a few decades ago, the winter to eat fresh vegetables are an unimaginable luxury.

Overall, Switzerland culturally closer to Germanic culture, after all, are in the main German-speaking population. German rigorous, diligent, accurate and Swiss counterparts. However, due to join the French and Italian-speaking Federation, Switzerland and into a number of Latin elements, although only embellishment, which is also Switzerland's culture more colorful.

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