Friday, August 27, 2010

Passports Not Needed!!!!

It has been a true privilege to have met an incredible friend from Switzerland. As our friendship has developed over the past few months I've been learning as much as I can about her country and the culture there. My husband attended school in Germany and would take every opportunity to travel to Switzerland. He told me that it was one of the most beautiful countries he's ever seen (he's well traveled). After researching this wonderful place I can see what he was referring to. I'm helplessly in love with Switzerland. This week I'm going to tour through the countryside and invite all of you to join me.

Our first day we'll learn about the history that makes up this incredible country.

This is the flag of Switzerland. It's red with a white Greek cross in the center. It's one of the two square sovereign-state flags, the other being the flag of the Vatican City. The white cross has been used in the Old Swiss Confederacy since the 14th century, but the modern design of a white cross suspended in a square red field was introduced only after the end of the Napoleonic period, in 1815, and was introduced as official national flag in 1889.

There is a very unique and fascinating history behind the name of Switzerland. Did you know that Switzerland was first settled by Celtic tribes? One particular tribe named Helvetii. They migrated into Switzerland during the 2nd century BC. That's almost impossible to comprehend considering we come from such a young country. The Helvetti's were dominant in the area during the time the Roman empire ruled and stretched beyond them into Gaul. So the Roman name for Switzerland becomes Helvetia. That is why you see CH as the symbol for Switzerland. It stands for Confederatio Helvetica.

Switzerland is divided into 26 cantons. Each canton has its own constitution, own parliament, and own government and courts. However, there are differences between each individual cantons, particularly in terms of population and geographics. Also, there are two enclaves:
Büsingen belongs to Germany, Campione d'Italia belongs to Italy.

A Germanic tribe called, Alamanni, began occupying the area between the Rhine and Danube, northern Switzerland. The Alamanni brought the German language into Switzerland. There are four official languages in Switzerland: German, French, Italian, and Romanch. English is sort of an unofficial fifth language

I'm very intrigued with the history because I recently researched my family tree and found out that my great, great, great, great, great, grandfather came from Switzerland. He was born and raised in Bern. That is the furthest back I can go on my family tree. I would love to find out more. I wonder if my family originally came from the Alamanni tribe. Wouldn't that be interesting?

Speaking of interesting facts:

There are a lot of mountains in Switzerland, some of them harboring glaciers. The most famous mountain in Switzerland is the Matterhorn. I use to love riding the Matterhorn ride at Disneyland when I was girl.

Matterhorn ride at Disneyland California. Although a lot of fun but nothing compares to the real Matterhorn.

This is Lac Neuchatel. The largest lake in Switzerland is Lake Geneva or Lac Léman between Switzerland and France. However, Switzerland has many gorgeous lakes.

This is Lake Geneva aka: Lac Léman. It's breathtaking. This is a lake where I could really relax on a summer day.

Swiss chocolate is the BEST chocolate on earth. There isn't another country on the planet that produces anything better than Swiss chocolate.

1 comment:

Trish said...

Gigi! What I wouldn't give to be relaxing on the sunny shore of Lake Geneva, sharing some Swiss chocolate with you RIGHT THIS VERY MOMENT! What a gorgeous post! Your friend sounds like a real sweetheart, just like you! :) xoox