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Expat archives From Brazil, Tanzania, Morocco, Australia with love

When marked its 75th anniversary in 2010, we delved into our archives and published some of the many fascinating photos sent in over the years by listeners from all over the world. 

The mostly black-and-white pictures are essentially self-portraits of people – and several animals – who, for whatever reason, had left Switzerland to start new lives in countries ranging from Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique) and Barbados to Australia and Madagascar. 

Whether it’s celebrating Swiss National Day in Lebanon, setting up a Christmas tree in Canada or just chilling in a garden in Wisconsin, the images from a pre-selfie age are valuable historical and personal documents that show the universal attachment to one’s country of origin. 

Some scenes could have been captured in Switzerland – playing cards around the kitchen table, for example – but most subjects are seen embracing the new customs and opportunities of their adopted homelands.

The Swiss shortwave service was set up in 1935 and was renamed Swiss Radio International in 1978. This evolved into in 1999 but letters – and memories – continued to arrive from former listeners for many years. 

(Picture editor: Christoph Balsiger; text: Thomas Stephens)

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The citizens' meeting

How the Swiss are moving back to the mountains

How the Swiss are moving back to the mountains

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