Can you separate Swiss fact from fiction?

Stuffed with dynamite? Readers weren't sure Keystone

True or false? Throughout 2019 published a series of fact checks driven by questions from our readers. Were you paying attention? 

This content was published on December 22, 2019 - 11:00

We tested you on the following eight questions. Here are the results and the correct answers, with links to the original fact checks. In most cases the collective wisdom was comfortably right – but not always! 

Do foreigners in Switzerland pay higher car insurance premiums than Swiss citizens? 

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Yes, they do. Car insurers in Switzerland demand higher premiums from citizens of certain nations (illegal in the EU). A 2018 study found that Albanians pay up to 95% more than Swiss drivers and Italians pay a supplement of as much as 22%. The Swiss Insurance Association couldn’t say whether any nationalities pay less than the Swiss. 

Are you allowed to flush the loo in Swiss apartments after 10pm?

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Yes, you are. “If tenants feel disturbed or are even woken up by the noise of peeing or flushing, they’ve just got to live with it,” says a legal adviser.

Do most Swiss women become stay-at-home mums once they have children?

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No, they don’t. The only question that readers got clearly wrong. Whereas in 1991 about 40% of mothers were not in paid work, today only about 20% are stay-at-home mums. That said, women still commonly shoulder most of the childcare and housework. 

Are you allowed to keep just one guinea pig in Switzerland?

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No, you’re not. “Guinea pigs are very social animals and may not be kept on their own,” says the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office. 

Are Swiss road tunnels loaded with explosives so they can be quickly closed in case of invasion?

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A draw! But no, Swiss tunnels are not full of dynamite. They used to be – as part of the government’s anti-invasion strategy during the Second World War and the Cold War – but “all of the devices have since been disarmed”, the army assured

Do you have to know the recipe for fondue to pass a Swiss citizenship test?

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No, you don’t. It’s possible your municipality will ask you some general knowledge questions as part of the naturalisation process, but you’d have to get many wrong to fail. 

Are you allowed to vacuum in a Swiss apartment on Sundays?

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No, you’re not. Disturbing the peace on Sundays (or late at night) is a no-no in Switzerland. However, the extent to which it’s forbidden depends on your contract and the building’s “house rules”. And your neighbours’ hearing/patience. Mowing the lawn falls into the same category.

Are most Swiss residents rich?

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This one’s complicated. It largely depends on how you define rich. While there are some fantastically rich people in Switzerland, the Federal Statistical Office says most of the population are neither rich nor poor: 57.5% are middle income. What’s more, poverty certainly exists in Switzerland. But compared internationally, the Swiss remain richer than anyone else in terms of mean wealth per adult. Basically it’s all relative.

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