Switzerland

A small, landlocked country in the heart of Europe, Switzerland is all about mountains. Most of Switzerland is composed of a mountainous plateau bordered by a large part of the Alps on the south and southeast, and by the Jura Mountains on the northwest. The rest of the country is covered with rolling hills, plains, lakes and rivers.

Animal life in Switzerland varies according to elevation. Marmot and ibex inhabit the alpine regions, while deer and fox are found in the lower forested regions. Although hunted to extinction in the 19th century, brown bears, wolves and lynx are starting to be found again in very small numbers.

Switzerland faces a number of environmental threats, including habitat fragmentation and biodiversity loss. The country is also particularly threatened by climate change, which is contributing, in some places, to the recession of glaciers.
Bearded vulture territory. Stabelchod Valley, Swiss National Park, Graubünden, Switzerland. / ©: WWF-Canon / Mark Schulman
Stabelchod Valley, Swiss National Park, Graubünden, Switzerland.
© WWF-Canon / Mark Schulman

Country Eco-tips

Energy and Water
  • Switzerland has 6% of Europe’s stock of fresh water. The Rhine and Rhone take their source here.
  • Tap water in Switzerland is excellent and tastes just as good as mineral water.
    Water from most of the country’s tens of thousands of public waters fountains is also drinkable.
  • Occasionally you will come across a tap or fountain labelled Kein Trinkwasser or eau non potable - this means the water is not drinking quality.
  • If you will be drinking water from rivers, lakes or streams, even crystal-clear Alpine streams, you should take steps to purify it - either by boiling it or buying a water filter.
  • Thanks to its topography and high levels of annual rainfall, hydropower is Switzerland’s most important source of renewable energy, meeting approximately 60% of the country’s electricity needs.
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Recycling
  • In most parts of Switzerland disposing of rubbish costs money. Each garbage bag to be disposed has a fee of at least 1 euro.
  • There are bottle banks at every supermarket and in public areas, with separate slots for clear, green and brown glass as well as PET bottles.
  • Every town has a free paper collection once a month.
  • Customers can return their old electrical devices free of charge at local municipal collection points or at any electronic store.
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Transport
  • Trains are the best and most efficient way to get around Switzerland. SBB, Switzerland’s national railway company, reaches most destinations within the country. There are also a number of mountain railways, which are sometimes the only means of access to winter resorts.
  • Buses provide good transportation to smaller villages and more out of the way places in Switzerland.
  • There are trams and light rail services in Bern, Basel, Geneva, Neuchâtel and Zurich; Lausanne has a metro system.
  • Most major roads in Geneva are bike friendly and have bike lanes. Zurich also has a good network of bike paths.
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Food
  • A vegetarian has no problem food shopping in Switzerland. You will find organic and natural foods products in most major supermarkets.
  • The major supermarket chains in Switzerland carry a range of organic products. Look for the Bio Engagement and Naturaplan labels.
  • Wines produced with sound ecological methods will carry the Vinatura logo.
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Green Spots
  • Swiss National Park: Located in the central Alps in eastern Switzerland near the border with Italy, this is the only national park in Switzerland. The park is known for its alpine wildlife, which includes ibex, red deer, marmots, golden eagles and bearded vultures. Although hunted to extinction in the 19th century, there have been recent sightings of brown bears and wolves.
  • Lavaux Vineyard Terraces: Stretching 30km along the south-facing northern shores of Lake Geneva from the Chateau de Chillon to the eastern outskirts of Lausanne, the centuries-old Lavaux wine-growing region has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Aletsch Glacier: Covering an area of more than 120km2 in southern Switzerland, this is the largest glacier in Europe, descending the south side of the Jungfrau into the valley of the Upper Rhône. The popular Aletsch hike allows visitors to experience the glacier at close range.
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Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the above information. However, WWF makes no warranties, expressed or implied, regarding errors or omissions and assumes no legal liability or responsibility for loss or damage resulting from its use.
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