Switzerland is a land of jagged peaks, glistening snowfields, crystal waterfalls, and mountain plateaus spread with beautiful Alpine flowers. One-hundredth the size of the United States, Switzerland has a population of about 6 1/2 million. The Swiss speak several languages, Schwyzerdütsch (a form of German), French, Italian, and Romansh.
Located in approximately the center of Europe, Switzerland is landlocked on all sides. Fifty percent of the watches worn by people all over the world are made in Switzerland. This country also manufactures and exports delicious chocolate and cheeses, chemicals, machinery, fabrics, and precision tools and instruments.
The Swiss are a fun-loving people. In wintertime, at least a third of them go skiing. In the spring a carnival is held in some villages and a man or boy wearing bells and a funny hat and mask runs through the streets, announcing the end of winter. Another colorful event early in spring is Fastnacht (Eve of Lent), a three-day pageant of feasting, parading, and celebrating before Easter. Later in the year, in November, they celebrate the opening of the onion market. Children dressed as giant onions, with funny faces and even mustaches, march in a lively parade.
Some Swiss herdsmen still puff out their cheeks and blast long, mournful notes on alpenhorns that echo for miles across high mountain valleys. These huge horns date back to prehistoric times and are so long (up to fifteen feet) that they must rest on the ground when they are sounded.
Two famous books by Swiss authors that are familiar to children all over the world are Johanna Spyri’s Heidi and The Wyss family’s Swiss Family Robinson.
The Church in Switzerland
LDS missionaries first went to Switzerland in 1851, and in the fall of that same year they baptized the first members of the Church there. Today there are 5,449 Church members in Switzerland located in 2 missions with 23 branches and 1 stake with 4 wards.
In 1955 President David O. McKay dedicated the Swiss Temple in the city of Zollikofen, the first European temple to be built.