Times change and so have the requirements for becoming Swiss.
On the 1st of January 2018 the process got tougher. New language requirements, the need to have a C-permit and more questions on applicants’ knowledge of Switzerland are the main changes.
Every commune (Gemeinde) and canton (Kanton) has its own particularities when it comes to quizzing wannabe Swiss.
This week the canton of Vaud published a list of 128 multi-choice questions with the aim of harmonizing the cross-examination process undertaken by communes.
Those applying will need to answer these 128 and a further 32 questions of a more local nature set by their commune, according to a press release.
Running through the list reveals a few surprises. Some are very easy, one is technically unanswerable and a few likely to bring tears or laughter depending on perspectives.
Here are few of the very easy ones translated:
- What is the main ingredient in rösti? potato; carrot; onion; cabbage.
- Lake Geneva is situated in Switzerland and which other country? France; Italy; Austria; Germany.
- Which country does not have a border with Switzerland? Italy; Belgium; France; Germany.
The technically unanswerable one is: What is the capital of Switzerland? Zurich; Basel; Geneva: Bern. Technically Switzerland does not have a capital. Statute refers to Bern as the Federal City, a fudge resulting from the cantons’ failure to agree on an official capital.
Ones likely trigger mirth or despair include:
- What is the rösti graben? a typical Swiss dish; a song title; differences in mentally between French- and German-speaking Swiss; a suburb of Bern.
- What is Schwyzerdütsch? a culinary speciality; a mountain; a Swiss-German dialect; a sport.
- Another asks whether Ursula Andress is on Swiss coins.
Then there is the question which would probably destroy any chance of qualifying if answered incorrectly: In Switzerland, paying tax is… an obligation; a freedom; a choice; optional.
Finally, there is one with a linguistic twist: What does the word Vaud mean? land of forests; land of forts; land of valleys; land of bouchon vaudois – these are cork-shaped almond treats that pay homage to the region’s wine industry.
The correct answer is the land of forests and derives from the canton’s German name Waadt, an old German word for forest, which is now Wald in modern German.