Many say Switzerland is said to have the most trained army in the world. For a neutral country, you might find it surprising. However, with their central location and a century of world wars, they had a need to be prepared.
Even today, as a Swiss man, you must serve in the military. If you aren’t qualified to be in the military or don’t fit the requirements, you can be exempted. However, you must pay an additional 3% income tax until the age of 30.
As a Swiss woman, you can volunteer to serve, but it isn’t required. It also isn’t required for foreigners.
My 86-year old French teacher, E, has told us on multiple occasions about the potato patches that apartment dwellers were allowed to cultivate in city parks. She went on to say that if you own land in Switzerland, you are still required keep a potato patch. Thus, if the country goes to war, there is a food supply to rely on. I haven’t been able to find much evidence of it online, but I find it interesting that it could be still residual from WW2. Although, a simple trip to the grocery store shows that they are in full agreement of supporting their own food infrastructure as a result of the wars.
You may recall from our post on our basement, that all buildings must have bomb shelters. In fact, Switzerland can house 114% of its citizens in these fortifications if something happens.
Today, you can tour many of the secret fortresses built in the World Wars. Many of the links below detail more about the cool places you can visit.
Rick Steves – Swiss Military Secrets
Wikipedia – Gun Politics in Switzerland
The Adventures of Miss Widget and Her People – In Plain Sight: Villa Verte and Villa Rose
Schwingen in Switzerland – The Swiss Army – Ready to Blow Their Country to Smithereens
Schwingen in Switzerland – The Tobelerone Line, One Sweet Barrier
Schwingen in Switzerland – Why didn’t Hitler invade Switzerland?
Schwingen in Switzerland – Fun in the Alpine Fortress of Furigen