Swiss National Day

August 1

“In Switzerland they had brotherly love — they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

So goes Orson Welles’ famous line from The Third Man. But the Swiss will tell you Switzerland has produced much more than the cuckoo clock, the army knife, holey cheese, and those nifty bank accounts. Here, for the first time ever, ranked by the world’s most brainiest scientists, are the top 20 things to come out of Switzerland over the last 500 years:

20. internal combustion engine
19. e (as 2.71828 )
18. fondue
17. Amish people
16. Nescafe
15. velcro
14. absinthe
13. William Tell
12. i (square root of negative 1)
11. LSD
10. LCDs
9. Rorschach tests
8. Diesel
7. aluminum foil
6. cheese spread
5. the Red Cross
4. the World Wide Web
3. Toblerone
2. photosynthesis
1. Ursula Andress

Ah the Swiss...Ursula Andress in Dr. No

Despite these achievements, women in Switzerland didn’t get the right to vote until 1971. Since then, however, they’ve had two female Presidents.

Today’s National Day celebrates the Federal Charter of 1291, penned in August of that year. It states:

…know all men, that the people of the valley of Uri, the democracy of the valley of Schwyz, and the community of the Lower Valley of Unterwalden, seeing the malice of the age, in order that they may better defend themselves, and their own, and better preserve them in proper condition, have promised in good faith to assist each other with aid…against one and all, who may inflict upon any one of them any violence, molestation or injury, or may plot any evil against their persons or goods.

And they meant it. Mild-mannered as they seem today, the Swiss Confederation was the terror of Europe starting in the days of national hero William Tell in the 14th century until 1515 when French, German, and Venetian troops defeated 20,000 Swiss–the best trained army on the continent–in the Battle of Marignano. The battle also marked the end of the days of pikes and phalanxes and the beginning of the dominance of field artillery.

Switzerland joined the United Nations in 2002.

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