Culture – facts and figures

Thanks to its location at the crossroads of three major European cultures (German, French and Italian), Switzerland has a rich and varied arts and culture scene. This situation is also a reason why the country's artists tend to be outward-looking and incorporate influences from other countries in their work.

Film clip: Heidi in a mountain flower meadow with a goat
Heidi: Switzerland's most famous literary figure. The story is one of the best-selling children's books worldwide and has inspired countless film adaptations. © Zodiac Pictures / Walter Wehner

  • There are 1,053 museums in Switzerland, and they attract around 10 million visitors every year. A small minority (5%) of the museums attract more than 50,000 visitors per year. The art and natural history museums are the most popular.
  • Two thirds of people in Switzerland attend at least one music performance a year, and 20% play a musical instrument.
  • Lausanne's Cantonal and University Library is Switzerland’s largest library, with holdings totalling 8.4 million.
  • 'Heidi', the story of the orphan girl from the mountains, has been translated into over 50 languages and made into a play, a musical and a ballet. Since 1920, 'Heidi' has inspired countless film adaptations in the US, Japan (as an anime series) and Europe, most recently in 2015 by director Alain Gsponer. In many places, 'Heidi' reinforces the cliché of Switzerland as an Alpine paradise, but it also reflects the story of many Swiss emigrants.
  • Switzerland has 78 major professional stages, 56 of which are in the French-speaking part of the country. The Swiss Register of Associations also lists some 865 theatre associations and over 330 dance associations.
  • The public sector spends around CHF 350 per inhabitant per year on culture, which corresponds to 0.4% of GDP. Cantonal lottery funds support Swiss culture every year to the tune of over CHF 150 million.
  • Geneva, Zurich and Basel are Switzerland's major cultural centres and spend the most on culture per inhabitant.
  • Thirteen Swiss sites are listed as UNESCO world heritage – nine for their cultural dimension and four for their natural beauty.