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TRAVEL NEWS

IN PICTURES: Ten Swiss-inspired places from across the globe

Hundreds of regions, towns and landscapes across the globe bear the name ‘Switzerland’ in some way. Here are some of the prettiest.

Saxon Switzerland, in eastern Germany
Perhaps the most famous region named after Switzerland, Germany's Saxon Switzerland. By Thomas Wolf, www.foto-tw.de - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27758134

Switzerland’s beautiful villages and landscapes – along with a worldwide diaspora – has meant the name ‘Switzerland’ touches several continents. 

Some say there are more Swiss-inspired locations across the globe than from any other country, although this is impossible to determine. 

From neighbouring Germany to as far away as Asia, South America and Australia, Switzerland’s influence can be seen. 

As German magazine Welt reported, the late 1800s was a period of ‘Switzerland hype’, whereby places were given the name Switzerland or Swiss in far flung areas. 

During this time, European colonisation as well as Switzerland becoming the favourite holiday destination for the wealthy meant that Switzerlands sprung up all over the world. 

Germany alone has more than 130 areas named after or inspired by Switzerland, with almost every region in the country having its own little piece of Switzerland. 

Saxon Switzerland (Sächsische Schweiz), Germany

Perhaps Germany’s most famous ‘Switzerland’, the Sächsische Schweiz – Saxon Switzerland – is a region of the eastern state of Saxony on the border with the Czech Republic. 

The region’s sandstone mountains, which produce several unique and striking rock shapes, give the region its name. 

Perhaps the most famous image in the region is the Bastei bridge, a sandstone viewing platform which is one of Germany’s most iconic images. 

Morne Vert, Martinique

While the Caribbean climate does not reflect that of Switzerland, the landscapes in the region of Morne Vert, in Martinique have given it the nickname ‘Little Switzerland’.

Martinique, a French overseas department, also shares the French language with Switzerland. 

Little Switzerland, North Carolina

The town of Little Switzerland in the US state of North Carolina was christened as such in 1910 as a reference to the mountains which surround it. 

Rwanda

The African nation of Rwanda has also earned the nickname ‘Little Switzerland’, due to its lush foliage and mountainous landscapes. 

In recent years, the country’s stability and economic growth – as well as its pull as a tourist destination – has seen it receive the moniker for a range of non-aesthetic reasons. 

The pictures do resemble Switzerland, although as the home to many gorillas, it’s best to ask locals about the best place to hike. 

Anholter Schweiz/Anholter Switzerland

On the Dutch-German border is Anholter Switzerland, a landscape and wildlife park based around a Swiss-esque rock formation. 

The current park, which was built in 1892, features a homage to Switzerland including a replica Lake Lucerne and a wooden Swiss house. 

Anholter Switzerland, on the border between Holland and Australia. Von Frank Vincentz - Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8942658

Anholter Switzerland, on the border between Holland and Australia. Von Frank Vincentz – Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 3.0, 

Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, Mongolia

The Gorkhi-Terelj National Park is one of Mongolia’s best known national parks – and is also known by the name Mongolian Switzerland. 

While some of the rock formations and foliage represents what you might see in Switzerland, the ever present yurts are a dead giveaway that you are not in Switzerland anymore, Dorothy. 

Turtle Rock in Mongolia - part of Little Switzerland

Switzerland’s influence can be seen as far away as Mongolia. Turtle Rock. By Arabsalam – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0. 

Asturias, Spain

The autonomous Spanish region of Asturias is also called Little Switzerland – and it is not difficult to determine why. 

Bohemian Switzerland, Czech Republic 

While this might be geographically linked with neighbouring Saxony, Bohemian Switzerland has a range of special mountainesque features which resemble Swiss landscapes. 

The Pravčická Archway, otherwise known as the Pravčická Gate or the Prebischtor, is a natural sandstone arch which has been featured in films and was so popular among tourists that it needed to be closed due to fear of erosion. 

Montville, Australia

The town of Montville, located above Brisbane in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, is known as Little Switzerland thanks to its mountainous landscapes and traditional wooden homes and shops. 

Montville, in Queensland, Australia, has been nicknamed Little Switzerland

The traditional wooden homes and buildings in Montville, Queensland, have been nicknamed Little Switzerland. By S. Newrick – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0. 

Drakensberg, South Africa/Lesotho

The Drakensberg is the eastern part of the Great Escarpment in Southern Africa, crossing through both South Africa and Lesotho. 

Due to European settlement, the region became known as Little Switzerland. 

The southern African region of Drakensberg

Drakensberg, in the southern African nations of South Africa and Lesotho. By Diriye Amey from Locarno, Switzerland – South Africa – Drakensberg, CC BY 2.0,

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SWITZERLAND EXPLAINED

What you can be fined for in Basel if you don’t follow the rules

From wrongly disposing of your waste to making too much noise or walking your dog without a lead, life in the Swiss city of Basel can be costly if you don't follow the rules.

What you can be fined for in Basel if you don't follow the rules

In 2021, the OECD Better Life Index found that Switzerland outperforms the average in income, jobs, education, health, environmental quality, social connections, safety, and life satisfaction.

But in order to maintain a  quality of life among its citizens, Switzerland has a number of rules and regulations in place, including keeping noise to a minimum and staying away from playgrounds with a dog in tow, that can result in hefty fines if ignored.

The rules and fines vary depending on where you live in Switzerland but here are four areas of everyday life you should keep on top of in Basel.

Waste disposal

According to Basel City’s Office for Environment and Energy, the cost of cleaning the city’s public areas amounts to around CHF 21 million annually, with the city cleaning department estimating the effort for clearing the littering alone to be one third of the total cleaning job.

But the issues don’t just concern the city of Basel itself. In 2021, a total of 784 fines were issued in the canton of Basel-City, 361 of which were for untimely provided Bebbi sacks and a further 235 fines were issues for illegally dumped waste, or so-called wild dumps.

Some 168 people were fined for disposing of household waste in public waste bins and 20 people for littering, carelessly throwing away small waste or leaving it lying around. Though this sounds like a lot, bear in mind that this was during Covid-19 and hence, the figures are actually significantly lower than they were during pre-pandemic times.

Here are the waste disposal-related violations you can be fined for:

Prohibited disposal of small waste, so-called littering – Fine CHF 100.

Prohibited disposal of household waste in waste bins on streets, squares and in public facilities – Fine CHF 100.

Prohibited removal of household waste, bulky goods and electronic waste in public spaces – Fine CHF 200.

Untimely disposal of waste on unfenced private forecourts near the commons border, on sidewalks or on the side of the road – Fine CHF 50.

Failure to set up a waste bin during opening hours in front of the point of sale (take-away) – Fine CHF 50.

Driving

Foreigners and locals alike are never short of praise for the Swiss transport system – and for good reason. Fast, efficient, and highly developed it gets everyone from A to Z in next to no time. It is perhaps surprising then that a significant number of people living in Switzerland choose to travel by car rather than use public transport. If you’re among them, here are some ground rules.

OPINION: Trains in Switzerland are excellent, so why are cars still king?

According to the Polizei Schweiz, the Basel-Stadt cantonal police checked 589 vehicles around Christmas time, resulting in confiscated driver’s licenses, fines and arrests.

To spare you the same fate, we have listed the main driving offences police have observed:

Failure of the driver to wear the seat belt – Fine CHF 60.

Driving without the (right) light on – Fine CHF 40 (daylight), CHF 60. (roads and tunnel alight), CHF 40 (standard light at night-time)

Exceeding the allowed parking time – Fine CHF 40 (2 hours), CHF 60 (4 hours), CHF 100 (10 hours)

Parking on a no parking line – Fine CHF 40 (2 hours), CHF 60 (4 hours), CHF 100 (10 hours)

Not carrying the warning triangle – Fine CHF 40.

Not having your driver’s license on you – Fine CHF 20.

Failing to indicate when changing lanes or parking – Fine CHF 100.

Noise

It can be argued that nowhere else in Europe is noise regarded with such contempt as is the case in Switzerland where silence is considered somewhat sacred – and not only at night.

Thus, Switzerland has – legally – set in stone the following resting times that must be respected lest you be slapped with a fine.

Quiet times:

Afternoon rest: weekdays between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.

Night rest: weekdays from 8 p.m. or 10 p.m. until 6 p.m. or 7 a.m.

Public Sundays and public holidays: all day

How common are fines? Not very is the short answer.

If your neighbour proves noisy on the regular (e.g., if they disturb your sleep or peace), you have the option of contacting the police about the disturbance. While the police can request they lower the noise, they cannot fine them. Fines can only be handed our if you formerly report your neighbour. Note: Calls can also be placed anonymously.

Dogs

Few things are more relaxing than strolling through the city centre with your furry friend by your side, and both the canton and city of Basel offer numerous opportunities for dogs and their owners to enjoy their walk. Nevertheless, certain regulations apply in some places, such as a leash obligation or bans on entry.

Dogs are not allowed, even if not made clear with a sign, in children’s playgrounds, cemeteries, public bathing areas and grocery stores, as well as wherever there are no-dog signs.

At night, in areas where dogs are allowed, they must be kept on a short leash between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Areas include: pubs and restaurants (including outdoors ones), public transport, on heavily frequented streets and squares, markets as well as bitches in general when in heat. Dogs must also be walked on a short leash wherever there are signs that require a leash.

Failure to comply with these rules will set dog owners back by CHF 100. Not cleaning up after dog’s toilet trip can also lead to a CHF 100 fine if you are caught.

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