Mountains have impact on Switzerland's image in 2017

Press release, 18.12.2017

Switzerland’s iconic mountains drew particular international attention this year because of a number of natural events linked to climate change. At the same time, the victories of Federer, the Swiss financial centre and a number of popular votes also attracted the attention of foreign media. And according to the Nation Brands Index 2017, Switzerland enjoys a good image abroad overall, retaining its 8th place out of a total of 50 countries.

The traditional image of Switzerland is associated with its mountains, and this was reinforced by various natural phenomena, particularly events in the canton of Valais linked to climate change. The landslides in Bondo, the ice melt that caused the Trift glacier to collapse, and the discovery of bodies of hikers preserved in the glaciers of Tsanfleuron and Hohlaub had a double impact on the image of our country. On the one hand, these events highlight the fact that Switzerland is exposed to global warming, and on the other hand they underline its mastery of risk management, as these catastrophic events were anticipated and the worst effects prevented from happening.

Other stories, such as the project initiated by the alpine community of Albinen to attract new inhabitants by offering them remuneration, and the death of mountaineer Ueli Steck in the Himalayas, also put the Swiss mountains and ecosystem in the spotlight.

The force of the mountains and nature more generally is confirmed by the photos linked to Switzerland on Instagram. For the first time, Presence Switzerland this year analysed public posts on this social media platform to get an idea of Switzerland's image among its users. More than five million photos were analysed in order to establish the most important categories for Switzerland. Alongside gastronomy and luxury goods, here too mountain landscapes define Switzerland's image. For Ambassador Nicolas Bideau, head of Presence Switzerland, "Our mountains are incredible sources of storytelling. At once so beautiful and yet terribly dangerous, they fascinate the media of the whole world and have shaped our image this year more than ever before".
Other recurring topics continued to attract the attention of foreign media: first, the victories of Roger Federer at various tournaments and in particular his double record at Wimbledon, where he was acclaimed not only for his outstanding play, but also because he is the first player to have won Wimbledon eight times and the oldest to reach a Grand Slam final. The Swiss political system and direct democracy were in the news during various popular votes, including those on the Corporate Tax Reform Act III (RIEIII), simplified naturalisation for third-generation foreigners and the Energy Strategy 2050. A number of topics related to the economy and innovation were also widely covered, including the World Economic Forum in Davos, during which the Chinese president's participation and his official visit to Switzerland made a significant impression. Although usually only mentioned sporadically, Swiss research was highlighted this year when chemist Jacques Dubochet was awarded the Nobel Prize.

The year 2017 was also marked by occasional tensions with different countries, and in particular with Turkey in the run-up to the Turkish constitutional referendum, which provoked reactions from the media and civil society in Switzerland which were subsequently criticised in the Turkish press. Other European countries experienced similar incidents with Turkey for the same reasons.

Lastly, according to the Nation Brands Index, which compares the international public perception of 50 countries, Switzerland retains a positive and stable image, ranking 8th as in recent years. Especially in terms of governance, but also for its economic attractiveness, quality of life, exports and potential for innovation, Switzerland enjoys a good reputation. In other areas such as culture and sport, however, there is room for improvement, even with the media impact of a Roger Federer.

Further information:

Yearly analysis
Monitoring and Analysis
Presence Switzerland: Communication abroad

Address for enquiries:

Nicolas Bideau
Head of Presence Switzerland
+41 79 667 69 15

Information FDFA
Bundeshaus West
CH-3003 Bern
Tel.: +41 58 462 31 53
Fax: +41 58 464 90 47


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs