One of the most fascinating elements of Switzerland’s success is its determination to remain neutral under unimaginable pressure to pick sides. The country has not declared a state of war since 1847 (it never entered the World Wars or the Iraq war) and opted out of joining the European Union. They didn’t even join the United Nations until 2002 and that was only after a country wide referendum.
Despite what you may think of Switzerland’s neutral geopolitical stance, it is hard to argue with the economic results of neutrality:
• The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report currently ranks Switzerland’s economy as the most competitive in the world.
• In 2010, the Global Wealth Report by Credit Suisse Research Institute found that Switzerland has the highest average wealth per adult at $372,692, with wealth defined by the value of financial and nonfinancial (such as real estate) assets.
• According to Trading Economics, the worst the Swiss unemployment rate ever got during the recent worldwide financial crisis was 4.2 percent in January 2010; today the unemployment rate is around 3.4 percent.
• According to Mercer Consulting, in 2010, Zurich and Geneva were respectively ranked as the cities with the second- and third-highest quality of life in the world (behind Vienna).