Iconic Identities

On “E” day, we talked about famous things that have come out of Switzerland. Today, I’d like to talk about famous PEOPLE that call or have called Switzerland their home.

Probably the two most iconic identities are from Swiss folklore:

William Tell (heroic symbol of Swiss patriotism; the image that undoubtedly comes to mind is him shooting an apple atop his son’s head) and Heidi (eponymous young character from Johanna Spyri’s novel; Heidi lives in her grandfather’s care in the Swiss Alps).

Fiction aside, there are many Swiss citizens whose name or work you may be familiar with.

Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1531) – Protestant reformer in Zurich
John Calvin (1509-1564) – Protestant reformer in Geneva; Calvinism (he was born French but fled to Switzerland)
Johann David Wyss (1743-1818) – author of the Swiss national anthem and Swiss Family Robinson
Henri Dunant (1828-1910) – founder of the International Red Cross
Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) – Swiss linguist

Daniel Bernouilli (1700-1782) – mathematician; known for Bernouilli’s equation
Leonhard Euclid (1707-1783) – mathematician; known for the number “e” (2.71828…)
Carl Jung (1875-1961) – psychiatrist and psychotherapist
Le Corbusier (1887-1965) – architect
Claude Nicollier (1944- ) – first and only Swiss astronaut

Ursula Andress (1936- ) – actress, first “Bond girl”
HR Giger (1940- ) – surrealist artist, set designer
Renee Zellweger (1969- ) – actress (she is American-born but has a Swiss father)
Marc Forster (1969- ) – filmmaker, screenwriter, film director

Louis Chevrolet (1878-1941) – race car driver; founded Frontenac Motor Corporation with his brothers
Denise Biellmann (1962- ) – figure skater
Didier Cuche (1974- ) – skier
Roger Federer (1981- ) – tennis player
Martina Hingis (1980- ) – tennis player
Stanislas Wawrinka (1985- ) – tennis player

This list is by no means exhaustive. Do you know any other famous Swiss people?


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