- Swiss statistics
The Matterhorn continues to grow – but is not getting any higher
The Matterhorn is currently 4,478 m high and is growing around 1.5 cm each year. Its summit would already be 12,000 m above sea level by now, were it not for the elements continually eroding the iconic peak by – you’ve guessed it – some 1.5 cm each year.
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But why is the Matterhorn growing in the first place? Mainly because the thick ice sheet that used to cover the Alps melted 18,000 years ago. With this 62-billion-tonne ice cap now gone, the entire mountain range is lighter as the earth’s crust rebounds. That is why the Alps are growing fastest in places where the ice cap was at its thickest.
On the list of the most attractive business locations, Switzerland has not quite scaled the summit. In a new study by the Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) in Mannheim, Switzerland fell in the rankings to sixth out of the 21 industrial nations surveyed – after occupying second place a decade ago. Areas such as regulation density were rated as our Achilles heel.
But a nation’s business-friendly credentials are not the sole factor on which quality of life depends. Take another study – the Human Freedom Index jointly published by the Cato Institute (USA) and the Fraser Institute (CAN), which ranks Switzerland second out of 162 countries. New Zealand is the only country rated higher. Syria is at the bottom of the list. The study also shows that there is indeed a link between personal freedom and economic prosperity.
Talking of prosperity – around a quarter of all Swiss households have zero wealth. Around half of all households have assets worth up to 50,000 Swiss francs. The super-rich help to feed the “wealthy Switzerland” narrative: 0.38 per cent of all households own assets worth 10 million francs or more. Added together, this accounts for around 30 per cent of Switzerland’s total wealth. The Covid-19 pandemic has only accentuated the gap between rich and poor.
PICTURE: The Matterhorn, seen from Zermatt. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, 2007