Swiss Franc – 10 Interesting Facts

swiss franc interesting facts

Want to know more about the Swiss Franc? Then you’re definitely in the right place because this guide features all the interesting facts worth knowing about the official Swiss currency!

We’ve covered all the basics worth knowing about the Swiss Franc, but also some fun facts that aren’t exactly common knowledge. Keep reading to see the top ten facts you need to know about the Swiss Franc!

The Swiss Franc Was Established in 1850

Swiss Franc Banknotes
Swiss Franc Banknotes

Before the 19th century, there were a lot of foreign currencies in Switzerland. There used to be about 75 different entities that minted coins in Switzerland, which result in the presence of more than 850 different currencies in circulation in the country. A new monetary system was established in 1798 and would stay in place until 1850, but even that allowed the cantons to have different currencies.

The Swiss Franc, as it exists today, was established in the mid-19th century. In 1848, it was specified in the Swiss Federal Constitution that the Swiss federal government would be the only authority with the power to issue money. Two years later, the Federal Coinage Act established the first Swiss Franc as the official currency of the entire country.

The Swiss Franc Is Used In Three Countries

The Swiss Franc is not just the official currency of Switzerland – it is also the official currency of Lichtenstein, as well as Campione d’Italia – a tiny little enclave of Italy on Lake Lugano, which is entirely surrounded by Switzerland.

Some Swiss cantons allow tourists to pay in Euros, but even when this is the case, any change you get back will be in Swiss Francs.

It’s The Only Franc In Europe

Once upon a time, Francs and Marks were the main currencies in most European countries. This changed with the introduction of the Euro in 1998 when most countries in the EU decided to abandon their old currency and switch to Euros.

Before the Euro, Francs were used in France, Luxembourg, and Belgium. Even Andorra and Monaco had accepted the French Franc as legal tender, and it was used in some colonies of the French Empire. Switzerland isn’t the only country in Europe that never switched to the Euro – in fact, they have no reason to switch to the Euro because that’s the official currency of the European Union. But they are the only country in Europe that still uses the Franc, and the Swiss Franc is the last living Franc of them all.

It Used To Be Linked To Silver And Gold

Swiss Franc Coins
Swiss Franc Coins

Switzerland, Belgium, France, and Italy formed the Latin Monetary Union in 1865. This system unified multiple currencies into a single one that was used in all the member countries of the union. This was during the time when most national currencies were made from gold and silver, and the value of the currency was linked to the value of silver/gold.

The Latin Monetary Union was formally disbanded in 1927, but the currency was dead long before that. The Great War effectively ended this union, but the coins remained in de jure use until the formal dissolution. Also, the Swiss Franc managed to hold onto the same exchange rate until 1936, when it devalued for the first time, following the devaluations of the UK Sterling Pound, the US Dollar, and the French Franc.

These Are Six Banknotes In Circulation

Swiss Francs
1000 Swiss Franc Banknotes

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The latest series of Swiss Frans has six banknotes in circulation, in the denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 1000. This is interesting because most countries have stopped printing high-value banknotes to minimize forgery and money laundering, and here we have the Swiss who are just casually printing 1000 CHF banknotes – one of the highest-value banknotes in the world.

The interesting thing is that money forgery is extremely uncommon in Switzerland and it’s getting less common by the year. The Swiss Franc banknotes are extremely difficult to counterfeit, and the forgery rates keep dropping every year.

There Are Seven CHF Coins

Swiss Franc Coin
1 Swiss Franc Coin

The Swiss Franc is divided into centimes, and one Franc equals 100 centimes. There are currently 7 coins in circulation, in the denominations of 5, 10, 20, and 50 centimes, and 1, 2, and 5 Francs. The Confederation holds the right to mint the coins but the Swiss National Bank is the body tasked with putting the coins into circulation

It’s The Seventh Most Traded Currency In The World

The Swiss Franc is widely considered to be a safe haven. It’s a regulated and stable currency, which means that many investors will hedge their investments in the stock and forex markets against the Swiss Franc.

Also, it was common for people in other countries, particularly in the poorer countries, to take out loans in the Swiss Franc, simply because it was considered to be more stable than their own local currency. Regardless of what a currency converter might say on any given day, the Swiss Franc has long been – and remains – one of the most stable currencies in the world.

It Is Possible To Exchange Damaged Banknotes

If you have a Swiss Franc banknote that is visibly damaged, you can exchange it for a brand new banknote at the Swiss National Bank. The banknote could be burned for all they care – as long as the serial number is visible and you still have more than 50% of the original banknote, you are free to exchange it.

It’s worth noting that a team of experts examines every single damaged banknote, to ensure that someone isn’t trying to exchange a counterfeit banknote for a real one.

CHF Stands For Confoederatio Helvetica franc

Swiss Franc Symbol
Swiss Franc Symbol

CHF is an abbreviation for Confoederatio Helvetica franc – Confoederatio Helvetica is the Latin name for the Swiss Confederation. The abbreviated Fr is also frequently used to denominate the Swiss Franc, while the official symbol of the currency is ₣.

Switzerland Was The Last Country To Eliminate Gold Standard

The Gold Standard was a monetary system used by countries all over the world in the 19th and 20th centuries. The premise of the gold standard was that the value of a country’s currency was directly related to the amount of gold reserves the country had. The original premise behind this system was to prevent inflation and stabilize prices as much as possible. Many countries used the gold standard in the 19th century.

It was the outbreak of WWI that caused most countries to abandon the gold standard in the early 20th century. Switzerland was the only country that continued to use the system for decades after the war, and it wasn’t until 1999 that they completely abandoned the gold standard.

Written by Ashley Faulkes
As a twenty-year resident of Switzerland, I am passionate about exploring every nook and cranny of this beautiful country, I spend my days deep in the great Swiss outdoors, and love to share these experiences and insights with fellow travel enthusiasts.

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