Three of the most important European languages are official languages in Switzerland. Swiss culture is characterised by its diversity, which is reflected in a variety of traditional customs. A region may in some ways be strongly culturally linked to the neighbouring country that shares its language, since the country itself is rooted in the culture of Western Europe. An exception is the linguistically isolated Romansh culture in Graubünden in eastern Switzerland. It survives only in the high valleys of the Rhine and Inn rivers and strives to preserve its rare linguistic tradition.
Switzerland has made many notable contributions in the fields of literature, art, architecture, music and science. The country also attracted a number of creative people in times of turmoil or war in Europe. Some 1,000 museums are scattered throughout the country; their number has more than tripled since 1950. Among the most important cultural events held each year are the Paleo Festival, the Lucerne Festival, the Montreux Jazz Festival, the Locarno International Film Festival and Art Basel.
Alpine symbolism has played an essential role in the history of the country and in Switzerland’s national identity. Today, certain concentrated mountain areas have a strong ski resort culture with a high energy level in winter and a culture of hiking or mountain biking in summer. Other regions have a year-round recreational culture that favours tourism, but the quieter seasons are spring and autumn when there are fewer visitors. Many areas also have a traditional culture of farmers and ranchers, and small farms are ubiquitous outside the cities. Folk art is kept alive in organisations throughout the country. In Switzerland, it is expressed mainly through music, dance, poetry, woodcarving and embroidery. The alphorn, a wooden musical instrument resembling a trumpet, has become an example of traditional Swiss music, along with yodelling and the accordion.