|Also known as:|
|Number||26 cantons (as of 1979)|
|Populations||16,003 – 1,487,969|
|Areas||37 km2 (14 sq mi) – 7,105 km2 (2,743 sq mi)|
|Government||List of cantonal executives of Switzerland|
|Subdivisions||Districts and municipalities|
The 26 cantons of Switzerland (German : Kanton, French : canton, Italian : cantone, Romansh : chantun) are the member states of the Swiss Confederation. The nucleus of the Swiss Confederacy in the form of the first three confederate allies used to be referred to as the Waldstätte. Two further major steps in the development of the Swiss cantonal system are referred to by the terms Acht Orte ("Eight Cantons"; between 1353 and 1481) and Dreizehn Orte ("Thirteen Cantons", during 1513–1798); they were important intermediate periods of the Ancient Swiss Confederacy.
German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.
French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.
Italian is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. Italian, together with Sardinian, is by most measures the closest language to Vulgar Latin of the Romance languages. Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino and Vatican City. It has an official minority status in western Istria. It formerly had official status in Albania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro (Kotor) and Greece, and is generally understood in Corsica and Savoie. It also used to be an official language in the former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa, where it plays a significant role in various sectors. Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. In spite of not existing any Italian community in their respective national territories and of not being spoken at any level, Italian is included de jure, but not de facto, between the recognized minority languages of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Romania. Many speakers of Italian are native bilinguals of both standardized Italian and other regional languages.
Each canton, formerly also Ort (from before 1450), or Stand ("estate", from c. 1550), was a fully sovereign state with its own border controls, army, and currency from at least the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) until the establishment of the Swiss federal state in 1848, with a brief period of centralized government during the Helvetic Republic (1798–1803). With the Napoleonic period of the Helvetic Republic the term Kanton was also fully established in German-speaking region.
Sovereignty is the full right and power of a governing body over itself, without any interference from outside sources or bodies. In political theory, sovereignty is a substantive term designating supreme authority over some polity.
In Swiss history, the Helvetic Republic (1798–1803) represented an early attempt to impose a central authority over Switzerland, which until then had consisted of self-governing cantons united by a loose military alliance.
From 1833, there were 25 cantons, increasing to 26 after the secession of the canton of Jura from Bern in 1979.
The Republic and Canton of the Jura, also known as the canton of Jura or canton Jura, is the newest of the 26 Swiss cantons, located in the northwestern part of Switzerland. The capital is Delémont. It shares borders with the canton of Basel-Landschaft, the canton of Bern, the canton of Neuchatel, the canton of Solothurn, and the French régions of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté and Grand Est.
The canton of Bern or Berne is the second largest of the 26 Swiss cantons by both surface area and population. Located in west-central Switzerland, it borders the canton of Jura and the canton of Solothurn to the north. To the west lie the canton of Neuchâtel, the canton of Fribourg and canton of Vaud. To the south lies the canton of Valais. East of the canton of Bern lie the cantons of Uri, Nidwalden, Obwalden, Lucerne and Aargau.
The areas of the cantons vary from 37 km2 (canton of Basel-Stadt) to 7,105 km2 (canton of Grisons); the populations vary from 16,003 (canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden) to 1,487,969 (canton of Zürich).
The canton of Basel-Stadt is one of the 26 cantons of Switzerland, and the smallest of the cantons by area. The city of Basel and the municipalities of Bettingen and Riehen form its territory.
The canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden is the smallest canton of Switzerland by population and the second smallest by area, with canton of Basel-City being the smallest. It was the last Swiss canton to grant women the right to vote on local issues, in 1991.
The term canton , now also used as English term for administrative subdivisions of other countries, originates in French usage in the late 15th century (recorded in Fribourg in 1467),from a word for "edge, corner", at the time the literal translation of Early Modern High German ort. After 1490, canton was increasingly used in French and Italian documents to refer to the members of the Swiss Confederacy. English use of canton in reference to the Swiss Confederacy (as opposed to the heraldic sense) dates to the early 17th century.
A canton is a type of administrative division of a country. In general, cantons are relatively small in terms of area and population when compared with other administrative divisions such as counties, departments, or provinces. Internationally, the best-known cantons - and the most politically important - are those of Switzerland. As the constituents of the Swiss Confederation, theoretically, the Swiss cantons are semi-sovereign states.
Middle French is a historical division of the French language that covers the period from the 14th to the early 17th centuries. It is a period of transition during which:
In heraldry, a canton is a charge placed upon a shield. It is typically a square in the upper dexter corner, but may appear elsewhere on the shield. A canton is classed by some heraldic writers as one of the honorable ordinaries; but, strictly speaking, it is a diminutive of the quarter, being two-thirds the area of that ordinary. However, in the armorial roll of Henry III, the quarter appears in several coats which in later rolls are blazoned as cantons. The canton, like the quarter, appears in early arms, and is always shown with straight lines.
In the Old Swiss Confederacy, the term Ort (plural: Orte) was in use from the early 15th century as a generic term for the member cantons.The founding cantons specifically were also known as Waldstätte "forest settlements", "forest cantons" (singular: Waldstatt). The formulaic Stette und Waldstette for the members of the early confederacy is recorded in the mid-14th century, used interchangeably with Stett und Lender ("cities and lands", "city cantons and rural cantons") until the late 15th century. Ort was increasingly replaced by Stand (plural: Stände) "estate" about 1550, a term taken to imply liberty and sovereignty. Abolished in the Helvetic Republic, the term was revived in 1815 and remains in use today.
Waldstätte is the Stätte, or later Ort or Stand of the early confederate allies of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden in Central Switzerland.
A state is a political organization with a centralized government that maintains a monopoly by use of force within a certain geographical territory.
The French term canton adopted into German after 1648, and then only in occasional use until the early 19th century: prominent usage of Ort and Stand gradually disappeared in German-speaking Switzerland from the time of the Helvetic Republic. Only with the Act of Mediation of 1803 did German Kanton become an official designation, retained in the Swiss Constitution of 1848.
The term Stand (French : état, Italian : stato) remains in synonymous usage and is reflected in the name of the upper chamber of the Swiss Parliament, the Council of States (German : Ständerat, French : Conseil des États, Italian : Consiglio degli Stati, Romansh : Cussegl dals Stadis).
In the modern era, since Neuchâtel ceased to be a principality in 1848, all Swiss cantons can be considered to have a republican form of government. Some cantons formally describe themselves as republics in their constitutions. This applies to the Romance-speaking cantons in particular: Geneva (formally République et canton de Genève "Republic and canton of Geneva"), Jura, Neuchâtel, Valais,Vaud and Ticino.
In the 16th century, the Old Swiss Confederacy was composed of 13 sovereign confederate allies (the Thirteen Cantons; German : Die Dreizehn Alten Orte), and there were two different kinds: five rural states (German : Länder) – Uri, Schwyz (which became eponymous of the confederacy), Unterwalden, Glarus, Appenzell – and eight urban states (German : Städte) – Zürich, Bern, Luzern, Zug, Basel, Fribourg, Solothurn, Schaffhausen.
Though they were technically part of the Holy Roman Empire, they had become de facto independent when the Swiss defeated Emperor Maximillian in 1499 in Dornach.
In the early modern period, the individual confederate allies came to be seen as republics; while the six traditional allies had a tradition of direct democracy in the form of the Landsgemeinde , the urban states operated via representation in city councils, de facto oligarchic systems dominated by families of the patriciate. [ clarification needed ]
The old system was abandoned with the formation of the Helvetic Republic following the French invasion of Switzerland in 1798. The cantons of the Helvetic Republic had merely the status of an administrative subdivision with no sovereignty. The Helvetic Republic collapsed within five years, and cantonal sovereignty was restored with the Act of Mediation of 1803. The status of Switzerland as a federation of states was restored, at the time including 19 cantons (the six accessions to the early modern Thirteen Cantons being composed of former associates and subject territories: St. Gallen, Grisons, Aargau, Thurgau, Ticino, Vaud). Three additional western cantons, Valais, Neuchâtel and Geneva, acceded in 1815.
The process of "Restoration", completed by 1830, returned most of the former feudal rights to the cantonal patriciates, leading to rebellions among the rural population. The Liberal Radical Party embodied these democratic forces calling for a new federal constitution. This tension, paired with religious issues ("Jesuit question") escalated into armed conflict in the 1840s, with the brief Sonderbund War. The victory of the radical party resulted in the formation of Switzerland as a federal state in 1848. The cantons retained far-reaching sovereignty, but were no longer allowed to maintain individual standing armies or international relations. As the revolutions of 1848 in Western Europe had failed elsewhere, Switzerland during the later 19th century (and with the exception of the French Third Republic, until the end of World War I) found itself as an isolated democratic republic, surrounded by the restored monarchies of France, Italy, Austria-Hungary and Germany.
The Swiss Federal Constitutiondeclares the cantons to be sovereign to the extent that their sovereignty is not limited by federal law. Areas specifically reserved to the Confederation are the armed forces, currency, the postal service, telecommunications, immigration into and emigration from the country, granting asylum, conducting foreign relations with sovereign states, civil and criminal law, weights and measures, and customs duties.
Each canton has its own constitution, legislature, executive, police and courts.Similar to the Confederation, a directorial system of government is followed by the cantons.
Most of the cantons' legislatures are unicameral parliaments, their size varying between 58 and 200 seats. A few legislatures also involve or did involve general popular assemblies known as Landsgemeinden ; the use of this form of legislature has declined: at present it exists only in the cantons of Appenzell Innerrhoden and Glarus. The cantonal executives consist of either five or seven members, depending on the canton.For the names of the institutions, see the list of cantonal executives and list of cantonal legislatures.
The cantons retain all powers and competencies not delegated to the Confederation by the federal constitution or law: most significantly the cantons are responsible for healthcare, welfare, law enforcement, public education, and also the power of taxation. Each canton defines its official language(s). Cantons may conclude treaties not only with other cantons but also with foreign states (respectively Articles 48 and 56 of the Federal Constitution).
The cantonal constitutions determine the internal organisation of the canton, including the degree of autonomy accorded to the municipalities, which varies but almost always includes the power to levy taxes and pass municipal laws; some municipalities have their own police forces.
As at the federal level, all cantons provide for some form of direct democracy. Citizens may demand a popular vote to amend the cantonal constitution or laws, or to veto laws or spending bills passed by the parliament. Other than in the instances of general popular assemblies in Appenzell Innerrhoden and Glarus, democratic rights are exercised by secret ballot. The right of foreigners to vote varies by canton, as does whether Swiss citizens living abroad (and registered to vote in a canton) can take part in cantonal voting.
Swiss citizens are citizens of a particular municipality (the place of origin) and the canton in which that municipality is part. Cantons therefore have a role in and set requirements for the granting of citizenship (naturalisation), though the process is typically undertaken at a municipal level and is subject to federal law.
Switzerland has only one federal public holiday (1 August); public holidays otherwise vary from canton to canton.
The cantons are listed in their order of precedence given in the federal constitution.This reflects the historical order of precedence of the Eight Cantons in the 15th century, followed by the remaining cantons in the order of their historical accession to the confederacy.
|Arms||Code||Canton of||Since||Capital||Population||GDP per|
|Area (km2)|| Density |
|No. munic. (2018)||Official languages|
|OW||Obwalden||1291 or 1315 (as part of Unterwalden)||Sarnen||37,575||64,253||491||66||7||German|
|NW||Nidwalden||1291 (as Unterwalden)||Stans||42,969||69,559||276||138||11||German|
|BS||Basel-Stadt||1501 (as Basel until 1833/1999)||Basel||199,950||163,632||37||5,072||3||German|
|BL||Basel-Landschaft||1501 (as Basel until 1833/1999)||Liestal||288,660||68,537||518||502||86||German|
|AR||Appenzell Ausserrhoden||1513 (as Appenzell until 1597/1999)||Herisau||55,178||56,663||243||220||20||German|
|AI||Appenzell Innerrhoden||1513 (as Appenzell until 1597/1999)||Appenzell||16,105||61,067||172||87||6||German|
|SG||St. Gallen||1803||St. Gallen||504,686||72,624||2,031||222||77||German|
|GR||Grisons||1803||Chur||197,888||70,968||7,105||26||108||German, Romansh, Italian|
|CH||Switzerland||Bern||8,484,130||78,619||41,291||174||2,222||German, French, Italian, Romansh|
The two-letter abbreviations for Swiss cantons are widely used, e.g. on car license plates. They are also used in the ISO 3166-2 codes of Switzerland with the prefix "CH-" ( Confœderatio Helvetica —Helvetian Confederation— Helvetia having been the ancient Roman name of the region). CH-SZ, for example, is used for the canton of Schwyz.
Six of the 26 cantons are traditionally, but no longer officially, called "half-cantons" (German : Halbkanton, French : demi-canton, Italian : semicantone, Romansh : mez-chantun). In two instances (Basel and Appenzell) this was a consequence of a historic division, whilst in the case of Unterwalden a historic mutual association, resulting in three pairs of half-cantons. The other 20 cantons were — and in some instances still are — though only in a context where it is needed to distinguish them from any half-cantons, typically termed "full" cantons in English.
The historic half-cantons, and their pairings, are still recognizable in the first article of the Swiss Federal Constitution of 1999 by being joined to their other "half" with the conjunction "and":
The People and the cantons of Zürich, Bern, Lucerne, Uri, Schwyz, Obwalden and Nidwalden , Glarus, Zug, Fribourg, Solothurn, Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft , Schaffhausen, Appenzell Ausserrhoden and Appenzell Innerrhoden, St. Gallen, Graubünden, Aargau, Thurgau, Ticino, Vaud, Valais, Neuchâtel, Geneva, and Jura form the Swiss Confederation.
In contrast, the first article of the 1848 and 1874 constitutions constituted the Confederation as the union of "twenty-two sovereign cantons",referring to the half-cantons as "Unterwalden (ob und nid dem Wald [‘above and beneath the woods’])", "Basel (Stadt und Landschaft [‘city and country’])" and "Appenzell (beider Rhoden [‘both Rhoden’])". The 1999 constitutional revision retained this distinction, on the request of the six cantonal governments, as a way to mark the historic association of the half-cantons to each other. While the older constitutions referred to these states as "half-cantons", a term that remains in popular use, the 1999 revision and official terminology since then use the appellation "cantons with half of a cantonal vote".
The reasons for the existence of the three pairs of half-cantons are varied:
With their original circumstances of partition now a historical matter, the half-cantons are since 1848 equal to the other cantons in all but two respects:
Between 1831 and 1833 the canton of Schwyz divided into half-cantons: (Inner) Schwyz and the break-away Outer Schwyz; in this instance the half-cantons were forced by the Confederation to settle their disputes and re-unite.
In the 20th century, some Jurassic separatists suggested a new canton of Jura to be divided into half-cantons of North Jura and South Jura.Instead, North Jura became the (full) canton of Jura while South Jura remains in the canton of Bern as the region of Bernese Jura.
The name of each canton in its own official language is shown in bold.
|AI||Appenzell Innerrhoden; Appenzell Inner-Rhodes||Appenzell Rhodes-Intérieures||Appenzello Interno||Appenzell dadens|
|AR||Appenzell Ausserrhoden; Appenzell Outer-Rhodes||Appenzell Rhodes-Extérieures||Appenzello Esterno||Appenzell dador|
|BS||Basel-Stadt; Basle-City||Bâle-Ville||Basilea Città||Basilea-Citad|
|BL||Basel-Landschaft; Basle-Country||Bâle-Campagne||Basilea Campagna||Basilea-Champagna|
|FR||Fribourg; Friburg[ citation needed ]||Fribourg||Friburgo||Friburg|
|GL||Glarus; Glaris[ citation needed ]||Glaris||Glarona||Glaruna|
|NW||Nidwalden; Nidwald[ citation needed ]||Nidwald||Nidvaldo||Sutsilvania|
|OW||Obwalden; Obwald[ citation needed ]||Obwald||Obvaldo||Sursilvania|
|SZ||Schwyz||Schwyz (or Schwytz)||Svitto||Sviz|
|SG||St. Gallen; St Gall||Saint-Gall||San Gallo||Son Gagl|
The enlargement of Switzerland by way of the admission of new cantons ended in 1815. The latest formal attempt considered by Switzerland was of Vorarlberg in 1919 but subsequently rejected. A few representatives submitted in 2010 a parliamentary motion to consider enlargement although it was widely seen as anti-EU rhetoric rather than a serious proposal.The motion was eventually dropped and not even examined by the parliament.
Romandy is the French-speaking part of western Switzerland. In 2018, about 2.1 million people, or 25.1% of the Swiss population, lived in Romandy. The bulk of the romand population lives in the Arc Lémanique region along Lake Geneva, connecting Geneva, Vaud and the Lower Valais.
Albula District was one of the eleven administrative districts in the canton of Graubünden in Switzerland. It had an area of 723.13 km² and had a population of 8,210 in 2015. It was replaced with the Albula Region on 1 January 2017 as part of a reorganization of the Canton.
Bernina District is a former administrative district in the canton of Graubünden, Switzerland. It had an area of 237.2 km² and a population of 4,619 in 2015. It was replaced with the Bernina Region on 1 January 2017 as part of a reorganization of the Canton.
Prättigau/Davos District is a former administrative district in the canton of Graubünden, Switzerland. It had an area of 823.95 km2 (318.13 sq mi) and has a population of 26,257 in 2015. It was replaced with the Prättigau/Davos Region on 1 January 2017 as part of a reorganization of the Canton.
Hinterrhein District is a former administrative district in the canton of Graubünden, Switzerland. It had an area of 617.67 km2 (238.48 sq mi) and had a population of 13,179 in 2015. Much of the district became part of the Viamala Region on 1 January 2017 as part of a reorganization of the Canton.
Moesa District, often referred to as Moesano, is a former administrative district in the canton of Graubünden, Switzerland. It had an area of 473.74 km2 (182.91 sq mi) corresponding to the Val Mesolcina, the valley of the eponymous Moesa River. It was replaced with the Moesa Region on 1 January 2017 as part of a reorganization of the Canton.
Münchwilen District is one of the five districts of the canton of Thurgau, Switzerland. It has a population of 46,800. Its capital is the town of Münchwilen.
Arbon District is one of the five districts of the canton of Thurgau in Switzerland. It has a population of 56,229 .Its capital is the town of Arbon.
Diessenhofen District is a former district of the canton of Thurgau in Switzerland. It had a population of 6,621. Its capital was the town of Diessenhofen.
Steckborn District is a former district of the canton of Thurgau, Switzerland. It had a population of 18,215. Its capital was the town of Steckborn.
Kreuzlingen District is one of the five districts of the canton of Thurgau in Switzerland. It has a population of 47,823. Its capital is the city of Kreuzlingen.
Weinfelden District is one of the five districts of the canton of Thurgau, Switzerland. It has a population of 55,242. Its capital is the town of Weinfelden.
Bischofszell District is a former district of the canton of Thurgau in Switzerland. It had a population of 31,773. Its capital was the town of Bischofszell.
There are 162 municipalities in the Canton of Zürich in Switzerland.
Albula Region is one of the eleven administrative districts in the canton of Graubünden in Switzerland. It had an area of 683.51 square kilometers (263.90 sq mi) and a population of 8,102 .. It was created on 1 January 2017 as part of a reorganization of the Canton.
Bernina Region is one of the eleven administrative districts in the canton of Graubünden in Switzerland. It had an area of 237.31 square kilometers (91.63 sq mi) and a population of 4,651 .. It was created on 1 January 2017 as part of a reorganization of the Canton.
Maloja Region is one of the eleven administrative districts in the canton of Graubünden in Switzerland. It had an area of 973.65 square kilometers (375.93 sq mi) and a population of 18,401 .. It was created on 1 January 2017 as part of a reorganization of the Canton.
Surselva Region is one of the eleven administrative districts in the canton of Graubünden in Switzerland. It had an area of 1,373.56 square kilometers (530.33 sq mi) and a population of 21,420 .. It was created on 1 January 2017 as part of a reorganization of the Canton.
Viamala Region is one of the eleven administrative districts in the canton of Graubünden in Switzerland. It had an area of 627.58 square kilometers (242.31 sq mi) and a population of 13,538 .. It was created on 1 January 2017 as part of a reorganization of the Canton.
Le canton du Tessin est une république démocratique [… qui] est membre de la Confédération suisse et sa souveraineté n'est limitée que par la constitution fédérale."
L'intervention est classée, l'auteur ayant quitté le conseil
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