Cantons of Switzerland

Last updated

Also known as:
Stände, États, Stati
Category Federated state
Location Switzerland
Found in Country
Created13th century
Number26 cantons (as of 1979)
Populations16,003 – 1,487,969
Areas37 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 important periods in the development of the Old Swiss Confederacy are summarized by the terms Acht Orte ("Eight Cantons"; from 13531481) and Dreizehn Orte ("Thirteen Cantons", from 15131798). [1]

Contents

Each canton of the Old Swiss Confederacy, 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 centralised government during the Helvetic Republic (1798–1803). The term Kanton has been widely used since the 19th century. [2]

The number of cantons was increased to 19 with the Act of Mediation (1803), with the recognition of former subject territories as full cantons. The Federal Treaty of 1815 increased the number to 22 due to the accession of former Old Swiss Confederacy Associates. The canton of Jura acceded as the 23rd canton with its secession from Bern in 1979. [3] The official number of cantons was increased to 26 in the federal constitution of 1999, which designated former half-cantons as cantons.

The areas of the cantons vary from 37 km2 (canton of Basel-Stadt) to 7,105 km2 (canton of Grisons); the populations (as of 2018) range from 16,000 (canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden) to 1.5 million (canton of Zürich).

Terminology

The term canton , now also used as the English term for administrative subdivisions of other countries, originates in French usage in the late 15th century (recorded in Fribourg in 1467), [4] from a word for "edge, corner", at the time the literal translation of Early Modern High German ort. [5] After 1490, canton was increasingly used in French and Italian documents to refer to the members of the Swiss Confederacy. [2] English use of canton in reference to the Swiss Confederacy (as opposed to the heraldic sense) dates to the early 17th century. [6]

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. [2] 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. [7] 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. [2]

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. [2]

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, [8] Vaud [9] and Ticino. [10]

History

The "Thirteen-Canton Confederation" of the Old Swiss Confederacy (1513-1798) Karte 13 Alte Orte.png
The "Thirteen-Canton Confederation" of the Old Swiss Confederacy (1513–1798)

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 Maximilian I in 1499 in Dornach. [11]

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. [Note 1] [ 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.

Constitutions and powers

The 22 cantonal coats of arms (all but Jura, with the half-cantons represented jointly) in stained glass set in the dome of the Federal Palace of Switzerland (c. 1900) Bundeshauskuppel Standesscheiben.jpg
The 22 cantonal coats of arms (all but Jura, with the half-cantons represented jointly) in stained glass set in the dome of the Federal Palace of Switzerland (c.1900)

The Swiss Federal Constitution [12] declares the cantons to be sovereign to the extent that their sovereignty is not limited by federal law. [13] 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. [13] 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. [14] 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 retain 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.

List

The cantons are listed in their order of precedence given in the federal constitution. [Note 2] 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. [15]

Arms [16] Code Canton of Since CapitalPopulation
[Note 3]
GDP per
capita (2014) [17]
in CHF
Area (km2) Density
(per km2) [Note 4]
No. munic. (2018) [18] Official languages
Wappen Zurich matt.svg

      

ZH Zürich 1351 Zürich 1,520,968 [19] 96,4111,729701166 German
Wappen Bern matt.svg

      

BE Bern 1353 Bern 1,034,977 [20] 76,3075,960158347 German, French
Wappen Luzern matt.svg

      

LU Luzern 1332 Lucerne 409,557 [21] 65,1191,49423383 German
Wappen Uri matt.svg

      

UR Uri 1291 [Note 5] Altdorf 36,433 [22] 51,3321,0773320 German
Wappen Schwyz matt.svg

      

SZ Schwyz 1291 [Note 5] Schwyz 159,165 [23] 58,78890814330 German
Wappen Obwalden matt.svg

      

OW Obwalden 1291 [Note 5] or 1315 (as part of Unterwalden) Sarnen 37,841 [24] 64,253491667 German
Wappen Nidwalden matt.svg

      

NW Nidwalden 1291 [Note 5] (as Unterwalden) Stans 43,223 [25] 69,55927613811 German
Wappen Glarus matt.svg

      

GL Glarus 1352 Glarus 40,403 [26] 67,379685513 German
Wappen Zug matt.svg

      

ZG Zug 1352 Zug 126,837 [27] 150,61323941611 German
Wappen Freiburg matt.svg

      

FR Fribourg 1481 Fribourg 318,714 [28] 58,3691,671141136 French, German
Wappen Solothurn matt.svg

      

SO Solothurn 1481 Solothurn 273,194 [29] 65,588790308109 German
Wappen Basel-Stadt matt.svg

      

BS Basel-Stadt 1501 (as Basel until 1833/1999) Basel 200,298 [30] 163,632375,0723 German
Coat of arms of Kanton Basel-Landschaft.svg

      

BL Basel-Landschaft 1501 (as Basel until 1833/1999) Liestal 289,527 [31] 68,53751850286 German
Wappen Schaffhausen matt.svg

      

SH Schaffhausen 1501 Schaffhausen 81,991 [32] 85,52929824626 German
Wappen Appenzell Ausserrhoden matt.svg

      

AR Appenzell Ausserrhoden 1513 (as Appenzell until 1597/1999) Herisau [Note 6] 55,234 [33] 56,66324322020 German
Wappen Appenzell Innerrhoden matt.svg

      

AI Appenzell Innerrhoden 1513 (as Appenzell until 1597/1999) Appenzell 16,145 [34] 61,067172876 German
Wappen St. Gallen matt.svg

      

SG St. Gallen 1803 [Note 7] St. Gallen 507,697 [35] 72,6242,03122277 German
Wappen Graubunden matt.svg

      

GR Graubünden; Grisons 1803 [Note 8] Chur 198,379 [36] 70,9687,10526108 German, Romansh, Italian
Wappen Aargau matt.svg

      

AG Aargau 1803 [Note 9] Aarau 678,207 [37] 61,9591,404388212 German
Wappen Thurgau matt.svg

      

TG Thurgau 1803 [Note 10] Frauenfeld [Note 11] 276,472 [38] 60,53399222980 German
Wappen Tessin matt.svg

      

TI Ticino 1803 [Note 12] Bellinzona 353,343 [39] 82,4382,812110115 Italian
Wappen Waadt matt.svg

      

VD Vaud 1803 [Note 13] Lausanne 799,145 [40] 68,0843,212188309 French
Wappen Wallis matt.svg

      

VS Valais 1815 [Note 14] Sion 343,955 [41] 52,5325,22453126 French, German
Wappen Neuenburg matt.svg

      

NE Neuchâtel 1815/1857 [Note 15] Neuchâtel 176,850 [42] 83,83580220631 French
Wappen Genf matt.svg

      

GE Geneva 1815 Geneva 499,480 [43] 102,1132821,44245 French
Wappen Jura matt.svg

      

JU Jura 1979 [Note 16] Delémont 73,419 [44] 64,6068398255 French
Coat of Arms of Switzerland.svg CHSwitzerland Bern 8,544,527 [45] 78,61941,2911742,222 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.

Half-cantons

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 [46] —though only in a context where it is needed to distinguish them from any half-cantons—typically termed "full" cantons in English. [47]

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’])". [48] The 1874 constitution was amended to list 23 cantons with the accession of the Canton of Jura in 1978.

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.

Article 1 of the Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation [49]

The 1999 constitutional revision retained the traditional distinction, on the request of the six cantonal governments, as a way to mark the historic association of the half-cantons to each other. [50] 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". [51]

The ½, 1 and 2 francs coins as minted since 1874 represent number the of cantons by 22 stars surrounding the figure of Helvetia on the obverse. The design of the coins was altered to show 23 stars, including Jura, beginning with the 1983 batch. The design has remained unchanged since, and does not reflect the official number of "26 cantons" introduced in 1999. [52]

Caricature of the division of Basel, 1833 Karikatur Teilung Basels.jpg
Caricature of the division of Basel, 1833

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: [56]

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. [59] Instead, North Jura became the (full) canton of Jura while South Jura remains in the canton of Bern as the region of Bernese Jura.

Names in national languages

The name of each canton in its own official language is shown in bold.

Abbr English [Note 17] German French Italian Romansh
AG Aargau; Argovia Loudspeaker.svg Aargau  ArgovieArgoviaArgovia
AI Appenzell Innerrhoden; Appenzell Inner-Rhodes Loudspeaker.svg Appenzell Innerrhoden  Appenzell Rhodes-IntérieuresAppenzello InternoAppenzell dadens
AR Appenzell Ausserrhoden; Appenzell Outer-Rhodes Loudspeaker.svg Appenzell Ausserrhoden  Appenzell Rhodes-ExtérieuresAppenzello EsternoAppenzell dador
BS Basel-Stadt; Basle-City Loudspeaker.svg Basel-Stadt  Bâle-VilleBasilea CittàBasilea-Citad
BL Basel-Landschaft; Basle-Country Loudspeaker.svg Basel-Landschaft  Bâle-CampagneBasilea CampagnaBasilea-Champagna
BE Bern; Berne Loudspeaker.svg Bern  BerneBernaBerna
FR Fribourg; Friburg[ citation needed ] Loudspeaker.svg Freiburg  FribourgFriburgoFriburg
GE Genève; Geneva Loudspeaker.svg Genf  GenèveGinevraGenevra
GL Glarus; Glaris[ citation needed ] Loudspeaker.svg Glarus  GlarisGlaronaGlaruna
GR Graubünden; Grisons Loudspeaker.svg Graubünden  GrisonsGrigioniGrischun
JU Jura Loudspeaker.svg Jura  JuraGiuraGiura
LU Lucerne Loudspeaker.svg Luzern  LucerneLucernaLucerna
NE Neuchâtel Loudspeaker.svg Neuenburg  NeuchâtelNeuchâtelNeuchâtel
NW Nidwalden; Nidwald[ citation needed ] Loudspeaker.svg Nidwalden  NidwaldNidvaldoSutsilvania
OW Obwalden; Obwald[ citation needed ] Loudspeaker.svg Obwalden  ObwaldObvaldoSursilvania
SH Schaffhausen; Schaffhouse Loudspeaker.svg Schaffhausen  SchaffhouseSciaffusaSchaffusa
SZ Schwyz Loudspeaker.svg Schwyz  Schwyz (or Schwytz)SvittoSviz
SO Solothurn; Soleure Loudspeaker.svg Solothurn  SoleureSolettaSoloturn
SG St. Gallen; St Gall Loudspeaker.svg St. Gallen  Saint-GallSan GalloSon Gagl
TG Thurgau; Thurgovia Loudspeaker.svg Thurgau  ThurgovieTurgoviaTurgovia
TI Ticino; Tessin Loudspeaker.svg Tessin  TessinTicinoTessin
UR Uri Loudspeaker.svg Uri  UriUriUri
VS Valais; Wallis Loudspeaker.svg Wallis  ValaisValleseVallais
VD Vaud Loudspeaker.svg Waadt  VaudVaudVad
ZG Zug; Zoug Loudspeaker.svg Zug  ZougZugoZug
ZH Zürich; Zurich Loudspeaker.svg Zürich  ZurichZurigoTuritg

Admission of new cantons

The enlargement of Switzerland by way of the admission of new cantons ended in 1815. The latest formal attempt considered by Switzerland was in 1919 from Vorarlberg 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. [60] The motion was eventually dropped and not even examined by the parliament. [61]

See also

Notes and references

Notes

  1. Zug was the exception in this, in being an urban state and still holding a Landsgemeinde. Jackson Spielvogel, Western Civilization: Volume I: To 1715, (Cengage 2008), p. 386
  2. This is the order generally used in Swiss official documents. At the head of the list are the three city cantons that were considered preeminent in the Old Swiss Confederacy; the other cantons are listed in order of accession to the Confederation. This traditional order of precedence among the cantons has no practical relevance in the modern federal state, in which the cantons are equal to one another, although it still determines formal precedence among the cantons' officials (see Swiss order of precedence).
  3. See references for dates
  4. Per km2, based on 2000 population
  5. 1 2 3 4 founding forest-canton, foundation date traditionally given as either 1307, 1304 or 1291 (see Foundation of the Old Swiss Confederacy).
  6. Seat of government and parliament is Herisau, the seat of the judicial authorities is Trogen
  7. Act of Mediation; formed out of the Canton of Säntis and the northern half of the Canton of Linth.
  8. Act of Mediation; formerly the Canton of Raetia, comprising the earlier Three Leagues.
  9. Act of Mediation; created from the 1798-invented cantons of Aargau (previously land controlled by Bern) and Baden (previously a Swiss condominium), together with Fricktal (before 1802 not Swiss territory).
  10. Act of Mediation; coterminous with the canton of Thurgau of the Helvetic Republic (1798), formerly a condominium.
  11. Seat of parliament half-yearly alternates between Frauenfeld and Weinfelden
  12. Act of Mediation; combining the former cantons of Bellinzona and Lugano; see Ennetbirgische Vogteien .
  13. Act of Mediation, formerly Canton of Léman.
  14. Restoration, formerly the Simplon département
  15. claimed by Frederick William III of Prussia until the Neuchâtel Crisis of 18561857.
  16. seceded from Berne
  17. The most commonly used forms in English are mostly adopted from either French or German; in some cases, there may have been a historical shift in preference, e.g. from the French form Berne to the German form Bern; in individual cases, the Latin form may be current, certainly in the case of Geneva and arguably for Argovia, Thurgovia. Actual anglicized forms have been used, for example Basle .

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References

  1. rendered "the 'confederacy of eight'" and "the 'Thirteen-Canton Confederation'", respectively, in: "Chronology" (official site). Berne, Switzerland: The Swiss Federal Administration. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Andreas Kley:Kantone in German , French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland ,2016-04-13. "Die Bündnispartner der frühen Eidgenossenschaft wurden im 14. Jh. meist als Städte und Länder, ab der 1. Hälfte des 15. Jh. immer mehr als Orte bezeichnet."
  3. François Schifferdecker, François Kohler:Jura (canton) in German , French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland ,2015-07-20.
  4. Comptes Trés. 129, Archives nat. ds Pat. Suisse rom., cited after TFLi.
  5. "So werden die Cantons der Schweizer daselbst nur Orte, oder Ortschaften genannt. Das gleichbedeutende Canton stammet auf ähnliche Art von Kante, Ecke, ab, wie Ort von Ort, Ecke." Johann Christoph Adelung, Grammatisch-kritisches Wörterbuch der Hochdeutschen Mundart (1774–1786), s.v. "Der Ort". Old French canton "corner, angle" is a loan from Occitan, first recorded in the 13th century, in Occitan adopted from North Italian cantone, where the sense "portion of territory" alongside "edge, corner" developed from by the early 11th century (TFLi).
  6. etymonline.com: "1530s, 'corner, angle,' [...] From 1570s as a term in heraldry and flag descriptions. From c. 1600 as 'a subdivision of a country;' applied to the sovereign states of the Swiss republic from 1610s."
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