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The thirteen cantons of the Old Swiss Confederacy (1513-1798).

The 26 cantons of Switzerland are the member states of the federal state of Switzerland. Each canton was a fully sovereign state[1] with its own borders, army and currency from the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) until the establishment of the Swiss federal state in 1848. The most recently created canton is the Canton of Jura, which separated from the Canton of Bern in 1979.[2]

Contents

History

In the 16th century, the Old Swiss Confederacy was composed of thirteen sovereign cantons, and there were two different kinds: six land (or forest) cantons and seven city (or urban) cantons. Though they were technically part of the Holy Roman Empire, they had become de facto independent when the Swiss defeated Emperor Maximillian in 1499.[3] The six forest cantons were democratic republics, whereas the seven urban cantons were oligarchic republics controlled by noble families.

Constitution

Each canton has its own constitution, legislature, government and courts.[4] Most of the cantons' legislatures are unicameral parliaments, their size varying between fifty-eight and two hundred seats. A few legislatures are general assemblies known as Landsgemeinden. The cantonal governments consist of either five or seven members, depending on the canton.[5] For the names of the institutions, see List of legislative and executive councils of the Cantons of Switzerland.

The Swiss Federal Constitution declares the cantons to be sovereign to the extent their sovereignty is not limited by federal law.[4] The cantons also retain all powers and competencies not delegated to the Confederation by the Constitution. Most significantly, the cantons are responsible for healthcare, welfare, law enforcement and public education; they also retain the power of taxation. The cantonal constitutions determine the degree of autonomy accorded to the municipalities, which varies but almost always includes the power to levy taxes and pass municipal laws. The sizes of the cantons vary from 37 km² to 7,105 km²; the populations vary from 15,471 to 1,244,400.

Direct democracy

As on the federal level, all cantons provide for (half-)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. General popular assemblies (Landsgemeinde) are now limited to the cantons of Appenzell Innerrhoden and Glarus. In all other cantons democratic rights are exercised by secret ballot.

List

The cantons are listed in the order given in the federal constitution.[1]

Flag Abbr Canton Since Capital Population[2] Area[3] Density[4] № munic.[5] Official languages
Flag of Zurich ZH Zürich 1351 Zürich 1,307,567 1,729 701 171 German
Flag of Bern BE Bern 1353 Bern 962,982 5,959 158 392 German, French
Flag of Lucerne LU Lucerne (Luzern) 1332 Lucerne 363,475 1,493 233 88 German
Flag of Uri UR Uri 1291 Altdorf 34,989 1,077 33 20 German
Flag of Schwyz SZ Schwyz 1291 Schwyz 141,024 908 143 30 German
Flag of Obwalden OW Obwalden 1291 Sarnen 33,997 491 66 7 German
Flag of Nidwalden NW Nidwalden 1291 Stans 40,287 276 138 11 German
Flag of Glarus GL Glarus 1352 Glarus 38,237 685 51 25 German
Flag of Zug ZG Zug 1352 Zug 109,141 239 416 11 German
Flag of Fribourg FR Fribourg 1481 Fribourg 263,241 1,671 141 168 French, German
Flag of Solothurn SO Solothurn 1481 Solothurn 250,240 791 308 125 German
Flag of Basel-City BS Basel-Stadt (Basel-City) 1501 (part of Basel until 1833) Basel 185,227 37 5,072 3 German
Flag of Basel-Country BL Basel-Landschaft (Basel-Country) 1501 (part of Basel until 1833) Liestal 269,145 518 502 86 German
Flag of Schaffhausen SH Schaffhausen 1501 Schaffhausen 74,527 298 246 27 German
Flag of Appenzell Ausserrhoden AR Appenzell Ausserrhoden (Appenzell Outer Rhodes) 1513 (part of Appenzell until 1597) Herisau[6] 52,654 243 220 20 German
Flag of Appenzell Innerrhoden AI Appenzell Innerrhoden (Appenzell Inner Rhodes) 1513 (part of Appenzell until 1597) Appenzell 15,471 173 87 6 German
Flag of St. Gallen SG St. Gallen 1803 St. Gallen 465,937 2,026 222 86 German
Flag of Graubünden GR Graubünden (Grigioni, Grischun, Grisons) 1803 Chur 188,762 7,105 26 190 German, Romansh, Italian
Flag of Aargau AG Aargau (Argovia) 1803 Aarau 581,562 1,404 388 229 German
Flag of Thurgau TG Thurgau (Thurgovia) 1803 Frauenfeld[7] 238,316 991 229 80 German
Flag of Ticino TI Ticino 1803 Bellinzona 328,580 2,812 110 176 Italian
Flag of Vaud VD Vaud 1803 Lausanne 672,039 3,212 188 375 French
Flag of Valais VS Valais 1815 Sion 298,580 5,224 53 143 French, German
Flag of Neuchâtel NE Neuchâtel 1815 Neuchâtel 169,782 803 206 53 French
Flag of Geneva GE Geneva 1815 Geneva 438,177 282 1,442 45 French
Flag of Jura JU Jura 1979 (previously part of Bern) Delémont 69,555 838 82 64 French
Flag of Switzerland CH Switzerland Bern 7,593,494 41,285 174 2,631 German, French, Italian, Romansh

The two-letter abbreviations for Swiss cantons are widely used, e.g. on car license plates and in the ISO 3166-2 codes of Switzerland (with the prefix "CH-", i.e. CH-SZ 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), reflecting a history of mutual association or partition.

The Swiss Constitution of 1848 for the new federal state stipulates the existence of rights for each of the three original cantons (Unterwalden, Appenzell et Basel) equal to those of the other cantons, with 2 seats each on the Swiss Council of States, which has 44 seats for 22 cantons (the canton of Jura did not exist yet). With 6 entities comprising parts of those former three cantons, each "half canton" is designated a portion of the former whole canton's representation in the Council of States, being a single representative for each, half that of its original full canton, and thus the designation of half canton.

The half-cantons are identified 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 Zurich, 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 (underlining not in original)[6]

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.[7] In contrast, the first article of the 1848 and 1874 constitutions constituted the Confederation as the union of "twenty-two sovereign cantons",[8] referring to the half-cantons as "Unterwalden (above and beneath the woods)", "Basel (city and country)" and "Appenzell (both Rhoden)".[9] 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 a cantonal vote".[10]

With their mutual association a purely historical matter, the half-cantons are since 1848 equal to the other cantons in all but two respects:[11]

  • They elect only one member of the Council of States instead of two (Cst. art. 150 par. 2).
  • In popular referendums about constitutional amendments, which require for adoption a national popular majority as well as the assent of a majority of the cantons (Ständemehr / majorité des cantons), the result of the half-cantons' popular vote counts only one half of that of the other cantons (Cst. arts. 140, 142). This means that for purposes of a constitutional referendum, at least twelve out of a total of twenty-three cantonal popular votes must support the amendment.[12]
Caricature of the division of Basel, 1833

The reasons for the association between the three pairs of half-cantons are varied:

  • Unterwalden never consisted of a single unified jurisdiction. Originally, Obwalden, Nidwalden, and the Abbey of Engelberg formed distinct communities. The collective term Unterwalden remains in use, however, for the area that partook in the creation of the original Swiss confederation in 1291 with Uri and Schwyz. The Federal Charter of 1291 called for representatives from each of the three "areas".[13][14]
  • The canton of Basel divided itself as a consequence of a revolt of the Basel countryside in 1833, in order to promote equality among its citizenry, combating claims between rural and city residents over preferential status:[16] Basel-Landschaft and Basel-Stadt.

Names in other languages

Abbr English French Italian German Romansh
AG Aargau (rare: Argovia) Argovie Argovia About this sound Aargau Argovia
AI Appenzell Innerrhoden (Appenzell Inner-Rhodes) Appenzell Rhodes-Intérieures Appenzello Interno About this sound Appenzell Innerrhoden Appenzell dadens
AR Appenzell Ausserrhoden (Appenzell Outer-Rhodes) Appenzell Rhodes-Extérieures Appenzello Esterno About this sound Appenzell Ausserrhoden Appenzell dador
BS Basel-City or Basle-City Bâle-Ville Basilea-Città About this sound Basel-Stadt Basilea-Citad
BL Basel-Country, Basle-Country, or Basel-Land Bâle-Campagne Basilea-Campagna About this sound Basel-Landschaft Basilea-Champagna
BE Bern Berne Berna About this sound Bern Berna
FR Fribourg Fribourg Friborgo About this sound Freiburg Friburg
GE Geneva Genève Ginevra About this sound Genf Genevra
GL Glarus Glaris Glarona About this sound Glarus Glaruna
GR Graubünden (Grisons) Grisons Grigioni About this sound Graubünden Grischun
JU Jura Jura Giura About this sound Jura Giura
LU Lucerne Lucerne Lucerna About this sound Luzern Lucerna
NE Neuchâtel Neuchâtel Neuchâtel About this sound Neuenburg Neuchâtel
NW Nidwalden Nidwald Nidvaldo About this sound Nidwalden Sutsilvania
OW Obwalden Obwald Obvaldo About this sound Obwalden Sursilvania
SH Schaffhausen (Schaffhouse) Schaffhouse Sciaffusa About this sound Schaffhausen Schaffusa
SZ Schwyz Schwyz (or Schwytz) Svitto About this sound Schwyz Sviz
SO Solothurn Soleure Soletta About this sound Solothurn Soloturn
SG St. Gallen (St. Gall) Saint-Gall San Gallo About this sound St. Gallen Son Gagl
TG Thurgau (Thurgovia) Thurgovie Turgovia About this sound Thurgau Turgovia
TI Ticino Tessin Ticino About this sound Tessin Tessin
UR Uri Uri Uri About this sound Uri Uri
VS Valais Valais Vallese About this sound Wallis Vallais
VD Vaud Vaud Vaud About this sound Waadt Vad
ZG Zug Zoug Zugo About this sound Zug Zug
ZH Zurich Zurich Zurigo About this sound Zürich Turitg

See also

Notes

  1. ^ 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).
  2. ^  as of 5 April 2009 (2009 -04-05)
  3. ^  km²
  4. ^  Per km², based on 2000 population
  5. ^  As of 31 December 2007, Bundesamt für Statistik (Federal Department of Statistics) (2008). "Amtliches Gemeindeverzeichnis der Schweiz" (Microsoft Excel). http://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/portal/de/index/regionen/thematische_karten/maps/uebersichtskarte.html. Retrieved 11 November 2008. 
  6. ^  Seat of government and parliament is Herisau, the seat of the judicial authorities is Trogen
  7. ^  Seat of parliament half-yearly alternates between Frauenfeld and Weinfelden

References

  • Bernhard Ehrenzeller, Philipp Mastronardi, Rainer J. Schweizer, Klaus A. Vallender (eds.) (2002). Die schweizerische Bundesverfassung, Kommentar. ISBN 3-905455-70-6.  (German). Cited as Ehrenzeller.
  • Häfelin, Ulrich; Haller, Walter; Keller, Helen (2008) (in German). Schweizerisches Bundesstaatsrecht (7th ed.). Zürich: Schulthess. ISBN 978-3-7255-5472-0.  Cited as Häfelin.
  1. ^ Cantons, In the Old Confederation until 1798 in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  2. ^ Jura (Canton) in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  3. ^ "Switzerland". Encyclopædia Britannica. 26. 1911. pp. 251. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/1911_Encyclop%C3%A6dia_Britannica/Switzerland/History/Shaking_off_the_Empire#Shaking_off_Dependence_on_the_Empire_.E2.80.94_up_to_1499_.281648.29. Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  4. ^ a b Cantons, In the Federal State since 1848 in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  5. ^ Swiss Government website with links to each cantonal government, accessed 11 November 2008
  6. ^ Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation of 18 April 1999, SR/RS 101 (E·D·F·I), art. 1 (E·D·F·I)
  7. ^ Felix Hafner / Rainer J. Schweizer in Ehrenzeller, Art. 1 N 2; Häfelin, N 966.
  8. ^ Twenty-three after the creation of the Canton of Jura in 1978.
  9. ^ Bundesverfassung der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft vom 29. Mai 1874, Bundesverfassung der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft vom 12. September 1848 (German); author's translation.
  10. ^ Felix Hafner / Rainer J. Schweizer in Ehrenzeller, Art. 1 N 10; Häfelin, N 963
  11. ^ Häfelin, N 963, 967
  12. ^ Häfelin, N 950
  13. ^ Pacte fédéral du 1er août 1291] sur Admin.ch "vallée inférieure d'Unterwald" signifie Nidwald.
  14. ^ Pacte fédéral du 1er août 1291 sur Cliotexte
  15. ^ Réforme catholique, Contre-Réforme et scission Article du dictionnaire historique de la Suisse
  16. ^ De la République helvétique à la division du canton (1798-1833) Article du dictionnaire historique de la Suisse

External links

  • Swissworld.org – The cantons of Switzerland
  • GeoPuzzle – Assemble cantons on a Swiss map
  • Badac – Database on Swiss cantons and cities (French/German)
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Simple English

File:Cantons of
The cantons of Switzerland

The 26 cantons of Switzerland are the states of the country of Switzerland.

Switzerland is divided into 26 different areas. Each area is called a canton. A canton is like a state in the United States.

In the past, each canton had its own army and money. This changed in 1848 when Switzerland changed to the structure it has now.

The cantons Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden (Nidwalden and Obwalden together are called Unterwalden) are called Urkantone. An Urkanton is a canton that existed since the foundation of Switzerland in 1291. With time, other cantons joined Switzerland. Jura is the newest canton in Switzerland since 1978. In that year, it split from the canton of Berne, after some rioting.

The cantons of Basel-Stadt, Basel-Landschaft, Appenzell-Innerrhoden, Appenzell-Ausserrhoden, Obwalden and Nidwalden are different from the others in one way. For historical reasons, their voting is counted differently in national elections. Other than that, they are the same as the others.

In Switzerland, the individual municipalities and cantons are very free. Usually, there is a Swiss law (at the level of the whole confederation). Very often this states general things and says that the cantons must follow this rule. The cantons then makes detailed rules, each in the way it sees fit. Sometimes this leads to strange situations. There are 26 different schooling systems.

Drug abuse is an offense, at the federal level. Punishment is usually 1 to 3 years, but can also only be a fine. The problem is: Consumption itself (not trading, or giving away for free) is not punishable. Also in light cases, the police can say that there will be no fine. This has led to the fact, that in each canton, this law is applied differently. In one canton, smoking a joint will mean a fine, in another, it can mean a prison term.

The word for that is called federalism. That means, that each canton has its own government. So all cantons have their own constitution. The constitution is the highest law in a state.

List and map

The cantons are listed in the order given in the federal constitution. [1]

Flag Abbr Canton Since Capital Population1 Area2 Density3 Nr of Municipalities1 Official languages
Template:Country data Canton of Zürich ZH Zürich (Zurich) 1351 Zürich 1,228,600 1,729 701 171 German
Template:Country data Canton of Bern BE Berne (Bern) 1353 Berne 947,100 5,959 158 399 German, French
Template:Country data Canton of Lucerne LU Lucerne 1332 Lucerne 350,600 1,493 233 107 German
Template:Country data Canton of Uri UR Uri 1291 Altdorf 35,000 1,077 33 20 German
Template:Country data Canton of Schwyz SZ Schwyz 1291 Schwyz 131,400 908 143 30 German
Template:Country data Canton of Obwalden OW Obwalden (Obwald) 1291 Sarnen 32,700 491 66 7 German
Template:Country data Canton of Nidwalden NW Nidwalden (Nidwald) 1291 Stans 38,600 276 138 11 German
Template:Country data Canton of Glarus GL Glarus 1352 Glarus 38,300 685 51 28 German
Template:Country data Canton of Zug ZG Zug 1352 Zug 100,900 239 416 11 German
Template:Country data Canton of Fribourg FR Fribourg 1481 Fribourg 239,100 1,671 141 242 French, German
Template:Country data Canton of Solothurn SO Solothurn 1481 Solothurn 245,500 791 308 126 German
Template:Country data Canton of Basel BS Basel-Stadt (Basle-City) 1501 Basel 186,700 37 5,072 3 German
Template:Country data Canton of Basel Land BL Basel-Land (Basle-Country) 1501 Liestal 261,400 518 502 86 German
Template:Country data Canton of Schaffhausen SH Schaffhausen 1501 Schaffhausen 73,400 298 246 34 German
Template:Country data Canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden AR Appenzell Ausserrhoden (Outer Rhodes) 1513 Herisau4 53,200 243 220 20 German
Template:Country data Canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden AI Appenzell Innerrhoden (Inner Rhodes) 1513 Appenzell 15,000 173 87 6 German
Template:Country data Canton of Sankt Gallen SG St. Gallen (St. Gall) 1803 St. Gallen 452,600 2,026 222 90 German
Template:Country data Canton of Graubünden GR Graubünden (Grisons) 1803 Chur 185,700 7,105 26 211 German, Romansh, Italian
Template:Country data Canton of Aargau AG Aargau (Argovia) 1803 Aarau 550,900 1,404 388 232 German
Template:Country data Canton of Thurgau TG Thurgau (Thurgovia) 1803 Frauenfeld 228,200 991 229 80 German
Template:Country data Canton of Tessin TI Ticino 1803 Bellinzona 311,900 2,812 110 244 Italian
Template:Country data Canton of Vaud VD Vaud 1803 Lausanne 626,200 3,212 188 382 French
Template:Country data Canton of Valais VS Valais 1815 Sion 278,200 5,224 53 160 French, German
Template:Country data Canton of Neuchâtel NE Neuchâtel 1815 Neuchâtel 166,500 803 206 62 French
Template:Country data Canton of Geneva GE Geneva 1815 Geneva 414,300 282 1,442 45 French
Template:Country data Canton of Jura JU Jura 1979 Delémont 69,100 838 82 83 French
CH Switzerland   Bern 7,261,20041,285 174 2,890 German, French, Italian, Romansch

Notes: 1 As of 31 December 2001, National Statistics, 2 km², 3 per km², based on 2000 population 4 seat of government and parliament, the seat of the judicial authorities is Trogen.

The two-letter abbreviations for Swiss cantons are widely used, e.g. on car license plates and in the ISO 3166-2 codes (with the prefix "CH-", i.e. CH-SZ for the canton of Schwyz).

References

  1. 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).


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