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Map of Switzerland showing municipal boundaries

Communes (German: Gemeinden / French: communes / Italian: comuni / Romansh: vischnancas), also known as municipalities, are the smallest government division in Switzerland, numbering 2,636 as of 2009.[1] While many have a population of a few hundred citizens, the largest cities such as Zürich or Geneva also have the legal status of municipalities. The area of the municipalities varies between 0.28 km² (Ponte Tresa, Ticino) and 282 km² (Bagnes, Valais).

Each canton defines their responsibilities. These may include providing local government services such as education, medical and social services, public transportation, and tax collection. The degree of centralization varies from one canton to another.

Communes are generally governed by a council (sometimes called Municipality) headed by a mayor as executive and the town meeting as legislature. Most cantons leave the option to larger municipalities to opt for a city parliament. In some cantons, foreign persons that have dwelled for a certain time in Switzerland are also allowed to participate in the municipal politics.

Swiss citizenship is based on the citizenship of a municipality. Every Swiss is citizen of one or several municipalities (i.e. the place of origin, lieu d'origine, Heimatort).

Communes are financed through direct taxes (e.g. income tax), with rates varying more or less within a framework set by the canton.

Many municipalities are having difficulties maintaining the civil services they need to perform the duties they are required to do. In an effort to reduce expenses, many municipalities are combining together (through mergers or the creation of special-purpose districts). This restructuring is generally encouraged by the cantonal governments and the rate of these unions is increasing.

"Cities" (villes or Städte) are the municipalities with more than 10'000 inhabitants or smaller places which had medieval town rights. There is no specific designation for smaller communities such as "village" or "town".

Population Number of municipalities in 2004 (%)[2]
>20,000 30 (1.1%)
10,000–19,999 89 (3.2%)
5000–9999 180 (6.6%)
1000–4999 1025 (37.4%)
500–999 555 (20.3%)
<500 861 (31.4%)
Total 2740 (100%)

Communes are numbered by the Swiss Federal Office for Statistics (see Community Identification Number#Switzerland). One or more postal codes (PLZ/NPA) can by assigned to a municipality or shared with other municipalities.

See also: List of cities in Switzerland

Contents

Lists of communes by canton

See cantons of Switzerland for the number of municipalities per canton.

List of communes by population

Largest municipalities
City C. Pop.
Zürich ZH 376,815
Geneva GE 185,726
Basel BS 167,365
Berne BE 128,041
Lausanne VD 129,273
Winterthur ZH 100,000
St. Gallen SG 74,538
Lucerne LU 57,890
Lugano TI 56,719
Biel/Bienne BE 50,852
Thun BE 42,319
Köniz BE 38,098
La Chaux-de-Fonds NE 37,023
Schaffhausen SH 33,527
Fribourg FR 33,008
Chur GR 34,915
Neuchâtel NE 32,389
Vernier GE 32,038
Uster ZH 28,770
Sion VS 27,697
Emmen LU 27,274
Smallest municipalities (As of 2002)
Rank Municipality C. Pop.
1. Portein GR 22
2. Corippo TI 23
3. Mulegns GR 25
4. Bister VS 26
5. Martisberg VS 28
6. Goumoens-le-Jux VD 30
6. Largario TI 30
8. Clugin GR 35
9. Cauco GR 36
9. Monible BE 36
11. St. Martin GR 37
12. Gresso TI 38
12. Montfavergier JU 38
14. Vaugondry VD 39
15. Arrissoules VD 40
15. Romairon VD 40
15. Selma GR 40
18. Ausserbinn VS 41
18. Linescio TI 41
18. Mauraz VD 41
18. Steinhaus VS 41

nb. Corippo has now taken place as smallest city/municipality in Switzerland with only 17 inhabitants. (2004 Census)

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Official list of Swiss municipalities, p. 17
  2. ^ Official list of Swiss municipalities, p. 17

References

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Municipalities (sometimes called communities or communes, after the French/Italian names) are the smallest government division in Switzerland, and are called Gemeinden in German, communes in French, comuni in Italian and vischnancas in Romansh. As of January 2006, Switzerland has 2740 municipalities.[1] While many have a population of a few hundred citizens, the largest cities such as Zürich or Geneva also have the legal status of municipalities. The area of the municipalities varies between 0.28 km² (Ponte Tresa, Ticino) and 282 km² (Bagnes, Valais).

Each canton defines their responsibilities. These may include providing local government services such as education, medical and social services, public transportation, and tax collection. The degree of centralization varies from one canton to another.

Municipalities are generally governed by a council headed by a mayor as executive and the town meeting as legislature. Most cantons leave the option to larger municipalities to opt for a city parliament. In some cantons, foreign persons that have dwelled for a certain time in Switzerland are also allowed to participate in the municipal politics.

Swiss citizenship is based on the citizenship of a municipality. Every Swiss is citizen of one or several municipalities (i.e. the place of origin, lieu d'origine, Heimatort).

Municipalities are financed through direct taxes (e.g. income tax), with rates varying more or less within a framework set by the canton.

Many municipalities are having difficulties maintaining the civil services they need to perform the duties they are required to do. In an effort to reduce expenses, many municipalities are combining together (through mergers or the creation of special-purpose districts). This restructuring is generally encouraged by the cantonal governments and the rate of these unions is increasing.

"Cities" (villes or Städte) are the municipalities with more than 10'000 inhabitants or smaller places which had medieval town rights. There is no specific designation for smaller municipalities ("villages", "towns").

Population Number of municipalities (%)[2]
>20,000 30 (1.1%)
10,000–19,999 89 (3.2%)
5000–9999 180 (6.6%)
1000–4999 1025 (37.4%)
500–999 555 (20.3%)
<500 861 (31.4%)
Total 2740 (100%)

Municipalities are numbered by the Swiss Federal Office for Statistics (see Community Identification Number#Switzerland). One or more postal codes (PLZ/NPA) can by assigned to a municipality or shared with other municipalities.

See also: List of cities in Switzerland

Contents

Lists of municipalities by canton

See cantons of Switzerland for the number of municipalities per canton.

List of municipalities by population

Largest municipalities
City C. Pop.
Zürich ZH 376,815
Geneva GE 185,726
Basel BS 167,365
Berne BE 128,041
Lausanne VD 129,273
Winterthur ZH 100,000
St. Gallen SG 74,538
Lucerne LU 57,890
Lugano TI 56,719
Biel/Bienne BE 50,852
Thun BE 42,319
KönizBE38,098
La Chaux-de-FondsNE37,023
SchaffhausenSH33,527
FribourgFR33,008
ChurGR34,915
NeuchâtelNE32,389
VernierGE32,038
UsterZH28,770
SionVS27,697
EmmenLU27,274

Smallest municipalities (As of 2002)
RankMunicipalityC.Pop.
1.PorteinGR22
2.CorippoTI23
3.MulegnsGR25
4.BisterVS26
5.MartisbergVS28
6.Goumoens-le-JuxVD30
6.LargarioTI30
8.CluginGR35
9.CaucoGR36
9.MonibleBE36
11.St. MartinGR37
12.GressoTI38
12.MontfavergierJU38
14.VaugondryVD39
15.ArrissoulesVD40
15.RomaironVD40
15.SelmaGR40
18.AusserbinnVS41
18.LinescioTI41
18.MaurazVD41
18.SteinhausVS41

nb. Corippo has now taken place as smallest city/municipality in Switzerland with only 17 inhabitants. (2004 Census)

See also

Notes

  1. Official list of Swiss municipalities, p. 17
  2. Official list of Swiss municipalities, p. 17

References

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