- Cantons of Switzerland
The 26 cantons of Switzerland are the states of the
federal stateof Switzerland. Each canton was a fully sovereignstate with its own borders, army and currency 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 Bernein 1979.
In the 16th century, the
Old Swiss Confederationwas 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. The six forest cantons were democratic republics, whereas the seven urban cantons were oligarchicrepublics controlled by noble families.
Each canton has its own
constitution, legislature, governmentand courts. 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. For the names of the institutions, see List of legislative and executive councils of the Cantons of Switzerland.
Swiss Federal Constitutiondeclares the cantons to be sovereign to the extent their sovereignty is not limited by federal law. 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 14,900 to 1,244,400.
As on the federal level, all cantons provide for
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 Innerrhodenand Glarus. In all other cantons democratic rights are exercised by secret ballot.
List and map
The cantons are listed in the order given in the federal constitution. [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).]
# As of
31 December 2001, [http://www.statistik.admin.ch/stat_ch/ber00/deck_m.htm National Statistics]
# Per km², based on 2000 population
# Seat of government and parliament is
Herisau, the seat of the judicial authorities is Trogen
# Seat of parliament half-yearly alternates between
The two-letter abbreviations for Swiss cantons are widely used, e.g. on car license plates and in the
ISO 3166-2codes (with the prefix "CH-", i.e. CH-SZ for the canton of Schwyz).
The traditional half-cantons
Six cantons –
Obwalden, Nidwalden, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Basel-Cityand Basel-Country– have traditionally been called "half-cantons" or "demicantons". This term is now deprecated by constitutional scholars, as the 1999 constitution lists 26 equal cantons. The appellation "cantons with half a cantonal vote" has recently come in use in official and legal texts.
The region of
Unterwaldenhas, in the historical record, always been divided into the half-cantons of Obwalden and Nidwalden. The other four half-cantons have resulted from the division of a preexisting canton: The canton of Appenzellsplit into the half-cantons of Innerrhoden and Ausserrhoden in 1597 as a result of the Reformation. The canton of Basel was divided into the half-cantons of Basel-City and Basel-Country after a revolt of the Basel countryside in 1833.
The six half-cantons have the same institutional structure as well as the same rights and obligations as all the other cantons, with two exceptions. For one thing, they elect only one member of the Council of States instead of two. Also, in popular referendums that require not only a national popular majority but also the assent of a majority of the cantons ("Ständemehr / majorité des cantons"), such as constitutional amendments, the result of their cantonal vote counts half as much as that of other cantons. This means that a majority of the cantons is actually the majority of twenty-three cantonal votes.
Names in other languages
Abbr English French Italian German Romansh AG Aargau(rare: "Argovia") Argovie Argovia Audio|De-Aargau.ogg|Aargau Argovia AI Appenzell Innerrhoden(Appenzell Inner-Rhodes) Appenzell Rhodes-Intérieures Appenzello Interno Audio|De-Appenzell-Innerrhoden.ogg|Appenzell Innerrhoden Appenzell dadens AR Appenzell Ausserrhoden(Appenzell Outer-Rhodes) Appenzell Rhodes-Extérieures Appenzello Esterno Audio|De-Appenzell-Ausserrhoden.ogg|Appenzell Ausserrhoden Appenzell dador BS Basel-Cityor Basle-City Bâle-Ville Basilea-Città Audio|De-Basel-Stadt.ogg|Basel-Stadt Basilea-Citad BL Basel-Country, Basle-Country, or Basel-Land Bâle-Campagne Basilea-Campagna Audio|De-Basel-Landschaft.ogg|Basel-Landschaft Basilea-Champagna BE Berne (Bern) Berne Berna Audio|De-Bern.ogg|Bern Berna FR Fribourg Fribourg Friburgo Audio|De-Freiburg.ogg|Freiburg Friburg GE Geneva Genève Ginevra Audio|De-Genf.ogg|Genf Genevra GL Glarus Glaris Glarona Audio|De-Glarus.ogg|Glarus Glaruna GR Graubünden(Grisons) Grisons Grigioni Audio|De-Graubuenden.ogg|Graubünden Grischun JU Jura Jura Giura Audio|De-Jura.ogg|Jura Giura LU Lucerne Lucerne Lucerna Audio|De-Luzern.ogg|Luzern Lucerna NE Neuchâtel Neuchâtel Neuchâtel Audio|De-Neuenburg.ogg|Neuenburg Neuchâtel NW Nidwalden Nidwald Nidvaldo Audio|De-Nidwalden.ogg|Nidwalden Sutsilvania OW Obwalden Obwald Obvaldo Audio|De-Obwalden.ogg|Obwalden Sursilvania SH Schaffhausen (Schaffhouse) Schaffhouse Sciaffusa Audio|De-Schaffhausen.ogg|Schaffhausen Schaffusa SZ Schwyz Schwyz (or Schwytz) Svitto Audio|De-Schwyz.ogg|Schwyz Sviz SO Solothurn Soleure Soletta Audio|De-Solothurn.ogg|Solothurn Soloturn SG St. Gallen (St. Gall) Saint-Gall San Gallo Audio|De-StGallen.ogg|St. Gallen Son Gagl TG Thurgau(Thurgovia) Thurgovie Turgovia Audio|De-Thurgau.ogg|Thurgau Turgovia TI Ticino Tessin Ticino Audio|De-Tessin.ogg|Tessin Tessin UR Uri Uri Uri Audio|De-Uri.ogg|Uri Uri VS Valais Valais Vallese Audio|De-Wallis.ogg|Wallis Vallais VD Vaud Vaud Vaud Audio|De-Waadt.ogg|Waadt Vad ZG Zug Zoug Zugo Audio|De-Zug.ogg|Zug Zug ZH Zurich Zurich Zurigo Audio|De-Zürich.ogg|Zürich Turitg
List of legislative and executive councils of the Cantons of Switzerland
*List of 2005 cantonal office-holders on
January 1, 2005.
Data codes for Switzerland#Cantons
List of Cantons of Switzerland by area
List of Cantons of Switzerland by highest point
Flags of Swiss cantons
Cantonal bank, a commercial bankwhere the canton is the guaranteer
* [http://www.geomit.ch/GeoPuzzles/SchweizPuzzle/schweiz.html GeoPuzzle] ndash Assemble cantons on a Swiss map
* [http://www.badac.ch Badac] ndash Database on Swiss cantons and cities (French/German)
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