Switzerland is a federal state with the federal, cantonal, and municipal levels of government, as well as the Swiss Parliament. Swiss Confederation comprises 26 states, and these states are called the Cantons of Switzerland. After Civil War, Switzerland adopted a federal structure. The Swiss cantons of Unterwalden, Basel, and Appenzell were subdivided into half cantons, thus making a total of 26 cantons in Switzerland.
The Cantons Of Switzerland are independent of one another, which makes Switzerland’s unique political geography. Every canton has its constitution, laws, legislature, executive, and judiciary. Areas not completely covered in the Swiss Federal Constitution are subject to the Cantonal constitution. Cantonal police forces have the responsibility for the enforcement of Laws in Switzerland.
The Old Swiss Confederacy, or Swiss Confederacy, formed during the 14th Century, was a loose confederation of independent small states called cantons, which was initially within the Holy Roman Empire. The confederation came into existence through three founding cantons- Schwyz, Unterwalden, and Uri. By the middle of the Century, it expanded to include the other cantons- Zurich and Bern.
26 Amazing Cantons Of Switzerland
Just like its landscape and the various languages, the boundaries of Switzerland’s administrative region are also diverse. Here are 23 amazing Cantons of Switzerland.
1. Swiss Canton of Zürich
Situated in the Northeast part of the country, Zürich is the largest canton with the largest population. Although German is the official language, the commonly spoken language is Zurituutsch, which is the German-Swiss dialect.
80℅ land of Zürich is productive with vast forest cover while the rest is occupied by lakes, mainly Greifen and Pfäffikon, and part of Lake Zürich. Besides being a manufacturing area noted especially for machinery and railway rolling stock, silk and cotton weaving are widespread in the Swiss Canton of Zürich.
2. Canton Of Bern
The Canton of Bern, located in the centre of Switzerland, is the second-most populous and second-largest canton there. Bern is the capital city of the canton and the de facto capital of Switzerland as well.
Bern is a bilingual canton and, hence, bridges the gap between French and German-speaking communities. The Federal Assembly, usually referred to as the Swiss Parliament, holds its regular sessions in Bern’s Federal Palace. The National headquarter of the Swiss Red Cross Society is also situated here.
3. Canton Of Lucerne
Located in the centre of Switzerland, the Canton of Lucerne comprises six districts. German is the official language, and the capital city is Lucerne.
Lucerne is one of the most beautiful cantons of Switzerland since it is divided into two parts by the Reuss River. Various landmarks of the canton include- The Richard Wagner Museum, Gothic Franciscan Church, the Glacier Garden, and the Central Library.
4. Canton Of Uri
The Canton of Uri, a founding member of the Swiss confederation, has German as the official language, but the main spoken dialect is Alemannic Swiss German. The canton’s territory engulfs the valley of the Reuss, which is productive, while the unproductive area is covered with glaciers.
5. Canton Of Schwyz
It is one of the 26 cantons of Switzerland bordered by Lake Zurich and Lake Lucerne. The Canton of Schwyz is split up into six districts, and German is the official language.
Schwyz is reckoned to be the economic centre of Switzerland. The majority of the canton depends on agriculture and is known for its unique brown cattle breed. The most famous Swiss Army Knife is manufactured here.
6. Canton Of Glarus
Located in eastern Switzerland, and its capital is Glarus city. The population in the canton of Glarus is Christian, with an equal split between Protestant and Catholic, and speaks a variety of Alemannic German.
The one canton of Switzerland that outsourced its postal service to entrepreneurs was the canton of Glarus. Neo-Romanesque is the symbol of Glarus.
7. Canton Of Zug
Zug is surrounded by the cantons of Lucerne and Aargau, Zurich in the north, and Schwyz in the east and south. It is located on the steep middle Swiss plateau.
8. Canton Of Fribourg
The Canton of Fribourg is bilingual, as its official languages are French and German. The canton has seven districts and 165 municipalities. The city of Fribourg is the capital.
The Western part and the Northern part of the canton of Fribourg belong to the Swiss Plateau. Several light industries are also concentrated here.
9. Canton Of Solothurn
Located in Northwestern Switzerland, it is bounded by the cantons of Jura and Bern to the west and south, Aargau to the east, and Basel Landschaft to the north. It’s two completely detached districts share a border with France in the north.
Its official language is German. Until the 19th Century, agriculture was the main economic activity, but now the canton is specialized in other industries, like- watches, jewelry, textile, paper, cement, and auto parts.
10. Canton Of Schaffhausen
Canton of Schaffhausen is one of the 26 cantons of Switzerland located in the Northernmost part of the country, on the river bank of the Rhine.
The legislature is the Cantonal Council of Schaffhausen, while the executive branch is the Government Council. Voting is mandatory for all Swiss citizens living in the canton of Schaffhausen.
11. Canton Of St. Gallen
Sankt Gallen is located in Eastern Switzerland. The capital of the canton and the location of Parliament is St. Gallen. German is the official language of the canton.
Canton of St. Gallen is composed of 8 constituencies and 77 municipalities. The Canton of St. Gallon surrounds Appenzell Ausserhoden and Appenzell Innerrhoden.
12. Canton Of Graubünden
It is the only canton in Switzerland where Romansh is an official language, and it is found in the eastern part of the country.
Canton of Graubunden is a Mecca for sports enthusiasts as it offers a lot of outdoor activities like- skiing, rafting, the Swiss Alps, Bernina Express Rail tour, paragliding in the Swiss Alps, and so many other things.
13. Canton Of Aargau
There are eleven districts in Aargau, and its capital is Aargau.
14. Canton Of Thurgau
Thurgau is bounded by Lake Constance on the north, the Rhine river on the Northwest, and the cantons of Zürich and Schaffhausen on the South. It is an agricultural region famous for its apples and pears.
15. Canton Of Ticino
The only canton in Switzerland where Italian is the only official language is Ticino, which is located in the country’s south. There are eight districts in the canton, and its capital is Bellinzona.
The canton of Ticino is unique with its combination of Italian speakers and architecture. The region of Ticino is reckoned as productive and mostly covered with forest.
16. Canton Of Vaud
The canton of Vaud, which is in Western Switzerland, runs from Lake Neuchâtel to Lake Geneva. Lausanne is the country’s capital. The Lavaux Vineyard Terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are located in the canton of Vaud.
17. Canton Of Valais
The canton of Valais, one of Switzerland’s 26 cantons, is located in the country’s southwest. Valais is composed of thirteen districts, and its capital is Sion. Its official languages are French and German because the canton is bilingual. One of Switzerland’s most well-known cantons, the Matterhorn, may be found in the Canton of Valais.
18. Canton Of Neuchatel
Located in Western Switzerland, the Canton of Neuchâtel has a French-speaking population. To the northwest is the French border, while to the southeast is Lake Neuchâtel. The cantons of Bern bound it on the Northeast and Vaud on the Southwest. Its capital is Neuchâtel.
19. Canton Of Geneva
The canton of Geneva, one of Switzerland’s cantons, is made up of 45 municipalities. Geneva, the canton’s capital, serves as the location of both the government and the Parliament.
20. Canton Of Jura
Jura is the newest of the 23 cantons of Switzerland, and its capital is Delémont. Located in northwestern Switzerland, it borders France both in the West and North. Jura is famous for its delicious cheese. The canton has a french speaking population.
Half Cantons of Appenzell
The canton is one of the three cantons separated into half. Appenzell was separated into two cantons: Appenzell Ausserrhoden and Appenzell Innerrhoden.
21. Appenzell Ausserrhoden
Located in the northeast of the country, Appenzell Ausserrhoden is one of the half-cantons of Switzerland. While Herisau has a seat of government and Parliament, the seat of judicial authorities is in Trogen. Lying in the Alpine foothills of the Alpstein, it forms an enclave with St. Gallen. Protestants make up the majority of the population of Appenzell Ausserrhoden.
22. Appenzell Innerrhoden
It is also a half canton and composed of six districts. Appenzell Innerrhoden is the least populous canton of Switzerland and the second largest by area. Its capital is Appenzell.
Situated in the Alpine foothills of the Alpstein, Appenzell Innerrhoden is home to three mountain lakes: Seealpsee, Samtisersee, and Falensee.
Half Cantons Of Basel
Earlier, Basel Stadt and Basel Landschaft, together, formed the canton of Basel but later on, they were separated to form half cantons.
23. Basel Stadt
One of the northernmost and smallest cantons of Switzerland is Basel Stadt. Its capital is Basel, and its official language is German. Basel Stadt is Switzerland’s seventh-largest economic center. It even surpasses the cantons of Zug and Geneva in terms of GDP per capita. It shares its borders only with Basel Landschaft.
24. Basel Landschaft
Half Cantons Of Unterwalden
The split of Unterwalden caused the formation of two half-cantons: Obwalden and Nidwalden.
Lying in central Switzerland, Obwalden is composed of seven municipalities. It is one of the smallest cantons and Sarnen is the largest city of the Canton. The seat of government and Parliament is in Sarnen, and its official language is German.
It is also among the smallest cantons, with Stans being the largest town, followed by Hergiswil and Buochs. The official language is German.
To conclude, the Cantons Of Switzerland are not just political entities but regions of different traditions. Each canton has the management of its education, social welfare, healthcare, law enforcement, and direct taxation. The best thing about the cantons is that you get to interact with your local communes much more than you do in the federal government.