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The 26 cantons of Switzerland (german: Kanton; french: canton; it, cantone;
Sursilvan Sursilvan (; also ''romontsch sursilvan'' ; Sursilvan, Vallader Vallader (Vallader, Sursilvan, Puter, Surmiran, and Rumantsch Grischun: ''vallader'' ; Sutsilvan: ''valader'') is a variety of the Romansh language spoken in the Lower Engadine v ...
and
Surmiran Surmiran (Surmiran, Vallader, Sutsilvan, Rumantsch Grischun: ''surmiran''; Puter: ''surmiraun'') is a dialect of the Romansh language. It is spoken in Surmeir and in the Albula Valley in the Grisons, Grisons Canton, in Switzerland. The "Hail Mar ...
: ''cantun'';
Vallader Vallader (Vallader, Sursilvan, Puter, Surmiran, and Rumantsch Grischun: ''vallader'' ; Sutsilvan: ''valader'') is a variety of the Romansh language spoken in the Lower Engadine valley (''Engiadina Bassa'') of southeast Switzerland, between Mart ...
and Puter: ''Chantun'';
Sutsilvan Romansh (; sometimes also spelled Romansch and Rumantsch; Sursilvan Sursilvan (; also ''romontsch sursilvan'' ; Sursilvan, Vallader Vallader (Vallader, Sursilvan, Puter, Surmiran, and Rumantsch Grischun: ''vallader'' ; Sutsilvan: ''valad ...
: ''cantùn'';
Rumantsch Grischun Romansh (; sometimes also spelled Romansch and Rumantsch; Sursilvan Sursilvan (; also ''romontsch sursilvan'' ; Sursilvan, Vallader Vallader (Vallader, Sursilvan, Puter, Surmiran, and Rumantsch Grischun: ''vallader'' ; Sutsilvan: ''valad ...
: ''chantun'') are the
member state A member state is a state that is a member of an international organization An international organization (also known as an international institution or intergovernmental organization) is a stable set of norms and rules meant to govern the be ...
s of the
Swiss Confederation , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federal Federal or foederal (archaic) may refer to: Politics General *Federal monarchy, a federation of monarchies *Federation, or ''Federal s ...

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 The Old Swiss Confederacy or Swiss Confederacy (German language, Modern German: ; historically , after the Swiss Reformation, Reformation also , "Confederation of the Swiss (people), Swiss") was a loose confederation of independent small state ...
are summarized by the terms '' Acht Orte'' ("Eight Cantons"; from 1353–1481) and '' Dreizehn Orte'' ("Thirteen Cantons", from 1513–1798).rendered "the 'confederacy of eight'" and "the 'Thirteen-Canton Confederation'", respectively, in: Each canton of the
Old Swiss Confederacy The Old Swiss Confederacy or Swiss Confederacy (German language, Modern German: ; historically , after the Swiss Reformation, Reformation also , "Confederation of the Swiss (people), Swiss") was a loose confederation of independent small state ...
, formerly also (from before 1450), or ("estate", from c. 1550), was a fully
sovereign state A sovereign state is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized social relation, social relatio ...
with its own border controls, army, and currency from at least the
Treaty of Westphalia The Peace of Westphalia (german: Westfälischer Friede, ) is the collective name for two peace treaties signed in October 1648 in the Westphalian cities of Osnabrück Osnabrück (; wep, Ossenbrügge; archaic ''Osnaburg'') is a city in the ...
(1648) until the establishment of the Swiss federal state in 1848, with a brief period of centralised government during the
Helvetic Republic In Swiss history, the Helvetic Republic (1798–1803) represented an early attempt to impose a central authority over Switzerland ,german: Schweizer(in),french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = ...
(1798–1803). The term ''Kanton'' has been widely used since the 19th century. "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." The number of cantons was increased to 19 with the
Act of Mediation The Act of Mediation () was issued by Napoleon Bonaparte Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader. He rose to prominence during the French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) ...
(1803), with the recognition of former subject territories as full cantons. The
Federal Treaty The Federal Treaty (German: ''Bundesvertrag'', French: ''Pacte fédéral'', Italian: ''Patto federale'') was the legal foundation for the new Swiss Confederacy of 1815. It came about after interventions by the great powers of the Sixth Coalition th ...
of 1815 increased the number to 22 due to the accession of former Old Swiss Confederacy Associates. The
canton of Jura The Republic and Canton of Jura (french: République et canton du Jura), less formally the Canton of Jura or Canton Jura ( , ), is the newest (founded in 1979) of the cantons of Switzerland, 26 Swiss cantons, located in the northwestern part of Sw ...
acceded as the 23rd canton with its
secession Secession is the withdrawal of a group from a larger entity, especially a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, ...
from
Bern ,german: Berner(in),french: Bernois(e), it, Bernese , neighboring_municipalities = Bremgarten bei Bern Bremgarten bei Bern is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corpor ...
in 1979. 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 km (
canton of Basel-Stadt Canton may refer to: Administrative division terminology * Canton (administrative division) A canton is a type of administrative division of a country. In general, cantons are relatively small in terms of area and population when compared wi ...
) to 7,105 km ( canton of the Grisons); the populations (as of 2018) range from 16,000 (
canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden Appenzell Innerrhoden (; in English sometimes Appenzell Inner-Rhodes) is one of the 26 cantons forming the Swiss Confederation , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federal Fede ...
) to 1.5 million (
canton of Zürich The canton of Zürich (german: Kanton ) is a Swiss canton in the northeastern part of the country. With a population of (as of ), it is the most populous canton in the country. Its capital is the city of Zürich. The Languages of Switzerland, of ...
). With a very few exceptions, the capital (seat of government) of each canton is also the largest city.


Terminology

The term ''
canton Canton may refer to: Administrative division terminology * Canton (administrative division), territorial/administrative division in some countries, notably Switzerland * Township (Canada), known as ''canton'' in Canadian French Arts and entert ...
'', now also used as the English term for
administrative subdivision Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are generic names for geographical areas into which a particular, ...
s of other countries, originates in French usage in the late 15th century (recorded in Fribourg in 1467), from a word for "edge, corner", at the time the literal translation of
Early Modern High German Early may refer to: History * The beginning or oldest part of a defined historical period, as opposed to middle or late periods, e.g.: ** Early Christianity ** Early modern Europe Places in the United States * Early, Iowa * Early, Texas * Early ...
''ort''. After 1490, ''canton'' was increasingly used in French and Italian documents to refer to the members of the Swiss Confederacy. English use of ''
canton Canton may refer to: Administrative division terminology * Canton (administrative division), territorial/administrative division in some countries, notably Switzerland * Township (Canada), known as ''canton'' in Canadian French Arts and entert ...
'' in reference to the Swiss Confederacy (as opposed to the heraldic sense) dates to the early 17th century. In the Old Swiss Confederacy, the term '''' (plural: ''Orte'') was in use from the early 15th century as a generic term for the member cantons. The founding cantons specifically were also known as '' Waldstätte'' "forest settlements", "forest cantons" (singular: ''Waldstatt''). The formulaic ' for the members of the early confederacy is recorded in the mid-14th century, used interchangeably with ' ("cities and lands", "city cantons and rural cantons") until the late 15th century. ''Ort'' was increasingly replaced by ''Stand'' (plural: ''Stände'') "
estate Estate or The Estate may refer to: Law * Estate (law), a term in common law for a person's property, entitlements and obligations * Estates of the realm, a broad social category in the histories of certain countries. ** The Estates, representative ...
" 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. 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 In Swiss history, the Helvetic Republic (1798–1803) represented an early attempt to impose a central authority over Switzerland ,german: Schweizer(in),french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = ...
. Only with the
Act of Mediation The Act of Mediation () was issued by Napoleon Bonaparte Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader. He rose to prominence during the French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) ...
of 1803 did German ''Kanton'' become an official designation, retained in the
Swiss Constitution The Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation (SR 10, german: Bundesverfassung der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft (BV), french: Constitution fédérale de la Confédération suisse (Cst.), it, Costituzione federale della Confederazi ...
of 1848. The term ''Stand'' (french: état, it, 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, it, Consiglio degli Stati, rm, 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 A republic ( la, res publica, links=yes, meaning "public affair") is a List of forms of government, form of government in which "power is held by the people and their elected representatives". In republics, the country is considered a "public m ...
. Some cantons formally describe themselves as
republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...

republic
s in their constitutions. This applies to the Romance-speaking cantons in particular:
Geneva , neighboring_municipalities= Carouge Carouge () is a Municipalities of Switzerland, municipality in the Canton of Geneva, Switzerland. History Carouge is first mentioned in the Early Middle Ages as ''Quadruvium'' and ''Quatruvio''. In 124 ...
(formally ''République et canton de Genève'' "Republic and canton of Geneva"),
Jura Jura may refer to: Geography *Jura, Scotland, island in United Kingdom *Jūra, river in Lithuania Mountains *Jura Mountains, mountains on the French-Swiss-German border *Franconian Jura, a mountain range in south-central Germany *Swabian Jura, a ...
,
Neuchâtel Neuchâtel or Neuchatel (, , ), in German language, German Neuenburg, is a list of towns in Switzerland, town, a Municipalities of Switzerland, municipality, and the capital (political), capital of the cantons of Switzerland, Swiss canton of Neuch ...
,
Valais Valais (in French language, French) ( , , ; frp, Valês), or Wallis (in German language, German) (german: Wallis ), more formally the Canton of Valais,; german: Kanton Wallis; in other official Swiss languages outside Valais: it, (Canton) Valle ...
,
Vaud Vaud ( ; french: (Canton de) Vaud, ; german: (Kanton) Waadt, or ), more formally the canton of Vaud, is one of the forming the . It is composed of ten districts and its capital city is . Its flag bears the motto "Liberté et patrie" on a white ...
and
Ticino Ticino (), sometimes Tessin (), officially the Republic and Canton of Ticino or less formally the Canton of Ticino,, informally ''Canton Ticino'' ; lmo, Canton Tesin ; german: Kanton Tessin ; french: canton du Tessin ; rm, chantun dal Tessin . ...
.


History

In the 16th century, the
Old Swiss Confederacy The Old Swiss Confederacy or Swiss Confederacy (German language, Modern German: ; historically , after the Swiss Reformation, Reformation also , "Confederation of the Swiss (people), Swiss") was a loose confederation of independent small state ...
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 A Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) is a unique sequence of characters that identifies a logical or physical resource used by web technologies. URIs may be used to identify anything, including real-world objects, such as people and places, concep ...
,
Schwyz The town of Schwyz (; french: Schwytz; it, Svitto) is the capital of the canton of Schwyz in Switzerland. The Federal Charter of 1291 or ''Bundesbrief'', the charter that eventually led to the foundation of Switzerland, can be seen at the '' ...
(which became
eponymous An eponym is a person, place, or thing after whom or which someone or something is, or is believed to be, named. The adjectives derived from eponym include ''eponymous'' and ''eponymic''. Word usage The term ''eponym'' functions in multiple ...
of the confederacy),
Unterwalden Unterwalden ( Latinized as ''Sylvania'', later also ''Subsylvania'' as opposed to ''Supersylvania'') is the old name of a forest-canton of the Old Swiss Confederacy The Old Swiss Confederacy or Swiss Confederacy, Swiss Confederation (Modern G ...

Unterwalden
,
Glarus , neighboring_municipalities= Glarus Nord Glarus Nord is one of three municipalities A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administr ...
,
Appenzell Appenzell is a historic cantons of Switzerland, canton in the northeast of Switzerland, and entirely surrounded by the canton of St. Gallen. Appenzell became independent of the Abbey of Saint Gall in 1403 and entered a league with the Old Swiss ...
– and eight urban states (german: Städte) –
Zürich Zürich () is the in and the capital of the . It is located in north-central Switzerland, at the northwestern tip of . As of January 2020, the municipality has 434,335 inhabitants, the urban area (agglomeration) 1.315 million (2009), and the 1. ...
,
Bern ,german: Berner(in),french: Bernois(e), it, Bernese , neighboring_municipalities = Bremgarten bei Bern Bremgarten bei Bern is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corpor ...
,
Luzern Lucerne ( , ) or Luzern ()Other languages: gsw, Lozärn, label=; it, Lucerna ; rm, Lucerna . is a in central , in the of the country. Lucerne is the capital of the and part of the of the same name. With a population of approximately 82,000 ...
,
Zug Zug (german: Zug, ; french: Zoug; it, Zugo; rm, Zug; New Latin: ''Tugium'')named in the 16th century is the largest List of cities in Switzerland, town and capital of the Swiss canton of Zug in Switzerland. Its name originates from the fishing vo ...
,
Basel , french: link=no, Bâlois(e), it, Basilese , neighboring_municipalities= Allschwil , neighboring_municipalities= Baselland (BL), Binningen, Switzerland, Binningen, Buschwiller (FR-68), Hégenheim (FR-68), Neuwiller (FR-68), Oberwil, Basel- ...
,
Fribourg , Location of , Location of () (; frp, Fribôrg or ) or (also called ''Freiburg im Üechtland'' ( gsw, label=Swiss German, Frybùrg ; it, Friburgo or ; rm, Friburg) (not to be confused with Freiburg im Breisgau) is the capital of the Cant ...
,
Solothurn Solothurn ( , ; french: Soleure ; it, Soletta ; rm, ) is a List of towns in Switzerland, town, a Municipalities of Switzerland, municipality, and the Capital (political), capital of the canton of Solothurn in Switzerland. It is located in the ...
,
Schaffhausen Schaffhausen (; gsw, Schafuuse; french: Schaffhouse; it, Sciaffusa; rm, Schaffusa; en, Shaffhouse) is a town with historic roots, a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division ...
. Though they were technically part of the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
, they had become ''de facto'' independent when the Swiss
defeated Defeated may refer to: *Defeated (Breaking Benjamin song), "Defeated" (Breaking Benjamin song) *Defeated (Anastacia song), "Defeated" (Anastacia song) *"Defeated", a song by Snoop Dogg from the album ''Bible of Love'' *Defeated, Tennessee, an uninc ...
Emperor Maximilian I Maximilian I (22 March 1459 – 12 January 1519) was King of the Romans from 1486 and Holy Roman Emperor The Holy Roman Emperor, originally and officially the Emperor of the Romans ( la, Imperator Romanorum, german: Kaiser der Römer) du ...
in 1499 in Dornach. In the early modern period, the individual confederate allies came to be seen as
republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...

republic
s; while the six traditional allies had a tradition of
direct democracy Direct democracy or pure democracy is a form of democracy in which the Election#Electorate, electorate decides on policy initiatives without legislator, legislative representatives as proxies. This differs from the majority of currently estab ...
in the form of the ''
Landsgemeinde The ''Landsgemeinde'' () or "cantonal assembly" is a public, non-secret ballot voting system operating by majority rule, which constitutes one of the oldest forms of direct democracy. Still at use – in a few places – at the Subdivisions of S ...
'', the urban states operated via
representation Representation may refer to: Law and politics *Representation (politics) Political representation is the activity of making citizens "present" in public policy making processes when political actors act in the best interest of citizens. This def ...
in city councils, de facto
oligarchic Oligarchy (; ) is a form of power structure A power structure is an overall system of influence between any individual and every other individual within any selected group of people. A description of a power structure would capture the way in w ...
systems dominated by families of the patriciate.
Zug Zug (german: Zug, ; french: Zoug; it, Zugo; rm, Zug; New Latin: ''Tugium'')named in the 16th century is the largest List of cities in Switzerland, town and capital of the Swiss canton of Zug in Switzerland. Its name originates from the fishing vo ...
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
The old system was abandoned with the formation of the
Helvetic Republic In Swiss history, the Helvetic Republic (1798–1803) represented an early attempt to impose a central authority over Switzerland ,german: Schweizer(in),french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = ...
following the
French invasion of Switzerland The French invasion of Switzerland (French: ''Campagne d'Helvétie'', German: ''Franzoseneinfall'') occurred from January to May 1798 as part of the French Revolutionary Wars The French Revolutionary Wars (french: Guerres de la Révolution fran ...
in 1798. The cantons of the Helvetic Republic had merely the status of an
administrative subdivision Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are generic names for geographical areas into which a particular, ...
with no sovereignty. The Helvetic Republic collapsed within five years, and cantonal sovereignty was restored with the
Act of Mediation The Act of Mediation () was issued by Napoleon Bonaparte Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader. He rose to prominence during the French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) ...
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 , neighboring_municipalities = Eggersriet Eggersriet is a Municipalities of Switzerland, municipality in the ''Wahlkreis'' (constituency) of St. Gallen (Wahlkreis), St. Gallen in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of St. Gallen (canton), St. Ga ...
,
Grisons The Grisons or Graubünden, *german: (Kanton) Graubünden, Swiss Standard German Swiss Standard German (german: Schweizer Standarddeutsch), or Swiss High German (german: Schweizer Hochdeutsch or ''Schweizerhochdeutsch''), referred to by the S ...
,
Aargau Aargau (german: Kanton Aargau, links=no ; sometimes Latinized as ; see also List of European regions with alternative names#A, other names), more formally the Canton of Aargau, is one of the Canton of Switzerland, 26 cantons forming the Switzerl ...

Aargau
,
Thurgau Thurgau (; french: Thurgovie; it, Turgovia), anglicized as Thurgovia, more formally the Canton of Thurgau, is one of the Canton of Switzerland, 26 cantons forming the Switzerland, Swiss Confederation. It is composed of five districts and its capit ...

Thurgau
,
Ticino Ticino (), sometimes Tessin (), officially the Republic and Canton of Ticino or less formally the Canton of Ticino,, informally ''Canton Ticino'' ; lmo, Canton Tesin ; german: Kanton Tessin ; french: canton du Tessin ; rm, chantun dal Tessin . ...
,
Vaud Vaud ( ; french: (Canton de) Vaud, ; german: (Kanton) Waadt, or ), more formally the canton of Vaud, is one of the forming the . It is composed of ten districts and its capital city is . Its flag bears the motto "Liberté et patrie" on a white ...
). Three additional western cantons,
Valais Valais (in French language, French) ( , , ; frp, Valês), or Wallis (in German language, German) (german: Wallis ), more formally the Canton of Valais,; german: Kanton Wallis; in other official Swiss languages outside Valais: it, (Canton) Valle ...
,
Neuchâtel Neuchâtel or Neuchatel (, , ), in German language, German Neuenburg, is a list of towns in Switzerland, town, a Municipalities of Switzerland, municipality, and the capital (political), capital of the cantons of Switzerland, Swiss canton of Neuch ...
and
Geneva , neighboring_municipalities= Carouge Carouge () is a Municipalities of Switzerland, municipality in the Canton of Geneva, Switzerland. History Carouge is first mentioned in the Early Middle Ages as ''Quadruvium'' and ''Quatruvio''. In 124 ...
, 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 #REDIRECT Sonderbund War The Sonderbund War (german: Sonderbundskrieg, fr , Guerre du Sonderbund) of November 1847 was a civil war A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within t ...
. The victory of the radical party resulted in the formation of
Switzerland as a federal state The rise of Switzerland as a federal state began on 12 September 1848, with the creation of a federal constitution in response to a 27-day civil war, the ''Sonderbundskrieg''. The constitution, which was heavily influenced by the United States ...
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 The Revolutions of 1848, known in some countries as the Springtime of the Peoples or the Springtime of Nations, were a series of political upheaval A political revolution, in the Trotskyist Trotskyism is the political ideology and branch o ...
in Western Europe had failed elsewhere, Switzerland during the later 19th century (and with the exception of the
French Third Republic The French Third Republic (french: Troisième République, sometimes written as ) was the system of government adopted in History of France, France from 4 September 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed during the Franco-Prussian War, ...
, until the end of
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
) found itself as an isolated democratic republic, surrounded by the restored monarchies of
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
,
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...
,
Austria-Hungary Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Dual Monarchy, was a constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exe ...

Austria-Hungary
and
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...

Germany
.


Constitutions and powers

The
Swiss Federal Constitution The Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation (SR 10, german: Bundesverfassung der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft (BV), french: Constitution fédérale de la Confédération suisse (Cst.), it, Costituzione federale della Confederazi ...
declares the cantons to be sovereign to the extent that their sovereignty is not limited by federal law. 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 A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...

constitution
,
legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city. They are often contrasted with the Executive (government), executive and Judiciary, ...
,
executive Executive may refer to: Role, title, or function * Executive (government), branch of government that has authority and responsibility for the administration of state bureaucracy * Executive, a senior management role in an organization ** Chief exec ...
,
police The police are a Law enforcement organization, constituted body of Law enforcement officer, persons empowered by a State (polity), state, with the aim to law enforcement, enforce the law, to ensure the safety, health and possessions of citize ...
and
court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''Sta ...
s. Similar to the Confederation, a
directorial system A directorial republic is a country ruled by a college of several people who jointly exercise the powers of a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), dependi ...
of government is followed by the cantons. Most of the cantons' legislatures are
unicameral In government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by ...
parliament In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of ...

parliament
s, their size varying between 58 and 200 seats. A few legislatures also involve or did involve general popular assemblies known as ''
Landsgemeinde The ''Landsgemeinde'' () or "cantonal assembly" is a public, non-secret ballot voting system operating by majority rule, which constitutes one of the oldest forms of direct democracy. Still at use – in a few places – at the Subdivisions of S ...
n''; the use of this form of legislature has declined: at present it exists only in the cantons of
Appenzell Innerrhoden Appenzell Innerrhoden (; in English sometimes Appenzell Inner-Rhodes) is one of the Canton of Switzerland, 26 cantons forming the Switzerland, Swiss Confederation. It is composed of six districts. The seat of the government and parliament is App ...
and
Glarus , neighboring_municipalities= Glarus Nord Glarus Nord is one of three municipalities A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administr ...
. The cantonal executives consist of either five or seven members, depending on the canton. 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 Healthcare is the maintenance or improvement of health Health, according to the , is "a state of complete physical, and social and not merely the absence of and ".. (2006)''Constitution of the World Health Organization''– ''Basic Docume ...

healthcare
,
welfare Welfare (or commonly, social welfare) is a type of government support intended to ensure that members of a society can meet basic human needs Maslow's hierarchy of needs is an idea in psychology Psychology is the science of mind and ...
, law enforcement,
public education State schools (in England, Wales, and New Zealand) or public schools (Scottish English Scottish English ( gd, Beurla Albannach) is the set of varieties Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, th ...
, and retain the power of
taxation A tax is a compulsory financial charge or some other type of levy imposed on a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act accord ...
. Each canton defines its official language(s). Cantons may conclude
treaties A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relati ...

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 A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, ...
, 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 Direct democracy or pure democracy is a form of democracy in which the Election#Electorate, electorate decides on policy initiatives without legislator, legislative representatives as proxies. This differs from the majority of currently estab ...
. 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 In most countries, suffrage Suffrage, political franchise, or simply franchise, is the right to vote in public, political elections (although the term is sometimes used for any right to ). In some languages, and occasionally in English, the ...
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 originIn Switzerland, the place of origin (german: Heimatort or Bürgerort, literally "home place" or "citizen place"; french: Lieu d'origine; it, Luogo d'origine) denotes where a Swiss citizen has their municipal citizenship. It is not to be confused wit ...
) 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.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 Old Swiss Confederacy or Swiss Confederacy (German language, Modern German: ; historically , after the Swiss Reformation, Reformation also , "Confederation of the Swiss (people), Swiss") was a loose confederation of independent small state ...
; 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).
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. The two-letter abbreviations for Swiss cantons are widely used, e.g. on Vehicle registration plates of Switzerland, car license plates. They are also used in the ISO 3166-2:CH, ISO 3166-2 codes of Switzerland with the prefix "CH-" (''Confœderatio Helvetica''—Helvetian Confederation—''Helvetia#Name of Switzerland, 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, it, semicantone, rm, 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—though only in a context where it is needed to distinguish them from any half-cantons—typically termed "full" cantons in English. 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 Unterwalden ( Latinized as ''Sylvania'', later also ''Subsylvania'' as opposed to ''Supersylvania'') is the old name of a forest-canton of the Old Swiss Confederacy The Old Swiss Confederacy or Swiss Confederacy, Swiss Confederation (Modern G ...

Unterwalden
( [‘Obwalden, above and Nidwalden, beneath the woods’])", "Basel ( [‘city and country’])" and "Appenzell ( [‘both Rhoden’])". 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 The Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation (SR 10, german: Bundesverfassung der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft (BV), french: Constitution fédérale de la Confédération suisse (Cst.), it, Costituzione federale della Confederazi ...
of 1999 by being joined to their other "half" with the conjunction "and": 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. 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". The Coins of the Swiss franc, ½, 1 and 2 francs coins as minted since 1874 represent the number 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. The reasons for the existence of the three pairs of half-cantons are varied: *
Unterwalden Unterwalden ( Latinized as ''Sylvania'', later also ''Subsylvania'' as opposed to ''Supersylvania'') is the old name of a forest-canton of the Old Swiss Confederacy The Old Swiss Confederacy or Swiss Confederacy, Swiss Confederation (Modern G ...

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 A Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) is a unique sequence of characters that identifies a logical or physical resource used by web technologies. URIs may be used to identify anything, including real-world objects, such as people and places, concep ...
and
Schwyz The town of Schwyz (; french: Schwytz; it, Svitto) is the capital of the canton of Schwyz in Switzerland. The Federal Charter of 1291 or ''Bundesbrief'', the charter that eventually led to the foundation of Switzerland, can be seen at the '' ...
. The Federal Charter of 1291 called for representatives from each of the three "areas". * The historical canton of Appenzell divided itself into "inner" and "outer" halves (''Rhoden'') as a consequence of the Reformation in Switzerland in 1597: Canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden, Appenzell Innerrhoden (Catholicism, Catholic) and Canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Appenzell Ausserrhoden (Protestantism, Protestant). * The historical canton of Basel was divided in 1833 after the Basel countryside (which became the canton of Basel-Landschaft) declared its independence from the city of Basel (which became the
canton of Basel-Stadt Canton may refer to: Administrative division terminology * Canton (administrative division) A canton is a type of administrative division of a country. In general, cantons are relatively small in terms of area and population when compared wi ...
), following a period of protest and armed conflict about the under-representation of the more populous countryside in the canton's political system. 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: * They elect only one member of the Swiss Council of States, Council of States instead of two (Cst. art. 150 par. 2). This means there are a total of 46 seats in the council. * In Voting in Switzerland#Constitutional referendums (Popular initiatives), popular referendums about constitutional amendments, which require for adoption a national popular majority as well as the assent of a majority of the 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 12 out of a total of 23 cantonal popular votes must support the amendment. 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 separatism, Jurassic separatists suggested a new canton of Jura to be divided into half-cantons of North Jura and South Jura. Instead, North Jura became the (full)
canton of Jura The Republic and Canton of Jura (french: République et canton du Jura), less formally the Canton of Jura or Canton Jura ( , ), is the newest (founded in 1979) of the cantons of Switzerland, 26 Swiss cantons, located in the northwestern part of Sw ...
while South Jura remains in the canton of Bern as the Subdivisions of the canton of Bern, region of Bernese Jura.


Names in national languages

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


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 1919 Vorarlberg referendum, 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. The motion was eventually dropped and not even examined by the parliament.


See also

* Cantonal bank * Cantonal police * * Flags and arms of cantons of Switzerland * List of Swiss cantons by GDP * List of cantons of Switzerland by elevation


Notes and references


Notes


References


Bibliography

* . Cited as ''Ehrenzeller''. * Cited as ''Häfelin''.


External links


Swissworld.org
– The cantons of Switzerland
Swisskarte.ch
– Maps of the Cantons of Switzerland

ssemble cantons on a Swiss map
Badac
atabase on Swiss cantons and cities {{DEFAULTSORT:Cantons Of Switzerland Cantons of Switzerland, Subdivisions of Switzerland Lists of subdivisions of Switzerland, Cantons Administrative divisions in Europe, Switzerland 1 First-level administrative divisions by country, Cantons, Switzerland Lists of populated places in Switzerland