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Municipalities (german: Gemeinden, ' or '; french:
commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is what belongs to or with something, whether ...

commune
s; it, comuni; rm, vischnancas) are the lowest level of
administrative division 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 ...

administrative division
in Switzerland. Each municipality is part of one of the
Swiss cantons The 26 cantons of Switzerland (german: Kanton; french: canton; it, cantone; Sursilvan and Surmiran: ''cantun''; Vallader and Puter: ''Chantun''; Sutsilvan: ''cantùn''; Rumantsch Grischun: ''chantun'') are the member state A member stat ...
, which form 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
. In most cantons municipalities are also part of
districts A district is a type of administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are generic na ...
or other sub-cantonal administrative divisions. There are 2,157 municipalities . Their populations range between several hundred thousand (
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. ...

Zürich
), and a few dozen people ( Bister), and their territory between 0.32 km² ( Kaiserstuhl and
Rivaz
Rivaz
) and 439 km² (
Scuol Scuol () is a municipalities of Switzerland, municipality in the Engiadina Bassa/Val Müstair Region in the Switzerland, Swiss Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Grisons. The official language in Scuol is Romansh language, Romansh. On 1 January 20 ...

Scuol
).


History

The beginnings of the modern municipality system date back to 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 = ...
. Under 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 ...
, citizenship was granted by each town and village to only residents. These citizens enjoyed access to community property and in some cases additional protection under the law. Additionally, the urban towns and the rural villages had differing rights and laws. The creation of a uniform Swiss citizenship, which applied equally for citizens of the old towns and their tenants and servants, led to conflict. The wealthier villagers and urban citizens held rights to forests, common land and other municipal property which they did not want to share with the "new citizens", who were generally poor. The compromise solution, which was written into the municipal laws of the Helvetic Republic, is still valid today. Two politically separate but often geographically similar organizations were created. The first, the so-called municipality, was a political community formed by election and its voting body consists of all resident citizens. However, the community land and property remained with the former local citizens who were gathered together into the '' Bürgergemeinde''/bourgeoisie. During the Mediation era (1803–1814), and especially during the Restoration era (1814–1830), many of the gains toward uniform citizenship were lost. Many political municipalities were abolished and limits were placed on the exercise of political rights for everyone except the members of the ''Bürgergemeinde''. In the
Regeneration era
Regeneration era
(1830–1848), the liberal revolutions of the common people helped to restore some rights again in a few cantons. In other cantons, the ''Bürgergemeinden'' were able to maintain power as political communities. In the city of
Zurich
Zurich
it was not until the Municipal Act of 1866 that the political municipality came back into existence. The relationship between the political municipality and the ''Bürgergemeinde'' was often dominated by the latter's ownership of community property. Often the administration and profit from the property were totally held by the ''Bürgergemeinden'', leaving the political municipality dependent on the ''Bürgergemeinde'' for money and use of the property. It was not until the political municipality acquired rights over property that served the public (such as schools, fire stations, etc.) and taxes, that they obtained full independence. For example, in the city of Bern, it was not until after the property division of 1852 that the political municipality had the right to levy taxes. It was not until the Federal Constitution of 1874 that all Swiss citizens were granted equal political rights on local and Federal levels. This revised constitution finally removed all the political voting and electoral body rights from the ''Bürgergemeinde''. In the cities, the percentage of members in the ''Bürgergemeinde'' in the population was reduced as a result of increasing emigration to the cities. This led to the ''Bürgergemeinde'' losing its former importance to a large extent. However, the ''Bürgergemeinde'' has remained, and it includes all individuals who are citizens of the ''Bürgergemeinde'', usually by having inherited the ''Bürgerrecht'' (citizenship), regardless of where they were born or where they may currently live. Instead of the
place of birth The place of birth (POB) or birthplace is the place where a person was born. This place is often used in legal documents, together with name A name is a term used for identification by an external observer. They can identify a class or categ ...
, Swiss legal documents, e.g. passports, contain the ''Bürgerort'' (place of citizenship, or
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 ...
). The ''Bürgergemeinde'' also often holds and administers the
common property Common ownership refers to holding the assets of an organization, enterprise or community indivisibly rather than in the names of the individual members or groups of members as common property. Forms of common ownership exist in every economic ...
in the village for the members of the community.


Structure and responsibilities

Each canton determines the powers and responsibilities of its municipalities. These may include providing
local government Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration Public administration is the implementation of government policy Public policy is a course of action created and/or enacted, typically by a government ...
services such as education, medical and social services, public transportation, and tax collection. The degree of centralization varies from one canton to another. The federal constitution protects the autonomy of municipalities within the framework set out by cantonal law. Municipalities are generally governed by an
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 ...
council headed by a president or
mayor In many countries, a mayor is the highest-ranking official An official is someone who holds an office (function or , regardless whether it carries an actual with it) in an or government and participates in the exercise of , (either their ow ...

mayor
. Legislative authority is exercised by a
town meeting A town meeting is a form of direct democracy Image:Landsgemeinde Glarus 2006.jpg, upright=1.5, A Landsgemeinde, or assembly, of the canton of Glarus, on 7 May 2006, Switzerland. Direct democracy or pure democracy is a form of democracy in ...
of all citizens, or by a municipal parliament, depending on the size of the municipality, and on cantonal and municipal law. In some cantons, foreigners who have lived for a certain time in Switzerland are also allowed to participate in municipal politics. As at the cantonal and federal level, citizens enjoy political rights, including direct democratic ones, in their municipality. Municipalities are financed through direct taxes (such as
income tax An income tax is a tax 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 interrelate ...
), with rates varying more or less within a framework set by the canton (see
Taxation in Switzerland Taxes in Switzerland are levied by the Swiss Confederation, the cantons and the municipalities A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of self-government or juris ...
). As among the cantons, there is a tax transfer among the municipalities to balance various levels of tax income.


Size and designations

Switzerland has a relatively high number of small municipalities, with a population of 1,000 or less, especially in rural areas. Because of the increasing difficulty in providing professional government services and in finding volunteers for political offices in small municipalities, the cantons tend to encourage voluntary mergers of municipalities. This led to the number of municipalities dropping by 384 between the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2019. Some municipalities designate themselves as "city" (''ville'' or ''Stadt'') or as "village" (''Dorf''). These designations result from tradition or local preference – for example, several small municipalities designated as cities held
city right File:Square of Spisska Sobota 6.jpg, 250px, Medieval square in Spišská Sobota, Slovakia (Now Poprad). The former name of the town literally means "Saturday in Spiš" and it is derived from a day of week in which the town was granted a right t ...
s in medieval times – and normally do not impact the legal or political rights or obligations of the municipalities under cantonal or federal law. Municipalities are numbered by the Swiss Federal Office for Statistics (see ''''). One or more postal codes (PLZ/NPA) can by assigned to a municipality or shared with other municipalities.


List of municipalities by population (2011–16)

Between 2011 and 2014 six of the smallest municipalities merged into others as part of the effort to eliminate the smallest communities. Of the remaining four from 2011, two merged into other municipalities in 2016.


Lists of municipalities by canton

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


Other local subdivisions and entities

In addition to the municipalities as basic territorial political subdivisions, a number of other local subdivisions exist in several cantons. These include: * Bürgergemeinde (also: Burgergemeinde, Ortsgemeinde, Ortsbürgergemeinde, Tagwen, bourgeoisie, commune bourgeoise, vischnanca burgaisa), a
statutory corporation A statutory corporation is a statute A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gatherin ...
that includes everyone who is a citizen of a commune and has the ''Heimatrecht'' (home right) in that commune regardless of where they may currently live. Until the 19th Century this ''Heimatrecht'' included rights to use
the commons The commons is the cultural Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabilities, ...
, which were administered by the Bürgergemeinde. Modernly, some Bürgergemeinden may still control common property, but the ''Heimatrecht'' and associated ''Heimatort'' is used just as
place of birth The place of birth (POB) or birthplace is the place where a person was born. This place is often used in legal documents, together with name A name is a term used for identification by an external observer. They can identify a class or categ ...
in other countries. * Gemischte Gemeinde (mixed communes), found in 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 ...
and portions of the
Canton of Bern The canton of Bern or Berne (german: Kanton Bern; french: canton de Berne) is one of the Canton of Switzerland, 26 cantons forming the Switzerland, Swiss Confederation. It is composed of ten districts and its capital city is Bern. The bear is th ...
, a combination of a Bürgergemeinde and a political commune. * Korporationsgemeinde, a legally recognized cooperative in
Central Switzerland Central Switzerland is the region of the Swiss plateau, Alpine foothills geographically the heart and historically the origin of Switzerland, with the cantons of Canton of Uri, Uri, Canton of Schwyz, Schwyz, Obwalden, Nidwalden, Canton of Lucerne, L ...

Central Switzerland
that controls some land and is responsible for its members support. * Kirchgemeinde, a
parish A parish is a territorial entity in many Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ ( ...
for members of a large church (generally
Roman Catholic Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Laz ...

Roman Catholic
or
Swiss Reformed The Reformation in Switzerland, Reformed branch of Protestantism in Switzerland was started in Zürich by Huldrych Zwingli and spread within a few years to Basel (Johannes Oecolampadius), Bern (Berchtold Haller and Niklaus Manuel), St. Gallen,(Joach ...

Swiss Reformed
. There may be two or more ''Kirchgemeinden'' in a single municipality. * Schulgemeinde, similar to a
school district A school district is a special-purpose district that operates local public Primary school, primary and Secondary school, secondary schools in various nations. North America United States In the U.S, most K–12 public schools function as uni ...
. * Bäuert, in the
Berner Oberland The Bernese Oberland (German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German ...

Berner Oberland
or ) a small farming community. It is a type of
agricultural cooperative An agricultural cooperative, also known as a farmers' co-op, is a cooperative A cooperative (also known as co-operative, co-op, or coop) is "an autonomous The federal subject The federal subjects of Russia, also referred to as th ...
with shared equipment and land. * Degagna, in the Leventina valley in the
Canton of 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 . ...
. It manages shared pastures, fields and woods as well as maintaining roads that cross the common land.


See also


Official list municipalities of Switzerland ''(in Italian)''
*
List of municipalities of Switzerland This is an alphabetical list of the 2,551 municipalities of Switzerland, updated ().   References External links Official list of municipalities of Switzerland in Excel
{{Portal bar, Switzerland Municipalities of Switzerland, *L ...
* List of twin towns and sister cities in Switzerland * Former municipalities of Switzerland *
Cantons of Switzerland 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'' ...


Notes and references


External links


Official list of municipalities of Switzerland ''(in Italian)''
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 ...

Neuchâtel
, 2006. . * *https://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/it/home/basi-statistiche/agvch.html {{DEFAULTSORT:Communes Of Switzerland
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, ...
Switzerland 3 Municipalities, Switzerland