The number of Swiss nationals has grown from 1.7 million in 1815 to 7 million in 2016. More than 1.5 million Swiss citizens hold multiple citizenship. About 11% of citizens live abroad (0.8 million, of whom 0.6 million hold multiple citizenship). About 60% of those living abroad reside in the European Union (0.46 million). The largest groups of Swiss descendants and nationals outside Europe are found in the United States and Canada.
Although the modern state of Switzerland originated in 1848, the period of romantic nationalism, it is not a nation-state, and the Swiss are not usually considered to form a single ethnic group, but a confederacy (Eidgenossenschaft) or Willensnation ("nation of will", "nation by choice", that is, a consociational state), a term coined in conscious contrast to "nation" in the conventionally linguistic or ethnic sense of the term.
The demonym Swiss (formerly in English also Switzer) and the name of Switzerland, ultimately derive from the toponym Schwyz, have been in widespread use to refer to the Old Swiss Confederacy since the 16th century.
Alphorn players in a folklore festival in Lucerne (2008)