The canton of
Ticino /tɪˈtʃiːnoʊ/, formally the Republic and
Ticino (Italian: Repubblica e Cantone
tiˈtʃiːno]; Lombard: Tesin [teˈzĩ]; German: Kanton Tessin
[tɛˈsiːn]; French: canton du Tessin [tɛsɛ̃], Romansh: chantun
dal Tessin [tɕanˈtun teˈsin]; see also in other languages) is the
southernmost canton of Switzerland.
Ticino borders the canton of Uri
to the north, the canton of
Valais to the west (through the Novena
Pass), the canton of
Graubünden to the northeast, Italy's regions of
Lombardy to the south and it surrounds the small Italian
enclave of Campione d'Italia.
Named after the river Ticino, it is the only canton where Italian is
the sole official language and represents the bulk of the
Italian-speaking area of
Switzerland along with the southern parts of
The land now occupied by the canton was annexed from Italian cities in
the 15th century by various Swiss forces in the last transalpine
campaigns of the Old Swiss Confederacy. In the Helvetic Republic,
established 1798, it was divided between the two new cantons of
Bellinzona and Lugano. The creation of the
Swiss Confederation in 1803
saw these two cantons combine to form the modern canton of Ticino.
3.3 Wine region
5.1 Federal election results
5.2 Referendum decisions
6 Political subdivisions
6.2 History of the districts
6.3 Municipalities and circles
12 Notes and references
14 External links
Ticino was chosen for the newly established canton in 1803,
Ticino river which flows through it from the Novena Pass to
Known as Ticinus in Roman times, the river appears on the Tabula
Peutingeriana as Ticenum.
Johann Kaspar Zeuss
Johann Kaspar Zeuss attributed Celtic
origins to the name, tracing it to the Celtic tek, itself from an
Indo-European root tak, meaning "melting, flowing".
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January
Further information: Transalpine campaigns of the Old Swiss
In ancient times, the area of what is today
Ticino was settled by the
Lepontii, a Celtic tribe. Later, probably around the rule of Augustus,
it became part of the Roman Empire. After the fall of the Western
Empire, it was ruled by the Ostrogoths, the
Lombards and the Franks.
Around 1100 it was the centre of struggle between the free communes of
Milan and Como: in the 14th century it was acquired by the Visconti,
Dukes of Milan. In the fifteenth century the Swiss Confederates
conquered the valleys south of the Alps in three separate conquests.
Between 1403 and 1422 some of these lands were already annexed by
forces from the Canton of Uri, but subsequently lost. Uri conquered
the Leventina Valley in 1440. In a second conquest Uri, Schwyz and
Nidwalden gained the town of
Bellinzona and the Riviera in 1500.
Some of the land and
Bellinzona itself were previously annexed by Uri
in 1419 but lost again in 1422. The third conquest was fought by
troops from the entire Confederation (at that time constituted by 12
cantons). In 1512 Locarno, the Maggia Valley,
Lugano and Mendrisio
were annexed. Subsequently, the upper valley of the
Ticino River, from
the St. Gotthard to the town of Biasca (Leventina Valley) was part of
Uri. The remaining territory (Baliaggi Ultramontani, Ennetbergische
Vogteien, the Bailiwicks Beyond the Mountains) was administered by the
Twelve Cantons. These districts were governed by bailiffs holding
office for two years and purchasing it from the members of the
Ticinese franco, currency of
Ticino until the introduction of the
Swiss franc in 1850.
Stone house in Valle Verzasca
The lands of the canton of
Ticino are the last lands to be conquered
by the Swiss Confederation. The Confederation gave up any further
conquests after their defeat at the battle of Marignano in 1515 by
Francis I of France. The Val Leventina revolted unsuccessfully against
Uri in 1755. In February 1798 an attempt of annexation by the
Cisalpine Republic was repelled by a volunteer militia in Lugano.
Between 1798 and 1803, during the Helvetic Republic, two cantons were
Bellinzona and Lugano) but in 1803 the two were unified to
form the canton of
Ticino that joined the
Swiss Confederation as a
full member in the same year. During the Napoleonic Wars, many
Ticinesi (as was the case for other Swiss) served in Swiss military
units allied with the French. The canton minted its own currency, the
Ticinese franco, between 1813 and 1850, when it began use of the Swiss
In the early 19th century, the contemporary Franco-Danish scholar
Conrad Malte-Brun stated that: “The canton of Tesino [Ticino] is the
poorest, and the people the most ignorant of any in Switzerland.
Until 1878 the three largest cities, Bellinzona,
Lugano and Locarno,
alternated as capital of the canton. In 1878, however, Bellinzona
became the only and permanent capital. The 1870–1891 period saw a
surge of political turbulence in Ticino, and the authorities needed
the assistance of the federal government to restore order in several
instances, in 1870, 1876, 1889 and 1890–1891.
The current cantonal constitution dates from 1997. The previous
constitution, heavily modified, was codified in 1830, nearly 20 years
before the constitution of the Swiss Confederation.
See also: List of mountains of Ticino
Hamlet of Brunescio on the left flank of Vallemaggia
The canton of
Ticino is in the south of Switzerland, almost entirely
Italy (to its west, south and much of its east). To the
north are the cantons of
Valais and Uri, to the northeast the canton
Its area is 2,812 square kilometres (1,086 sq mi), of which
about three quarters are considered productive to trees or crops.
Forests cover about a third of the area, but also the lakes Maggiore
(officially Verbano) and
Lugano (officially Ceresio) make up a
The canton can be split into two at the Monte Ceneri pass. The
northern, highest part, the Sopraceneri, is formed by the two major
Swiss valleys around Lake Maggiore:
Ticino valley and Maggia valley.
The southern part, the Sottoceneri, is the region around Lake Lugano.
Ticino river is the largest river in the canton. It drains most of
the canton, flowing from the northwest through the Bedretto valley and
the Leventina valley to enter
Lake Maggiore near Locarno. Its main
tributaries are the
Brenno in the
Blenio valley and the Moesa in the
Mesolcina valley in Graubünden. The lands of most of the canton are
shaped by the river, which in its mid portion forms a wide valley,
commonly known as the Riviera.
The western lands of the canton, however, are drained by the Maggia
Valle Verzasca is between the
Ticino and the Maggia. There
is also a smaller area that drains directly into the Lake Lugano. Most
of the land is considered within the Alps (Lepontine Alps), but a
small area is part of the plain of the
River Po which drains the north
The climate of Ticino, while remaining alpine, is noticeably milder
than the rest of Switzerland's, enjoying a higher number of sunshine
hours and generally warmer temperatures. In German-speaking
Ticino is nicknamed Sonnenstube (sun porch), owing to the
more than 2,300 sunshine hours the canton receives every year,
compared to 1,700 for Zurich. Additionally,
Ticino is prone to
fierce storms and has the highest level of lightning discharge in the
whole of Europe.
Roman Catholic Diocese of
Lugano is co-extensive to the canton.
Ticino (wine region)
Ticino is one of the wine regions for Swiss wine. The defined region
encompasses all of the canton plus the neighbouring Italian-speaking
district of Moesa (
Calanca valleys) in the canton of the
The Ursuline Palace in Bellinzona, the meeting place for both the
Grand Council and the Council of State.
The current Constitution of the Republic and Canton of Ticino,
originating from a draft approved on 18 August 1801 during the
Helvetic Republic, was approved on 14 December 1997. In its
preamble, it states that it was created by the Ticinese people
(popolo) "in order to guaranty peaceful life together with respect for
the dignity of man, fundamental liberties and social justice (...)
faithful to its historic task to interpret Italian culture within the
The Grand Council (Gran Consiglio) is the legislative authority of the
canton, exercising sovereignty over any matter not explicitly
delegated by the constitution to another authority. The Gran
Consiglio has 90 members called deputati (deputies), elected in a
single constituency using the proportional representation system.
Deputies serve four-year terms, and annually nominate a President and
two Vice-Presidents. The Gran Consiglio meets in Bellinzona, the
The five-member Council of State (Italian: Consiglio di Stato), not to
be confused with the federal Council of States, is the executive
authority of the canton, and it directs cantonal affairs according to
law and the constitution. It is elected in a single constituency using
the proportional representation system. Currently, the five members of
the Government are: Claudio Zali, Paolo Beltraminelli, Manuele
Bertoli, Norman Gobbi and Christian Vitta. Each year, the Council of
State nominates its president. The current president of the
Council of State is Manuele Bertoli.
The most recent elections were held on 10 April 2011; the turnout was
58.5%. The following table shows the results of the 2011
Socialism – Communist Party
Federal election results
Percentage of the total vote per party in the canton in the National
Council Elections 1971–2015
Voter participation %
^a FDP before 2009,
FDP.The Liberals after 2009
^b "*" indicates that the party was not on the ballot in this canton.
^c Part of the SP/PS
Since a referendum in September 2013,
Ticino is the only Swiss canton
where wearing full-face veils is illegal. Supporters of the ban
cited the case of a 20-year-old Pakistani woman from Bellinzona, who
was killed by her husband for refusing to wear a headscarf.
The Burqa ban was later approved by the Grand Council in November
In September 2016,
Ticino voters approved a Swiss People's
Party-sponsored referendum that gives precedence to Swiss workers, as
opposed to foreign workers, defying freedom of movement agreements
Switzerland and the EU.
Main article: Subdivisions of the canton of Ticino
The canton is divided into eight districts:
Bellinzona with capital Bellinzona
Blenio with capital Acquarossa
Leventina with capital Faido
Locarno with capital Locarno
Lugano with capital Lugano
Mendrisio with capital Mendrisio
Riviera with capital Osogna
Vallemaggia with capital Cevio
History of the districts
Leventina was a subject of the canton of Uri until 1798, the year the
Helvetic Republic was founded, when it became part of the new canton
Bellinzona along with the Swiss condominiums of Bellinzona, Riviera
and Blenio. The condominiums of Locarno, Lugano,
Vallemaggia became part of the new canton of
Lugano in 1798. These two
cantons formed into one canton —
Ticino — in 1803 when it joined
Swiss Confederation as a member canton. The former
condominiums and Leventina became the eight districts of the canton of
Ticino, which exist to the present day and are provided for by the
Municipalities and circles
Main article: Municipalities of the canton of Ticino
There are 130 municipalities in the canton (as of April 2016[update]).
These municipalities (comuni) are grouped in 38 circoli (circles or
sub-districts) which are in turn grouped into the eight districts
(distretti). Since the late 1990s there is an ongoing project to
aggregate some municipalities, with the constitution of the canton
allowing for the
Grand Council of Ticino
Grand Council of Ticino to promote and lead in
deciding on mergers. This has resulted in changes to some of the
circles, with many circles now consisting of just one or two
municipalities. The most populous municipality —
merged with numerous other municipalities) — is subdivided into
quartieri (quarters) which are grouped into three (cantonal)
circles. In the modern day, the circle serves only as a territorial
unit with limited public functions, in particular the local judiciary.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (December
A view of Lugano, the largest city in Ticino
Swisscom Telecommunications headquarters in Bellinzona, designed by
Ticino has a population (as of 31 December 2016) of 354,375. As of
2013[update], the population included 94,366 foreigners, or about
27.2% of the total population. The largest groups of foreign
population were Italians (46.2%), followed by Croats (6.5%) and the
Portuguese (5.9%). The population density (in 2005) is 114.6
persons per km2. As of 2000, 83.1% of the population spoke Italian,
8.3% spoke German and 1.7% spoke Serbo-Croatian. The population (as
of 2012[update]) is mostly
Roman Catholic (70%), further Christian
denominations account for 10% of the population (including Swiss
Reformed (4%)), 2% are Muslims and 1% of the population has another
The official language, and the one used for most written
communication, is Swiss Italian. Despite being very similar to
Swiss Italian presents some differences to the
Italian spoken in
Italy due to the presence of French and German from
which it assimilates words. Dialects of the
Lombard language such as
Ticinese are still spoken, especially in the valleys, but they are not
used for official purposes.
Despite the dominance of Italian-speakers, fluency in Standard German
Alemannic German is taken to be an important prerequisite for
employment, regardless of sector or sphere of work.
Despite the overall prominence of Italian in Ticino, the small
Bosco/Gurin is historically Alemannic
Tertiary sector workers make up 76.5% of the Ticinese workforce,
compared to the Swiss average of 67.1%. Commerce (23.1%), tourism
(10.1%) and financial activities (3.9%) are all important for the
local economy, while the contribution from agriculture and fishing is
marginal, employing 6.5% of the workforce on a Swiss average of
15.4%. The median gross private sector monthly salary in 2012 was
5,091 francs (US$5,580), below the national average of 6,118 francs
(US$6,703).  However, due to lesser cost of living and lower
taxation compared to most other cantons, the overall disposable mean
income is high. The GDP per capita at 82,438 francs in 2014, was
seventh highest in Switzerland. 
Ticino is counted among the most
prosperous regions of
Switzerland and entire Europe.
Lugano is Switzerland's third largest financial center after Zurich
and Geneva. The banking industry alone has 8,400 employees and
generates 17% of the gross cantonal product. Because of Ticino's
shared language and culture, its financial industry has very close
ties to Italy. In 2017,
Ticino had an unemployment rate of 4%,
higher than the
Switzerland average where it was estimated at 3.7%.
Frontalieri, commuter workers living in
Italy (mostly in the provinces
Varese and Como) but working regularly in Ticino, form a large part
(over 20%) of the workforce, far larger than in the rest of
Switzerland, where the rate is below 5%. Foreigners in general hold
44.3% of all the jobs, again a much higher rate than elsewhere in the
Confederation (27%). Frontalieri are usually paid less than Swiss
workers for their jobs, and tend to serve as low-cost labor.
Italy is by far Ticino's most important foreign trading partner, but
there's a huge trade deficit between imports (5 billion CHF) and
exports (1.9 billion). By 2013, Germany had become the canton's
main export market, receiving 23.1% of the total, compared to 15.8%
Italy and 9.9% for the United States. Many Italian companies
relocate to Ticino, either temporarily or permanently, seeking lower
taxes and an efficient bureaucracy: just as many Ticinese
entrepreneurs doing business in
Italy complain of red tape and
widespread protectionism. The region has been attracting
multinational companies particularly from the fashion industry due to
its closeness to Milano. Hugo Boss, Gucci,
VF Corporation and other
popular brands are located there. Because the international fashion
business has become a significant employer for Swiss and Italians
alike, the region has also been termed the "Fashion Valley".
Three of the world's largest gold refineries are based in Ticino,
including the Pamp refinery in Castel San Pietro, the leading
manufacturer of minted gold bars.
The opening of the
Gotthard Railway in 1882 led to the establishment
of a sizeable tourist industry mostly catering to German-speakers,
although since the early 2000s the industry has suffered from the
competition of more distant destinations. In 2011, 1,728,888 overnight
stays were recorded. The mild climate throughout the year makes
the canton a popular destination for hikers. The Verzasca Dam,
known for the opening scene of the 1995 film GoldenEye, is popular
with bungee jumpers. Swissminiatur in Melide is a miniature park
featuring scale models of over 120 Swiss attractions. The Brissago
Lake Maggiore are the only Swiss islands south of the Alps,
and house botanical gardens with 1,600 different plant species from
Gotthard Base Tunnel
Gotthard Base Tunnel is the longest railroad tunnel in the
There are several tunnels underneath the
Gotthard Pass connecting the
canton to northern Switzerland: the first to be opened was the 15
kilometres (9.3 mi) long
Gotthard Rail Tunnel
Gotthard Rail Tunnel in 1882, replacing
the pass road, connecting
Göschenen in the Canton of
Uri. A 17 km (11 mi) motorway tunnel, the Gotthard Road
Tunnel, opened in 1980. A second rail tunnel through the pass, the
Gotthard Base Tunnel, was opened on June 1, 2016. The new tunnel is
the longest tunnel in the world, reducing travel time between
Lugano to 1 hour 40 minutes.
Treni Regionali Ticino Lombardia
Treni Regionali Ticino Lombardia (TiLo), a joint venture between the
Ferrovie dello Stato
Ferrovie dello Stato and the
Swiss Federal Railways
Swiss Federal Railways launched
in 2004, manages the traffic between the regional railways of Lombardy
Ticino railway network
Ticino railway network via a
Regional Bus and Rail Company of Canton Ticino
Regional Bus and Rail Company of Canton Ticino provides the urban
and suburban bus network of Locarno, operates the cable cars between
Verdasio and Rasa, and between Intragna – Pila – Costa on behalf
of the owning companies, and, together with an Italian company, the
Centovalli and Vigezzina Railway which connects the Gotthard
trans-Alpine rail route at
Locarno with the Simplon trans-Alpine
The canton has a higher than average incidence of traffic accidents,
recording 16 deaths or serious injuries per 100 million km in the
2004–2006 period, compared to a Swiss average of 6.
Lugano Airport is the busiest airport in southern Switzerland, serving
some 200,000 passengers a year.
There are two major centres of education and research located in the
canton of Ticino. University of the Italian
Università della Svizzera Italiana) in
Lugano is the only Swiss
university teaching in Italian. The University of Applied Sciences and
Arts of Southern
Switzerland (SUPSI, Scuola Universitaria
Professionale della Svizzera Italiana), in Manno, is a professional
training college focused on a practical method of teaching in the
areas of applied art, economy, social work, technology and production
There is also a small American and Swiss accredited private college,
Franklin University Switzerland, located above Lugano, as well as
The American School in
Switzerland in Collina d'Oro, a K-13
international school accepting day and boarding students.
Ticino hosts two World Heritage sites: the Three Castles of Bellinzona
and Monte San Giorgio. The city of
Locarno is host to the Locarno
International Film Festival, Switzerland's most prestigious film
festival, held during the second week of August. Estival Jazz, a
free open-air jazz festival, is held in
Mendrisio in late
June and July. Past lineups have included Buddy Guy, Van Morrison,
Yes, Jethro Tull, Yellowjackets, Al Jarreau, Randy Brecker.
Ticino has a rich architectural heritage, ranging from Romanesque and
baroque to contemporary styles. The canton is home to internationally
recognized architects, such as Mario Botta, Aurelio Galfetti, Luigi
Snozzi, Livio Vacchini. As early as the 18th century, aristocrats
from Russia and
Italy employed numerous architects from Ticino.
More recently, the region became a centre of the Neo-Rationalist
Polenta, along with chestnuts and potatoes, was for centuries one of
the staple foods in Ticino, and it remains a mainstay of local
cuisine. Grottos are a kind of rustic, family-run restaurant that
is prevalent in Ticino. They serve local wine (usually
similar) in a little ceramic jug known as boccalino, which is also a
popular souvenir for tourists.
Gazzosa ticinese, a soft drink available in lemon and a number of
other flavours, is one of the most popular beverages from Ticino, and
is also common in other regions of Switzerland. It usually comes in
flip-top bottles. The estimate for the production of gazzosa in
Ticino is 7–8 million bottles a year.
Newspapers and magazines published in
Ticino include Corriere del
Ticino, LaRegione Ticino, Giornale del Popolo, Il Mattino della
Domenica, Il Caffè, L'Informatore, and the German-language Tessiner
Bocce is a folk game that was once a popular pastime locally, but by
the early 21st century it was seldom played by younger people.
Notable sports teams include HC Lugano,
HC Ambrì-Piotta (ice hockey),
Lugano (association football) and
Lugano Tigers (basketball).
Lugano has hosted the Italy-Belgium match at the 1954 FIFA World Cup,
the 1953 and 1996 UCI Road World Championships, the 18th Chess
Olympiad, and the annual BSI Challenger
Lugano tennis tournament and
Gran Premio Città di
Lugano Memorial Albisetti 20km racewalk.
Notes and references
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