TICINO /tᵻˈtʃiːnoʊ/ , formally the REPUBLIC AND CANTON OF
TICINO (Italian : Canton
Ticino ; German : Tessin ; French : Tessin
, Romansh : Chantun Tessin ; see also in other languages ) is the
southernmost canton of
Ticino borders the Canton of Uri
to the north,
Valais to the west (through the Novena Pass ),
Graubünden to the northeast,
Italy 's regions of
Lombardy to the south and it surrounds the small Italian exclave of
Campione d\'Italia .
Named after the
Ticino river , 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
Lugano . The creation of the
Swiss Confederation in
1803 saw these two cantons combine to form the modern canton of
* 1 Etymology
* 2 History
* 3 Geography
* 3.1 Climate
* 3.2 Diocese
* 3.3 Wine region
* 4 Government
* 5 Politics
* 5.1 Federal election results
* 5.2 Referendum decisions
* 6 Political subdivisions
* 6.1 Districts
* 6.2 History of the districts
* 6.3 Municipalities and circles
* 7 Demographics
* 8 Economy
* 9 Transport
* 10 Education
* 11 Culture
* 12 Notes and references
* 13 Bibliography
* 14 External links
Ticino was chosen for the newly established canton in 1803,
Ticino river which flows through it from the
Nufenen Pass to
Lake Maggiore .
Known as Ticinus in Roman times, the river appears on the Tabula
Peutingeriana as Ticenum.
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".
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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
Around 1100 it was the centre of struggle between the free communes of
Como : in the 14th century it was acquired by the Visconti ,
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 League.
Ticinese franco , currency of Ticino
until the introduction of the
Swiss franc in 1850. Stone house
The lands of the canton of
Ticino are the last lands to be conquered
Swiss Confederation . The Confederation gave up any further
conquests after their defeat at the battle of Marignano in 1515 by
Francis I of France
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
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 ,
Ticinese franco , between 1813 and 1850, when it began use of the
Swiss franc .
In the early 19th century, the contemporary Franco-Danish scholar
Conrad Malte-Brun stated that: “The canton of Tesino 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 .
List of mountains of Ticino Hamlet of Brunescio on
the left flank of
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
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
River . The
Valle Verzasca is between the
Ticino and the Maggia. There
is also a smaller area that drains directly into the Lake
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
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
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 Helvetic
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 election.
Socialism – Communist Party
FEDERAL ELECTION RESULTS
PERCENTAGE OF THE TOTAL VOTE PER PARTY IN THE CANTON IN THE
NATIONAL COUNCIL ELECTIONS 1971–2015
FDP.THE LIBERALS A
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
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 2015.
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 .
Subdivisions of the canton of Ticino
The canton is divided into eight districts :
Bellinzona with capital
* Blenio with capital Acquarossa
* Leventina with capital
Locarno with capital
Lugano with capital
Mendrisio with capital
* Riviera with capital
Vallemaggia with capital
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
Municipalities of the canton of Ticino
There are 130 municipalities in the canton (as of April 2016 ). 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 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.
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A view of
Lugano , the largest city in
Telecommunications headquarters in Bellinzona, designed by Mario Botta
Ticino has a population (as of 31 December 2015) of 351,946. As of
2013 , 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 ) 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 religion (including
The official language, and the one used for most written
Swiss Italian . Despite being very similar to
standard Italian ,
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 German is an
important prerequisite in many jobs, be they in shops and restaurants
catering to German-speaking tourists or in the insurance and banking
Despite the overall prominence of Italian in Ticino, the small
Bosco/Gurin is historically German-speaking.
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). The median income in 2011 was 44,400 francs (US$47,220),
the second-lowest in Switzerland.
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 2008,
Ticino had an unemployment rate of 5%, higher
than in rest of Switzerland, where it was estimated at 3.4%, and
particularly high for foreigners (over 8%).
Frontalieri, commuter workers living in
Italy (mostly in the
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% for
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
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
Hugo Boss ,
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 Islands on Lake
Maggiore are the only Swiss islands south of the Alps, and house
botanical gardens with 1,600 different plant species from five
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 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
Treni Regionali Ticino Lombardia
Treni Regionali Ticino Lombardia (TiLo), a joint venture between the
Ferrovie dello Stato and the
Swiss Federal Railways launched
in 2004, manages the traffic between the regional railways of Lombardy
Ticino railway network via a
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,
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
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 ,
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
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
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
Merlot or 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
LaRegione Ticino ,
Giornale del Popolo , Il Mattino della
Domenica , Il Caffè , L\'Informatore , and the German-language
Tessiner Zeitung .
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
HC Ambrì-Piotta (ice
Lugano (association football) and
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
tournament and Gran Premio Città di
Lugano Memorial Albisetti 20km
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