Cantons of Switzerland
Switzerland is divided into 26 different areas called cantons. A canton is similar to a state in the United States.
In the past, each canton had its own army and money. This changed in 1848 when Switzerland finished a civil war and changed to the structure it has now.
The cantons Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden (Nidwalden and Obwalden together are called Unterwalden) are called Urkantone. An Urkanton is a canton that existed since the foundation of Switzerland in 1291. With time, other cantons joined Switzerland. Jura is the newest canton in Switzerland since 1978. In that year, it split from the canton of Berne, after some rioting.
The cantons of Basel-Stadt, Basel-Landschaft, Appenzell-Innerrhoden, Appenzell-Ausserrhoden, Obwalden and Nidwalden are different from the others in one way. For historical reasons, their voting is counted differently in national elections. Other than that, they are the same as the others.
In Switzerland, the individual municipalities and cantons are very free. Usually, there is a Swiss law (at the level of the whole confederation). Very often this states general things and says that the cantons must follow this rule. The cantons then make detailed rules, each in the way it sees fit. Sometimes this leads to strange situations. There are 26 different schooling systems.
Drug abuse is a federal offense. Punishment is usually one to three years, but can also be only a fine. The problem is: Consumption itself (not trading, or giving away for free) is not punishable. Also in light cases, the police can say that there will be no fine. This has led to the fact, that in each canton, this law is applied differently. In one canton, smoking marijuana will mean a fine, in another, it can mean a prison term.
The word for that is called federalism. That means, that each canton has its own government. So all cantons have their own constitution. The constitution is the highest law in a state.
List and map[change | change source]
The cantons are listed in the order given in the federal constitution.
|Flag||Abbr||Canton||Since||Capital||Population1||Area2||Density3||Nr of Municipalities1||Official languages|
|BE||Berne (Bern)||1353||Berne||947,100||5,959||158||399||German, French|
|AR||Appenzell Ausserrhoden (Outer Rhodes)||1513||Herisau4||53,200||243||220||20||German|
|AI||Appenzell Innerrhoden (Inner Rhodes)||1513||Appenzell||15,000||173||87||6||German|
|SG||St. Gallen (St. Gall)||1803||St. Gallen||452,600||2,026||222||90||German|
|GR||Graubünden (Grisons)||1803||Chur||185,700||7,105||26||211||German, Romansh, Italian|
|CH||Switzerland||Bern||7,261,200||41,285||174||2,890||German, French, Italian, Romansh|
Notes: 1 As of 31 December 2001, National Statistics, 2 km², 3 per km², based on 2000 population 4 seat of government and parliament, the seat of the judicial authorities is Trogen.
The two-letter abbreviations for Swiss cantons are widely used, e.g. on car license plates and in the ISO 3166-2 codes (with the prefix "CH-", i.e. CH-SZ for the canton of Schwyz).
References[change | change source]
- ↑ 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 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).