Cantons of Switzerland
Switzerland is divided into 26 different areas called cantons. A canton is like a state in the United States.
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.
List and map
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<td align="right">41,285||174||2,890||German, French, Italian, Romansh|
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).
- 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).