Kanton Zürich
—  Canton of Switzerland  —

Coat of arms
Map of Switzerland, location of Zürich highlighted
Coordinates: 47°2′N 8°32′E / 47.033, 8.533
Capital Zurich
Subdivisions 171 municipalities, 12 districts
 • Executive Regierungsrat (7)
 • Legislative Cantonal Council (180)
 • Total 1,729 km2 (668 sq mi)
Population (12/2012)[2]
 • Total 1,406,083
 • Density 810/km2 (2,100/sq mi)
Highest point 1,292 m (4,239 ft) - Schnebelhorn
Lowest point 332 m (1,089 ft) - Rhine at the border in Weiach
Joined 1351
Abbreviation ZH
Languages German

The Canton of Zürich (German: Kanton About this sound Zürich ) has a population (as of 31 December 2012) of 1,406,083.[2] The canton is located in the northeast of Switzerland and the city of Zürich is its capital. The official language is German. The local Swiss German dialect called Züritüütsch is commonly spoken. In English the name of the canton is often written without an umlaut.


The Prehistoric pile dwellings around Zürichsee comprises 11 of total 56 Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps in Switzerland, that are located around Zürichsee in the cantons of Schwyz, St. Gallen and Zürich.[3][4] Located on Zürichsee lakeshore, there are Freienbach–Hurden Rosshorn, Freienbach–Hurden Seefeld, Rapperswil-Jona/Hombrechtikon–Feldbach, Rapperswil-Jona–Technikum, Erlenbach–Winkel, Meilen–Rorenhaab, Wädenswil–Vorder Au, Zürich–Enge Alpenquai, Grosser Hafner and Kleiner Hafner. Because the lake has grown in size over time, the original piles are now around 4 metres (13 ft) to 7 metres (23 ft) under the water level of 406 metres (1,332 ft). Also on the small area of about 40 square kilometres (15 sq mi) around Zürichsee, there also the settlements Greifensee–Storen/Wildsberg on Greifensee and Wetzikon–Robenhausen on Pfäffikersee lakeshore. As well as being part of the 56 Swiss sites of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, each of these 11 prehistoric pile dwellings is also listed as a Class object in the Swiss inventory of cultural property of national and regional significance.[5]

The canton of Zürich consists of lands acquired by the capital Zürich after it became reichsfrei in 1218, especially after the revolution of the guilds in 1336. Zürich joined the Swiss Confederacy in 1351. The lower part of the canton was added to the territories of Zürich in 1362. Zürich claimed and lost the Toggenburg in the Old Zürich War of the 1440s. The northern parts up to the river Rhine came to the canton after the city of Zürich purchased Winterthur from the Habsburgs in 1468. Possessions to the west gained independence from Zürich as parts of the Canton of Aargau in 1803. The people approved a new constitution for the canton in February 2005, replacing the 1869 constitution. The new constitution took effect in January 2006.

The Antiquarische Gesellschaft in Zürich is an organization devoted to preserving the canton's history, the Staatsarchiv Zürich houses the state archives.


Lake Zürich and the island of Ufenau, the largest in Switzerland

The canton of Zürich is situated north of the Alps. Its neighbouring cantons are Schaffhausen to the north, Aargau to the west, the cantons of Zug and Schwyz to the south and the cantons of Thurgau and St. Gallen to the east. The canton of Zürich also borders the German districts of Waldshut and (albeit only for 460 metres) Konstanz. Most of the Lake Zürich is located within the canton.

The canton can be roughly divided into the city and lake, the Unterland in the northwest, the Oberland in the southeast, the Weinland and Winterthur in the northeast, and the Knonaueramt southwest of the Albis. Greater Zürich Area extends beyond the cantonal borders.

Zürich has an area, as of 2011, of 1,728.8 square kilometers (667.5 sq mi). Of this area, 43.4% is used for agricultural purposes, while 30.7% is forested. Of the rest of the land, 20.1% is settled (buildings or roads) and 5.8% is unproductive land.[6]

The main lakes are the Lake Zürich, the Greifensee and the Pfäffikersee. Smaller lakes are Türlersee, Katzensee, Hüttnersee, Grosser Husemersee, Mettmenhaslisee, Lützelsee, Egelsee and Seeweidsee.

Most of the canton consists of shallow river valleys which drain towards the Rhine to the north of the canton. In the northwest and southeast of the canton there are more mountainous areas. The valley of the river Linth leads into the Lake Zürich and continues as the Limmat river. This valley is the most significant valley of the canton of Zürich. The valley of the Glatt river originates in the Greifensee and is separated from the Limmat by ridges. The valley of the river Töss is gorge-like. It is located in the east of the canton and is separated from the Toggenburg area in the Canton of St. Gallen by a mountainous area. The Hörnli (1133 m) is the highest elevation of this mountain ridge. The valley of the river Sihl is located in the west of the canton. In confluences with the river Limmat in the city of Zürich. The river Sihl is separated from the lake of Zürich by the Albis Range. The Albishorn (915 m) is the highest elevation of this range. The highest elevation in the canton is at the Höhrohnen in the southeast of the canton.

The Uetliberg is part of the Albis Range. This mountain is popular with the population of the city of Zürich for recreation. There is a railway up to the Uetliberg.

Coat of arms[]

The blazon of the coat of arms is Per bend azure and argent.[7]


Legislative power[]

The Cantonal Council has 180 members elected every four years.

Executive power[]

The canton is governed by a seven member council (Regierungsrat). On 3 April 2011, the following were elected for four years:[8]

  • Ursula Gut (FDP)
  • Martin Graf (Green Party of Switzerland)
  • Thomas Heiniger (FDP)
  • Mario Fehr (SP)
  • Regine Aeppli (SP)
  • Markus Kägi (SVP)
  • Ernst Stocker (SVP)

Political subdivisions[]


Districts in the Canton of Zurich

The Canton is divided into 12 districts (German: Bezirke):

  • Zürich comprises the city of Zürich
  • Affoltern with capital Affoltern am Albis
  • Andelfingen with capital Andelfingen
  • Bülach with capital Bülach
  • Dielsdorf with capital Dielsdorf
  • Dietikon with capital Dietikon
  • Hinwil with capital Hinwil
  • Horgen with capital Horgen
  • Meilen with capital Meilen
  • Pfäffikon with capital Pfäffikon
  • Uster with capital Uster
  • Winterthur with capital Winterthur


There are 171 municipalities in the canton (Politische Gemeinden).


In the 2011 federal election the most popular party was the SVP which received 29.8% of the vote. The next three most popular parties were the SP (19.3%), the FDP (11.6%) and the glp (11.5%).[9]

The SVP received about the same percentage of the vote as they did in the 2007 Federal election (33.9% in 2007 vs 29.8% in 2011). The SPS retained about the same popularity (19.8% in 2007), as well as the FDP (13.2% in 2007), while the glp was the big winner of the election (7.0% in 2007).[10]


Zürich has a population (as of December 2012) of 1,406,083.[2] As of 2010, 23.7% of the population are resident foreign nationals. Over the last 10 years (2000–2010) the population has changed at a rate of 12.7%. Migration accounted for 10.3%, while births and deaths accounted for 2.6%.[6]

Most of the population (as of 2000) speaks German (1,040,168 or 83.4%) as their first language, Italian is the second most common (49,750 or 4.0%) and Serbo-Croatian is the third (21,334 or 1.7%). There are 17,685 people who speak French and 2,606 people who speak Romansh.[11]

Of the population in the canton, 314,394 or about 25.2% were born in Zürich and lived there in 2000. There were 291,631 or 23.4% who were born in the same canton, while 284,461 or 22.8% were born somewhere else in Switzerland, and 310,532 or 24.9% were born outside of Switzerland.[11]

As of 2000, children and teenagers (0–19 years old) make up 20.5% of the population, while adults (20–64 years old) make up 64.4% and seniors (over 64 years old) make up 15%.[6] As of 2000, there were 531,094 people who were single and never married in the canton. There were 566,636 married individuals, 66,012 widows or widowers and 84,164 individuals who are divorced.[11]

As of 2000, there were 567,573 private households in the canton, and an average of 2.1 persons per household.[6] There were 223,869 households that consist of only one person and 27,935 households with five or more people. As of 2009, the construction rate of new housing units was 5.3 new units per 1000 residents.[6] As of 2003 the average price to rent an average apartment in the city of Zürich was 1288.84 Swiss francs (CHF) per month (US$1030, £580, €820 approx. exchange rate from 2003). The average rate for a one room apartment was 733.01 CHF (US$590, £330, €470), a two room apartment was about 1009.94 CHF (US$810, £450, €650), a three room apartment was about 1192.66 CHF (US$950, £540, €760) and a six or more room apartment cost an average of 2550.35 CHF (US$2040, £1150, €1630). The average apartment price in the city of Zürich was 115.5% of the national average of 1116 CHF.[12]

The vacancy rate for the canton, in 2010, was 0.63%.[6]

Historical population[]

The historical population is given in the following chart:[13]


In 1519, Huldrych Zwingli became the pastor of the Grossmünster in Zürich, and soon thereafter Zürich became a reformed or Protestant canton. Even though Zwingli died in battle in 1531, the canton remained a stronghold of the Swiss Reformed Church over the following centuries. While a plurality of the population is Protestant (43%), 31% of the population was Roman Catholic in 2004,[14] a legacy of considerable immigration from Southern Europe.

From the 2000 census, 497,986 or 39.9% belonged to the Swiss Reformed Church, while 380,440 or 30.5% were Roman Catholic. Of the rest of the population, there were 29,592 members of an Orthodox church (or about 2.37% of the population), there were 1,435 individuals (or about 0.11% of the population) who belonged to the Christian Catholic Church, and there were 70,897 individuals (or about 5.68% of the population) who belonged to another Christian church. There were 6,461 individuals (or about 0.52% of the population) who were Jewish, and 66,520 (or about 5.33% of the population) who were Islamic. There were 5,878 individuals who were Buddhist, 6,024 individuals who were Hindu and 1,456 individuals who belonged to another church. 165,324 (or about 13.25% of the population) belonged to no church, are agnostic or atheist, and 50,090 individuals (or about 4.01% of the population) did not answer the question.[11]


Most of the land is cultivated, but the canton of Zürich is not considered as an agricultural area. The lands to the north and east are more agricultural, but in every part of the canton manufacturing predominates. The canton of Zürich is noted for machinery. Silk and cotton weaving were important in the past, but have now ceased to be of importance. There is a large paper industry. Small and middle sized companies are important contributors to the economy of the canton of Zürich. The city of Zürich is a major banking centre, and insurance is also of importance.

As of 2010, Zürich had an unemployment rate of 3.9%. As of 2008, there were 12,507 people employed in the primary economic sector and about 4,227 businesses involved in this sector. 143,231 people were employed in the secondary sector and there were 11,383 businesses in this sector. 655,848 people were employed in the tertiary sector, with 58,796 businesses in this sector.[6]

In 2008 the total number of full-time equivalent jobs was 678,306. The number of jobs in the primary sector was 8,120, of which 7,771 were in agriculture, 320 were in forestry or lumber production and 29 were in fishing or fisheries. The number of jobs in the secondary sector was 133,723 of which 81,212 or (60.7%) were in manufacturing, 774 or (0.6%) were in mining and 47,014 (35.2%) were in construction.

The number of jobs in the tertiary sector was 536,463. In the tertiary sector; 105,226 or 19.6% were in the sale or repair of motor vehicles, 38,005 or 7.1% were in the movement and storage of goods, 33,417 or 6.2% were in a hotel or restaurant, 35,571 or 6.6% were in the information industry, 81,163 or 15.1% were the insurance or financial industry, 65,139 or 12.1% were technical professionals or scientists, 36,792 or 6.9% were in education and 63,800 or 11.9% were in health care.[15]

Of the working population, 37.4% used public transportation to get to work, and 41.8% used a private car.[6]


Winterthur railway station

Railways in standard gauge run through all major valleys in the canton. The centre for transport is Zürich, where a great number of local railways connect to national and international rail links. The railway station of the city of Zürich, Zürich Hauptbahnhof, is one of the busiest in Europe, counting the number of arriving and departing trains. Zürich is well connected to other European cities using rail links. The major trains ICE, TGV and Cisalpino connect to Zürich.

The first Swiss railway ran in the Limmat valley in 1847, connecting Zürich to Baden.

The major airport of Switzerland is located in Zürich-Kloten, a mere 12 kilometres from the city centre of Zürich. It is home to Swiss International Air Lines.

The A1, A3 and A4 motorways run through the canton. Other motorways and expressways which also run through the canton include the A7, the A51, the A52 and the A53. Major hubs are Zurich and Winterthur.


In Zürich about 493,209 or (39.5%) of the population have completed non-mandatory upper secondary education, and 212,154 or (17.0%) have completed additional higher education (either university or a Fachhochschule). Of the 212,154 who completed tertiary schooling, 55.8% were Swiss men, 25.5% were Swiss women, 11.6% were non-Swiss men and 7.1% were non-Swiss women.[11]

Notes and references[]

  1. ^ Arealstatistik Standard - Kantonsdaten nach 4 Hauptbereichen
  2. ^ a b c Canton of Zurich Statistical Office (German) accessed 1 May 2013
  3. ^ "Prehistoric Pile Dwellings in Switzerland". Swiss Coordination Group UNESCO Palafittes ( Retrieved 2014-12-07. 
  4. ^ "World Heritage". Retrieved 2014-12-10. 
  5. ^ "A-Objekte KGS-Inventar". Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft, Amt für Bevölkerungsschutz. 2009. Retrieved 2014-12-10. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Swiss Federal Statistical Office accessed 5 January 2012
  7. ^ Flags of the accessed 5 January 2012
  8. ^ "Klare bürgerliche Mehrheit im Regierungsrat" , Neue Zürcher Zeitung, April 16, 2007.
  9. ^ Swiss Federal Statistical Office, Elections in Switzerland (German) accessed 5 January 2012
  10. ^ Swiss Federal Statistical Office, Nationalratswahlen 2007: Stärke der Parteien und Wahlbeteiligung, nach Gemeinden/Bezirk/Canton (German) accessed 28 May 2010
  11. ^ a b c d e STAT-TAB Datenwürfel für Thema 40.3 - 2000 (German) accessed 2 February 2011
  12. ^ Swiss Federal Statistical Office-Rental prices 2003 data (German) accessed 26 May 2010
  13. ^ Swiss Federal Statistical Office STAT-TAB Bevölkerungsentwicklung nach Region, 1850-2000 (German) accessed 29 January 2011
  14. ^ Federal Department of Statistics (2004). "Wohnbevölkerung nach Religion" (Interactive Map). Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  15. ^ Swiss Federal Statistical Office STAT-TAB Betriebszählung: Arbeitsstätten nach Gemeinde und NOGA 2008 (Abschnitte), Sektoren 1-3 (German) accessed 28 January 2011

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