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STATISTICS

Which is Switzerland’s ‘most Swiss’ canton?

Roughly a quarter of Switzerland’s population is foreign, with some regions being more international than others. But which cantons are the ‘Swiss-est’ of them all?

Which is Switzerland’s ‘most Swiss’ canton?
Some areas of Switzerland are much more "Swiss" than others. Photo by Pixabay

The Local has written at length about the cantons that have the highest concentration of foreign nationals.

Not surprisingly, as most foreigners move to Switzerland for economic opportunities, vast majority live where the best-paid jobs are, such as in or near Zurich or the shores of Lake Geneva, which also encompass parts of Vaud.

Not coincidentally, these are also regions with highest rents:

Swiss rents: This is where cheapest and priciest apartments are

The proportion of foreigners — 60 percent — is highest in Geneva, according to the Federal Statistical Office (FSO).

The rates are also particularly high in the cantons of Zurich, Zug, Basel-City, Schaffhausen, Ticino, Vaud, and Neuchâtel, FSO said.

This means that, as a whole, all of the above cantons are “least Swiss” in terms of the origin of its population.

READ MORE: Where do Switzerland’s foreigners all live?

What about the “most Swiss” regions?

At the opposite end of the  cantons listed above, there are also places in Switzerland were few foreigners settle and most residents are Swiss.

Again according to FSO data, Appenzell Innerrhoden and Uri have — at 11 and 12 percent respectively — fewest immigrants in their midst.

Next come Nidwalden with 14 percent, followed by Obwalden and Jura with 15 percent each.

This means that in these five cantons, Swiss population is overwhelmingly dominant, and they can therefore be considered as “most Swiss”.

What about individual cities?

In terms of municipalities, there are quite a few where the percentage of Swiss residents far outweighs the proportion of foreigners.

In these cities, nearly 80 percent of residents are Swiss nationals: Luzern, St. Gallen, Winterthur, Solothurn, Chur, and Sion, among others.

However, the “most Swiss” label can be misleading.

While we have focused here on Swiss versus foreign population, the definition of “Swissness” can go beyond demographics and fall under various other categories. In other words, it can mean different things to different people.

For many, this may mean a place where most of Switzerland’s customs and traditions are still alive, or a town / region  which symbolises Switzerland the most.

This is a subjective call, as it depends on what criteria is applied.

But these are some ideas:

Bern

As Switzerland’s capital — or federal city, as Swiss prefer to think of it — it is the country’s political epicentre and could qualify as the “Swissest” part of the country.

READ MORE: Why is Bern the ‘capital’ of Switzerland?

Rütli 

A mountain meadow, reportedly the site of the historic 1291 oath marking the foundation of the original Swiss Confederacy. 

Chur

Graubünden’s capital is the oldest town in Switzerland, with a 5,000-year-old settlement history.

Broc

The small Fribourg town is the home of Cailler, Switzerland’s oldest chocolate manufacturer.

Zermatt

The Valais resort lies picturesquely at the foot of the famous Matterhorn.

Zermatt is one of the many places in Switzerland where it is difficult to get a second home.

Zermatt in the Swiss alps. Photo by Gabriel Garcia Marengo on Unsplash

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FAMILY

EXPLAINED: Why so many baby names are banned in Switzerland

These days, it’s not just celebrities who seem to have a penchant for ruining their child’s life by bestowing him or her with an odd moniker. In Switzerland however, there are several rules about what you can - and cannot - name your child.

EXPLAINED: Why so many baby names are banned in Switzerland

Whether its hanging out your washing on a Sunday or flushing your toilet after 10pm at night, Switzerland has several rules which can be surprising to foreigners. 

One such example is what you are allowed to name your kids.  

While from time to time, parents’ failed attempt to give their child a unique name might make the news, there are in fact an extensive variety of rules about which names can actually be chosen in Switzerland.

Sticklers for the law as they are, the Swiss have several rules controlling what baby names can be given. 

No names which will damage a child’s well-being

Although this appears incredibly difficult to define, there are several actual examples which have been rejected for breaching the well-being rule. 

In considering this, Swiss authorities will look at whether “the child will be exposed to ridicule because of its name.”

This includes ‘Grandma’, ‘Rose Heart’, ‘Prince Valiant’ and ‘Puhbert’. 

REVEALED: The most popular baby name in each Swiss canton

They specifically prohibit giving your kid a name which will damage his or her “well-being”. Names aren’t allowed to be offensive either. 

Twins

Twins must not have names that are too similar to each other. 

The names must not be either spelt or pronounced in the same way. 

Swiss media gives the example of calling two boys “Philip” and “Philipe”. 

No villain names

Switzerland – or at least large parts of it – remain relatively religious, which is probably why choosing a bible villain name for your child is verboten. 

Newspaper Telebasel reports that the name Judas has already been rejected by Swiss registry offices – and will likely be rejected again. Satan, Cain and Lucifer are also banned. 

Boys are boys, girls are girls

Ever the traditionalists, Switzerland has tight gender rules for naming children. 

Specifically, a name must clearly indicate a person’s gender. 

Girls cannot be given a boy’s name and vice versa. 

If a name does not clearly indicate the person’s gender, then the child must be given a hyphenated double name or a second name to make this clear. 

Numbers or letters

In 2017, a Swiss court said ‘J’ was not appropriate as a middle name. 

The court held that allowing ‘J’ would be similar to letting people have a name made up of numbers – although ‘Jay’ a la Homer ‘Jay’ Simpson would presumably be fine. 

No place names

While the world might be debating how to cater to non-binary people who want to be identified as ‘their’, identifying as ‘there’ is a big no go in Switzerland. 

Place names for people are forbidden in Switzerland. 

This may not be interpreted incredibly strictly – Dakota Fanning and Brooklyn Beckham will be OK for now – but if you want to name your little boy ‘Matterhorn’ you may come across some resistance. 

READ MORE: How much does it cost to raise a child in Switzerland?

No product names either

No matter how much you love a particular product, you will be prevented from honouring the brand by naming your child after it. 

That means Ovaltine, Rivella, Chanel or Ferrari are off the table. 

You’re also banned from naming your child after a plant or after an animal. 

What about foreign names? 

One major question – particularly among Local readers – is whether foreign names are banned. 

The main question is whether the name appears in the ‘Internationalen Handbuch der Vornamen’ – the International Handbook of First Names. 

This book – which does not appear to exist in English – expressly lists acceptable first names. 

If it appears in the book, it’s OK with Swiss authorities. 

Which names have actually been banned in Switzerland? 

Suissebook has listed several baby names which have been banned in Switzerland for breaking at least one of the rules listed above. 

In addition to all of those mentioned so far in this article, it includes Bierstubl (place name), Troublemaker (well-being), Mercedes (brand name) and Sputnik (not sure if that is a place or a thing, but either way it’s banned).

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