Municipalities_of_Switzerland

Municipalities of Switzerland

Municipalities (sometimes called communities or communes, after the French/Italian names) are the smallest government division in Switzerland, and are called Gemeinden in German, communes in French, comuni in Italian and vischnancas in Romansh. As of January 2006, Switzerland has 2740 municipalities. While many have a population of a few hundred citizens, the largest cities such as Zürich or Geneva also have the legal status of municipalities. The area of the municipalities varies between 0.28 km² (Ponte Tresa, Ticino) and 282 km² (Bagnes, Valais).

Each canton defines their responsibilities. These may include providing local government services such as education, medical and social services, public transportation, and tax collection. The degree of centralization varies from one canton to another.

Municipalities are generally governed by a council headed by a mayor as executive and the town meeting as legislature. Most cantons leave the option to larger municipalities to opt for a city parliament. In some cantons, foreign persons that have dwelled for a certain time in Switzerland are also allowed to participate in the municipal politics.

Swiss citizenship is based on the citizenship of a municipality. Every Swiss is citizen of one or several municipalities (i.e. the place of origin, lieu d'origine, Heimatort).

Municipalities are financed through direct taxes (e.g. income tax), with rates varying more or less within a framework set by the canton.

Many municipalities are having difficulties maintaining the civil services they need to perform the duties they are required to do. In an effort to reduce expenses, many municipalities are combining together (through mergers or the creation of special-purpose districts). This restructuring is generally encouraged by the cantonal governments and the rate of these unions is increasing.

"Cities" (villes or Städte) are the municipalities with more than 10'000 inhabitants or smaller places which had medieval town rights. There is no specific designation for smaller municipalities ("villages", "towns").

Population Number of municipalities (%)
>20,000 30 (1.1%)
10,000–19,999 89 (3.2%)
5000–9999 180 (6.6%)
1000–4999 1025 (37.4%)
500–999 555 (20.3%)
<500 861 (31.4%)
Total 2740 (100%)

Municipalities are numbered by the Swiss Federal Office for Statistics (see Community Identification Number#Switzerland). One or more postal codes (PLZ/NPA) can by assigned to a municipality or shared with other municipalities.

See also: List of cities in Switzerland

Lists of municipalities by canton

See cantons of Switzerland for the number of municipalities per canton.

List of municipalities by population

Largest municipalities
City C. Pop.
Zürich ZH 365,000
Geneva GE 171,000
Basel BS 166,300
Berne BE 136,300
Lausanne VD 128,100
Winterthur ZH 87,000
St. Gallen SG 75,200
Lucerne LU 61,000
Lugano TI 52,000
Biel/Bienne BE 51,900
Thun BE 38,200
KönizBE36,993
La Chaux-de-FondsNE36,966
SchaffhausenSH33,764
FribourgFR32,549
ChurGR31,911
NeuchâtelNE31,630
VernierGE29,459
UsterZH28,770
SionVS27,697
EmmenLU26,973

Smallest municipalities (2002)
RankMunicipalityC.Pop.
1.PorteinGR22
2.CorippoTI23
3.MulegnsGR25
4.BisterVS26
5.MartisbergVS28
6.Goumoens-le-JuxVD30
6.LargarioTI30
8.CluginGR35
9.CaucoGR36
9.MonibleBE36
11.St. MartinGR37
12.GressoTI38
12.MontfavergierJU38
14.VaugondryVD39
15.ArrissoulesVD40
15.RomaironVD40
15.SelmaGR40
18.AusserbinnVS41
18.LinescioTI41
18.MaurazVD41
18.SteinhausVS41

nb. Corippo has now taken place as smallest city/municipality in Switzerland with only 17 inhabitants. (2004 Census)

See also

Notes

References

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