Swiss (people)
The Swiss are citizens or natives of Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

. The demonym
A demonym , also referred to as a gentilic, is a name for a resident of a locality. A demonym is usually – though not always – derived from the name of the locality; thus, the demonym for the people of England is English, and the demonym for the people of Italy is Italian, yet, in english, the one...

 derives from the toponym of Schwyz
The town of is the capital of the canton of Schwyz in Switzerland.The Federal Charter of 1291 or Bundesbrief, the charter that eventually led to the foundation of Switzerland, can be seen at the Bundesbriefmuseum.-History of the toponym:...

and has been in widespread use to refer to the Old Swiss Confederacy
Old Swiss Confederacy
The Old Swiss Confederacy was the precursor of modern-day Switzerland....

 since the 16th century.

Although the Swiss Confederation, the modern state
Switzerland as a federal state
The rise of Switzerland as a federal state began on September 12, 1848, with the creation of a federal constitution, which was created in response to a 27-day civil war in Switzerland, the Sonderbundskrieg...

 of Switzerland, originated in 1848, the period of romantic nationalism
Romantic nationalism
Romantic nationalism is the form of nationalism in which the state derives its political legitimacy as an organic consequence of the unity of those it governs...

, it is not a nation-state
The nation state is a state that self-identifies as deriving its political legitimacy from serving as a sovereign entity for a nation as a sovereign territorial unit. The state is a political and geopolitical entity; the nation is a cultural and/or ethnic entity...

, and the Swiss are not usually considered to form a single ethnic group
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

, but a confederacy
A confederation in modern political terms is a permanent union of political units for common action in relation to other units. Usually created by treaty but often later adopting a common constitution, confederations tend to be established for dealing with critical issues such as defense, foreign...

Eidgenossenschaft is a German word meaning confederation. The term literally translates as "oath fellowship". An Eidgenossenschaft is a confederacy of equal partners, which can be individuals or groups such as states, formed by a pact sealed by a solemn oath. Such an alliance could be either...

) or Willensnation ("nation of will", "nation by choice", that is, a consociational state), a term coined in conscious contrast to "nation
A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

" in the conventionally linguistic or ethnic sense of the term.

The number of Swiss nationals has grown from 1.7 million in 1815 to 6.76 million in 2009, 90% of them living in Switzerland. About 60% of those living abroad reside in the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 (423,300); the largest overseas expatriate community is in the USA (75,000).

Ethno-linguistic composition

The traditional ethnic composition of the territories of modern Switzerland includes the following components:
  • The German-speaking Swiss (Deutschschweizer), i.e. Alemannic German
    Alemannic German
    Alemannic is a group of dialects of the Upper German branch of the Germanic language family. It is spoken by approximately ten million people in six countries: Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, France and Italy...

    , historically amalgamated from the Gallo-Roman population and the Alemanni and Burgundii, including subgroups such as the Walser
    The Walser are German-speaking people who live in the Alps of Switzerland, Italy, Liechtenstein and Austria. The Walser people are named after the Wallis , the uppermost Rhône River valley...

    . "Swiss" from the 16th to 18th centuries referred to this group exclusively, and only with the expansion of the Swiss confederacy following the Congress of Vienna
    Congress of Vienna
    The Congress of Vienna was a conference of ambassadors of European states chaired by Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, and held in Vienna from September, 1814 to June, 1815. The objective of the Congress was to settle the many issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars, the Napoleonic Wars,...

     was the term applied to non-Alemannic territories. Closely related German-speaking peoples are the Alsatians
    Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

    , the Swabians and the Vorarlberg
    Vorarlberg is the westernmost federal-state of Austria. Although it is the second smallest in terms of area and population , it borders three countries: Germany , Switzerland and Liechtenstein...

  • the French-speaking Swiss (Romands), traditionally speaking Franco-Provençal
    Franco-Provençal language
    Franco-Provençal , Arpitan, or Romand is a Romance language with several distinct dialects that form a linguistic sub-group separate from Langue d'Oïl and Langue d'Oc. The name Franco-Provençal was given to the language by G.I...

     dialects, today largely assimilated to the standard French language
    French language
    French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

     (Swiss French
    Swiss French
    Swiss French is the name used for the variety of French spoken in the French-speaking area of Switzerland known as Romandy. Swiss French is not to be confused with Franco-Provençal/Arpitan or Romansh, two other individual Romance languages spoken in areas not far from Romandy.The differences...

    ), amalgamated from the Gallo-Roman population and Burgundians
    The Burgundians were an East Germanic tribe which may have emigrated from mainland Scandinavia to the island of Bornholm, whose old form in Old Norse still was Burgundarholmr , and from there to mainland Europe...

     (the historical Upper Burgundy
    Upper Burgundy
    Upper Burgundy is the part of Burgundy east of the Jura mountains, that together with the western County of Burgundy from 868 formed the Kingdom of Upper Burgundy, encompassing both sides of the Jura mountains range...

    ). They are closely related to the French
    French people
    The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

     (especially those of Franche-Comté
    Franche-Comté the former "Free County" of Burgundy, as distinct from the neighbouring Duchy, is an administrative region and a traditional province of eastern France...

  • the Italian-speaking Swiss (Svizzeri italiani), traditionally speakers of Lombard language (Ticinese
    Ticinese is a comprehensive denomination for the varieties of Lombard language spoken in Canton Ticino and in the north of the Province of Varese....

     variety) today partly assimilated to the standard Italian language
    Italian language
    Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

    , amalgamated from Raetians and Lombards
    The Lombards , also referred to as Longobards, were a Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin, who from 568 to 774 ruled a Kingdom in Italy...

    . They are closely related to the Italians (especially Lombards and Piedmont
    Piedmont is one of the 20 regions of Italy. It has an area of 25,402 square kilometres and a population of about 4.4 million. The capital of Piedmont is Turin. The main local language is Piedmontese. Occitan is also spoken by a minority in the Occitan Valleys situated in the Provinces of...

  • The Romansh
    Romansh people
    The Romansh people are a people and ethnic group of Switzerland, native speakers of the Romansh language. However, nowadays they almost always are multilingual, speaking also German and sometimes Italian, which are the other official language of Graubünden, the canton where they are...

    , speakers of the Romansh language, settling in parts of the Grisons, historically of Raetic
    Raetia was a province of the Roman Empire, named after the Rhaetian people. It was bounded on the west by the country of the Helvetii, on the east by Noricum, on the north by Vindelicia, on the west by Cisalpine Gaul and on south by Venetia et Histria...


With worldwide human migration
Human migration
Human migration is physical movement by humans from one area to another, sometimes over long distances or in large groups. Historically this movement was nomadic, often causing significant conflict with the indigenous population and their displacement or cultural assimilation. Only a few nomadic...

, there are an increasing number of Swiss not descended or only partially descended from the core ethnic groups listed above. Most naturalized Swiss citizens will be linguistically oriented according to their canton of residence.

Similarly, differences between the various regions of Switzerland are increasingly being levelled as a consequence of increased mobility, so that the Swiss as a whole may be argued to be in the process of undergoing ethnogenesis
Ethnogenesis is the process by which a group of human beings comes to be understood or to understand themselves as ethnically distinct from the wider social landscape from which their grouping emerges...


Cultural history and national identity

The Swiss populace historically derives from an amalgamation of Gaulish
The Gauls were a Celtic people living in Gaul, the region roughly corresponding to what is now France, Belgium, Switzerland and Northern Italy, from the Iron Age through the Roman period. They mostly spoke the Continental Celtic language called Gaulish....

 or Gallo-Roman, Alamanni
The Alamanni, Allemanni, or Alemanni were originally an alliance of Germanic tribes located around the upper Rhine river . One of the earliest references to them is the cognomen Alamannicus assumed by Roman Emperor Caracalla, who ruled the Roman Empire from 211 to 217 and claimed thereby to be...

c and Rhaetic
Rhaetic can refer to:*The Rhaetian stage of the Triassic period*The Raetic language*Raetia...

 stock. Their cultural history is dominated by the Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

, and the alpine environment is often cited as an important factor in the formation of the Swiss national character. The "Swiss illness", the condition of Swiss mercenaries
Swiss mercenaries
Swiss mercenaries were notable for their service in foreign armies, especially the armies of the Kings of France, throughout the Early Modern period of European history, from the Later Middle Ages into the Age of the European Enlightenment...

 pining for their mountainous native home, became prototypical of the medical condition of nostalgia
The term nostalgia describes a yearning for the past, often in idealized form.The word is a learned formation of a Greek compound, consisting of , meaning "returning home", a Homeric word, and , meaning "pain, ache"...

("homesickness") described in the 17th century,

Switzerland is atypical in its successful political integration of a multiethnic and multilingual populace, and is often cited as a model for new efforts at creating unification, as in the European Union's frequent invocation of the Swiss Confederate model.
Because the various populations of Switzerland share language, ethnicity, and religion not with each other but with the major European powers between whom Switzerland during the modern history of Europe found itself positioned, a policy of domestic plurality in conjunction with international neutrality became a matter of self-preservation.
Consequently, the Swiss elites during the period of the formation of nation states throughout Europe did not attempt to impose a national language or a nationalism based on ethnicity, instead pushing for the creation of a civic nation grounded in democratic ideology, common political institutions, and shared political ritual. Political allegiance and patriotism was directed towards the cantons
Cantons of Switzerland
The 26 cantons of Switzerland are the member states of the federal state of Switzerland. Each canton was a fully sovereign state with its own borders, army and currency from the Treaty of Westphalia until the establishment of the Swiss federal state in 1848...

, not the federal level, where a spirit of rivalry and competition rather than unity prevailed. C. G. Jung advanced the view that this system of social order was one of a "chronic state of mitigated civil war" which put Switzerland ahead of the world in a civilizatory process of "introverting" warlike aggression.

From the 19th century there were conscious attempts to foster a federal "Pan-Swiss" national identity
National identity
National identity is the person's identity and sense of belonging to one state or to one nation, a feeling one shares with a group of people, regardless of one's citizenship status....

 that would replace or alleviate the cantonal patriotisms. Among the traditions enlisted to this end were federal sharpshooting competitions
A Schützenfest is a traditional festival or fair featuring a target shooting competition in the cultures of both Germany and Switzerland....

 or tirs, because they were one of the few recognized symbols of pan-Swiss identity prior to the creation of the 1815 Confederation
Restauration (Switzerland)
The periods of Restoration and Regeneration in Swiss history last from 1814 to 1847. "Restoration" refers to the period of 1814 to 1830, the restoration of the Ancien Régime , reverting the changes imposed by Napoleon Bonaparte with the centralist Helvetic Republic from 1798 and the partial...

 and because they traditionally involved men from all levels of society, including the peasants, who in Romantic nationalism
Romantic nationalism
Romantic nationalism is the form of nationalism in which the state derives its political legitimacy as an organic consequence of the unity of those it governs...

 had become ideologically synonymous with liberty and nationhood. An additional symbol of federal national identity at the federal level was introduced with the Swiss national holiday in 1889. The bonfires associated with the national holiday have become so customary since then that they have displaced the Funken traditions of greater antiquity. Identification with the national symbolism relating to the Old Swiss Confederacy was especially difficult for the cantons which had been joined to the Helvetic Republic
Helvetic Republic
In Swiss history, the Helvetic Republic represented an early attempt to impose a central authority over Switzerland, which until then consisted mainly of self-governing cantons united by a loose military alliance, and conquered territories such as Vaud...

 in 1798 without any prior history of participation in the Swiss Conferedacy, and which were given the status of Swiss cantons only after the end of the Napoleonic era. These specifically include Grisons, Valais
The Valais is one of the 26 cantons of Switzerland in the southwestern part of the country, around the valley of the Rhône from its headwaters to Lake Geneva, separating the Pennine Alps from the Bernese Alps. The canton is one of the drier parts of Switzerland in its central Rhône valley...

, Ticino
Canton Ticino or Ticino is the southernmost canton of Switzerland. Named after the Ticino river, it is the only canton in which Italian is the sole official language...

, Vaud
Vaud is one of the 26 cantons of Switzerland and is located in Romandy, the French-speaking southwestern part of the country. The capital is Lausanne. The name of the Canton in Switzerland's other languages are Vaud in Italian , Waadt in German , and Vad in Romansh.-History:Along the lakes,...

 and Geneva
Canton of Geneva
The Republic and Canton of Geneva is the French speaking westernmost canton or state of Switzerland, surrounded on almost all sides by France. As is the case in several other Swiss cantons The Republic and Canton of Geneva is the French speaking westernmost canton or state of Switzerland,...

. St. Gallen
Canton of St. Gallen
The Canton of St. Gallen is a canton of Switzerland. St. Gallen is located in the north east of Switzerland. It covers an area of 2,026 km², and has a population of . , the population included 97,461 foreigners, or about 20.9% of the total population. The capital is St. Gallen. Spelling...

 is a special case in a different sense, being a conglomerate of various historical regions created in 1803; in this case, patriotism may attach itself even to sub-cantonal entities, such as the Toggenburg
Toggenburg is the name given to the upper valley of the Thur River, in the Swiss Canton of St. Gallen. Currently, it is one of the eight constituencies into which the canton is divided....

. Similarly, due to the historical imperialism of the canton of Berne
Canton of Berne
The Canton of Bern is the second largest of the 26 Swiss cantons by both surface area and population. Located in west-central Switzerland, it borders the Canton of Jura and the Canton of Solothurn to the north. To the west lie the Canton of Neuchâtel, the Canton of Fribourg and Vaud. To the south...

, there is considerable irredentism within the Bernese lands, most visibly in the Bernese Jura
Bernese Jura
Bernese Jura is the name for the French-speaking area of the Swiss canton of Bern, and from 2010 one of five administrative divisions of the canton....

 but to a lesser extent also in parts of the Bernese Oberland
Bernese Oberland
The Bernese Oberland is the higher part of the canton of Bern, Switzerland, in the southern end of the canton: The area around Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, and the valleys of the Bernese Alps .The flag of the Bernese Oberland consists of a black eagle in a gold field The Bernese Oberland (Bernese...

 such as Hasli
The Hasli region is a historical Landvogtei or Talschaft in the Bernese Oberland, Switzerland, bordering on the cantons of Obwalden, Uri and Wallis...


According to Hartley-Moore (2007:213f.),
Localized equivalents of nationalist symbols were also essential to the creation of Swiss civil society. Rather than allowing a centralized federal government to force assimilation to a national ideal, Swiss policy nourished individual characteristics of different regional and language groups" throughout the country. In the Swiss model, pride in local identity is to some degree synonymous with loyalty to the larger state; national identity is nurtured through local "patriotism." As Gottfried Keller
Gottfried Keller
Gottfried Keller , a Swiss writer of German-language literature, was best known for his novel Green Henry .- Life and work :...

 argued in the nineteenth century, "Without cantons and without their differences and competition, no Swiss federation could exist".

Swiss diaspora

The Swiss diaspora , also referred to as "fifth Switzerland" , alluding to the fourfold linguistic division
Linguistic geography of Switzerland
The four national languages of Switzerland are German, French, Italian, and Romansh. Only three of these languages, however, maintain equal status as official languages at the national level within the Federal Administration of the Swiss Confederation: German, French, and Italian.Native speakers...

 within Switzerland), Swiss people living abroad, accounts for some 9% of Swiss citizens.

In 2006 (on 31 December), 645,010 Swiss citizens were registered as residing abroad. 71% of these had dual citizenships. Of these, 389,732 (60%) resided in the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

. About 498,395 of Swiss residing abroad were adults, 146,615 were minors aged below 18 years. Of the adult population, 58.2% were female, 41.8% were male. The distribution by continent is: 415,000 in Europe, 169,000 in the Americas, 35,000 in Asia, 28,000 in Oceania and 19,000 in Africa.


By 1940 some 44,000 Swiss had emigrated to Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, settling mainly in the provinces of Córdoba
Córdoba Province (Argentina)
Córdoba is a province of Argentina, located in the center of the country. Neighboring provinces are : Santiago del Estero, Santa Fe, Buenos Aires, La Pampa, San Luis, La Rioja and Catamarca...

 and Santa Fe
Santa Fe Province
The Invincible Province of Santa Fe, in Spanish Provincia Invencible de Santa Fe , is a province of Argentina, located in the center-east of the country. Neighboring provinces are from the north clockwise Chaco , Corrientes, Entre Ríos, Buenos Aires, Córdoba, and Santiago del Estero...

, and to a lesser extent, in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after São Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent...

. In 1856 the colony farm of Esperanza was founded in Santa Fe becoming the mother of agricultural colonies in Argentina, and thus beginning a long process of European colonization and immigration
Immigration is the act of foreigners passing or coming into a country for the purpose of permanent residence...

 on Argentine soil. Current estimates state 150,000 Swiss descendants residing in Argentina.


There are over 20,000 people of Swiss origin living in Australia.


The history of Swiss immigration to Brazil began with the foundation of the colony of Nova Friburgo
Nova Friburgo
Nova Friburgo is a municipality in the state of Rio de Janeiro in southeastern Brazil. It is located in the northern mountainous region of the state, 136 km from its capital Rio de Janeiro...

 in 1819. Nova Friburgo was the first colonial company contracted by the Portuguese
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 government. The immigrant colonists wrote letters for publication in Swiss newspapers of the period, and these documents reveal the migrants' perceptions, information and expectations.

On 4 July 1819 depart from Estavayer-le-Lac, Lake Neuchâtel 1,088 Swiss, included 830 of the Canton of Fribourg, presents Jean-Claude Marchon, his wife Marie Prostasie Chavannaz Marchon, his brother Antoine Marchon and fiancee Marieanne Elizabeth Clerc, to Basle, the meeting point of the Swiss Transmigration for Brasil. And then 2.000 Swiss, by the Rhein River, go to Holland and after a lot of peripetia they depart from St. Gravendeel, near Dordrecht, in the Daphne, for the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, on September 11. Their arrival in Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro , commonly referred to simply as Rio, is the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city of Brazil, and the third largest metropolitan area and agglomeration in South America, boasting approximately 6.3 million people within the city proper, making it the 6th...

 was on November 4, spenting 55 days, a very good time for the epoch. And, finally, they arrive in Morro-Queimado (Burnt Mount) on November 15, 1819 – about 12000 kilometers in 105 days, approximately 114 kilometers a day.


Suzanne Rahaman Aeby (b. 1954 Freibourg), a former nurse, is the mother of Brunei's Crown Princess Sara.


Dr. Beat Richner
Beat Richner
Dr. Beat Richner is a Swiss pediatrician, cellist , and founder of children's hospitals in Cambodia.Richner worked at the Kantha Bopha Children's Hospital in Phnom Penh in 1974 and 1975...

 (b. 1947) is a Swiss pediatrician, cellist, and founder of children's hospitals in Cambodia. Richner worked at the Kantha Bopha Children's Hospital in Phnom Penh in 1974 and 1975. When the Khmer Rouge overran Cambodia, he was forced to return to Switzerland. In 1991, Richner returned to Cambodia and re-opened the children's hospital after a request by the King. He has opened four children's hospitals in Cambodia, Kantha Bopha I and II in Phnom Penh and Jayavarman VII in Siem Reap. Kantha Bopha IV was opened in Phnom Penh in 2005. A 5th hospital is currently being constructed (also in Phnom Penh).
He performs free concerts at the Jayavarman VII hospital in Siem Reap on Friday and Saturday nights. During the events, he asks the younger audience members for their blood, the older ones for money, and the ones in between for both. The Kantha Bopha hospitals treat half a million children per year free of charge. Approx 100,000 seriously ill children are admitted. Japanese encephalitis, malaria, dengue fever and typhoid are common, often exacerbated by the presence of TB. Dr Richner's hospitals are primarily funded by donations from individuals in Switzerland. Richner was named "Swiss of the Year" in 2003.


The number of Swiss in Chile is minor, despite having a relatively large number of members. This is because their linguistic
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

 and cultural characteristics are commonly confused with Germans, Italians and French
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

. Swiss migration to Chile took place at the end of nineteenth century, between 1883 and 1900, particularly in the area of Araucanía, especially in Victoria
Victoria, Chile
Victoria is a city and commune in Malleco Province of Araucanía Region, Chile. It is the second most populous city in the province of Malleco, and is the gateway to the area known as Araucanía Andina, with attractions such as the Tolhuaca National Park , the Baths of Tolhuaca Malalcahuello National...

 and Traiguén. It is estimated that more than 8,000 thousand families received grants of land.

Between April 1876 and May 1877 came to the area of Magellan
Magellan may refer to:*Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer who led part of the first expedition around the world*Magellan , a progressive rock band*Magellan , a forerunner of the Excite web portal...

 (Punta Arenas and Fresh Water) a contingent of Swiss immigrants comprising 119 families, mostly peasants from the canton of Fribourg
Fribourg is the capital of the Swiss canton of Fribourg and the district of Sarine. It is located on both sides of the river Saane/Sarine, on the Swiss plateau, and is an important economic, administrative and educational center on the cultural border between German and French Switzerland...


Later during 1915 to 1950 was the last recorded mass exodus of Swiss to Chile recorded 30,000 residents installed in the central area of the country, primarily in Santiago
Santiago, Chile
Santiago , also known as Santiago de Chile, is the capital and largest city of Chile, and the center of its largest conurbation . It is located in the country's central valley, at an elevation of above mean sea level...

 and Valparaíso
Valparaíso is a city and commune of Chile, center of its third largest conurbation and one of the country's most important seaports and an increasing cultural center in the Southwest Pacific hemisphere. The city is the capital of the Valparaíso Province and the Valparaíso Region...

. There are currently 5,000 Swiss citizens residing in Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

 and 90,000 Swiss descendants.


The largest number of Swiss immigrants arrived in France between the 1850s and the 1930s. Many of these Swiss settled in Alsace
Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

 and in the cities of Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, Marseille
Marseille , known in antiquity as Massalia , is the second largest city in France, after Paris, with a population of 852,395 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Marseille extends beyond the city limits with a population of over 1,420,000 on an area of...

 and Lyon
Lyon , is a city in east-central France in the Rhône-Alpes region, situated between Paris and Marseille. Lyon is located at from Paris, from Marseille, from Geneva, from Turin, and from Barcelona. The residents of the city are called Lyonnais....

. There are currently 170,000 Swiss citizens residing in France.
Swiss immigration to France, from 1851 to 1936
Source: Quid
Quid (encyclopedia)
Quid is a French encyclopedia, established in 1963 by Dominique Frémy. It was published annually between 1963 and 2007, first by Plon and later by Éditions Robert Laffont , and was the most popular encyclopedic reference work in France.The presentation is very compressed, and abbreviations are...

2003, p. 624, b.
Nationality 1851 1891 1901 1921 1926 1931 1936
Swiss 25,485 83,117 72,047 90,000 123,119 98,000 79,000


Environmental activist Bruno Manser
Bruno Manser
Bruno Manser was an environmental activist. He was well known in Switzerland for his public activism for rainforest preservation and the protection of indigenous peoples....

 (b. 1954 Basel
Basel or Basle In the national languages of Switzerland the city is also known as Bâle , Basilea and Basilea is Switzerland's third most populous city with about 166,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany...

) went missing without any trace. Manser was last seen in May 2000 in the isolated village of Bario in the Malaysian state of Sarawak
Sarawak is one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo. Known as Bumi Kenyalang , Sarawak is situated on the north-west of the island. It is the largest state in Malaysia followed by Sabah, the second largest state located to the North- East.The administrative capital is Kuching, which...

, on the island of Borneo
Borneo is the third largest island in the world and is located north of Java Island, Indonesia, at the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia....

, close to the border with Kalimantan
In English, the term Kalimantan refers to the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo, while in Indonesian, the term "Kalimantan" refers to the whole island of Borneo....

, Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

. His last known communication is a letter mailed to his girlfriend on May 22, 2000, from the village of Bario, in the Kelabit Highlands
Kelabit Highlands
The Kelabit Highlands are a mountain range located in the northernmost part of Sarawak, on the island of Borneo. The highest mountains in this range are Mount Murud at 2,423 m , Bukit Batu Buli at 2,082 m , and Bukit Batu Lawi at 2,046 m .In the Kelabit Highlands, there are 14...

, Sarawak, where he had returned to meet the nomadic Penan
The Penan are a nomadic aboriginal people living in Sarawak and Brunei. They are one of the last such peoples remaining. The Penan are noted for their practice of 'molong' which means never taking more than necessary...

 tribe that he lived with. He was legally declared dead in 2005.


There was significant emigration of Swiss people to the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 from the late 17th to the late 19th century. The late 18th and early 19th century saw a flow of Swiss farmers forming colonies such as Şaba (Bessarabia
Bessarabia is a historical term for the geographic region in Eastern Europe bounded by the Dniester River on the east and the Prut River on the west....

, at the Dniester Liman
Dniester Liman
Dniester Liman of Dniester Estuary is a liman, formed at the point where the river Dniester flows into the Black Sea. It is located in Ukraine, in Odessa Oblast. The city of Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi lies on its western shore and Ovidiopol on its eastern shore. Shabo, situated downstream of...

, now part of the Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

). The Russian-Swiss generally prospered, partly merging with German
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 diaspora populations.


There are a number of Swiss people in Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

. The Swiss Club in Singapore was established in 1871. The first shooting festival of the Swiss Rifle Shooting Club of Singapore was held during 1871. By 1902 the Swiss Rifle Shooting Club built a simple clubhouse with a palm roof and shooting range on the slopes of Bukit Tinggi. In 1925, the Swiss Rifle Shooting Club became the Swiss Club. In 1927, a new clubhouse was inaugurated. It was built by H R Arbenz and the Club's main restaurant is named after him. It is only Swiss club with its own clubhouse and swimming pool outside Switzerland. It is located at the end of Swiss Club Road just off Bukit Timah Road. There is a Swiss School for elementary students on the same grounds. The Swiss Embassy in Singapore is also nearby. There are a number of Swiss banks and businesses with offices in Singapore. One of the oldest was Diethelm, today DKSH
DKSH Ltd. also known as DiethelmKellerSiberHegner is a Swiss Market Expansion Services Group. Although its headquarters is in Zurich, DKSH is deeply rooted in communities all across Asia Pacific....

 also known as DiethelmKellerSiberHegner headquartered in Zurich. The company today offers sourcing, marketing, sales, distribution and after-sales-services. It has its origin in the activities of three Swiss entrepreneurs who sailed in the 1860s east to East Asia. Independently and within a few years of each other, Wilhelm Heinrich Diethelm set off for Singapore, Eduard Anton Keller for the Philippines and Hermann Siber for Yokohama. In 1871 Wilhelm Heinrich Diethelm joined Hooglandt & Co., Singapore, established in 1860, acquired the company in 1887 and founded Diethelm & Co. Ltd. in Singapore. Other Swiss organizations in Singapore include the Swiss Association of Singapore and the Swiss Business Association Singapore.

Sri Lanka

“Schweizerischer Hülfsverein in Ceylon” was founded on 15 September 1933. In the beginning, the main purpose was to provide assistance to needy Swiss citizens. In 1956, the Swiss Circle Colombo was established to promote social activities among Swiss nationals in Ceylon. It is now known as Swiss Circle Sri Lanka.

United States

The first Swiss person in what is now the territory of the United States was Theobald von Erlach (1541–1565). Before the year 1820 some estimated 25,000 to 30,000 Swiss entered British North America. Most of them settled in regions of today's Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 as well as North
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 and South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...


Most Swiss preferred rural villages of the Midwest and the Pacific Coast where especially the Italian Swiss were taking part in California's winegrowing culture. Swiss immigration diminished after 1930 because of the Great Depression and World War II.

In 1999 New Glarus, Wisconsin
New Glarus, Wisconsin
New Glarus is a village in Green County, Wisconsin, United States at the intersection of Wisconsin Highways 69 and 39. It has a population of 2,304 according to the 2010 census. Since 2000 it has had a population growth of 9.09 percent. The village, as well as the town that surrounds it, was named...

 was chosen as the future home of the Swiss Center of North America, a cultural center dedicated to the preservation and celebration of Swiss culture. New Glarus was chosen because of its central location and the large concentration of Swiss Americans in the vicinity. Funds for the centre came from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, State of Wisconsin, Canton of Glarus, and corporations, including General Casualty Insurance, Nestle USA, Novartis, Phillip Morris Europe, and Victorinox.


Swiss nationality law
Swiss nationality law
Swiss citizenship is the status of being a citizen of Switzerland and it can be obtained by birth, marriage or naturalisation.The Swiss Citizenship Law is based on the following principles:...

 requires of candidates for regular naturalization a minimum of twelve years of permanent, legal, notated residence (years spent in Switzerland between the 10th and 20th years of age count twice) and integration into the Swiss way of life as well as compliance with the Swiss rule of law. Facilitated naturalization for foreign spouses and children of Swiss citizens requires a total minimum residence of five years.


With more than 20% resident aliens, Switzerland has one of the highest ratios of non-naturalized inhabitants in Europe (comparable to the Netherlands
Demographics of the Netherlands
This article is about the demographic of the Netherlands, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.-Population size:...

; roughly twice the ratio of Germany
Demographics of Germany
The Demographics of Germany were determined also by a series of full Census in Germany, with the most recent held in 1987. Since reunification, German authorities rely on a micro census....

In 2003, 35,424 residents were naturalized, a number exceeding net population growth. Over the 25 year period of 1983 to 2007, 479,264 resident foreigners were naturalized, yearly numbers rising gradually from below 10,000 (0.1%) in the 1980s to above 40,000 (0.6%) in the 2000s. Compare the figure of 0.2% (140,795) in the United Kingdom (2004).


Naturalization procedures are subject to some controversy, with left-wing positions typically ascribing the high ratio of resident aliens to overly strict requirements, and right-wing positions opposing facilitation of naturalization as an attempt to hide the high percentage of foreigners by merely nominal naturalization.


The genetic composition of the Swiss population is similar to that of Central Europe
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

 in general. Switzerland is on one hand at the crossroads of several prehistoric migrations, while on the other hand the Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

 acted as a refuge in some cases. Genetic studies found the following haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

s to be prevalent:
  • Y-DNA
    Human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroups
    In human genetics, a Human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup is a haplogroup defined by differences in the non-recombining portions of DNA from the Y chromosome ....

    : R1b
    Haplogroup R1b (Y-DNA)
    The point of origin of R1b is thought to lie in Eurasia, most likely in Western Asia. T. Karafet et al. estimated the age of R1, the parent of R1b, as 18,500 years before present....

    , E3b
    Haplogroup E3b (Y-DNA)
    In human genetics, Y Haplogroup E1b1b previously known as E3b is one of the major paternal lines of humanity, linking from father-to-son back to a common male ancestor. In other words it is a major Y-chromosome haplogroup, a sub-group of the macro haplogroup E, which is defined by the single...

    , I1b2
    Haplogroup I (Y-DNA)
    In human genetics, Haplogroup I is a Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup, a subgroup of haplogroup IJ, itself a derivative of Haplogroup IJK....

    , R1a
    Haplogroup R1a (Y-DNA)
    Haplogroup R1a is the phylogenetic name of a major clade of Human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroups. In other words, it is a way of grouping a significant part of all modern men according to a shared male-line ancestor. It is common in many parts of Eurasia and is frequently discussed in human...

    Haplogroup J (Y-DNA)
    In human genetics, Haplogroup J is a Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup. It is one of the major male lines of all living men...

  • mtDNA
    Human mitochondrial DNA haplogroups
    In human genetics, a human mitochondrial DNA haplogroup is a haplogroup defined by differences in human mitochondrial DNA. Haplogroups are used to represent the major branch points on the mitochondrial phylogenetic tree...

    : H
    Haplogroup H (mtDNA)
    In human mitochondrial genetics, Haplogroup H is a human mitochondrial DNA haplogroup that likely originated in Southwest Asia 25,000-30,000 YBP.-Origin:...

     28% (HV
    Haplogroup HV (mtDNA)
    In human mitochondrial genetics, Haplogroup HV is a human mitochondrial DNA haplogroup.-Origin:Haplogroup HV derives from the Haplogroup R0...

     33%), U4+U5
    Haplogroup U (mtDNA)
    In human mitochondrial genetics, Haplogroup U is a human mitochondrial DNA haplogroup.-Origins:Haplogroup U descends from a woman in the Haplogroup R branch of the phylogenetic tree, who lived around 55,000 years ago...

     (14%), K
    Haplogroup K (mtDNA)
    In human mitochondrial genetics, Haplogroup K is a human mitochondrial DNA haplogroup, defined by HVR1 mutations 16224C and 16311C.-Origin:It is the most common subclade of haplogroup U8, and it has an estimated age of c. 12,000 years BP....

     (7%), J
    Haplogroup J (mtDNA)
    In human mitochondrial genetics, Haplogroup J is a human mitochondrial DNA haplogroup.Haplogroup J derives from the haplogroup JT, which also gave rise to Haplogroup T. In his popular book The Seven Daughters of Eve, Bryan Sykes named the originator of this mtDNA haplogroup Jasmine...


See also

  • Brünig-Napf-Reuss line
    Brünig-Napf-Reuss line
    The Brünig-Napf-Reuss line forms a geographical boundary in traditional Swiss culture . Running from the Brünig Pass along the Napf region to the Reuss River , it partly separates western and eastern varieties of High Alemannic, although some places east of the line belong to the western dialect...

  • Demographics of Switzerland
    Demographics of Switzerland
    This article is about the demographic features of the population of Switzerland, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population....

  • List of Swiss people
  • Röstigraben
    The Röstigraben, , literally ‘Rösti ditch’, also transcribed Röschtigraben in order to reflect the Swiss German pronunciation , is a humorous term describing the dividing line between the German-speaking and the French-speaking Romands parts of Switzerland with their respecitve cultural differences...

  • Swiss nationality law
    Swiss nationality law
    Swiss citizenship is the status of being a citizen of Switzerland and it can be obtained by birth, marriage or naturalisation.The Swiss Citizenship Law is based on the following principles:...

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