Information about the Administration of Switzerland

1. Name:

Switzerland is also known as “Confoederatio Helvetica”, therefore the abbreviation “CH”. “Confoederatio” stands for “confederation”, “Helvetica” derives from the Latin word “Helvetier”, the name of the people who lived in the area which became later beautiful Switzerland.


2. National Flag:

The white cross on the red background has a religious background. The cross represents the cross, Jesus was put on, the red colour represents his blood.
Each arm of the cross has to be of the same size and must be 1/6 longer than wide.

Switzerland Country Profile Information about the Administration of Switzerland
Flag of Switzerland

3. National motto, National flower, National animal:

There is no such thing as a national motto, a national flower or a national animal. However, some cantons do have a motto or an animal.
The “Edelweiss” (Leontopodium alpinum) has the status of an unofficial national flower.


4. Capital of Switzerland:

The capital of Switzerland is Bern City, also the capital of the canton Bern.


5. Administrative divisions:

Switzerland is broken up into the following administrative divisions:

5.1 Eidgenossenschaft:

The “Eidgenossenschaft” (confederation) consists of the following authorities:

5.1.1 “Bundesversammlung” (federal assembly), legislative authority:The federal assembly or parliament meets in the “Bundeshaus” in Bern and consists of two houses or “Kammern” (chambers):

  1. “Ständerat”: Also called the “kleine Kammer” (small chamber) with two representatives of each canton, or one representative of each split-canton, regardless of the size of the population of the canton.
  2. “Nationalrat”: Also called the “grosse Kammer” (large chamber) with 200 representatives. The number of representatives is proportional to the population of the cantons, but there is at least one representative of a canton.

5.1.2 “Bundesrat”, executive authority:The “Bundesrat” (Federal Council) consists of seven members, elected by the “Vereinigte Bundesversammlung”, a combined assembly of both chambers. Elections take place every four years. The president of the “Bundesrat”, called “Bundespräsident” / “Bundespräsidentin”, changes every year and has only representional status but no extra power. The seven “Bundesräte” / “Bundesrätinnen” head the following “Departemente” (departments):

  1. Foreign Affairs – (“Departement für auswärtige Angelegenheiten”)
  2. Home Affairs – (“Departement des Innern”)
  3. Justice and Police – (“Justiz- und Polizei-Departement”)
  4. Defence, Civil Protection and Sports – (“Departement für Verteidigung, Bevölkerungsschutz und Sport”)
  5. Finance – (“Finanz-Departement”)
  6. Economic Affairs – (“Volkswirtschafts-Departement”)
  7. Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications – (“Departement für Umwelt, Verkehr, Energie und Kommunikation”)

5.1.3 “Bundesgericht” (federal court), judicial authority:The federal court in Lausanne, VD is the highest court in the country. It protects the constitutional rights of the Swiss citizens against arbitrariness of the authorities and administration.

The duties of the confederation are defined in the “Bundesverfassung” (federal constitution) and include:

  • Protection of the country and its citizens
  • Postal services, telephone and telecommunications (PTT)
  • Monetary system (“Nationalbank”, national bank)
  • Transportation (“Nationalstrassen” (motor ways, railway)
  • Military
  • Customs
  • Diplomatic relations with other countries

People can take direct influences by the following:

  1. “Initiative”: 100’000 citizens can request a voting about a change or extension of the “Bundesverfassung” (constitution) or the “Bundesgesetzt” (federal law).
  2. “Referendum”: If the “Bundesrat” wants to change or extend the “Bundesverfassung” (constitution) or the “Bundesgesetz” (federal law), 50’000 citizens can request a voting about it.

5.2 Kantone:

Switzerland consists of 23 “Kantone” (singular “Kanton”, also referred to as cantons or states), 3 of them are divided into “Halb-Kantone” (split states) with the following authorities:

  • “Grosser Rat”“Kantonsrat” or “Landesrat” (the name varies between the cantons), legislative authority
  • “Kantonsregierung”, executive authority
  • “Kantonsgericht”, judicial authority

The cantons Appenzell, Glarus and Unterwalden do not perform elections and voting, but a so called “Landsgemeinde”, an out door assembly of all its citizens. The attendees raise their hands to show if they agree with or deny a particular request.

The duties of the cantons are defined in their “Kantonsverfassung” (cantonal constitution) and include:

  • Education
  • Transportation (“Kantonsstrassen”, cantonal roads)
  • Social institutions

This is a list of all cantons in the “official order”:

  1. Zürich (ZH)
  2. Bern / Berne (BE)
  3. Luzern (LU)
  4. Uri (UR)
  5. Schwyz (SZ)
  6. Unterwalden (Obwalden (OW) / Nidwalden (NW))
  7. Glarus (GL)
  8. Zug (ZG)
  9. Freiburg / Fribourg (FR)
  10. Solothurn (SO)
  11. Basel (Basel Stadt (BS)/ Basel Land (BL))
  12. Schaffhausen (SH)
  13. Appenzell (Appenzell Ausserrhoden (AR) / Appenzell Innerrhoden (AI))
  14. Sankt Gallen (SG)
  15. Graubünden (GR)
  16. Aargau (AG)
  17. Thurgau (TG)
  18. Ticino (TI)
  19. Vaud (VD)
  20. Valais / Wallis (VS)
  21. Neuchâtel (NE)
  22. Genève (GE)
  23. Jura (JU)

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