Information about the Administration of Switzerland
Table of contents:
- National motto, flower, animal
- Administrative divisions:
- Link collection related to Swiss Administration
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 Switzerland.
The white cross on the red back (see top left on each page) has a religious background. The cross represents the cross, Jesus was put on, the red color represents his blood.
Each arm of the cross has to be of the same size
and must be 1/6 longer than wide.
3. National motto, flower, animal
There are no such things 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 inoffical national flower.
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 ("top down"):
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):
- "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.
- "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):
- Foreign Affairs ("Departement für auswärtige Angelegenheiten")
- Home Affairs ("Departement des Innern")
- Justice and Police ("Justiz- und Polizei-Departement")
- Defence, Civil Protection and Sports ("Departement für Verteidigung, Bevölkerungsschutz und Sport")
- Finance ("Finanz-Departement")
- Economic Affairs ("Volkswirtschafts-Departement")
- 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)
- Diplomatic relations with other countries
People can take direct influence by two means:
- "Initiative": 100'000 citizens can request a voting about a change or extension of the "Bundesverfassung" (constitution) or the "Bundesgesetzt"
- "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.
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:
- Transportation ("Kantonsstrassen", cantonal roads)
- Social institutions
This is a list of all cantons in the so called "official order":
- Zürich (ZH)
- Bern / Berne (BE)
- Luzern (LU)
- Uri (UR)
- Schwyz (SZ)
- Unterwalden (Obwalden (OW) / Nidwalden (NW))
- Glarus (GL)
- Zug (ZG)
- Freiburg / Fribourg (FR)
- Solothurn (SO)
- Basel (Basel Stadt (BS)/ Basel Land (BL))
- Schaffhausen (SH)
- Appenzell (Appenzell Ausserrhoden (AR) / Appenzell Innerrhoden
- Sankt Gallen (SG)
- Graubünden (GR)
- Aargau (AG)
- Thurgau (TG)
- Ticino (TI)
- Vaud (VD)
- Valais / Wallis (VS)
- Neuchâtel (NE)
- Genève (GE)
- Jura (JU)
Each canton consists of a number of "Bezirke" (singular "Bezirk", districts) with the following authorities:
- People by voting and elections, legislative authority
- "Bezirksrat", executive authority
- "Bezirksgericht", judicial authority
The duties of the districts include:
Each district consists of a number of "Gemeinden" (singular "Gemeinde", municipalities). There are a 2929 municipalities in Switzerland. A municipality with more
than 10'000 citizens is considered a "Stadt" (town), smaller municipalities are called a "Dorf" (village). However, some smaller villages have the status of a town for historical
reasons. Municipalities have the following authorities:
- "Gemeindeversammlung", an assembly of all citizens, or people by voting and elections, legislative authority
- "Gemeinderat" or "Stadtrat", executive authority
- "Friedensrichter" (lay magistrate), judicial authority
The duties of the municipalities include:
- Local services (electricity, water, fire brigade, police etc.)
- Transportation ("Gemeindestrassen", local roads)
- Taxes (they vary significantly between the municipalities !)
6. Link collection related to Swiss Administration
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