Swiss (nationality)

Swiss (nationality)

Ethnic group

caption=Johann BernoulliHenri DufourFélix VallottonHenri NestléLeonhard EulerElisabeth KoppRoger FedererAlbrecht von Haller
regions= Swiss Alps, Swiss plateau, Jura
population = 6.5 million
region1= SUI
pop1= 5.9 million
region2= rest of Europe
pop2= 402,000
region3= FRA
pop3= (172,000)
region4= GER
pop4= (72,000)
region5= ITA
pop5= (47,000)
region6= UK
pop6= (27,000)
region7 = Americas
pop7= 164,000
region8= USA
pop8= (71,000)
region9= CAN
pop9= (36,000)
region10= Asia
pop10= 32,000
region11=Australia / Oceania
pop11= 27,000
pop12= 18,000
languages= Swiss German, Swiss French, Swiss Italian, Romansh
religions = Roman Catholicism, Zwinglianism, Calvinism

The Swiss ( _de. die Schweizer, _fr. les Suisses, _it. gli Svizzeri) form a nationality, and although the modern state of Switzerland originated in 1848, the period of romantic nationalism, it is not a nation-state, and the Swiss are not usually considered to form a single ethnic group, but a confederacy ("Eidgenossenschaft") or "Willensnation" ("nation of will", "nation by choice", that is, a consociational state), a term coined in conscious contrast to "nation" in the ethnic sense of the term. [Dissent to the effect that the state should be re-oriented along ethnic lines is constrained to far-right and völkisch circles such as the PNOS and remains a fringe position (held by far below 1% of Swiss citizens) in direct opposition to the letter and spirit of the Swiss Constitution.]

The Swiss have grown in number from 1.7 million in 1815 to 6.5 million in 2006, 91% of them living in Switzerland. About 60% of those living abroad reside in the European Union (170,000, in France, 70,000 in Germany), the largest overseas community is in the USA (71,000).

The demonym derives from the toponym of "Schwyz" (see there) and has been in widespread use to refer to the Old Swiss Confederacy since the 16th century.

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, historically amalgamated from the Gallo-Roman population and the Alemanni, including subgroups such as the Walser. "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 was the term applied to non-Alemannic territories. Closely related German-speaking peoples are the Alsatians, the Swabians and the Vorarlbergians.
*the French-speaking Swiss ("Romands"), traditionally speaking Franco-Provençal dialects, today largely assimilated to the standard French language (Swiss French), amalgamated from the Gallo-Roman population and Burgundians (the historical Upper Burgundy). They are closely related to the French (especially those of Franche-Comte).
*the Italian-speaking Swiss ("Ticinesi"), traditionally speakers of Lombard language (Ticinese variety) today mostly assimilated to the standard Italian language, amalgamated from Raetians and Lombards. They are closely related to the Italians (especially Lombardians and Piedmontese).
*The Romansh, speakers of the Romansh language, settling in parts of the Grisons, historically of Raetic stock.

With worldwide human migration, there is an increasing number of Swiss not descended or only partially descended from the core ethnic groups listed above. Naturalized Swiss citizens will be linguistically oriented according their canton of residence.

Similarly, differences between the several regions of Switzerland are increasingly 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.


Swiss nationality law requires of candidates for naturalization a minimum of twelve years of permanent, legal, notated residence and fluency in one national language as well as integration into the Swiss way of life and compliance with the Swiss rule of law.


With more than 20% resident aliens, Switzerland has one of the highest ratios of non-naturalized inhabitants in Europe (comparable to the Netherlands; roughly twice the ratio of Germany). 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. [ [ Bundesamt für Migration] ] Compare the figure of 0.2% (140,795) in the United Kingdom (2004). [ [ Persons Granted British Citizenship, 2004 (pdf)] ]


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 controversy is fuelled the increasing rate of naturalizations, and by the debate on delinquent foreigners: 48.9% of those convicted under criminal law in 2003 were foreigners, amounting to a conviction rate about 3.7 times higher among foreigners than among Swiss citizens. These circumstances have led to concerned reactions ranging to the xenophobic in popular media, notably connected with a series of severe accidents involving excessive speeding on the part of young males from former Yugoslavia in 2004 and 2005 [] [] [] . Detractors of arguments based on conviction rates point out that this number is inflated by delinquent illegal aliens or asylum seekers, who are not candidates for naturalization and thus irrelevant to the debate.


The genetic composition of the Swiss population is similar to that of Central Europe in general. Switzerland is on one hand at the crossroads of several prehistoric migrations, while on the other hand the Alps acted as a refuge in some cases. Genetic studies found the following haplogroups to be prevalent:
*mtDNA: H 28% (HV 33%), U4+U5 (14%), K (7%), J (5%) []
* [however at a local minimum [] ]


ee also

*Demographics of Switzerland
*List of Swiss people
*Brünig-Napf-Reuss line
*Swiss diaspora

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