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Top: View over Zürich and the lake, Middle left: Fraumünster Church on the river Limmat at night, Middle right: The Sunrise Tower, Bottom: Night view of Zürich from Üetliberg.
Top: View over Zürich and the lake, Middle left: Fraumünster Church on the river Limmat at night, Middle right: The Sunrise Tower, Bottom: Night view of Zürich from Üetliberg.
Coat of arms of Zürich
Coat of arms
Zürich is located in Switzerland
Coordinates: 47°22′N 8°33′E / 47.367°N 8.550°E / 47.367; 8.550Coordinates: 47°22′N 8°33′E / 47.367°N 8.550°E / 47.367; 8.550
 • ExecutiveStadtrat
with 9 members
 • MayorStadtpräsidentin (list)
Corine Mauch SPS/PSS
(as of February 2014)
 • ParliamentGemeinderat
with 125 members
 • Total87.88 km2 (33.93 sq mi)
Elevation408 m (1,339 ft)
Highest elevation (Üetliberg)871 m (2,858 ft)
Lowest elevation (Limmat)392 m (1,286 ft)
Population (Dec 2013[2])
 • Total383,708
 • Density4,400/km2 (11,000/sq mi)
DemonymZürich (Zürcher)
Postal code8000–8099
SFOS number0261
Surrounded byAdliswil, Dübendorf, Fällanden, Kilchberg, Maur, Oberengstringen, Opfikon, Regensdorf, Rümlang, Schlieren, Stallikon, Uitikon, Urdorf, Wallisellen, Zollikon
Twin townsKunming, San Francisco
SFSO statistics
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For other uses, see Zürich (disambiguation).
Top: View over Zürich and the lake, Middle left: Fraumünster Church on the river Limmat at night, Middle right: The Sunrise Tower, Bottom: Night view of Zürich from Üetliberg.
Top: View over Zürich and the lake, Middle left: Fraumünster Church on the river Limmat at night, Middle right: The Sunrise Tower, Bottom: Night view of Zürich from Üetliberg.
Coat of arms of Zürich
Coat of arms
Zürich is located in Switzerland
Coordinates: 47°22′N 8°33′E / 47.367°N 8.550°E / 47.367; 8.550Coordinates: 47°22′N 8°33′E / 47.367°N 8.550°E / 47.367; 8.550
 • ExecutiveStadtrat
with 9 members
 • MayorStadtpräsidentin (list)
Corine Mauch SPS/PSS
(as of February 2014)
 • ParliamentGemeinderat
with 125 members
 • Total87.88 km2 (33.93 sq mi)
Elevation408 m (1,339 ft)
Highest elevation (Üetliberg)871 m (2,858 ft)
Lowest elevation (Limmat)392 m (1,286 ft)
Population (Dec 2013[2])
 • Total383,708
 • Density4,400/km2 (11,000/sq mi)
DemonymZürich (Zürcher)
Postal code8000–8099
SFOS number0261
Surrounded byAdliswil, Dübendorf, Fällanden, Kilchberg, Maur, Oberengstringen, Opfikon, Regensdorf, Rümlang, Schlieren, Stallikon, Uitikon, Urdorf, Wallisellen, Zollikon
Twin townsKunming, San Francisco
SFSO statistics

Zürich or Zurich (/ˈzjʊərrɪk/, German: Zürich [ˈtsyːrɪç], Swiss German: Züri [ˈtsyɾi], Italian: Zurigo, Romansh: Turitg) is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zürich. It is located in north-central Switzerland[3] at the northwestern tip of Lake Zürich. The municipality has approximately 400,028[4] inhabitants, and the Zurich metropolitan area 1.83 million.[5] Zürich is a hub for railways, roads, and air traffic. Both Zürich Airport and railway station are the largest and busiest in the country.

Permanently settled for around 2000 years, the history of Zürich goes back to its founding by the Romans, who, in 15 BC, called it Turicum. However, early settlements have been found dating back more than 6400 years ago.[6] During the Middle Ages Zürich gained the independent and privileged status of imperial immediacy and, in 1519, became a primary centre of the Protestant Reformation in Europe under the leadership of Ulrich Zwingli.[7]

Zürich is a leading global city and among the world's largest financial centres.[8] The city is home to a large number of financial institutions and banking giants. Most of Switzerland's research and development centres are concentrated in Zürich and the low tax rates attract overseas companies to set up their headquarters there.

Monocle's 2012 "Quality of Life Survey" ranked Zürich first on a list of the top 25 cities in the world "to make a base within".[9] According to several surveys from 2006 to 2008, Zürich was named the city with the best quality of life in the world as well as the wealthiest city in Europe.[10][11][12]

Many museums and art galleries can be found in the city, including the Swiss National Museum and the Kunsthaus.[13] Schauspielhaus Zürich is one of the most important theatres in the German-speaking world.[14]


The Swiss standard German pronunciation of the name is [ˈt͡syːrɪç] ( ). In Zürich German without the final consonant, Züri [ˈt͡syɾi], although the adjective remains Zürcher [ˈt͡syrxər]. The city is called Zurich [zyʁik] in French, Zurigo [d͡zuˈriːɡo] in Italian,[15] and Turitg [tuˈrit͡ɕ] in Romansh.

In English, the name is usually written Zurich, without the umlaut. It is pronounced /ˈzjʊərɪk/ (ZEWR-ik) or /ˈzʊərɪk/ (ZOOR-ik); more recently sometimes also with /ts/ as in German.[16]

The earliest known form of the city's name is Turicum, attested on a tombstone of the late 2nd century AD in the form STA(tio) TURICEN(sis) ("Turicum tax post"). Neither the name's linguistic origin (most likely Rhaetic or Celtic) nor its meaning can be determined with certainty. A possibility is derivation from *Turīcon, from the Gaulish personal name Tūros.[17] The Latin stress on the long vowel of the Gaulish name, [tuˈriːkon], was lost in German [ˈt͡syːʁɪç] but is preserved in Italian Zurigo [d͡zuˈriːɡo].

A first development towards its later, Germanic form is attested as early as the 6th century with the form Ziurichi. From the 10th century onward, the name has more or less clearly been established as Zürich (Zurih (857), Zürich (924)).[18]

Zürich is sometimes referred to as "Downtown Switzerland" for publicity reasons.[19]


Main article: History of Zürich

Early history[edit]

Zürich in Roman times

Settlements of the Neolithic and Bronze Age were found around Lake Zürich. Traces of pre-Roman Celtic, La Tène settlements were discovered near the Lindenhof hill. In Roman times, Turicum was a tax-collecting point at the border of Gallia Belgica (from AD 90 Germania Superior) and Raetia for goods trafficked on the Limmat river. After Emperor Constantine's reforms in AD 318, the border between Gaul and Italy (two of the four praetorian prefectures of the Roman Empire) was located east of Turicum, crossing the River Linth between Lake Walen and Lake Zürich, where a castle and garrison looked over Turicum's safety. The earliest written record of the town dates from the 2nd century, with a tombstone referring to it, discovered at the Lindenhof.

In the 5th century, the Germanic Alemanni tribe settled in the Swiss Plateau. The Roman castle remained standing until the 7th century. A Carolingian castle, built on the site of the Roman castle by the grandson of Charlemagne, Louis the German, is mentioned in 835 (in castro Turicino iuxta fluvium Lindemaci). Louis also founded the Fraumünster abbey in 853 for his daughter Hildegard. He endowed the Benedictine convent with the lands of Zürich, Uri, and the Albis forest, and granted the convent immunity, placing it under his direct authority. In 1045, King Henry III granted the convent the right to hold markets, collect tolls, and mint coins, and thus effectively made the abbess the ruler of the city.[20]

Zürich became an Imperial immediacy (Reichsunmittelbar or Imperial free city) in 1218 with the extinction of the main line of the Zähringer family and attained a status comparable to statehood. During the 1230s, a city wall was built, enclosing 38 hectares, when the earliest stone houses on the Rennweg were built as well. The Carolingian castle was used as a quarry, as it had started to fall into ruin.[21]

Emperor Frederick II promoted the abbess of the Fraumünster to the rank of a duchess in 1234. The abbess nominated the mayor, and she frequently delegated the minting of coins to citizens of the city. The political power of the convent slowly waned in the 14th century, beginning with the establishment of the Zunftordnung (guild laws) in 1336 by Rudolf Brun, who also became the first independent mayor, i.e. not nominated by the abbess.

An important event in the early 14th century was the completion of the Manesse Codex, a key source of medieval German poetry. The famous illuminated manuscript – described as "the most beautifully illumined German manuscript in centuries;"[22] – was commissioned by the Manesse family of Zürich, copied and illustrated in the city at some time between 1304 and 1340. Producing such a work was a highly expensive prestige project, requiring several years work by highly skilled scribes[23] and miniature painters, and it clearly testifies to the increasing wealth and pride of Zürich citizens in this period.

Old Swiss Confederacy[edit]

A scene of the Old Zürich War

On 1 May 1351, the citizens of Zürich had to swear allegiance before representatives of the cantons of Lucerne, Schwyz, Uri and Unterwalden, the other members of the Swiss Confederacy. Thus, Zürich became the fifth member of the Confederacy, which was at that time a loose confederation of de facto independent states. Zürich was the presiding canton of the Diet from 1468 to 1519. This authority was the executive council and lawmaking body of the confederacy, from the Middle Ages until the establishment of the Swiss federal state in 1848. Zürich was temporarily expelled from the confederacy in 1440 due to a war with the other member states over the territory of Toggenburg (the Old Zürich War). Neither side had attained significant victory when peace was agreed upon in 1446, and Zürich was readmitted to the confederation in 1450.[24]

The Murerplan of 1576

Zwingli started the Swiss Reformation at the time when he was the main preacher in the 1520s, at the Grossmünster. He lived there from 1484 until his death in 1531. The Zürich Bible, based on that of Zwingli, was issued in 1531. The Reformation resulted in major changes in state matters and civil life in Zürich, spreading also to a number of other cantons. Several cantons remained Catholic and became the basis of serious conflicts that eventually led to the outbreak of the Wars of Kappel.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, the Council of Zürich adopted an isolationist attitude, resulting in a second ring of imposing fortifications built in 1624. The Thirty Years' War which raged across Europe motivated the city to build these walls. The fortifications required a lot of resources, which were taken from subject territories without reaching any agreement. The following revolts were crushed brutally. In 1648, Zürich proclaimed itself a republic, shedding its former status of a free imperial city.[25] In this time the political system of Zürich was an oligarchy (Patriziat): the dominant families of the city were the following ones: Bonstetten, Brun, Bürkli, Escher vom Glas, Escher vom Luchs, Hirzel, Jori (or von Jori), Kilchsperger, Landenberg, Manesse, Meiss, Meyer von Knonau, Mülner, von Orelli.

Fighting on the Paradeplatz during the Züriputsch

The Helvetic Revolution of 1798 saw the fall of the Ancien Régime. Zürich lost control of the land and its economic privileges, and the city and the canton separated their possessions between 1803–1805. In 1839, the city had to yield to the demands of its urban subjects, following the Züriputsch of 6 September. Most of the ramparts built in the 17th century were torn down, without ever having been besieged, to allay rural concerns over the city's hegemony. The Treaty of Zürich between Austria, France, and Sardinia was signed in 1859.[26]

Modern history[edit]

Bahnhofplatz in 1900

Zürich was the Federal capital for 1839–40, and consequently the victory of the Conservative party there in 1839 caused a great stir throughout Switzerland. But when in 1845 the Radicals regained power at Zürich, which was again the Federal capital for 1845–46, Zürich took the lead in opposing the Sonderbund cantons. Following the Sonderbund war and the formation of the Swiss Federal State, Zürich voted in favour of the Federal constitutions of 1848 and of 1874. The enormous immigration from the country districts into the town from the "thirties" onwards created an industrial class which, though "settled" in the town, did not possess the privileges of burghership, and consequently had no share in the municipal government. First of all in 1860 the town schools, hitherto open to "settlers" only on paying high fees, were made accessible to all, next in 1875 ten years' residence ipso facto conferred the right of burghership, while in 1893 the eleven outlying districts were incorporated with the town proper.

Extensive developments took place during the 19th century. From 1847, the Spanisch-Brötli-Bahn, the first railway on Swiss territory, connected Zürich with Baden, putting the Zürich Hauptbahnhof at the origin of the Swiss rail network. The present building of the Hauptbahnhof (the main railway station) dates to 1871. Zürich's Bahnhofstrasse (Station Street) was laid out in 1867, and the Zürich Stock Exchange was founded in 1877. Industrialisation led to migration into the cities and to rapid population growth, particularly in the suburbs of Zürich.

In 1893, the twelve outlying districts were incorporated within Zürich, including Aussersihl, the workman's quarter on the left bank of the Sihl, and additional land was reclaimed from Zürich lake.[27]

In 1934, eight additional districts in the north and west of Zürich were incorporated.

Zürich was accidentally bombed during World War II.

Coat of arms[edit]

The coat of arms on the Town Hall

The blue and white coat of arms of Zürich is attested from 1389, and was derived from banners with blue and white stripes in use since 1315 . The first certain testimony of banners with the same design is from 1434. The coat of arms is flanked by two lions. The red Schwenkel on top of the banner had varying interpretations: For the people of Zürich, it was a mark of honour, granted by Rudolph I. Zürich's neighbours mocked it as a sign of shame, commemorating the loss of the banner at Winterthur in 1292. Today, the Canton of Zürich uses the same coat of arms as the city.[28][29]


The City Council (Stadtrat) constitutes the executive government of the City of Zürich and operates as a collegiate authority. It is composed of nine councilors, each presiding over a department. The president of the executive department acts as mayor. Current city president is Corine Mauch. Departmental tasks, coordination measures and implementation of laws decreed by the City Parliament are carried by the City Council. The election of the City Council by registered voters is held every four years. The executive body holds its meetings in the City Hall, on the bank of the Limmat. The building was built in 1883 in Renaissance style.

However, the City Parliament (Gemeinderat) holds the legislative power. It is made up of 125 members, with elections also held every four years. The City Parliament decrees regulations and by-laws that are executed by the City Council and the administration. The sessions of the City Parliament are public. Unlike the member of the City Council, the members of the City Parliament are not politicians by profession, but they are paid a fee based on their attendance. Any resident of Zürich allowed to vote can be elected as a member of the City Parliament. The legislative body holds its meetings in the Town Hall, opposite to the City Hall.[30]

As of 2013, the Zürich City Council is made up of four representatives of the SP (Social Democratic Party, one of whom is the mayor), two members of the Green Party and one member each of FDP (Free Democratic Party), CVP (Christian Democratic Party) and AL (Alternative Left Party), giving the left parties a combined seven out of nine seats.[31]


The Limmat river in Zürich
The city stretches on both sides of the Limmat river, which flows out of Lake Zürich. The Alps can be seen from the city center, background to the lake.

Zürich is situated at 408 m (1,339 ft) above sea level on the lower (northern) end of Lake Zürich (Zürichsee) about 30 kilometers (19 mi) north of the Alps, nestling between the wooded hills on the west and east side. The Old Town stretches on both sides of the Limmat river, which flows from the lake, running northwards at first and then gradually turning into a curve to the west. The geographic (and historic) centre of the city is the Lindenhof, a small natural hill on the west bank of the Limmat, about 700 m (2,300 ft) north of where the river issues from Lake Zürich. Today the incorporated city stretches somewhat beyond the natural hydrographic confines of the hills and includes some districts to the northeast in the Glatt Valley (German: Glattal) and to the north in the Limmat Valley (German: Limmattal). The boundaries of the older city are easy to recognize by the Schanzengraben canal. This artificial watercourses has been used for the construction of the third fortress in the 17th and 18th centuries.


The municipality of Zürich has an area of 91.88 km2 (35.48 sq mi), of which 4.1 km2 (1.6 sq mi) is made up of Lake Zürich. The area includes a section of the northern Swiss Plateau. The banks of the Limmat constitute the densest part of the city. The river is oriented in the southeast-northwest direction, with the flat valley floor having a width of two to three kilometres. The partially channelled and straightened Limmat does not flow in the central part of the valley, but always along its right (northeastern) side. The River Sihl meets with the Limmat at the end of Platzspitz, which borders the Swiss National Museum. The Limmat reaches the lowest point of the municipality in Oberengstringen at 392 m (1,286 ft) above sea level.

Topographic map of Zürich and surroundings
Felsenegg from Lake Zürich
Zürich from Waidberg

On its west side the Limmat valley is flanked by the wooded heights of the Albis chain, which runs along the western border. The Üetliberg is, with 869 m (2,851 ft) above sea level, the highest elevation of the surrounding area. Its summit can be reached easily by the Uetlibergbahn. From the platform of the observation tower on the summit, an impressive panorama of the city, the lake and the Alps can be seen.

The northeast side of the Limmat valley includes a range of hills, which marks the watershed between the Limmat and the Glatt. From the northwest to the southeast, the height of the mostly wooded knolls increases: the Gubrist (615 m or 2,018 ft), the Hönggerberg (541 m or 1,775 ft), the Käferberg (571 m or 1,873 ft), the Zürichberg (676 m or 2,218 ft) and the Adlisberg (701 m or 2,300 ft). Between the Käferberg and the Zürichberg is located the saddle of the Milchbuck (about 470 m or 1,540 ft), an important passage from the Limmat valley to the Glatt valley.

The northernmost part of the municipality extends to the plain of the Glatt valley and to the saddle which makes the connection between the Glattal and Furttal. Also a part of the Katzensee (nature reserve) and the Büsisee, both of which are drained by the Katzenbach to Glatt, belong to the city.


Zürich has, depending on the definition used, an oceanic climate (Köppen Cfb), with four distinct seasons. Decisive for the climate of Zürich are both the winds from westerly directions, which often result in precipitation and, on the other hand, the Bise (east or north-east wind), which is usually associated with high-pressure situations, but cooler weather phases with temperatures lower than the average. The Foehn wind, which plays an important role in the northern alpine valleys, has also some impact on Zürich.

The annual mean temperature at the measuring station of the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology in Zürich (556 m [1,824 ft] above sea level on the slope of the Zürichberg, 150 m [490 ft] above the level of the city centre) is 9.4 °C (48.9 °F). The coldest month mean temperatures are measured in January with −0.5 °C (31.1 °F) and the warmest are measured in July with 17.6 °C (63.7 °F). On average there are 88 days in which the minimum temperature is below 0 °C (32 °F), and 26 days in which the maximum temperature is below 0 °C (32 °F). There are on average 30 summer days (above 25 °C [77 °F]) throughout the year, while hot days (with a temperature reaching 30 °C [86 °F]) are only three. The average high temperature in July are 24.2 °C (75.6 °F) and low temperature are 12.4 °C (54.3 °F). Spring and autumn are generally cool to mild. These values are relatively low compared to other stations on the plateau but they can be explained by the altitude of the station. In the Limmat valley more summer days and hot days can be expected. Zürich has an average of 1,566 hours of sunshine per year. The 1,136 millimetres (44.7 in) rainfall spread throughout the year. During the warmer half of the year and especially the three summer months, levels of rainfall are higher than those measured in winter. The meteorological station at Kloten gives an average precipitation of 1,048 millimetres (41.3 in).

Climate data for Zürich (Kloten, 1981–2010)
Average high °C (°F)3.2
Daily mean °C (°F)0.2
Average low °C (°F)−3.1
Precipitation mm (inches)65
Snowfall cm (inches)14.4
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)9.98.610.710.411.711.711.311.09.59.810.110.5125.2
Avg. snowy days (≥ 1.0 cm)
 % humidity84807471727272747984858578
Mean monthly sunshine hours48771251591862042302081519350351,566
Source: MeteoSwiss[32]

Climate protection[edit]

The city of Zürich is among the world-leaders in protecting the climate by following a manifold approach. In November 2008[33] the people of Zürich voted in a public referendum to write into law the quantifiable and fixed deadline of one tonne of CO2 per person per annum by 2050. This forces any decision of the executive to support this goal, even if the costs are higher in all dimensions. Some examples are the new disinfection section of the public city hospital in Triemli (Minergie-P quality – passive house)[clarification needed], the continued optimisation and creation of public transportation, enlargement of the bicycle-only network, research and projects for renewable energy and enclosure of speed-ways[clarification needed].

Urban area[edit]

The areas surrounding the Limmat are almost completely improved with residential, industrial, and commercial zones. The sunny and desirable residential areas in the hills overlooking Zürich, Waidberg and Zürichberg, and the bottom part of the slope on the western side of the valley on the Üetliberg, are also densely built.

The "green lungs" of the city include the vast forest areas of Adlisberg, Zürichberg, Käferberg, Hönggerberg and Üetliberg. Major parks are also located along the lakeshore (Zürichhorn and Enge), while smaller parks dot the city. Larger contiguous agricultural lands are located near Affoltern and Seebach. Of the total area of the municipality of Zürich (in 1996, without the lake), 45.4% is residential, industrial and commercial, 15.5% is transportation infrastructure, 26.5% is forest, 11%: is agriculture and 1.2% is water.

View over Zürich and Lake Zürich from the Üetliberg

City districts[edit]

Satellite photo of central Zürich, with Lake Zürich to the south (bottom) and the main station in the north-west. The Limmat river flows from south to north, whilst the Sihl flows from the south-west and joins the Limmat to the north of the station.
Zürich's twelve municipal districts.

The previous boundaries of the city of Zürich (before 1893) were more or less synonymous with the location of the old town. Two large expansions of the city limits occurred in 1893 and in 1934 when the city of Zürich merged with many surrounding municipalities, that had been growing increasingly together since the 19th century. Today, the city is divided into twelve districts (known as Kreis in German), numbered 1 to 12, each one of which may contain anywhere between 1 and 4 neighborhoods:

Most of the district boundaries are fairly similar to the original boundaries of the previously existing municipalities before they were incorporated into the city of Zürich.


See also: Zürich model
A paddle steamer on Lake Zürich

Public transport is extremely popular in Zürich, and its inhabitants use public transport in large numbers. About 70% of the visitors to the city use the tram or bus, and about half of the journeys within the municipality take place on public transport.[34] Within Zürich and throughout the canton of Zürich, the ZVV network of public transport has traffic density ratings among the highest worldwide. When adding frequency, which in Zürich can be as often as seven minutes, it does become the densest across all dimensions. Three means of mass-transit exist: the S-Bahn (local trains), trams, and buses (both diesel and electric, also called trolley buses). In addition, the public transport network includes boats on the lake and river, funicular railways and even the Luftseilbahn Adliswil-Felsenegg (LAF), a cable car between Adliswil and Felsenegg. Tickets purchased for a trip are valid on all means of public transportation (train, tram, bus, boat). The Zürichsee-Schifffahrtsgesellschaft (commonly abbreviated to ZSG) operates passenger vessels on the Limmat river and the Lake Zürich, connecting surrounding towns between Zürich and Rapperswil.

The busy Hauptbahnhof main hall

Zürich is a mixed hub for railways, roads, and air traffic. Zürich Hauptbahnhof (Zürich HB) is the largest and busiest station in Switzerland and is an important railway hub in Europe. There are between 350,000 and 500,000 commuters daily making use of this central network node – a significant figure in comparison to Zürich's population. Regarding the amount of trains daily entering and leaving a single railway station, Zürich HB is the world's most frequently served railway station, with 2915 trains every day. Among the 16 train stations (and 10 additional train stops) within Zürich's city borders, there are five other major passenger railway stations. Three of them belong to the five most frequented railway stations in Switzerland: Stadelhofen, Oerlikon, Altstetten, Hardbrücke, and Enge. The railway network is mainly operated by the Federal Railways SBB-CFF-FFS but Zürich is also served by major EuroCity trains from the neighbouring countries and is a destination for both French (TGV) and German (ICE) high-speed trains.

Zürich Airport is located less than 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) northeast of the city in Kloten. Zürich Airport has its own railway station, which is located underground. It is directly connected to Zürich and most of the major Swiss cities. There is also an airfield in Dübendorf.

The A1, A3 and A4 motorways pass close to Zürich. The A1 heads west towards Bern and Geneva and eastwards towards St. Gallen; the A4 leads northwards to Schaffhausen and southwards to Altdorf connecting with the A2 towards Chiasso; and the A3 heads northwest towards Basel and southeast along Lake Zürich and Lake Walen towards Sargans.


Augustinergasse in the old town

There are about 390,000 people living in Zürich (as of 2011),[4] making it Switzerland's largest city. Of registered inhabitants, 31% (121,017) do not hold Swiss citizenship. Of these, German citizens make up the largest group with 8% (31,124), followed by Italians 3.4% (13,144)).[5] The population of the city including suburbs totals 1.19 million people.[5] The entire metropolitan area (including the cities of Winterthur, Baden, Brugg, Schaffhausen, Frauenfeld, Uster/Wetzikon, Rapperswil-Jona and Zug) has a population of around 1.83 million people.[5]

Largest groups of foreign residents 2011[35]
NationalityAmount % total
 Germany31,1248.0 (25.7)
 Italy13,1443.4 (10.9)
 Portugal8,2252.1 (6.8)
(incl. Monten. and Kosovo)
7,7722.0 (6.4)
 Spain4,8441.2 (4.0)
 Austria4,2511.1 (3.5)
 Turkey3,9151.0 (3.2)
 United Kingdom3,1630.8 (2.6)
 France2,8460.7 (2.4)
 United States2,0960.5 (1.7)


The officially used formal language used by governmental institutions, print, news, universities/schools, courts, theater and in any kind of written form is (Swiss) Standard German, while the originally orally spoken language is Zürich German (Züritüütsch), which is one of the several more or less distinguishable, but mutually intelligible Swiss German dialects of Switzerland with roots in the medieval Alemannic German dialect groups. However, because of Zürich's national importance, and hence therefore its existing high fluctuation, one would hear all kind of Swiss German dialects spoken by its inhabitants and commuters. As of December 2010 census, 69.3% of the population speaks diglossic Swiss German/Swiss Standard German as their mother-tongue at home. Some 22.7% of inhabitants speak Standard German at home. Dramatically increasing according to the last census in 2000, 8.8% now speak English. Italian follows behind at 7.1% of the population, followed by French at 4.5%. Other languages spoken include Croatian or Serbian (4.1%), Spanish (3.9%), Portuguese (3.1%), and Albanian (2.3%). (Multiple choices were possible.) Thus 20% of the population speak two or more languages at home.[36]


After the Reformation led by Huldrych Zwingli (16th century), Zürich was a centre and stronghold of Protestantism in Switzerland, locally known as Evangelian-Reformants. In 1970, about 53% of the population were still Protestants. Almost 40% were Catholic at that time. Since then, both Swiss dominant churches, the Roman Catholic Church and Swiss Reformed Church, have been constantly losing members, though for the Catholic Church the decrease started 20 years later in around 1990. Nevertheless, for the last twenty years, both confessions have been reduced by 10 percentage points to the current figures of (according census 2010): 30% Roman Catholics, 28% Evangelian-Reformants. In 1970, only 2% of Zürich's inhabitants claimed to be non-denominational. In accordance with the loss by the dominant Swiss churches, the amount of people declaring themselves as non-denominational rose to 17% in the year 2000. In the last ten years, this figure rose to more than 25%. For the group of people, being between 24 and 44 years old, this is as high as one in every third person. 5% of Zürich's inhabitants have an Islamic confession, a slight decrease of 1% compared to the year 2000. The population of Jewish confession has been more or less constant since 1970 at about 1%.[37]


The level of unemployment in Zürich was 3.2%[38] in July 2012. In 2008, the average monthly income was about CHF 7000 before any deductions for social insurances and taxes.[39] In 2010, there were 12,994 cases (in average per month) of direct or indirect welfare payments from the state.[40]

Main sites[edit]

Further information: Zürich old town
The Bahnhofstrasse seen from Paradeplatz

Most of Zürich's sites are located within the area on either side of the Limmat river, between the Main railway station and Lake Zürich. The churches and houses of the old town are clustered here, as are the most expensive shops along the famous Bahnhofstrasse. The Lindenhof in the old town is the historical site of the Roman castle, and the later Carolingian Imperial Palace.



Parks and nature[edit]


The 88-metre[50] Sunrise Tower (2005) was the first approved high-rise building in twenty years

Compared to other cities, there are few tall buildings in Zürich. The municipal building regulations (Article 9)[51] limit the construction of high-rise buildings to areas in the west and north of the city. In the industrial district, in Altstetten and Oerlikon, buildings up to 80 meters (260 ft) in height are allowed (high-rise area I). In the adjacent high-rise areas II and III the height is limited to 40 meters (130 ft). Around the year 2000, regulations became more flexible and high-rise buildings were again planned and built. The people's initiative "40 meters is enough," which would have reduced both the maximum height and the high-rise buildings area, was clearly rejected on 29 November 2009.[52] At this time in Zürich about a dozen high-rise buildings were under construction or in planning, including the Prime Tower as the tallest skyscraper in Switzerland.

Panoramic view of Münsterhof square with some of the Guild houses

World heritage sites[edit]

The prehistoric settlements at Enge Alpenquai and Grosser Hafner and Kleiner Hafner are part of the Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[53]


Zürich is a leading financial center and global city.[8] The Greater Zürich Area is Switzerland's economic centre and home to a vast number of international companies. By far the most important sector in the economy of Zürich is the service industry, which employs nearly four-fifths of workers. Other important industries include light industry, machine and textile industries and tourism. Most Swiss banks have their headquarters in Zürich and there are numerous foreign banks in the Greater Zürich Area. Located in Zürich, the Swiss Stock Exchange was established in 1877 and is nowadays the fourth most prominent stock exchange in the world. In addition Zürich is the world's largest gold trading centre. Ten of the country's 50 largest companies have their head offices in Zürich, among them ABB, UBS,[54] Credit Suisse, Swiss Re and Zürich Financial Services.[55]

Contributory factors to economic strength[edit]

The high quality of life has been cited as a reason for economic growth in Zürich. The consulting firm Mercer has for many years ranked Zürich as a city with the highest quality of life in the world.[10][11] In particular, Zürich received high scores for work, housing, leisure, education and safety. Local planning authorities ensure clear separation between urban and recreational areas and there are many protected nature reserves.[56] Other Swiss cities, Bern and Geneva, were also listed among the top ten. Zürich is also ranked the sixth most expensive city in the world. In 2008, Zürich was ranked ninth. The city ranked behind Hong Kong and ahead of Copenhagen. It is the third most expensive city in Europe and second most expensive city in Switzerland after Geneva.[57]

Zürich benefits from the high level of investment in education that is typical of Switzerland in general and provides skilled labour at all levels. The city is home to two major universities, thus enabling access to graduates and high technology research. Professional training incorporates a mix of practical work experience and academic study while, in general, emphasis is placed on obtaining a good level of general education and language ability. As a result the city is home to many multilingual people and employees generally demonstrate a high degree of motivation and a low level of absenteeism. Such characteristics are reflected in the high level of productivity the region enjoys and account for the opening of offices and research centres in the city by large corporations.[56]

The Swiss stock exchange[edit]

The Swiss stock Exchange on Selnaustrasse.

The Swiss stock exchange is called SIX Swiss Exchange, formerly known as SWX. The SIX Swiss Exchange is the head group of several different worldwide operative financial systems: virt-x, Eurex, Eurex US, EXFEED and STOXX. The exchange turnover generated at the SWX was in 2007 of 1,780,499.5 million CHF; the number of transactions arrived in the same period at 35,339,296 and the Swiss Performance Index (SPI) arrived at a total market capitalization of 1,359,976.2 million CHF.[58][59]

The SIX Swiss Exchange goes back more than 150 years. In 1996, fully electronic trading replaced the traditional floor trading system at the stock exchanges of Geneva (founded in 1850), Zürich (1873) and Basel (1876).

Since 2008, the SIX Swiss Exchange has been part of the SIX Group, as SWX Group, SIS Group and Telekurs Group merged.

Education and research[edit]

Main building of the University of Zürich

About 60,000 people study at the 20 universities, colleges and institutions of higher education in Zürich. Two of Switzerland's most distinguished universities are located in the city. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich) which is controlled by the (federal) state and the University of Zürich that is under direction of the canton of Zürich. Both universities were listed in the top 50 world universities rated in 2007.[60]

ETH was founded in 1854 by the Swiss Confederation and opened its doors in 1855 as a polytechnic institute. ETH achieved its reputation particularly in the fields of chemistry, mathematics and physics and there are 21 Nobel Laureates who are associated with the institution. ETH is usually ranked the top university in continental Europe.[61] The institution consists of two campuses, the main building in the heart of the city and the new campus on the outskirts of the city.

The University of Zürich was founded in 1833, although its beginnings date back to 1525 when the Swiss reformer Ulrich Zwingli founded a college of theology. Nowadays with its 24,000 students and 1,900 graduations each year, the University of Zürich is the largest in Switzerland and offers the widest range of subjects and courses at any Swiss higher education institution.

The Pedagogical College, the Zürich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) and the Zürich University of the Arts (ZHdK) are another three top-class technical colleges which contribute to Zürich's reputation as a knowledge and research pole by providing applied research and development. Zürich is also one of the co-location centres of the Knowledge and Innovation Community (Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation) of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.[62]

State universities by size in Canton Zürich[edit]

Only (federal) state Universities and higher education institutions,

RankInstitutionTotal students
!000001University of Zürich – UZH25,618
!000002Zürich University of Applied Sciences – ZHAW15,334
!000003Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich – ETH15,093

List of largest universities by enrollment in Switzerland

Twin towns and sister cities[edit]

Zurich is partnered with two twin towns and sister cities around the world. They are: Kunming and San Francisco.[63]


Many large Swiss media conglomerates are headquartered in Zürich, such as tamedia, Ringier and the NZZ-Verlag. Zürich is one of the most important media locations in the German-speaking part of the country. This status has been recently reinforced by the increase in availability of online publications published in Zürich.[citation needed]

Television and radio[edit]

Swiss television's building

The headquarters of Switzerland's national licence fee funded German language television network ("SF") are located in the Leutschenbach neighborhood, to the north of the Oerlikon railway station. Regional commercial television station "TeleZüri" (Zürich Television) has its headquarters near Escher-Wyss Platz. The production facilities for other commercial stations "Star TV", "u1" TV and "3+" are located in Schlieren.

One section of the Swiss German language licence fee funded public radio station "Schweizer Radio DRS" is located in Zürich. There are commercial local radio stations broadcasting from Zürich, such as "Radio 24" on the Limmatstrasse, "Energy Zürich" in Seefeld on the Kreuzstrasse, Radio "LoRa" and "Radio 1". There are other radio stations that operate only during certain parts of the year, such as "CSD Radio" (May/June), "Radio Streetparade" (July/August) and "rundfunk.fm" (August/September).

Print media[edit]

There are three large daily newspapers published in Zürich that are known across Switzerland. The Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ), the Tages-Anzeiger and the Blick, the largest Swiss tabloid. All three of those newspapers publish Sunday editions. These are the "NZZ am Sonntag", "SonntagsZeitung" and "SonntagsBlick". Besides the three main daily newspapers, there are free daily commuter newspapers which are widely distributed: 20 Minuten (20 minutes), published weekdays in the mornings and Blick am Abend,[64] weekdays but in the late afternoon.

There are a number of magazines from major publishers that are based in Zürich. Some examples are: Bilanz, Die Weltwoche, and Annabelle.


Opening of the Zürich Film Festival (2008)

Zürich has a rich cultural tradition. In addition to high-quality museums and galleries, Zürich has high-calibre chamber and symphony orchestras and several important theatres.[65]

The Zürich Film Festival is one of the most important upcoming international film festivals. In just a few years, the Festival became firmly established upon the national and international festival landscape. Over the course of 11 days, it attracts both stars and new talents and celebrates popular international productions.[66] More recently, the kickstarter.com funded Mobile Motion Film Festival will hold its first event in May, 2015.

Zürich during the Street Parade (2008)

One of the largest and most popular annual events in Zürich is the Street Parade, which is also one of the largest techno and dance music festivals in the world. Proceeding along the side of Lake Zürich, it normally occurs on the second Saturday in August. The first edition was held in 1992 with about 1,000 participants. By 2001 the event had reached the size of 1 million participants.[67][68] The Zürifäscht, on the other hand, is a triennial public festival. It features music, fireworks set to music,[68] and other attractions throughout the old town. It is the largest public festival in Switzerland and is attended by up to 2 million visitors.[69]

The Kunst Zürich is an international contemporary art fair with an annual guest city; it combines most recent and youngest art with the works of well-established artists.[70] Another annual public art exhibit is the city campaign, sponsored by the City Vereinigung (the local equivalent of a chamber of commerce) with the cooperation of the city government. It consists of decorated sculptures distributed over the city centre, in public places. Past themes have included lions (1986), cows (1998), benches (2003), teddy bears (2005), and huge flower pots (2009). From this originated the concept of the CowParade that has been featured in other major world cities.

Zürich is also the home to several art movements. The Cabaret Voltaire where the Dada movement was founded in 1916. Constructive Art movement took also one of the first steps in Zürich. Artists like Max Bill, Marcel Breuer, Camille Graeser or Richard Paul Lohse had their ateliers in Zürich, which became even more important after the takeover of power by the Nazi-Regime in Germany and World War II.

The best known traditional holiday in Zürich is the Sechseläuten (Sächsilüüte), including a parade of the guilds and the burning of "winter" in effigy. Another is the Knabenschiessen target shooting competition for teenagers (originally boys, open to female participants since 1991).

Opera, ballet and theaters[edit]


The Zürich Opera House (German: Zürcher Opernhaus) is one of the principal opera houses in Europe. Built in 1834, it was the first permanent theatre in the heart of Zürich and was at the time, the main seat of Richard Wagner's activities. Later in 1890, the theatre was re-built as an ornate building with a neo-classical architecture. The portico is made of white and grey stone ornamented with the busts of Wagner, Weber and Mozart. Later, busts of Schiller, Shakespeare and Goethe were also added. The auditorium is designed in the rococo style. Once a year, it hosts the Zürcher Opernball with the President of the Swiss Confederation and the economic and cultural élite of Switzerland.[71]

The Schauspielhaus Zürich is the main theatre complex of the City. It has two dépendances: Pfauen in the Central City District and Schiffbauhalle, an old industrial hall, in Zürich West. The Schauspielhaus was home to emigrants such as Bertolt Brecht or Thomas Mann, and saw premieres of works of Max Frisch, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Botho Strauss or Elfriede Jelinek. The Schauspielhaus is one of the most prominent and important theatres in the German-speaking world.[72]

The Theater am Neumarkt is one of the oldest theatres of the city. Established by the old guilds in the Old City District, it is located in a baroque palace near Niederdorf Street. It has two stages staging mostly avantgarde works by European directors.

The Zürcher Theater Spektakel is an international theatre festival, ranking among the most important European festivals for contemporary performing arts.[73]


The traditional cuisine of Zürich consists of traditional fare, reflecting the centuries of rule by patrician burghers as well as the lasting imprint of Huldrych Zwingli's puritanism. Traditional dishes include Zürcher Geschnetzeltes and Tirggel.

Nightlife and clubbing[edit]

Zürich at night.

Zürich offers a great deal of variety when it comes to night-time leisure. It is the host city of the world-famous Street Parade, which takes place in August every year.

The most famous districts for Nightlife are the Niederdorf in the old town with bars, restaurants, lounges, hotels, clubs, etc. and a lot of fashion shops for a young and stylish public and the Langstrasse in the districts 4 and 5 of the city. There are authentic amusements: Brazilian bars, punk clubs, HipHop stages, Caribic restaurants, arthouse-cinemas, Turkish kebabs and Italian espresso-bars, but also sex shops or the famous red light district of Zürich.

In the past ten years new parts of the city have risen into the spotlight. Notably, the area known as Zürich West in district 5, near the Escher-Wyss square and the S-Bahn Station of Zürich Hardbrücke.


Several international sport federations are located in the city:

Association football is an essential aspect of sports in Zürich. The city is home to two major Swiss football teams listed in Switzerland's highest league; Grasshopper Club Zürich founded in 1886 and FC Zürich which has existed since 1896. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is headquartered in the city. In 2007 were inaugurated the new FIFA headquarters building, designed by architect Tilla Theus

Among the most popular sports in Switzerland is ice hockey. In Zürich it is represented by the ZSC Lions. The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) officiating as head organisation for ice hockey leagues worldwide is based in Zürich as well.

Biking is a popular sport as well as a mean of transport in Zürich. Biking routes are generally marked with red and white signs and the yellow lanes are exclusively meant for the bikers. Also hiking trails are well marked with yellow signs, which give the hiker the probable time it will take him to reach his destination. There are specific maps available for hiking and walking trails throughout Switzerland. Some of the most accessible walks in the Zürich area are the Üetliberg and the Zürichberg.

As many as 30 clubs and 7 indoor Curling facilities can be found in the greater Zürich area. The Curling season starts in early September and continues until the end of April.[74]


2007 Zürich Weltklasse

Weltklasse Zürich, sometimes referred to as the one day Olympics, is one of prestigious one day athletics meet held annually at the Letzigrund Stadium. The Weltklasse is reputed as one of the best and most classy athlete meet in the world after the Olympics. Since it started on 12 August 1928, the sporting event has witnessed new world records and national records. To date as many as 24 world records were set in Weltklasse.[75][76][77]

Zürich Marathon is a popular sport event, inviting numerous athletes from every corner of the globe. Zürich Marathon is a long distance running event, covering 42.195 kilometers (26.219 mi) at one stretch. The running course starts from Zürich and passes through Bahnhofstrasse, Bellevue, Mythenquai, Quaibrücke, Talstrasse and Utoquai, and along Lake Zürich to several other places. New Year's Eve run is another important running event. The race is held on 1 January each year and the start takes place at midnight exactly.

Zürich was one of six venues of the 1954 FIFA World Cup and one of eight venues of the UEFA Euro 2008. The Euro 2008 games were held in the Letzigrund Stadium. Work on the new Letzigrund was completed in exceptionally quick time and the stadium opened in August 2007 just one year after the demolition of the old arena.

Zürich also hosted the 1998 World Ice Hockey Championships. The city previously co-hosted the 1953 and 1939 editions.

Notable people[edit]

People who were born or died in Zürich:

Famous residents:

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]