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Zürich or Zurich (see Name below) is the largest city in Switzerlandmarker and the capital of the canton of Zürichmarker. The city is Switzerland's main commercial and cultural centre and sometimes called the Cultural Capital of Switzerland, the political capital of Switzerland being Bernemarker. Zürich can be counted as one of the world's pre-eminent global cities. 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. Zürich is also ranked the sixth most expensive city in the world. In 2008, Zürich was ranked ninth. The city ranked behind Hong Kongmarker and ahead of Copenhagenmarker. It is the third most expensive city in Europe and second most expensive city in Switzerland after Genevamarker.The Zürich metropolitan area has a population of about 1.68 million.


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.

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

The standard German pronunciation of the name is . Note that in the modern Zürich dialect, the name has lost its final ch, becoming Züri , although the adjective remains Zürcher .

The city is called Zurich in French, Zurigo in Italian, and Turitg in Romansh.

In English the name is usually written Zurich, without the umlaut. It may be pronounced , , or .


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 Limmatmarker river.

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 Fraumünstermarker abbey in 853 for his daughter Hildegard. He endowed the Benedictine convent with the lands of Zürich, Urimarker, and the Albismarker 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.

Zürich became reichsunmittelbar in 1218 with the extinction of the main line of the Zähringer family. A city wall was built during the 1230s, enclosing 38 hectares.

Emperor Frederick II promoted the abbess of the Fraumünster to the rank of a duchess in 1234. The abbess assigned the mayor, and she frequently delegated the minting of coins to citizens of the city. However, 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 assigned by the abbess.

The famous illuminated manuscript known as the Codex Manesse, now in Heidelbergmarker – described as "the most beautifully illumined German manuscript in centuries;" – 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 and miniature painters, and it clearly testifies to the increasing wealth and pride of Zürich citizens in this period.

Zürich joined the Swiss confederationmarker (which at that time was a loose confederation of de facto independent states) as the fifth member in 1351 but was expelled 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 re-admitted to the confederation in 1450.

Bahnhofplatz in 1900

Zwingli started the Swiss Reformation at the time when he was the main preacher in Zürich. He lived there from 1484 until his death in 1531.

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.

From 1847, the Spanisch-Brötli-Bahn, the first railway on Swiss territory, connected Zürich with Badenmarker, putting the Zürich Hauptbahnhofmarker at the origin of the Swiss rail network. The present building of the Hauptbahnhof (the main railway station) dates to 1871.

Zürich was accidentally bombed during World War II.

Coat of arms

The coat of arms on the city 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 neighbors mocked it as a sign of shame, commemorating the loss of the banner at Winterthurmarker in 1292.

Today, the Canton of Zürich uses the same coat of arms as the city.


The city is situated where the river Limmatmarker issues from the north-western end of Lake Zurichmarker (Zürichsee), about 30 km north of the Alpsmarker. Zürich is surrounded by wooded hills including (from the north) the Gubrist, the Hönggerberg, the Käferbergmarker, the Zürichbergmarker, the Adlisbergmarker and the Oettlisberg on the eastern shore; and the Uetlibergmarker (part of the Albismarker range) on the western shore. The river Sihlmarker meets with the Limmat at the end of Platzspitz, which borders the Swiss National Museummarker (Landesmuseum). The geographic (and historic) center of the city is the Lindenhofmarker, a small natural hill on the west bank of the Limmat, about 700 meters 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 neighborhoods to the northeast in the Glatt Valleymarker (German: Glattal) and to the north in the Limmat Valleymarker (German: Limmattal).

City districts

Satellite photo of central Zürich
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.


Zürich has a humid continental climate according to the Köppen climate classification, with four distinct seasons.

Summers are warm with average high temperatures of and lows of ,while winters are cold with average temperatures range from . Spring and autumn are generallycool to mild. Temperatures do sometimes exceed during the summer.

Precipitation is abundant throughout the year, with annually. Summers are wetter than winters.

Climate protection

The city of Zürich is among the world-leaders in protecting the climate by following a manifold approach. Recently, for example, 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), the continued optimization and creation of public transportation, enlargement of the already very good bicycle-only network, research and projects for renewable energy (the geothermal power plant in Triemli) and enclosure of speed-ways.


The busy Hauptbahnhof main hall
Zürich is a mixed hub for railways, roads, and air traffic. Zürich Hauptbahnhofmarker is the largest and busiest station in Switzerland and is an important railway hub in Europe. It has several other railway stations, including Oerlikonmarker, Stadelhofenmarker, Hardbrückemarker, Tiefenbrunnen, Engemarker, Wiedikon and Altstetten. The Cisalpino, InterCityExpress, and even the TGV high-speed trains stop in Zürich.

The A1, A3 and A4 motorways pass close to Zürich. The A1 heads west towards Bernemarker and Genevamarker and eastwards towards St. Gallenmarker; the A4 leads northwards to Schaffhausenmarker; and the A3 heads northwest towards Baselmarker and southeast along Lake Zurich and Lake Walenmarker towards Sargansmarker.

Zürich International Airportmarker is located less than 10 kilometres northeast of the city in Klotenmarker. There is also an airfield in Dübendorfmarker, although it is only used for military aviation.

Within Zürich and throughout the canton of Zürich, the ZVV network of public transport has traffic density ratings among the highest worldwide. If you add frequency, which in Zürich can be as often as 7 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-Felseneggmarker (LAF), a cable car between Adliswilmarker and Felseneggmarker. 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 Rapperswilmarker.



There are officially 358,540 people living in Zürich ( ), making it Switzerland's largest city. Of registered inhabitants, 30.6% (115,379 people) do not hold Swissmarker citizenship. Of these, German citizens make up the largest group with 22.0%, followed by Italiansmarker. The population of the city proper including suburbs totals 1.08 million people. However, the entire metropolitan area (including the cities of Winterthurmarker, Badenmarker, Bruggmarker, Schaffhausenmarker, Frauenfeldmarker, Ustermarker/Wetzikonmarker, Rapperswil-Jonamarker and Zugmarker) has a population of around 1.68 million people.


The official language used by the government and in most publications is German, while the most commonly spoken dialect in Zürich is Zürich German (Zürichdeutsch or Züritüütsch), which is a local dialect of Swiss German. As of 2000, German is the mother-tongue of 77.7% of the population. Italian follows behind at 4.7% of the population. Other native languages spoken by more than 1% of the population include South Slavic languages (2.2%)—this includes Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian, and Slovenian, Spanish (2.2%), French (2.1%), English (1.8%), Portuguese (1.6%), Albanian (1.5%).


Since the reformation led by Huldrych Zwingli, Zürich has remained the center and stronghold of protestantism in Switzerland. In the course of the 20th century, this has changed as Catholics now make up the largest religious group in the city, with 33.3%. An increasing number of residents, about 16.8% of the population in 2000, declare themselves as being without religion.


The level of unemployment in Zürich was 2.6% in August 2007. About 4% of the city population, 15,500, live either directly or indirectly on welfare payment from the state (April 2005).

Main sights

Zürich has a number of notable churches including: During 2004 the Fraumünster was fully renovated. During this period the installed scaffolding went above the tip of the tower allowing a unique and exceptional 360° panoramic view of Zürich.

Notable museums include:

Other sights

Business, industry and commerce

The approximate extent of Greater Zürich Area is marked in green.

Zürich is a leading financial center, and is often considered a global city. UBS, Credit Suisse, Swiss Re, Zurich Financial Services, and many other financial institutions have their headquarters in Zürich, the commercial center of Switzerland. Zürich is one of the world's largest centers for offshore banking. The Swiss Stock Exchange is located in Zürich (see also Swiss banking).

The Greater Zürich Area is Switzerland's economic center and home to a vast number of international companies.

Contributory factors to economic strength

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. Other cities in the country, Bernemarker and Genevamarker, were also listed among the top ten.

In the productive sector of the city, 60% speak German, 43% English, 30% French and 13% Italian. The city is home to many multilingual people. Such diversity in culture accounts for the opening of offices and research centers in the city by large corporations, such as IBM, General Motors Europe, Toyota Europe, UBS, Credit Suisse, Google, Microsoft, eBay, ABB Ltd., and Degussa.

The Swiss stock exchange

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.

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 Genevamarker (founded in 1850), Zürich (1873) and Baselmarker (1876).

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


The legislative power is in hands of the city parliament that is called "Gemeinderat". It consists of 125 members elected by the people of Zürich.

The executive power is being executed by the city council named "Stadtrat". Similar to the city parliament the councillors are also elected by the people of Zürich. Each councillor is responsible for a specific department. One member of the council is also acting as city president which best could be described as the mayor. Current city president is Corine Mauch.

Education and research

Main building of the University of Zürich
Zürich is home to two universities and many colleges (called gymnasiums). Two of Switzerland's most distinguished universities are located in the city. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zürichmarker which is controlled by the (federal) state and the University of Zürichmarker that is under direction of the canton of Zürich. Both universities are well-known and have an international reputation. They were listed in the top 50 world universities rated in 2007.


Many large Swissmarker 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.

Television and radio

Buildings of the Swiss television

The headquarters of Switzerland's national German language television network (SF) are located in the Leutschenbach neighborhood, to the north of the Oerlikonmarker train station. Regional television network TeleZüri (Zürich Television) has its headquarters near Escher-Wyss Platz. The production facilities for private networks Star TV, u1 TV and 3+ are located in Schlierenmarker.

One section of the Swiss German language public radio station Schweizer Radio DRS is located in Zürich. There are other 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 (on the frequency of former Radio Tropic). 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 (August/September).

Print media

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 Swissmarker 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, .ch (weekday morning), News (weekday morning) and, weekdays but in the late afternoon, and Cashdaily, a finance-related weekday free newspaper published in the mornings, but only available at certain branded newspaper sales kiosks.

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



Zürcher Theater Spektakel (August 2009)
  • Street Parade
  • Sechseläutenmarker, spring festival of the guilds and burning of the Bööggmarker
  • Zürcher Theater Spektakel, international theater festival, ranking among the most important European festivals for contemporary performing arts.
  • Kunst Zürich, international contemporary art fair with an annual guest city (New York in 2005); combines most recent and youngest art with the works of well-established artists.
  • Annual public city campaign, sponsored by the City Vereinigung (the local equivalent of a chamber of commerce) with the cooperation of the city government. Past themes have included lions (1986), cows (1998), benches (2003), and teddy bears (2005).
  • Weltklasse Zürich, annual track and field athletics meeting held every August
  •, one of the biggest freestyle events in Europe
  • Zürifäscht, a triennial public festival featuring music, fireworks, and other attractions throughout the old town. It is the largest public festival in Switzerland, attended by up to 2 million visitors. The next Zürifäscht is scheduled for 2 July to 4, 2010.

Art movements born in Zürich

Opera, ballet and theaters

The Zurich Opera Housemarker (German: Zürcher Opernhaus) is one of the principal opera houses in Europe. Once a year, it hosts the Zürcher Opernball with the President of the Swiss Confederation and the economic and cultural élite of Switzerland.

The Schauspielhaus Zürichmarker is the main theater 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 Theater am Neumarkt is one of the oldest theaters 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 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.

Zürich's old town at night.

Nightlife and clubbing

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 Langstrassemarker 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.
Zürich at night.
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 Hardbrückemarker.


Association football is an essential aspect of sports in Zürich. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association marker is headquartered in town. The city is also 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.

Another popular sport in Switzerland, ice hockey, is represented by the ZSC Lions. The International Ice Hockey Federation officiating as head organisation for ice hockey leagues worldwide is based in Zürich as well.

Major sport events running in Zürich are Weltklasse Zürich, an annual athletic meeting, and formerly the Zurich Open, part of the WTA tour.

Zürich co-hosted some of the Euro 2008 games in the Letzigrund Stadion. 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.

Notable people

People who were born or died in Zürich:

Famous residents:

See also


  1. MercerQuality of Living global city rankings 2009 – Mercer survey, 28 April 2009
  3. Andres Kristol, Zürich ZH (Zürich) in: Dictionnaire toponymique des communes suisses – Lexikon der schweizerischen Gemeindenamen – Dizionario toponomastico dei comuni svizzeri (DTS|LSG), Centre de dialectologie, Université de Neuchâtel, Verlag Huber, Frauenfeld/Stuttgart/Wien 2005, ISBN 3-7193-1308-5 und Éditions Payot, Lausanne 2005, ISBN 2-601-03336-3, p. 992f.
  4. Zürcher Ortsnamen - Entstehung und Bedeutung, H. Kläuli, V. Schobinger, Zürcher Kantonalbank (1989), p. 109.
  5. Ingeborg Glier, reviewing Koschorreck and Werner 1981 in Speculum 59.1 (January 1984), p 169.
  6. Koschorreck and Werner 1981 discern no fewer than eleven scribes, some working simultaneously, in the production.
  7. Statistical Office of the City of Zürich
  8. Statistical Office of the Canton of Zürich
  9. Population Numbers Flyer (German)
  11. Population chart
  20. [1] Market capitalization of listed securities, 2000-2007
  21. [2] Key figures: annual turnover and trades, 1998-2007
  22. Official site of the city parliament in German
  23. Newsweek Ranking

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