Solothurn Facts & Figures All about Switzerland

Take a look behind the scenes to discover more about this country that is more complex than it at first seems.

Switzerland in a nutshell

Switzerland is a small, landlocked country in the heart of Europe. It is wealthy, densely populated and well-known for its mountains, chocolate, cheese and watches. Swiss society is complex and organised. Although citizens don't share one linguistic or ethnic identity they are linked by a common historic background and federal system of direct democracy.

The Swiss World website is a good place to start familiarising with the basics of the country, its history and its resources.

Swiss facts and figures

  • Surrounding countries: Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein
  • Confederation founded: 1291
  • Surface area: 41,285 km² (as compared to France, which has a surface area of 640,000 km2)  
  • Cantons: 26
  • Capital city: Bern
  • Currency: Swiss Franc (CHF)
  • Population: 8 million
  • Average percentage of foreigners: 23.3 %
  • Cities with the highest percentages of foreigners: Geneva 39.4%; Basel Stadt 33.1%
  • Average population density: 198.9/km²
  • Highest population density: Basel Stadt 5033.9/km²; Geneva 1873.5/km²; Zurich 838.3/km²
  • 74% of the Swiss population lives in urban areas and half of this number live in the 5 largest cities
  • GDP 2012: CHF 592 Billion
  • Unemployment rate: 3.2 % (2013)
  • Average life expectancy: women: 84; men: 80

Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office

Languages in Switzerland

Switzerland has four national languages, German, French, Italian and Romansh. Almost two-thirds of the population speak Swiss-German, a regionally spoken Alemannic dialect. High German is the written language and the medium of instruction in schools. Around 22.6% of the population speak French, and 8.34% Italian. Only 0.5% speak Romansh. Other spoken languages include Serbo-Croatian, Albanian, Portuguese, Spanish, English and Turkish. 

 

 

 

Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office

Introduction to Solothurn

Solothurn is a vibrant town of over 16'000 inhabitants. German is its official language. Solothurn has the finest examples of Baroque architecture in Switzerland. You can see how the graceful Italian influences blend with French charm and German pragmatism. Solothurn is 30 kilometres to the east of Biel-Bienne, alongside the river Aare and at the southern point of the Jura mountain range. 

Below is a colour lithograph picture of Solothurn in the year 1900.

 

Solothurn is renowned for its arts and cultural scene and attracts artists, intellectuals and other creative people to annual highlights such as the Solothurner Film Festival (DE), Literature Days and Art Supermarket (DE/FR). Most of the buildings in the historic part of Solothurn date back to the period between 1520 and 1790. Solothurn is called the "Ambassador's town" because from the 16th to the 18th centuries the French Ambassador to Switzerland resided in Solothurn. 

The famous Swiss painter Frank Buchser grew up outside of Solothurn. His painting below is of the Swiss pioneer John Sutter who went to California during the Gold Rush.

The number eleven has special significance in Solothurn: it was the eleventh canton to join the Swiss Confederation, it has eleven churches and chapels, eleven historical fountains and eleven towers. Additionally, the St Ursus Cathedral took eleven years to build, has eleven altars and bells, and its front steps have levels between every eleven steps. Unsurprisingly, Solothurn's local beer is also called Öufi –Bier (DE) or "Eleven Ale". There is also a boat called the Öufi-Boat (DE) and a popular bar called Eleven (DE). 

Read more about things to do in Solothurn in the articles Enjoying Solothurn and Entertainment, News & Media in Solothurn

 

Photo: swiss-image.ch/Heinz Schwab

Author: Ursula Christen

I have been with Packimpex for 10 years and every single day is interesting and challenging. I am proud and grateful to be a member of a professional and highly motivated team. Although born and raised in the Canton of Bern, as a young adult I spent longer periods of time in New York and Brussels. I have a degree in economics and business administration and also a teaching diploma for German and English as second languages. I live in the city of Bern and what I enjoy most is swimming in the river Aare. One swim from Muri-Auguetbrücke down to Bern-Dählhölzli (this takes about 30 minutes) equals 3 days wellness, and this is not an exaggeration.

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