Language – facts and figures

Switzerland has four language regions: German, French, Italian and Romansh.  The number of German, Italian and Romansh speakers is falling, while French speakers are increasing. Non-national languages are also gaining in importance. The two most widely spoken non-national languages are English and Portuguese. Multilingualism is an essential part of Switzerland's identity.

  • Over 60% of the Swiss population speak German as their main language. They do not speak standard German but rather various Alemmanic dialects collectively called Swiss German.
  • French is the main language in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, known as the Romandie.
  • Italian is the main language in Ticino and in parts of the canton of Graubünden.
  • Romansh is a Rhaeto-Romanic language derived from Latin, which is spoken widely in the canton of Graubünden.
  • Four cantons (Bern, Fribourg, Valais and Graubünden) and a city (Biel/Bienne) are officially multilingual.
  • Swiss German is the most widely used language in the workplace, followed by standard German, French, English and Italian.
  • Over 2/3 of people over the age of 15 regularly use more than one language.
  • Foreigners living in Switzerland also contribute to the country's linguistic diversity. English and Portuguese are the most commonly spoken foreign languages in Switzerland.
  • Spanish, Serbian, Croatian and Albanian are also common languages in Switzerland.
  • Multilingualism is important to people's identity, and Switzerland has a law to govern the use of the official languages and promote multilingualism.