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.
Language – facts and figures
- 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 two cities (Biel and Fribourg) are officially multilingual.
- Swiss German is the most widely used language in the workplace (over 60%), followed by standard German (over 30%), French (nearly 30%), English (20%) and Italian (nearly 10%).
- Over 40% 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.