Coordinates: 47°22′28″N 08°32′28″E / 47.37444°N 8.54111°E / 47.37444; 8.54111
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Flag of Zurich
Coat of arms of Zurich
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SFSO statistics

Zurich (

urban area 1.315 million (2009),[7] and the Zurich metropolitan area 1.83 million (2011).[8] Zurich is a hub for railways, roads, and air traffic. Both Zurich Airport and Zurich's main railway station
are the largest and busiest in the country.

Permanently settled for over 2,000 years, Zurich was founded by the

Protestant Reformation in Europe under the leadership of Huldrych Zwingli.[10]

The official language of Zurich is German,[a] but the main spoken language is Zurich German, the local variant of the Alemannic Swiss German dialect.

As one of Switzerland's primary financial centres, Zurich is home to many financial institutions and banking companies.[11] Many museums and art galleries can be found in the city, including the Swiss National Museum and Kunsthaus. Schauspielhaus Zürich is generally considered to be one of the most important theatres in the German-speaking world.[12]


The name is traditionally written in English as Zurich, without the umlaut. It is pronounced /ˈzjʊərɪk/ ZURE-ik.[13][14][15]


the local dialect, the name is pronounced without the final consonant and with two short vowels, as Züri [ˈtsyri], although the adjective remains Zürcher(in). The city is called Zurich [zyʁik] in French, Zurigo [dzuˈriːɡo] in Italian, and Turitg [tuˈritɕ] in Romansh

The earliest known form of the city's name is

tombstone of the late 2nd century AD in the form STA(tio) TURICEN(sis) ("Turicum customs post"). The name is interpreted as a derivation from a given name, possibly the Gaulish personal name Tūros. The toponym *Turīcon would then mean "belonging to Tūros", "place of Tūros".[16] The Latin stress on the long vowel of the Gaulish name, [tʊˈriːkõː], was lost in German [ˈtsyːrɪç] but is preserved in Italian [dzuˈriːɡo] and in Romansh [tuˈritɕ]

The first development towards its later Germanic form is attested as early as c. 680–700 with the form Ziurichi.[17] From the 9th century onward, the name is established in an Old High German form Zuri(c)h (857 in villa Zurih, 924 in Zurich curtem, 1416 Zürich Stadt).[18]

In Neo-Latin texts dating from c. 1500–1800, Zurich is often referred to as Tigurum; see Tigurini.

  • P(rae)P(ositus) STA(tionis) TVRICEN(sis): "head of Zurich customs post" (detail from a Roman tombstone, c. AD 185–200, discovered in 1747)
    P(rae)P(ositus) STA(tionis) TVRICEN(sis): "head of Zurich customs post" (detail from a Roman tombstone, c. AD 185–200, discovered in 1747)
  • MON(eta) NOV(a) THVRICENSIS CIVIT(atis) IMPERIALIS: "new coin of Zürich, imperial city", 1512 (with Zürich's patron saints Felix, Regula and Exuperantius)
    MON(eta) NOV(a) THVRICENSIS CIVIT(atis) IMPERIALIS: "new coin of Zürich, imperial city", 1512 (with Zürich's patron saints Felix, Regula and Exuperantius)
  • Tigurum instead of Turicum: Zürich's Neo-Latin name had been invented by scholars of the early 16th century; see Tigurini (½ thaler from 1721)
    Tigurum instead of Turicum: Zürich's Neo-Latin name had been invented by scholars of the early 16th century; see Tigurinithaler from 1721)


Early history

Johann Balthasar Bullinger's imagining of Zurich in Roman times (engraving 1773)

Settlements of the

Lake Walen and Lake Zurich 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 as the Statio Turicensis Quadragesima Galliarum ("Zurich post for collecting the 2.5% value tax of the Galliae"), discovered at the Lindenhof.[19]

In the 5th century, the Germanic

Benedictine convent with the lands of Zurich, 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]

Zurich gained

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]


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.

Manesse Codex Folio 371r

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 Zurich, 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 of work by highly skilled scribes[23] and miniature painters, and it testifies to the increasing wealth and pride of Zurich citizens in this period. The work contains 6 songs by Süsskind von Trimberg, who may have been a Jew, since the work itself contains reflections on medieval Jewish life, though little is known about him.[24]

The first mention of

persecuting and burning the local Jews, marking the end of the first Jewish community there. The second Jewish community of Zurich formed towards the end of the 14th century, was short-lived, and Jews were expulsed and banned from the city from 1423 until the 19th century.[26]

Archaeological findings

A woman who died in about 200 BC was found buried in a carved tree trunk during a construction project at the Kern school complex in March 2017 in Aussersihl. Archaeologists revealed that she was approximately 40 years old when she died and likely carried out little physical labor when she was alive. A sheepskin coat, a belt chain, a fancy wool dress, a scarf, and a pendant made of glass and amber beads were also discovered with the woman.[27][28][29][30]

Old Swiss Confederacy

A scene depicting the Old Zurich War in 1443 (1514, illustration in Federal Chronicle by Werner Schodoler)

On 1 May 1351, the citizens of Zurich had to swear allegiance before representatives of the cantons of Lucerne, Schwyz, Uri and Unterwalden, the other members of the Swiss Confederacy. Thus, Zurich became the fifth member of the Confederacy, which was at that time a loose confederation of de facto independent states. Zurich 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. Zurich was temporarily expelled from the confederacy in 1440 due to a war with the other member states over the territory of Toggenburg (the Old Zurich War). Neither side had attained significant victory when peace was agreed upon in 1446, and Zurich was readmitted to the confederation in 1450.[31]

The Murerplan of 1576

Swiss Reformation at the time when he was the main preacher at the Grossmünster in 1519. The Zurich Bible was printed by Christoph Froschauer in 1531. The Reformation resulted in major changes in state matters and civil life in Zurich, spreading also to several 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 Zurich 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, Zurich proclaimed itself a republic, shedding its former status of a free imperial city.[31] In this time the political system of Zurich 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


Treaty of Zurich between Austria, France, and Sardinia was signed in 1859.[32][page needed

Modern history

Bahnhofplatz in 1900

Zurich 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 Zurich, which was again the Federal capital for 1845–46, Zurich took the lead in opposing the

Sonderbund cantons. Following the Sonderbund War and the formation of the Swiss Federal State, Zürich voted in favor of the Federal constitutions of 1848 and 1874. The enormous immigration from the country districts into the town from the 1830s 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, and in 1893 the eleven outlying districts were incorporated within the town proper.

When Jews began to settle in Zurich following their equality in 1862, the Israelitische Cultusgemeinde Zürich was founded.[33]

Aerial view (1961)

Extensive developments took place during the 19th century. From 1847, the Spanisch-Brötli-Bahn, the first railway on Swiss territory, connected Zurich 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. Zurich's Bahnhofstrasse (Station Street) was laid out in 1867, and the Zurich Stock Exchange was founded in 1877. Industrialisation led to migration into the cities and to rapid population growth, particularly in the suburbs of Zurich.


Quaianlagen are an important milestone in the development of the modern city of Zurich, as the construction of the new lakefront transformed Zurich from a small medieval town on the rivers Limmat and Sihl to a modern city on the Zürichsee shore, under the guidance of the city engineer Arnold Bürkli.[34]

In 1893, the twelve outlying districts were incorporated into Zurich, including Aussersihl, the workman's quarter on the left bank of the Sihl, and additional land was reclaimed from Lake Zürich.[35]

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

Zurich was

accidentally bombed during World War II. As persecuted Jews sought refuge in Switzerland, the SIG
(Schweizerischer Israelitischer Gemeindebund, Israelite Community of Switzerland) raised financial resources. The Central Committee for Refugee Aid, created in 1933, was located in Zurich.

The canton of Zurich did not recognize the Jewish religious communities as legal entities (and therefore as equal to national churches) until 2005.[33]

Heraldic achievement

heraldic achievement

The coat of arms of Zurich, used by both the city and the canton, consists of a divided field featuring white (argent) and blue (azure). Its origins date back to the 14th century, with the earliest documentation found on a seal of the Imperial Court of Justice from 1384. The shield appeared in colour on a banner in 1437 and a coin around 1417/18.[36]

When the canton of Zurich was established in 1803, it adopted the

heraldic achievement that had been the city's for centuries, and a new version was created for the city by adding a mural crown as a crest. There are slight differences between the supporters of the city and the canton, too: Both have their coats of arms supported by two lions, but the lions of the canton hold a sword and a palm leaf (which belonged to the city before the canton came into existence; see pictures below).[37]

  • Imperial city (1557)
    Imperial city
  • Republic (1723)
    Republic (1723)
  • Capital of the canton of Zurich (1812)
    Capital of the canton of Zurich (1812)
  • The coat of arms on the Town Hall
    The coat of arms on the
    Town Hall


City districts

Zurich's twelve municipal districts

The previous boundaries of the city of Zurich (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 contains between one and four 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 Zurich


The City Council (Stadtrat) constitutes the executive government of the City of Zurich and operates as a collegiate authority. It is composed of nine councilors, each presiding over a department. Departmental tasks, coordination measures and implementation of laws decreed by the Municipal Council are carried out by the City Council. The regular election of the City Council by any inhabitant valid to vote is held every four years. The mayor (German: Stadtpräsident(in)) is elected as such by a public election by a system of Majorz while the heads of the other departments are assigned by the collegiate. Any resident of Zurich allowed to vote can be elected as a member of the City Council. In the mandate period 2022–2026 (Legislatur) the City Council is presided by mayor Corine Mauch. The executive body holds its meetings in the City Hall (German: Stadthaus), on the left bank of the Limmat. The building was built in 1883 in Renaissance style.

As of May 2023, the Zurich City Council is made up of four representatives of the SP (Social Democratic Party, one of whom is the mayor), two members each of the Green Party and the FDP (Free Democratic Party), and one member of GLP (Green Liberal Party), giving the left parties a combined six out of nine seats.[38] The last regular election was held on 13 February 2022.[39]

The Stadtrat of Zurich (2022–26)[38]
City Councilor (Stadtrat / Stadträtin) Party Head of Office (Departement, since) elected since
Corine Mauch[SR 1]   SP Mayor's Office (Präsidialdepartement, 2009) 2009
Daniel Leupi   GPS Finance (Finanzdepartement, 2013) 2010
Karin Rykart   GPS Security (Sicherheitsdepartement, 2018) 2018
Andreas Hauri   GLP Health and Environment (Gesundheits- und Umweltdepartement, 2018) 2018
Simone Brander   SP Civil Engineering and Waste Management (Tiefbau- und Entsorgungsdepartement, 2022) 2022
André Odermatt   SP Structural Engineering (Hochbaudepartement, 2010) 2010
Raphael Golta   SP Social Services (Sozialdepartement, 2014) 2014
Michael Baumer   FDP Industrial Facilities (Departement der Industriellen Betriebe, 2018) 2018
Filippo Leutenegger   FDP Education and Sports (Schul- und Sportdepartement, 2018) 2014
  1. ^ Mayor (Stadtpräsidentin)

Claudia Cuche-Curti is Town Chronicler (Stadtschreiberin) since 2012, and Andrea Töndury is Legal Counsel (Rechtskonsulent) since 2020 for the City Council.


Distribution of voter % in the election of 2022.[40]

  AL (6.7%)
  SP (29.17%)
  GPS (14.62%)
  GLP (13.23%)
  Mitte (former CVP) (4.41%)
  EVP (2.72%)
  FDP (17.83%)
  SVP (11.33%)

The Municipal Council (Gemeinderat) holds the

town hall (Rathaus).[41]

Distribution of seats in the Gemeinderat 2022–2026[40]
  SP   FDP   GPS   GLP   SVP   AL   Mitte   EVP
37 22 18 17 14 8 6 3

International relations

Twin towns and sister cities

Zurich is partnered with two


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

Zurich is situated at 408 m (1,339 ft)

above sea level on the lower (northern) end of Lake Zurich (Zürichsee) about 30 km (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, 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 Zurich. Today the incorporated city stretches somewhat beyond the natural confines of the hills and includes some districts to the northeast in the Glatt Valley (Glattal) and to the north in the Limmat Valley (Limmattal). The boundaries of the older city are easy to recognize by the Schanzengraben canal. This artificial watercourse has been used for the construction of the third fortress
in the 17th and 18th centuries.


The municipality of Zurich 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 Zurich. The area includes a section of the northern


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

On its west side, the Limmat valley is flanked by the wooded heights of 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.[citation needed

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 generally 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), the Adlisberg (701 m or 2,300 ft) and the Öschbrig (696 m or 2,283 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]


Zurich has an oceanic climate (Köppen: Cfb), with warm summers and four distinct seasons.[43] Decisive for the climate of Zurich 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, also has some impact on Zurich.[44]

The annual mean temperature at the measuring station of the

above sea level on the slope of the Zürichberg, 150 m[490 ft] above the level of the city centre) is 9.3 °C (48.7 °F). The lowest monthly mean of daily minimum temperature are measured in January with −2.0 °C (28.4 °F) and the highest monthly mean of daily maximum temperature are measured in July with 24.0 °C (75.2 °F). On average there are 74.9 days in which the minimum temperature is below 0 °C (32 °F) (so-called frost days), and 23.7 days in which the maximum temperature is below 0 °C (32 °F) (so-called ice days). There are on average 30 so-called summer days (maximum temperature equal to or above 25 °C [77 °F]) throughout the year, while so-called heat days (with maximum temperature equal to or above 30 °C [86 °F]) are 5.8 days.[45]

The average high temperature in July is 24.0 °C (75.2 °F) and average low temperature is 14 °C (57.2 °F). The highest recorded temperature in Zürich was 37.7 °C (100 °F), recorded in July 1947, and typically the warmest day reaches an average of 32.2 °C (90.0 °F).[46][47]

Spring and autumn are generally cool to mild, but sometimes with large differences between warm and cold days even during the same year. The highest temperature of the month March in 2014 was on the 20th at 20.6 °C (69.1 °F) during a sunny afternoon and the lowest temperature was on the 25th at −0.4 °C (31.3 °F) during the night/early morning.[48] Record low of average daily temperatures in March since 1864 is −12 °C (10 °F) and record high of average daily temperatures in March is 16 °C (61 °F). Record low of average daily temperatures in October is −16 °C (3 °F) and record high of average daily temperatures in October is 20 °C (68 °F).[49]

Zurich has an average of 1,544 hours of sunshine per year and shines on 38% of its potential time throughout the year. During the months April until September the sun shines between 150 and 215 hours per month. The 1,134 mm (44.6 in) rainfall spread on 133.9 days with precipitation throughout the year. Roughly about every third day you will encounter at least some precipitation, which is very much a Swiss average. During the warmer half of the year and especially during the three summer months, the strength of rainfall is higher than those measured in winter, but the days with precipitation stays about the same throughout the year (in average 9.9–12.7 days per month). October has the lowest number (9.9) of days with some precipitation. There is an average of 59.5 so-called bright days (number of days with sunshine duration greater than 80%) through the year, the most in July and August (7.4, 7.7 days), and the least in January and December (2.7, 1.8 days). The average number of days with sunshine duration less than 20%, so-called cloudy days, is 158.4 days, while the most cloudy days are in November (17.8 days), December (21.7 days), and January with 19 days.[45]

Climate data for Zürich (Fluntern), elevation: 556 m (1,824 ft), 1991–2020 normals, extremes 1901–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 16.9
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 3.5
Daily mean °C (°F) 0.9
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) −1.4
Record low °C (°F) −20.8
Average precipitation mm (inches) 63
Average snowfall cm (inches) 14
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 10.1 9.0 10.5 10.8 12.4 12.1 12.2 11.8 9.9 10.1 10.0 11.5 130.4
Average snowy days (≥ 1.0 cm) 4.1 4.8 2.3 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 1.4 4.4 17.6
relative humidity
83 77 71 67 71 71 71 74 79 84 85 85 76
Mean monthly sunshine hours 60 89 144 177 192 207 229 216 164 109 61 47 1,694
Percent possible sunshine 24 34 42 47 45 48 53 53 48 35 24 20 42
Average ultraviolet index 1 2 3 5 7 8 8 7 5 3 1 1 4
Source 1: MeteoSwiss[50]
Source 2: KNMI[51]
Climate data for Zürich/Kloten (1991–2020 normals, extremes since 1955)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 16.8
Mean maximum °C (°F) 11.8
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 3.8
Daily mean °C (°F) 0.9
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) −2.3
Mean minimum °C (°F) −9.8
Record low °C (°F) −25.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 65
Average snowfall cm (inches) 11
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 9.8 8.8 9.6 9.7 11.5 11.1 11.2 11.4 9.0 10.2 9.9 10.9 123.1
Average snowy days (≥ 1.0 cm) 3.5 3.5 1.7 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 1.0 3.2 13.2
relative humidity
83 79 73 69 72 72 71 74 79 84 86 85 77
Mean monthly sunshine hours 50 82 139 177 195 217 238 219 159 94 49 38 1,657
Percent possible sunshine 19 30 40 45 44 49 53 53 45 30 19 18 40
Source 1: MeteoSwiss[52]
Source 2: Infoclimat[53]
Climate data for Zürich (Fluntern), elevation: 556 m (1,824 ft), 1961-1990 normals and extremes
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.3
Mean maximum °C (°F) 9.8
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 2.0
Daily mean °C (°F) −0.6
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) −2.8
Mean minimum °C (°F) −10.1
Record low °C (°F) −20.8
Average precipitation mm (inches) 69.0
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 11.0 10.0 12.0 12.0 13.0 13.0 12.0 12.0 9.0 8.0 11.0 11.0 134
relative humidity
85.0 80.0 75.0 72.0 73.0 74.0 73.0 77.0 81.0 84.0 84.0 85.0 78.6
Mean monthly sunshine hours 42.4 76.2 118.0 139.5 166.1 178.3 210.7 191.9 158.1 104.6 58.2 38.0 1,482
Source: NOAA[54]

Climate protection

In November 2008[55] the people of Zurich 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

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

The "green lungs" of the city include the vast forest areas of Adlisberg, Zürichberg, Käferberg, Hönggerberg and Uetliberg. 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 Zurich (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 Zurich from the Uetliberg


Public transport

A paddle steamer on Lake Zurich
Zurich central station from the outside

Public transport is extremely popular in Zurich, 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.

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 and the Lake Zurich, connecting surrounding towns between Zurich and Rapperswil

The busy Hauptbahnhof main hall

Zurich is a mixed hub for railways, roads, and air traffic.


Zurich from above shortly after departure from airport

Zurich Airport

Zurich Airport is located less than 10 km (6.2 mi) northeast of the city in Kloten. Zurich Airport has its own railway station, which is located underground. It is directly connected to Zurich and most of the major Swiss cities. Zurich Airport is served by more than 60 passenger airlines from around the world. It is also served by one cargo airline and is a hub for Swiss International Air Lines. There is also an airfield in Dübendorf.

Road traffic


Lake Walen towards Sargans

Bicycle transport

In 2012, the city council launched a program to improve the city's attractiveness for bicycle traffic. The so-called "Masterplan Velo"[58] is part of the superordinate framework Stadtverkehr 2025 which shapes the future of the different means of transport. Research revealed that infrastructure and the social environment are essential factors in improving a city's appeal to bicycle traffic.[59] Three main goals are specified: First, the modal share of bicycle traffic should be enhanced to twice the value of 2011 by 2015. Second, cyclists' safety should be improved to lower the overall accident risk. Third, cycling should be established as an everyday means of transport with a special focus on children and young people.

In terms of infrastructure, the city aims to build up a network of distinctive bicycle routes in order to achieve these objectives. At a final stage, the network will consist of main routes (Hauptrouten) for everyday use and comfort routes (Komfortrouten), with the latter focusing on leisure cycling. Additional measures such as special Velostationen providing bike-related services are expected to help to further improve the quality. One of the key projects of the system is a tunnel beneath the tracks of the main railway station planned to combine a main connection with staffed possibilities where commuters can leave their bikes throughout the day.[60] Apart from infrastructural measures, further approaches are planned in the fields of communication, education and administration.

However, these efforts cause critique, mainly due to postponing. The institution of the bike tunnel at the main railway station, originally planned for 2016, was delayed to at least 2019.[61] Pro Velo, a nationwide interest group, has publicly questioned whether the masterplan already failed.[62] The critique aims at badly governed traffic management at construction sites, missing possibilities to park bikes in the city as well as rather diffident ambitions. In response, the responsible city department points to the big investments made every year and mentions ongoing discussions that would finally lead to even better results.[63]


Zurich population pyramid in 2021


Augustinergasse in the old town

There are 421,878 people living in Zurich (as of 31 December 2020),[64] making it Switzerland's largest city. Of registered inhabitants (in 2016), 32% (133,473) do not hold Swiss citizenship.[65] Of these, German citizens make up the largest group with 8% (33,548), followed by Italians 3.5% (14,543).[65] As of 2011, the population of the city, including suburbs, totaled 1.17 million people.[8] The entire metropolitan area (including the cities of Winterthur, Baden, Brugg, Schaffhausen, Frauenfeld, Uster / Wetzikon, Rapperswil-Jona, and Zug) had a population of around 1.82 million people.[8]

Largest groups of foreign residents 2016[65]
Nationality Number % total
 Germany 33,548 8.1% (25.1%)
 Italy 14,543 3.5% (10.9%)
 Portugal 8,274 2.0% (6.2%)
 Spain 6,207 1.5% (4.7%)
 Austria 4,809 1.2% (3.6%)
 France 4,244 1.0% (3.2%)
 Serbia 3,597 0.9% (2.7%)
 United Kingdom 3,483 0.8% (2.6%)
 Turkey 3,402 0.8% (2.5%)
 Kosovo 2,437 0.6% (1.8%)
 India 2,126 0.5% (1.8%)


The official formal language used by governmental institutions, print, news, schools and universities, courts, theatres and in any kind of written form is the Swiss variety of Standard German, while the spoken language is Zurich German (Züritüütsch), 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 therefore its existing high fluctuation,[clarification needed] its inhabitants and commuters speak all kinds of Swiss German dialects. As of the 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 in their family environment ("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, then French at 4.5%. Other languages spoken here include: Bosnian (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.[66]


Religion in Zurich – 2010[67]
Religion Nationality Total-Pop.
Roman Catholic
28% 30%
Unaffiliated Swiss
25% 27%
Swiss Reformed
33% 26%
Other Christians Swiss
6% 7%
Islam Swiss
3% 5%
Other Religion Swiss
2% 2%
No answer Swiss
2% 2%
Jewish Swiss
1% 1%

Before the

Roman Catholic


Battle of Kappel
. Bullinger took over his role as the city's spiritual leader.

In 1970, about 53% of the population were

Evangelical Reformed Church of the Canton of Zurich). In 1970, only 2% of Zurich's inhabitants claimed to be not affiliated with any religious confession. In accordance with the loss by the large Swiss churches, the number of people declaring themselves as non-affiliated 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.[68]

5% of Zurich's inhabitants are

Mahmood Mosque Zurich, situated in Forchstrasse, is the first mosque built in Switzerland.[68][69]

The population of Jewish ethnicity and religion has been more or less constant since 1970, at about 1%. The Synagoge Zürich Löwenstrasse is the oldest and largest synagogue of Zurich.[68][70]


The level of unemployment in Zurich was 3.2%

welfare payments from the state.[73]

Quality of living

Zurich often performs very well in

international rankings
, some of which are mentioned below:

  • Monocle's 2012 "Quality of Life Survey" ranked Zurich first on a list of the top 25 cities in the world "to make a base within".[74] In 2019 Zurich was ranked among the ten most liveable cities in the world by Mercer together with Geneva and Basel.[75]
  • In
    Wroclaw, having also placed 2nd in the subcategory "Human capital and lifestyle" and 3rd under "Business friendliness". In the category "FDI strategy, overall" (relating to foreign direct investment), Zurich ranked 9th, behind such cities as New York, Montreal (1st and 2nd) and Dubai (at number 8).[77]

Main sites

The Bahnhofstrasse seen from Paradeplatz

Most of Zürich's sites are located within the area on either side of the Limmat, between the Main railway station and Lake Zurich . 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.


  • Huldrych Zwingli and Heinrich Bullinger; declared by Charlemagne imperial church; romanesque crypt, romanesque capitals in the church and cloister; choir windows by Augusto Giacometti (1932) and Sigmar Polke (2009), bronze doors by Otto Münch (1935 and 1950).[78]
  • Fraumünster (Women's Minster) Church of a former abbey for aristocratical women from southern Germany which was founded in 853 by Louis the German for his daughter Hildegard; first church built before 874; the romanesque choir dates from 1250 to 1270; the church enjoyed the patronage of kings and had the right of coinage from Zurich to the 13th century; after the Reformation, church and convent passed into the possession of the city; the most important jewelry – in addition to the largest organ in the canton with its 5,793 pipes and 92 stops – are colour windows: the window in the north transept of Augusto Giacometti (1945), the five-part cycle in the choir (1970) and the rosette in the southern transept (1978) are by Marc Chagall; also the church of Zurich's largest choir with 100 and more singers.[79]
  • largest church clock face in Europe built 1538; baptismal font of 1598, baroque stucco; individual stalls from the 15th century from city repealed monasteries with rich carvings and armrests; Kanzellettner (increased barrier between the nave and choir with built-pulpit) of 1705 pulpit sounding board about 1790; rich Akanthus embellishment with Bible verse above the pulpit; 1971 new crystal chandelier modeled according 1710 design; organ in 1974 with 53 stops; Bells: five from 1880, the largest, A minor, without clapper weighs about 6,000 kg (13,228 lb); fire guard in the tower to the Middle Ages to 1911.[80]
  • Predigerkirche is one of the four main churches of the old town, first built in 1231 AD as a Romanesque church of the then Dominican Predigerkloster nearby the Neumarkt. It was converted in the first half of the 14th century, and the choir rebuilt between 1308 and 1350. Due to its construction and for that time unusual high bell tower, it was regarded as the most high Gothic edifice in Zurich.[citation needed]


Parks and nature

  • Zoological Garden – The zoological garden holds about 260 species of animals and houses about 2200 animals. One can come across separate enclosures of snow leopards, India lions, clouded leopards, Amur leopards, otters and pandas in the zoo.[86]
  • Botanical Garden – The Botanical Garden houses about 15,000 species of plants and trees and contains as many as three million plants. In the garden, many rare plant species from south western part of Africa, as well as from New Caledonia can be found. The University of Zurich holds the ownership of the Botanical Garden.
  • plum
  • above sea level, the Uetliberg is the highest hill and offers views over the city. The summit is easily accessible by train from Zurich main station.[87]

Kunst und Bau (construction permit office)

In 1922 Augusto Giacometti won the competition to paint the entrance hall of Amtshaus I, which the city promised to brighten up this gloomy room, which was once used as a cellar, and at the same time to alleviate the precarious economic situation of the local artists. Giacometti brought in the painters Jakob Gubler, Giuseppe Scartezzini and Franz Riklin for the execution of this fresco, which encompasses the ceiling and walls, thereby creating a unique colour space that appears almost sacred in its luminosity.[88]

  • Fresco inside Amtshaus 1
    Fresco inside Amtshaus 1
  • Entrance to Amtshaus 1
    Entrance to Amtshaus 1
  • Information pamphlet providing information about why these frescos were made
    Information pamphlet providing information about why these frescos were made


The 88-metre[89] Sunrise Tower (2005) was the first approved high-rise building in twenty years.

Compared to other cities, there are few tall buildings in Zurich. The municipal building regulations (Article 9)

Prime Tower as the tallest skyscraper in Switzerland at the time of its construction. There are numerous examples of brutalist buildings throughout the city, including the Swissmill Tower
which, at 118m, is the world's tallest grain silo.

Guild houses

World heritage sites

The prehistoric settlements at Enge Alpenquai and Grosser Hafner and


Paradeplatz, heart of Zurich's financial centre
Paradeplatz, heart of Zurich's financial centre

Zurich contributes approximately 10% to Switzerland's GDP.

tertiary sector.[94]

In a 2009 survey by

Greater Zurich Area
is Switzerland's economic centre and home to many international companies.

Some of Switzerland's largest financial institutions have their headquarters in Zürich, most notably: UBS, Credit Suisse, Zurich Cantonal Bank, Migros Bank, Julius Baer, Zurich Insurance Group, Swiss Re and Swiss Life.

For a list of the largest companies in Zürich, see: List of Swiss companies by revenue.

Contributory factors to economic strength

The high quality of life has been cited as a reason for economic growth in Zurich. The consulting firm Mercer has[when?] for many years ranked Zurich as a city with the highest quality of life in the world.[97][98] In particular, Zurich 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.[99] Zurich is also ranked[when?] the third most expensive city in the world, behind Hong Kong and Tokyo and ahead of Singapore.[100]

Zurich benefits from the high level of investment in education which 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. In addition, employment laws are less restrictive than in nearby Germany or France.[99]

Google Zurich is a main hub for its operations in Europe with about 5000 employees. In March 2023, workers at the centre staged a solidarity movement in coordination with the IT workers' union Syndicom to reduce lay-offs and to oppose salary cuts. According to a spokesperson for the company, Google Zurich would remain a major employer despite the measures.[101]

The Swiss stock exchange

The Swiss stock exchange is called

virt-x. 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.[102][103]

Education and research

Main building of the University of Zurich

About 70,000 people study at the 20 universities, colleges and institutions of higher education in Zurich in 2019.

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich), which is controlled by the federal government, and the University of Zurich, under direction of the canton of Zurich. Both universities were listed in the top 50 world universities rated in 2007, while the ETH has consistently remained in the top 10 universities worldwide since 2016.[105][106]

Main building of the Swiss Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH)

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.[107] 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 Zurich 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 Zurich is the largest in Switzerland and offers the widest range of subjects and courses at any Swiss higher education institution.

The Pedagogical College, the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) and the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) are another three top-class technical colleges which contribute to Zurich's reputation as a knowledge and research pole by providing applied research and development. Zurich 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.[108]

In addition to the university libraries, the city is also served by the Zentralbibliothek Zürich, a research and public library, and the Pestalozzi-Bibliothek Zürich, a public library with 14 locations.

State universities by size in canton of Zurich

Enrollment of (federal) state Universities and higher education institutions in Zurich
Institution Total students
University of Zurich – UZH 25,618
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich – ETH 20,607[109]
Zurich University of Applied Sciences – ZHAW 15,334


Many large

tamedia, Ringier and the NZZ-Verlag

Television and radio

Swiss television's building

The headquarters of Switzerland's national licence fee-funded German language television network ("


One section of the Swiss German language licence fee-funded

" (July/August) and "rundfunk.fm" (August/September).

There are three large daily newspapers published in Zurich that are known across Switzerland. The

free daily commuter newspaper which is widely distributed: 20 Minuten
(20 minutes), published weekdays in the mornings.

A number of magazines from major publishers are based in Zurich. Some examples are Bilanz, Die Weltwoche, Annabelle, Schweizer Familie and Schweizer Illustrierte.


Opening of the Zurich Film Festival (2008)

In addition to high-quality museums and galleries, Zurich has high-calibre chamber and symphony orchestras and several important theatres.[110]

The Zurich Film Festival is an international film festival, lasting 11 days and featuring popular international productions.[111]

Zurich during the Street Parade (2008)

One of the largest and most popular annual events in Zurich 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 Zurich, it is normally held on the second Saturday in August. The first edition was held in 1992 with about 1,000 participants. By 2001 the event attracted one million participants.[112][113] The Zürifäscht, on the other hand, is a triennial public festival. It features music, fireworks set to music,[113] and other attractions throughout the old town. It is the largest public festival in Switzerland and attracts up to 2 million visitors.[114]

The Kunst Zürich is an international contemporary art fair with an annual guest city; it combines most recent arts with the works of well-established artists.[115] 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.

Zurich has been the home to several art movements. The Dada movement was founded in 1916 at the Cabaret Voltaire. Artists like Max Bill, Marcel Breuer, Camille Graeser or Richard Paul Lohse had their ateliers in Zurich, 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 the city is the Sechseläuten (Sächsilüüte), including a parade of the guilds and the burning of "winter" in effigy at the Sechseläutenplatz. During this festival the popular march known as the Sechseläutenmarsch is played. It has no known composer but likely originated in Russia.[116] Another is the Knabenschiessen target shooting competition for teenagers (originally boys, open to female participants since 1991).

Opera, ballet, and theaters


The Zurich Opera House (German: Zürcher Opernhaus), built in 1834, was the first permanent theatre in the heart of Zurich 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 elite of Switzerland.[117] The Ballett Zürich performs at the opera house. The Zurich Opera Ball, a major social event, is held annually at the Opera House as a fundraiser for the opera and ballet companies.


Botho Strauss or Elfriede Jelinek. The Schauspielhaus is one of the most prominent and important theatres in Switzerland.[118]

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, featuring contemporary performing arts.[119]


The traditional cuisine of Zurich reflects the centuries of rule by patrician burghers as well as the lasting imprint of

puritanism. Traditional dishes include Zürcher Geschnetzeltes and Tirggel

Nightlife and clubbing

Zurich at night

Zurich is host city of the Street Parade, which takes place in August every year (see above).

The most famous districts for Nightlife are the

hip hop stages, Caribbean restaurants, arthouse cinemas, Turkish kebabs and Italian espresso-bars, but also sex shops or the famous red-light district
of Zurich.

In the past ten years[

Zurich West in district 5, near the Escher-Wyss square and the S-Bahn Station of Zürich Hardbrücke.[citation needed


FIFA Headquarters

Zurich is home to several international sport federations. 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.

FC Zurich founded in 1896, both competing in Switzerland's highest league

Among the most popular sports in Switzerland is ice hockey. In Zurich 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 Zurich as well.

Cycling is a popular sport as well as a means of transport in Zurich. Cycling routes are generally marked with red and white signs and the yellow lanes are exclusively meant for cyclists. Also hiking trails are well marked with yellow signs, most of which give the hiker the probable time it will take them to reach their destination. There are specific maps available for hiking and walking trails throughout Switzerland. Some of the most accessible walks in the Zurich area are the Uetliberg and the Zürichberg. The Offene Rennbahn otherwise known as the Oerlikon Velodrome deserves a special visit on any Tuesday evening in the summer, for cyclists there are chances to see time trial champions or local Swiss national cyclists challenging other amateurs in a variety of races including Madison or Keirin events.

As many as 30 clubs and seven indoor curling facilities can be found in the Greater Zurich Area. The curling season starts in early September and continues until the end of April.[120]

Zurich is Switzerland's hub for lacrosse. The Zurich Lions Lacrosse Academics, who play their home games at the Hochschulsportanlage Fluntern,[citation needed] have been the country's dominant team and a major competitor at international events.[121]


2007 Zurich Weltklasse

Weltklasse Zürich, sometimes referred to as the one-day Olympics,[122] is a one-day athletics meet held annually at the Letzigrund Stadium. 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.[123][124][125]

Zurich Marathon is a popular sport event, inviting numerous athletes from every corner of the globe. Zurich Marathon is a long-distance running event, covering 42.195 km (26.219 mi) at one stretch. The running course starts in Zurich and passes through Bahnhofstrasse,

Utoquai, and along Lake Zurich 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.

Zurich 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.[126]

Zurich hosted the UCI Track Cycling World Championships six times at the Oerlikon Velodrome. The first time was in 1929 and the last time in 1983.

Since 2013, the international

Openair Literatur Festival Zürich
takes place annually in Zurich, presented by Literaturhaus Zurich and Kaufleuten.

Zurich also hosted the


Zurich was also host to the 2012 Men's World Floorball Championships. This was the first time the event had been held in the city.

Notable people

Other points of interest

Inside the "Oepfelchammer", in which the so-called Balkenprobe takes place
  • The Schwamendingen X: level crossing of tram tracks, necessary because the tunnel uses island platforms for boarding (between trams, whose doors are on the right) while normally (outside the tunnel), passengers board to the outside (opposite the boarding area of oncoming trams). Trams normally travel on the right track, but in the tunnel they travel on the left.
    better source needed
  • The Sihlfeld cemetery has a vending machine for funeral cards and other mourning supplies.
    better source needed
  • The "Oepfelchammer" tavern in Zurich's Old Town offers an unusual athletic drinking game called Balkenprobe: the drinker has to pull themselves up on a ceiling beam, cross over to the next beam, then drink a glass of wine with their head hanging down.
    better source needed

See also

Notes and references


  1. ^ The official language in all municipalities in German-speaking Switzerland is German, where 'German' is used as an umbrella term for all varieties of German. By law, one may communicate with the authorities using any variant of German, in written or oral form. However, the authorities will always use Swiss Standard German (the Swiss variety of Standard German) in documents and writing. Orally, they would use either Hochdeutsch (i.e., Swiss Standard German or what the particular speaker considers High German), or a dialectal variant depending on the speaker's origin.


  1. ^ a b Error: Unable to display the reference properly. See the documentation for details.
  2. ^ a b "Arealstatistik Standard - Gemeinden nach 4 Hauptbereichen". Federal Statistical Office. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  3. ^ https://www.pxweb.bfs.admin.ch/pxweb/fr/px-x-0102020000_201/-/px-x-0102020000_201.px/table/tableViewLayout2/?rxid=c5985c8d-66cd-446c-9a07-d8cc07276160. Retrieved 22 June 2023. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ Error: Unable to display the reference properly. See the documentation for details.
  5. ^ "Zurich entry at the Swiss Tourist Board". Myswitzerland.com. Archived from the original on 12 May 2010. Retrieved 3 July 2010.
  6. ^ "Bevölkerungsbestand und – entwicklung – Stadt Zürichbestand". stadt-zuerich.ch (in German). Stadt Zürich Präsidialdepartment. Archived from the original on 20 March 2023. Retrieved 20 March 2023.
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Further reading




Preceded by World Gymnaestrada host city
Succeeded by
Herning, Denmark (1987)