All About Switzerland
Switzerland's Official Name
What is the official name of Switzerland? Where does the name Switzerland come from? What is the origin of the abbreviations CH (Swiss top level internet domain & car sticker) and CHF? What does CH mean and why can we read HELVETIA on Swiss coins and postal stamps? Why are Sz and SUI sometimes used as Switzerland's abbreviations?
Schweiz Suisse Svizzera Svizra Switzerland Suiza Suiça
CH car sticker
to be found
|Language||Official Name||Short Name||Abbr||
* German, French, Italian and Rumantsch are the four
traditionally spoken in different regions of the country. See also:
Why do the Swiss speak German, French, Italian or Rumantsch?
And which of all these names is going to win the race? Until August 2006, the official website of Switzerland's federal administration was showing, believe it or not: CONFOEDERATIO HELVETICA on its banner. But times are changing and so this has been replaced by a modern design in the four official languages.
In German language, Switzerland is mostly referred to using Schweiz (and schweizerisch for Swiss), but conservative Swiss German people prefer the somewhat old-fashioned official name Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft (and eidgenössisch for Swiss). The German term Eidgenonssenschaft/eidgenössisch is in fact only used in Switzerland, it is composed from the words Eid [means oath] and Genossenschaft [means co-operative or mutual benefit association], so Switzerland's official German name Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft refers to the legendary beginnings of the nation with the oath at Rütli.
Schweiz, Suisse, Svizzera, Svizra, Switzerland, Suiza, Svizrija etc. are just a few transcriptions in different languages of Schwyz, once the leading of the three founding member cantons [federal states] of the Swiss Confederation back in 1291. (Note: the French term canton should be translated as county if it stands for a political entity in France, but stands for a federal state in Switzerland. Today the Swiss often talk about the 26 cantons of Switzerland as if they had always existed, while in fact the term itself has been adopted in Switzerland as late as 1798.)
In this respect Schwyz is the original name
for Switzerland, referring to the most important among the three
federal states standing right at the origins of the country's independence.
More: the Origins of the Swiss Confederacy and the legendary oath at Rütli.
Switzerland's old Latin name Helvetia comes from the
the first tribe settling in this central European region
we have written historic records of. The latin name Helvetia
is still being used on Swiss coins and stamps.
As the modern name Schweiz (and its transcriptions) always evoke the notion of a leading role of German speaking canton Schwyz within the Swiss confederation, some minority groups are not especially pleased with it.
Switzerland's old latin name Helvetia on the other hand tries
to focus on the older tradition that unites French and German speaking
regions stretching from Lake Geneva in the southwest to the
Lake of Constance (Bodensee) in the northeast of the country,
that was once inhabited by the celtic tribe named Helvetians.
Learn more about the Helvetians.
In French language, helvetique
(for Swiss) is being used quite often, and the
1798 Swiss Revolution, demanding for equal rights
for all Swiss inhabitants and for the French speaking minority in
the west of the country in particular, proclaimed the
referring deliberately to the old latin name Helvetia.
And here are two allegoric pictures of Helvetia - in 3D and 2D:
HELVETIA by Bettina Eichinger
Mittlere Rheinbrücke, Basel
... ONE DAY HELVETIA LEAVES A 2 SWISS FRANCS COIN
Right shore of Mittlere Brücke, downstream side.
Trams 6, 8, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17 to stop Schifflände, then cross the bridge or
trams 6, 8, 14, 15, 17 to stop Rheingasse and walk back to the bridge.
GPS coordinates: latitude=47.560861 longitude=7.590453, map by google
Short quotations allowed but with precise declaration of origin (Link).
Reproduction of substantial parts and pictures in printed or electronic form only with explicit written consent by the editor.