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Switzerland Cantons and Places Categories

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Surnames/tags: switzerland categorization
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Explanation of the category structure used for places in Switzerland



Switzerland has 4 official languages : French, German, Italian and Romansh. These languages, together with English, will be supported by taking advantage of the Aka template. Each needed language can have its own category stream. An example of how to use the Aka template can be seen with the current Switzerland category.

Places in Switzerland

Switzerland is divided in cantons, each canton having one or more (maximum 3) official language(s). Cantons are divided in administrative districts, which contain municipalities or communes.

The most important place when researching Swiss ancestors is the place where they have their municipal citizenship (called "Place of Origin"). Per Wikipedia, "The Swiss identity card, the passport and the driving licence do not show the birthplace of the holder but the place of origin"[1].

Thus, it would be very important to categorize ancestors not only according to their birthplace, and other places where they had life events, but also according to their official "place of origin" which will often be the same as at least one of their parents'.

Category structure

Categories will be created for cantons and for municipalities, but not for other administrative districts. Categories for municipalities will be created as they are needed and in the needed language(s).


Categories for cantons will use the following pattern:

LanguageCategory Name Example
EnglishCanton of ... Canton of Bern
FrançaisCanton de ... Canton de Berne
DeutschKanton ... Kanton Bern
ItalianoCanton ... Canton Berna
RumantschChantun ... Chantun Berna

See complete list of approved cantons in their official languages.


Categories for municipalities will follow the pattern « Place, Canton ». Example : « Lausanne, Vaud ».

For towns which are also the name of canton (like Bern), the category name would be « Bern (city), Bern ».

For the particular case of Basel, which is part of the canton of Basel-City, the category name will be: [[Category:Basel, Basel-City]].

Merged municipalities

Switzerland has many merged towns and municipalities. To avoid having to constantly adapt, categories are created based on the Family Names Book of Switzerland.[2] The Family Names Book is using the official spelling of the municipalities. The basis for this is the list of municipalities in Switzerland 1980.[3]

Villages and smaller locations

Villages and smaller locations may be created as exceptions, if many profiles will be added to that category. The pattern is the same as for municipalities: « Place, Canton ». Those categories are placed under the category of their municipality.

Nesting of categories

Canton categories are placed directly under the Switzerland category (or equivalent in another language).

Municipality categories are placed under their canton category. If a municipality category name is the same in two languages, the category is to be nested in the parent categories corresponding to both languages.

Example: [[Category:Lausanne, Vaud]] should be placed under [[Category:Canton of Vaud]] and under [[Category:Canton de Vaud]].

Municipality categories are created in their main spoken language. Example: [[Category:La Neuveville, Berne]], not [[Category:Neuenstadt, Bern]]. The only exception are the four bilingual municipalities that already are created in both languages and are mirrored with the AKA-template.

Category Mapping

[[Category:Switzerland]] <--Top Level category, may contain profiles if the canton is not known
[[Category:Canton of ...]] <--Mid Level category, may contain profiles if municipality is not known
[[Category:Municipality, Canton]] <---Landing level category for profiles
[[Category:Village, Canton]] <---Landing level category for profiles (only exceptions)


  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Place of origin," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed October 28, 2018).
  2. Historical Dictionary of Switzerland. "Register of Swiss Surnames." Accessed 31 Mar 2024.
  3. Bundesamt für Statistik, Gemeindeverzeichnis der Schweiz : 1980, (Bern: Bundesamt für Statistik, 1980).



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