Zürich (German:Zürich, Zürich German: Züri, French: Zurich, Italian: Zurigo; in English generally Zurich) is the largest city in Switzerland (population: 376,815 at the end of 2007; population of urban area is 1,007,972) and capital of the canton of Zürich. The city is Switzerland’s main commercial and cultural centre (the political capital of Switzerland being Bern), and is widely considered to be one of the world’s global cities. According to several surveys from 2006 to 2008, Zürich was named the city with the “best quality of life” in the world.

163  320x View from Grossmuenster Limmat River Zurich Altstadt old city 1 Zurich

View from Grossmuenster – Limmat River and Zurich Altstadt

Geography

The city is situated where the river Limmat issues from the north-western end of Lake Zürich, about 30 km north of the Alps. Zürich is surrounded by wooded hills including (from the north) the Gubrist, the Hönggerberg, the Käferberg, the Zürichberg, the Adlisberg and the Oettlisberg on the eastern shore; and the Uetliberg (part of the Albis range) on the western shore. The river Sihl meets with the Limmat at the end of Platzspitz, which borders the Swiss National Museum (Landesmuseum). The geographic (and historic) center of the city is the Lindenhof a small natural hill on the left bank of the river Limmat, about 700 meters north of where the river issues from Lake Zürich. Today the incorporated city stretches somewhat beyond its natural hydrographic confines given by its hills and includes some neighborhoods to the northeast in the Glattal (valley of the river Glatt).

146  320x Zurich Uetliberg 3 Zurich

View of Zurich from Uetliberg

Climate

Weather averages for Zürich, Switzerland
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 2 (36) 5 (41) 9 (48) 13 (55) 18 (64) 21 (70) 24 (75) 23 (73) 20 (68) 14 (57) 7 (47) 3 (37) 13 (55)
Average low °C (°F) -4 (25) -3 (27) -1 (30) 3 (37) 6 (43) 10 (50) 12 (54) 11 (52) 9 (48) 5 (41) 0 (32) -3 (27) 4 (39)
Precipitation mm (inches) 68.6 (2.7) 71.1 (2.8) 71.1 (2.8) 88.9 (3.5) 104.1 (4.1) 124.5 (4.9) 119.4 (4.7) 134.6 (5.3) 94.0 (3.7) 68.6 (2.7) 81.3 (3.2) 76.2 (3.0) 1,102.4 (42.4)
Source: Weatherchannel Nov 2007

City districts

The previous boundaries of the city of Zürich (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 may contain anywhere between 1 and 4 neighborhoods:

  • District 1, known as Altstadt, contains the old town, both to the right and the left of the Limmat river.
  • District 2 lies along the left side of Lake Zurich, and contains the neighborhoods of Enge, Wollishofen and Leimbach.
  • District 3, known as Wiedikon is between the Sihl river and the Uetliberg, and contains the neighborhood of Alt-Wiedikon, Sihlfeld and Friesenberg.
  • District 4, known as Aussersihl is between the Sihl river and the train tracks leaving Zürich Main Station.
  • District 5, known as Industriequartier (Industrial area), is between the Limmat river and the train tracks leaving Zürich Main Station, it contains the former industrial area of Zürich.
  • District 6 is on the edge of the Zürichberg, a hill overlooking the eastern part of the city. District 6 contains the neighborhoods of Oberstrass and Unterstrass.
  • District 7 is on the edge of the Adlisberg as well as the Zürichberg, on the eastern side of the city. District 7 contains the neighborhoods of Hottingen and Hirslanden.
  • District 8, known as Riesbach, on the eastern side of Lake Zurich.
  • District 9 is between the Limmat on the north and the Uetliberg on the south. District 9 contains the neighborhood of Altstetten and Albisrieden.
  • District 10 is to the right of the Limmat and to the south of the Hönggerberg and the Käferberg. District 10 contains the neighborhoods of Höngg and Wipkingen.
  • District 11 is in the area north of the Hönggerberg and Käferberg and between the Glatt valley and the Katzensee (Katzen Lake). It contains the neighborhoods of Affoltern, Oerlikon and Seebach.
  • District 12, known as Schwamendingen, is located in the Glattal (Glatt valley) on the northern side of the Zürichberg.

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 Zürich.

Transport

Zürich is a hub for rail, road, and air traffic. It has several railway stations, including Zürich Main Station, Oerlikon, Stadelhofen, Hardbrücke, Tiefenbrunnen, Enge, Wiedikon and Altstetten. The Cisalpino, InterCityExpress, and even the French TGV high-speed trains stop in Zürich.

101  320x Zurich main station 2 Zurich

Zurich Main Station

The A1, A3 and A4 motorways pass close to Zürich. The A1 heads west towards Bern and Geneva and eastwards towards St. Gallen; the A4 leads northwards to Schaffhausen; and the A3 heads northwest towards Basel and southeast along Lake Zurich and Lake Walen towards Sargans. Zürich International Airport in Kloten is located less than 10 kilometres northeast of the city. There is also an airfield in Dübendorf, although it only used for military aviation.

Within Zürich and throughout the canton of Zürich, the ZVV network of public transport has traffic density ratings among the highest worldwide. If you add frequency, which in Zürich can be as often as 7 minutes, it does become the densest across all dimensions. Three means of mass-transit exist: the S-Bahn (local trains), trams, and buses (both diesel and electric, also called trolley buses).

182  320x Zurich Bellevue Tram Zurich

Zurich Bellevue

In addition the public transport network includes boats on the lake and river, funicular railways and even a cable car between Adliswil and Felsenegg. Tickets purchased for a trip are valid on all means of public transportation (train, tram, bus, boat).

Demographics

There are officially 376,815 people (since Dec. 31st 2007) living in Switzerland’s largest city. 30.6% of the registered inhabitants of Zürich do not hold Swiss citizenship, which is 115,379 people. German citizens make up the largest group of foreigners in the city with 22.0%, followed by immigrants from Kosovo, Albania, Italy. The population of the city proper including suburbs 1.08 million people. However, the entire metropolitan area (including the cities of Winterthur, Baden, Brugg, Schaffhausen, Frauenfeld, Uster/Wetzikon, Rapperswil-Jona and Zug) has a population of around 1.68 million people.

Language

The official language used by the government and in most publications is German, while the most commonly spoken dialect in Zürich is Zürichdeutsch (Zürich German), which is a local dialect of Swiss German. As of 2000, German is the mother-tongue of 77.7% of the population. Albanian (5.8%) follows behind, and Italian is the third-most common native language at 4.7% of the population. Other native languages spoken by more than 1% of the population include South Slavic languages (2.2%) — this includes Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian, and Slovenian), Spanish (2.2%), French (2.1%), English (1.8%), Portuguese (1.6%).

Religion

Since the reformation led by Huldrych Zwingli, Zürich has remained the center and stronghold of Protestantism in Switzerland. In the course of the 20th century, this has changed slightly as Catholics now make up the largest religious group in the city, with 33.3%. More and more inhabitants of the city declare themselves as being without religion (this was 16.8% of the population in 2000).

194  320x Zurich Grossmuenster great minster 1 Zurich

Zurich Grossmuenster

Social

The level of unemployment in Zürich is 2.6% (August 2007). About 4% of the city population (15,500 people) live either directly or indirectly on welfare from the state (April 2005).

Sights

Church

  • Grossmünster (great minster) (near Lake Zürich, in the old city), where Zwingli was pastor; first building around 820; declared by Charlemagne imperial church
196  320x Zurich Grossmuenster great minster 3 Zurich 198  320x Zurich Grossmuenster great minster 5 Zurich
  • Fraumünster (our lady’s minster) first church built before 874; the Romanesque choir dates from 1250-70; Marc Chagall stained glass choir windows; (on the opposite side of the Limmat).
190  320x Zurich Fraumuenster  our ladys minster 1 Zurich 192  320x Zurich Fraumuenster  our ladys minster 3 Zurich

During 2004 the Fraumünster was fully renovated. During this period the installed scaffolding went above the tip of the tower allowing a unique and exceptional 360° panoramic view of Zürich.

  • St. Peter (downstream from the Fraumünster, in the old city); with the largest clock face in Europe

Museums

  • Museum Bärengasse, history of the city in the 17th century
  • Kunsthaus Zürich, one of the largest collections in Classic Modern Art in the world (Munch, Picasso, Braque, Giacometti, etc.)
  • Museum Rietberg, Arts of Asia, Africa, America and Oceania
  • Museum Bellerive, Museum for fashion, architecture and design, located in a villa on the beach of the lake
  • Kunsthalle Zürich
  • Migros Museum, modern and avantgarde international Art.
  • Museum of Design Zürich
  • Swiss National Museum (Landesmuseum), located in the Platzspitz park opposite to the main station
  • Johann Jacobs Museum, history of colonial Fine Food and coffee
  • Johanna Spyri Museum
  • Haus Konstruktiv, constructive, concrete and conceptual art and design
  • NONAM North American Native Museum
  • Museum of the History of Medicine
161  320x The Gates of Hell Zurich Kunsthaus Zurich

The Gates of Hell – Zurich Kunsthaus

Other Sights

  • Lindenhof near St. Peter; site of the Roman and medieval castle.
  • Guild houses along the river (downstream from the Grossmünster)
  • Old town (Altstadt), District 1, on both sides of the river
107  320x Zurich old city Altstadt3 Zurich
  • Bahnhofstrasse, Zürich (shopping avenue) starting at main train station
167  320x Zurich Bahnhofstrasse 2 Zurich
  • Parade-Platz, Plaza in the middle of Bahnhofstrasse, Zürich, a center of financial activity, with the world-headquarters of several Swiss banks including UBS and Credit Suisse.
  • Zoological garden
  • Masoala Rainforest Ecosystem Great Glass Hall in the Zoological garden with trees, flowers and animals in liberty from the rainforest of Masoala National Park in Madagascar
  • Botanical Garden of the University of Zürich
  • Chinese Garden, Zürich
  • Neu Oerlikon, part of City District Oerlikon: northern quarter of the city – Oerliker Park, MFO Park, Center-11 Building, Price Waterhouse Building, ABB Building, UBS Building, and other modern public spaces.
  • Lake Zürich, running from Zürich to Rapperswil and linking with the Obersee
85  320x Zurich lake  Zurich
  • Uetliberg, a hill to the west of the city at an altitude of 813 meters above sea level, with Uetlibergturm TV-tower
145  320x Zurich Uetliberg 2 Zurich
  • Fluntern Cemetery
  • Cabaret Voltaire, birthplace of Dada

Business, Industry and Commerce

UBS, Credit Suisse, Swiss Re, Zurich Financial Services, and many other financial institutions have their headquarters in Zürich, the commercial center of Switzerland. Zürich is one of the world biggest centre for offshore banking. The financial sector accounts for about one quarter of the city’s economic activities. The Swiss Stock Exchange is located in Zürich.

158  320x Swiss Exchange Zurich

Zürich is a leading financial centre and has repeatedly been proclaimed the global city with the best quality of life anywhere in the world.[16] The Greater Zurich Area is Switzerland’s economic center and home to a vast number of international companies. The GDP of the Zürich Area is CHF 210 billion (USD 160 billion) or CHF 58’000 (USD 45’000) per capita (2005).

The success of the Greater Zürich Economic Area as one of the most important in the world is due to many factors: The very low tax rate and the possibility for foreign companies and private persons to optimize their tax burden by personalized tax agreement with the Tax Authorities is surely one of the key points. This practice often causes conflicts with Switzerland’s neighbours in Europe, who do not like this type of successful and aggressive strategy for attracting large corporations and service/research centers, such as IBM, General Motors Europe, Toyota Europe, UBS, Credit Suisse, Google, Microsoft,ABB Ltd., and Degussa. The fact that Switzerland does not have an inheritance tax is also an important attraction for wealthy private persons.

Another reason for the economic success of Zürich is the extensive research and educational (R&D) field of the city. The ETH Zurich is ranked alongside the University of Zurich: there are more than 58,000 students. The reservoir for qualified employees is therefore impressive.

A new multi-purpose area in southern Zürich (Sihlcity) has opened its doors on March 22,2007, spread over 100,000 square metres in the center of Zürich. Among other things it includes a shopping center and a movie theater. Sihlcity was built on the foundations of the former Sihl Paper Factory.

Other data: Switzerland scored in the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2005 within the Top 10 in the following categories:

  • Nobel Prizes per resident (No.2)
  • Active patents per resident (No.2)
  • Private research expenditure (No.6)
  • R&D expenditure per resident (No.6)
  • R&D employees per resident (No.8)
  • R&D expenditure as % of the GNP (No.10)

Most of the Swiss R&D institutions are concentrated in the Zürich area.

The high quality of life has been cited as a likely reason for the presence of international economic growth in Zürich. Mercer has ranked Zürich as the city with the highest quality of life anywhere in the world for the fourth consecutive time. Berne and Geneva were also ranked among the Top 10. Statistics show that in the productive sector of the city 60% speak German, 43% English, 30% French and 13% Italian. As such, the city is home to a considerable number of people speaking at least two or three languages.

Education and Research

Zürich is home to many universities, colleges and gymnasiums. Two of Switzerland’s most distinguished universities are located in the city. The technical university ETH Zürich which is controlled by the state and the University of Zürich that is under direction of the canton of Zurich. Both universities are well-known and have an international reputation. They were listed in the top 200 world universities rated in 2007.

162  320x University of Zurich Irchel 1 Zurich

University of Zurich Irchel

Culture

Events

  • Street Parade
  • Sechseläuten, spring festival of the guilds and burning of the Böögg
  • Zürcher Theater Spektakel, international theater festival, ranking among the most important European festivals for contemporary performing arts.
  • Kunst Zürich, international contemporary art fair with an annual guest city (New York in 2005); combines most recent and youngest art with the works of well-established artists.
  • Annual public city campaign, sponsored by the City Vereinigung (the local equivalent of a chamber of commerce) with the cooperation of the city government. Past themes have included lions (1986), cows (1998), benches (2003), and teddy bears (2005).
  • Weltklasse Zürich, annual track and field athletics meeting held every August
  • freestyle.ch, one of the biggest freestyle events in Europe
  • Zürifäscht, a triennial public festival featuring music, fireworks, and other attractions throughout the old town. It is the largest public festival in Switzerland, attended by up to 2 million visitors. The next Zürifäscht is scheduled for July 2 to 4, 2010.
187  320x Zurich Festival Zurifaecht2 Zurich

Zuerifaescht 2007

Art movements born in Zurich

  • Zürich is the home of the Cabaret Voltaire where the Dada movement began in 1916. Visit at the Spiegelgasse/Niederdorf-Corner the Cabaret Voltaire Museum.
  • Constructive Art Movement took also one of the first steps in Zürich. Artists like Max Bill, Marcel Breuer, Camille Graeser or Richard Paul Lohse had their ateliers in Zürich, which became even more important after the takeover of power by the Nazi-Regime in Germany and World War II. Visit the museum at the Haus Konstruktiv.

Opera, ballet and theaters

  • Zürcher Opernhaus: one of the most famous Opera Houses in Europe. Director is Alexander Pereira. Once a year elegant and exclusive Zürcher Opernball with the President of the Swiss Confederation and the economic and cultural élite of Switzerland.
  • Schauspielhaus Zürich: Main Theater-Complex of the City. Has two Dépendances: Pfauen (historic old theater) in the Central City District and Schiffbauhalle (modern architecture in old industry-halls) in Zürich West (S-Bahn-Station Hardbrücke). Was home for Emigrants like Bertolt Brecht or Thomas Mann and World-Première-Theater for Max Frisch, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Botho Strauss or Nobel-Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek.
  • Theater am Neumarkt: One of the oldest Theaters of the city. Established by the old guilds in the Old City District, located in a baroque Palace near Niederdorf Street. Two stages with mostly production by avantgarde directors from Europe. Has both classic theater (Racine, Goethe, Shakespeare) and new productions in its repertoire.
  • Theater der Künste: Official theater of the Zurich University of the Arts. Next to the Theater Gessnerallee and the Bahnhofstrasse – the main shopping street of the city.

Nightlife and clubbing

Zürich offers a lot of variety when it comes for night-time leisure. It is the host city of the world-famous Street Parade, which takes place in August every year.

The most famous districts for Nightlife are the Niederdorf in the old town with bars, restaurants, lounges, hotels, clubs, etc. and a lot of fashion shops for a young and stylish public and the Langstrasse in the districts 4 and 5 of the city. There are authentic amusements: Brazilian bars, punk clubs, HipHop stages, Caribic restaurants, arthouse-cinemas, Turkish kebabs and Italian espresso-bars, but also sex shops or the famous red light district of Zürich.

In the past ten years new parts of the city have risen into the spotlight. Notably, the area known as Zürich West in district 5, near the Escher-Wyss square and the S-Bahn Station of Hardbrücke. This area has become the new up-and-coming part of Zürich with its avant-garde cinemas, music clubs, lounges, restaurants, cafés and bars.

Sports

Football is an essential aspect of Sports in Zurich. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) resides in town. The city is also home to two major Swiss football clubs listed in Switzerland’s highest league; Grasshopper-Club Zürich founded in 1886 and FC Zürich which exists since 1896.

154  320x FIFA 1 Zurich

Another popular sport in Switzerland, ice hockey, is represented by the ZSC Lions. The club won this seasons Swiss ice hockey championship. The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) officiating as head organisation for ice hockey leagues worldwide is based in Zurich as well.

Major sport events running in Zurich are Weltklasse Zürich, an annual athletic meeting, and the Zurich Open, part of the WTA tour.