Interesting Info on the City of Berne, Switzerland

The city of Berne is the Bundesstadt (ie. federal city, de facto capital) of Switzerland. It is the fifth most populous city in Switzerland (after Zürich, Geneva, Basel and Lausanne) with over 128,000 people.

German is the official language of Berne. Bernese German, spoken by most of the inhabitants, is the local Swiss German dialect. Several national languages can be heard in the community due to the existence of the large part of the federal government, several embassies, and average number of immigrants. The city of Berne also operates as capital of the Canton of Berne, Switzerland’s second most populous cantons.

Albert Einstein, a German born physicist, was employed as a clerk at the Berne patent office. This is where he performed his experiments on the theory of relativity.

The city of Berne joined the young Swiss Confederation in 1353 and was made the leading member of the new state. During the French Revolutionary Wars in 1798, it was occupied and stripped of most of its territories by French troops. The city became the capital of the Canton of Berne and became the Swiss capital in 1848.

The city expanded its territories towards the borders of the peninsula formed by the river Aar. The western border of the city was marked by the Zytglogge tower from 1191 until 1256, when the Käfigturm took over this role until 1345, and was succeeded by the Christoffelturm (located close to today s train station) until 1622. Big and small Schanze (entrenchment) fortifications were built during the time of the Thirty Years’ War to protect the whole area of the peninsula. Due to the establishment of these fortifications, the city of Berne became prosperous up to the 19th century.

Berne was host to numerous congresses of the Socialist First and Second Internationals during World War I when Switzerland was a neutral country. Berne is located in the Swiss plateau within the Canton of Berne, area located central western part of Switzerland and 20 km north of Bernese Alps. Berne’s landscape was developed by glaciers from the last Ice Age. Berne is bounded by the Guerten Mountain, with a height of 858 meters, and the Bantiger, with a height of 947 meters.

In the 19th century, the city, originally built on a hilly peninsula and surrounded by the river Aar, expanded beyond these natural boundaries. Bridges were built over the Aar River to give the city an opportunity to develop.

Berne is built on jagged land where there are height differences between the Aar (Matte, Marzili) and mountains in Kirchenfeld and Länggasse.

As of the year 2005, the Social Democratic Party and three other Green parties have majority representatives in both councils (3 to 2 and 43 to 37, respectively). This council is referred jointly to as Red Green Center (Rot Grün Mitte). They are the one responsible to determine City policy even there is no formal coalition agreement existing. A system of general referendum settles important issues in Switzerland which is under the direct democracy system. There are other key political parties in Berne which include the Free Democratic Party (FDP), a free market liberal, and the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), a nationalist and conservative group.