The Republic and Canton of Neuchâtel (French: la République et Canton de Neuchâtel, IPA: [kɑ̃tɔ̃ də nøʃɑtɛl]) is a French-speaking canton in western Switzerland. In 2007, its population was 169,782, of whom 39,654 (or 23.4%) were foreigners. The capital is Neuchâtel.
République et Canton de Neuchâtel
Coat of arms
Location in Switzerland
Map of Neuchâtel
|Largest City||La Chaux-de-Fonds|
|• Executive||Conseil d'État (5)|
|• Legislative||Grand Council (115)|
|• Total||802.24 km2 (309.75 sq mi)|
|• Density||220/km2 (570/sq mi)|
|ISO 3166 code||CH-NE|
|Highest point||1,552 m (5,092 ft): Chasseral Ouest|
|Lowest point||429 m (1,407 ft): Lake Biel|
County (Principality) of Neuchâtel
Coat of arms
|Status||State of the Holy Roman Empire (to 1648)|
Associate of the Swiss Confederacy (from 1406)
|Historical era||Middle Ages|
• City founded
• County founded
• Inherited by Orléans-Longueville
• Elected to Prussia
• French occupation
• Neuchâteloise revolution
|1 March 1848|
|Rulers of Neuchâtel 1034–1848|
|Ulrich I de Fenis||1034–1070|
|Conrad IV de Fribourg||1395–1424|
|Jean de Fribourg||1424–1458|
|Rudolph IV of Hachberg-Sausenberg||1458–1487|
|Rudolph IV of Hachberg-Sausenberg||1458–1487|
|Philippe de Hochberg||1487–1503|
|Jeanne de Rothelin||1504–1512|
|Jeanne de Rothelin||1529–1543|
|Jean Louis Charles||1663–1694|
|Marie de Nemours||1694–1707|
|Frederick William I of Prussia||1708–1740|
|Frederick William II||1786–1797|
|Frederick William III||1797–1798|
|Louis Alexandre Berthier||1798–1814|
|Frederick William III||1815–1848/57|
The only part of present-day Switzerland to enter the Confederation as a principality (in 1814), Neuchâtel has a unique history. Its first recorded ruler, Rudolph III of Burgundy, mentioned Neuchâtel in his will in 1032. The dynasty of Ulrich count of Fenis (Hasenburg) took over the town and its territories in 1034. The dynasty prospered and, by 1373, all the lands now part of the canton belonged to the count. In 1405, the cities of Bern and Neuchâtel entered a union. The lands of Neuchâtel had passed to the lords of Freiburg in the late 14th century as inheritance from the childless Elisabeth, Countess of Neuchâtel, to her nephews, and then in 1458 to margraves of Sausenburg who belonged to the House of Baden.
Their heiress, Jeanne de Rothelin (Johanna von Hachberg-Sausenberg), and her husband, Louis I d'Orléans, duc de Longueville, inherited it in 1504, after which the French house of Orléans-Longueville (Valois-Dunois). Neuchâtel's Swiss allies then occupied it from 1512-1529 before returning it to its widowed countess.
The French preacher Guillaume Farel brought the teachings of the Protestant Reformation to the area in 1530. Therefore, when the house of Orléans-Longueville became extinct with Marie d'Orléans-Longueville's death in 1707, Neuchâtel was Protestant, and looked to avoid passing to a Catholic ruler. The rightful heiress in primogeniture from Jeanne de Rothelin was Paule de Gondi, Duchess of Retz, who was Catholic. The people of Neuchâtel chose Princess Marie's successor from among fifteen claimants.[n 1] They wanted their new prince first and foremost to be a Protestant, and also to be strong enough to protect their territory but based far enough away to leave them to their own devices. Louis XIV actively promoted the many French pretenders to the title, but the Neuchâtelois people in the final decision in 1708 passed them over in favour of the Protestant King Frederick I of Prussia, who claimed his entitlement in a rather complicated fashion through the House of Orange and Nassau, who were not even descended from Jeanne de Rothelin.
Frederick I and his successors ruled the Principality of Neuchâtel (German: Fürstentum Neuenburg) in personal union with Prussia from 1708 until 1798. Napoleon Bonaparte deposed King Frederick William III of Prussia as prince of Neuchâtel and appointed instead his chief of staff Louis Alexandre Berthier. Starting in 1807, the principality provided Napoleon's Grande Armée with a battalion of rangers. The rangers were nicknamed Canaris (i.e. canaries) because of their yellow uniforms.
After the Liberation Wars the principality was restored to Frederick William III in 1814. The Conseil d'État (state council, i.e. government of Neuchâtel) addressed him in May 1814 requesting the permission to establish a special battalion, a Bataillon de Chasseurs, for the service of his majesty. Frederick William III then established by his "most-supreme cabinet order" (Allerhöchste Cabinets-Ordre, A.C.O), issued in Paris on 19 May 1814, the Bataillon des Tirailleurs de la Garde following the same principles as with the Neuchâtel battalion within the Grande Armée. The Conseil d'Etat of Neuchâtel had the right of nomination for the battalion's officers. The commander was the battalion's only officer chosen by the monarch.
A year later he agreed to allow the principality to join the Swiss Confederation, then not yet an integrated federation, but a confederacy, as a full member. Thus Neuchâtel became the first and only monarchy to join the otherwise entirely republican Swiss cantons. This situation changed in 1848 when a peaceful revolution took place and established a republic, in the same year that the modern Swiss Confederation was transformed into a federation. King Frederick William IV of Prussia did not cede immediately, and several attempts at counter-revolution took place, culminating in the Neuchâtel Crisis of 1856–57. In 1857, Frederick William finally renounced his claims on the area.
The canton of Neuchâtel is located in Romandy, the western part of Switzerland, it is also located in the Jura mountainous region. To its northeast it borders the canton of Bern, to the northwest France (Bourgogne-Franche-Comté). Lake Neuchâtel lies southeast of the canton, while the canton of Vaud is southwest of the canton of Neuchâtel. The canton lies in the central area of the Jura Mountains. Lake Neuchâtel drains the lands in the south, whilst the River Doubs drains the northern areas.
The canton is commonly divided into three regions. The viticultural region is located along the lake. Its name derives from the many vineyards found there. The region called Les Vallées lies further north. The two largest valleys of the canton of Neuchâtel lie in this region: the Ruz Valley and the Val de Travers. Both valleys lie at about 700 m (2,297 ft). The highest region of the canton, however, is the Neuchâtelois Mountains at 900 m (2,953 ft) to 1,065 m (3,494 ft). This region is made up of a long valley home to La Chaux-de-Fonds, Le Locle and La Brévine.
Neuchâtel was one of the first cantons in Switzerland to grant women the right to vote (1959) and also to grant the vote to foreigners holding a residence permit and who have been domiciled in the canton for at least five years (2002), as well as to lower the voting age to 18.
The legislature, the Grand Council of Neuchâtel, has 115 seats distributed in proportion to the population of the six districts that make up the electoral constituencies: Neuchâtel (35 seats), Boudry, (25) Val-de-Travers (8), Val-de-Ruz (10), Le Locle (10), La Chaux-de-Fonds (27). The State Council (cantonal government), five "ministers" who assume the annual presidency in turn and manage the departments of justice, health and safety; finance and social welfare; public economy; regional management; education and culture. The cantonal authorities, which have their seat in the castle (the Château de Neuchâtel), are elected every four years by universal suffrage.
The people also elect their representatives to the federal parliament every four years: five of the 200 members of the National Council (lower chamber) and two of the 46 members of the Council of States (upper chamber).
|Percentage of the total vote per party in the canton in the National Council Elections 1971-2015|
|FDP.The Liberalsa||Classical liberalism||24.3||22.4||20.6||19.4||20.4||22.5||25.7||20.5||14.8||12.7||26.9||24.4|
|CVP/PDC/PPD/PCD||Christian democracy||* b||*||*||*||*||*||*||*||*||3.3||3.5||3.6|
|Ring of Independents||Social liberalism||*||*||4.8||3.5||*||*||*||*||*||*||*||*|
|Voter participation %||48.3||47.2||43.3||43.7||37.4||38.1||31.9||34.0||50.4||50.2||42.4||41.8|
Until 2018 the Canton was divided into 6 districts. On 1 January 2018 the districts were dissolved and all municipalities were placed directly under the canton.
The population is almost entirely French-speaking. The canton has historically been strongly Protestant, but in recent decades it has received an influx of Roman Catholic arrivals, notably from Portugal and Italy. In 2000, its population was closely split between Protestants (38%) and Roman Catholics (31%).
The 177,964 inhabitants (as of 2017) are fairly evenly distributed with many small towns and villages lining the shore of the Lake of Neuchâtel. The average population density is 209 people per km2 (542 sq mi). Neuchâtel (2017 population: 33,578) is the canton's capital while La Chaux-de-Fonds (2017 population: 38,625) is the canton's largest settlement. Some 38,000 of the inhabitants, or a little less than a quarter of the population, are of foreign origin.
The canton is well known for its wines, which are grown along the Lake Neuchâtel shore, and for its absinthe. The Val-de-Travers is famous as the birthplace of absinthe, which has now been re-legalized both in Switzerland and globally. There are dairy farming and cattle breeding in the valleys, but it is for the breeding of horses that Neuchâtel has a fine reputation. Watchmaking is well-established in the canton, with fine mechanics and microchip production being established more recently. Higher educational institutions include Haute école de gestion de Neuchâtel and the University of Neuchâtel.
Buttes was a municipality in the district of Val-de-Travers in the canton of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. On 1 January 2009, the former municipalities of Boveresse, Buttes, Couvet, Fleurier, Les Bayards, Môtiers, Noiraigue, Saint-Sulpice and Travers merged to form Val-de-Travers.Chasseral Ouest
The Chasseral Ouest is a prominence west of the Chasseral, in the Jura Mountains. It is located on the border between the Swiss cantons of Neuchâtel and Bern. The Chasseral Ouest reaches an elevation of 1,552 metres above sea level and is the highest point of the canton of Neuchâtel.
The summit is easily accessible to hikers and is located near the Chasseral Pass road (1,502 m).Couvet
Couvet was a municipality in the district of Val-de-Travers in the canton of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. On 1 January 2009, the former municipalities of Boveresse, Buttes, Couvet, Fleurier, Les Bayards, Môtiers, Noiraigue, Saint-Sulpice and Travers merged to form the administrative district of Val-de-Travers.It is claimed that Couvet was the birthplace of absinthe at the end of the 18th century and it is now the home of La Clandestine Absinthe. It was also the home to Edouard Dubied & Co, a factory that used to make sewing machines.Fleurier
Fleurier was a municipality in the district of Val-de-Travers in the canton of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. On 1 January 2009, the former municipalities of Boveresse, Buttes, Couvet, Fleurier, Les Bayards, Môtiers, Noiraigue, Saint-Sulpice and Travers merged to form the administrative district of Val-de-Travers.The Nobel laureates, physicist Charles Édouard Guillaume and pharmacologist Daniel Bovet, both originated from Fleurier.La Chaux-de-Fonds
La Chaux-de-Fonds (French pronunciation: [laʃodəfɔ̃]) is a Swiss city of the district of La Chaux-de-Fonds in the canton of Neuchâtel. It is located in the Jura mountains at an altitude of 1000 m, a few kilometres south of the French border. After Geneva, Lausanne and Fribourg, it is the fourth largest city located in the Romandie, the French-speaking part of the country, with a population (as of December 2017) of 38,625.The city was founded in 1656. Its growth and prosperity is mainly bound up with the watch-making industry. It is the most important centre of the watch making industry in the area known as the Watch Valley. Partially destroyed by a fire in 1794, La Chaux-de-Fonds was rebuilt following a grid street plan, which was and is still original among Swiss cities, the only exception being the easternmost section of the city, which was spared of fire. This creates an interesting and obvious transition from the old section to the newer section. The roads in the original section are very narrow and winding, which then opens up to the grid pattern near the town square. The famous architect Le Corbusier, the writer Blaise Cendrars and the car maker Louis Chevrolet were born there. La Chaux-de-Fonds is a renowned centre of Art nouveau.
In 2009, La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle, its sister city, were jointly awarded UNESCO World Heritage status for their exceptional universal value.Lake Neuchâtel
Lake Neuchâtel (French: Lac de Neuchâtel; German: Neuenburgersee) is a lake primarily in Romandy, in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. The lake lies mainly in the canton of Neuchâtel, but is also shared by the cantons of Vaud, Fribourg, and Bern.
With a surface of 218.3 km2 (84 sq mi), Lake Neuchâtel is the largest lake located entirely in Switzerland and the 59th largest lake in Europe. It is 38.3 km (23.8 mi) long and 8.2 km (5.1 mi) at its widest. Its surface is 429 metres (1,407 ft) above sea level, and the maximum depth is 152 metres (499 ft). The total water volume is 14.0 km3 (3.4 cu mi). The lake's drainage area is approximately 2,670 km2 (1,031 sq mi) and its culminating point is Le Chasseron at 1,607 metres (5,272 ft).The lake is fed by the rivers L'Orbe (called La Thielle or La Thièle locally, downstream of the city of Orbe), L'Arnon, L'Areuse, Le Seyon, and La Menthue, as well as by the Canal de la Broye. The Thielle Canal (French: Canal de la Thielle, German: Zihlkanal) drains the lake into Lake Biel and is part of regulation system for the lakes and the rivers of the Seeland region.
Lake Neuchâtel was the home of the now extinct species of deepwater trout Salvelinus neocomensis.Le Locle
Le Locle is a municipality in Le Locle District in the Canton of Neuchâtel in Switzerland.
It is situated in the Jura Mountains, a few kilometers from the city of La Chaux-de-Fonds.
It is the third smallest city in Switzerland (in Switzerland a place needs more than 10,000 inhabitants to be considered a city).
Le Locle is known as a center of Swiss watchmaking, even cited as the birthplace of the industry, with roots dating back to the 1600s. The municipality has been home to manufactures such as Favre-Leuba Mido, Zodiac, Tissot, Ulysse Nardin, Zenith, Montblanc, Certina as well as Universal Genève, before the latter company relocated to Geneva. The town's history in watchmaking is documented at one of the world's premier horological museums, the Musée d'Horlogerie du Locle, Monts Castle, located in a 19th-century country manor on a hill north of the city Restored historic underground mills (grainmill, oilmill, sawmill) can be seen in a cave located about one kilometer (0.6 miles) west of the city center.The name of the town derives from the word for lake or trou d´eau.Les Bayards
Les Bayards was a municipality in the district of Val-de-Travers in the canton of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. On 1 January 2009, the former municipalities of Boveresse, Buttes, Couvet, Fleurier, Les Bayards, Môtiers, Noiraigue, Saint-Sulpice and Travers merged to form Val-de-Travers.Marin-Epagnier
Marin-Epagnier was a municipality in the district of Neuchâtel in the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel. On 1 January 2009, Marin-Epagnier and Thielle-Wavre merged to form the new municipality of La Tène.It is located at the northeastern tip of Lake Neuchâtel at an elevation of 455 meters, and, as of 2004, a population of 3,925 people. It lies close to Biel, at the boundary between French- and German-speaking regions, and at a knot of highways. Marin Epagnier has attracted numerous administrative offices and workshops of the micromechanics, electronics, and watchmaking industries, such as Métaux Précieux SA Métalor and TAG Heuer watches.
The blazon of Marin-Epagnier's coat-of-arms is: "Sable, a Lion rampant or langued and armed Gules".
The Iron Age archaeological site of La Tène is within Marin-Epagnier's communal boundaries; see La Tène culture for an account of the history of the site. La Tène was the name of the lakeside area south of Epagnier, at the eastern end of the Lake Neuchâtel.
La Tène has a sandy beach, unique in Switzerland.Municipalities of the canton of Neuchâtel
The following are the 31 municipalities of the canton of Neuchâtel, as of 2018.Môtiers
Môtiers was a municipality in the district of Val-de-Travers in the canton of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. On 1 January 2009, the former municipalities of Boveresse, Buttes, Couvet, Fleurier, Les Bayards, Môtiers, Noiraigue, Saint-Sulpice and Travers merged to form the administrative district of Val-de-Travers.The old castle, dating in part from the 14th century, stands on a rock spur 1km due south of the village. Today the property of the canton of Neuchâtel, it is occasionally used to host cultural events.Neuchâtel
Neuchâtel (French pronunciation: [nøʃatɛl]), or Neuchatel; (Old French: neu(f) "new" and chatel "castle" (French: château); German: Neuenburg; Italian: Neuchâtel; Romansh: Neuchâtel or Neufchâtel) is a town, a municipality, and the capital of the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel on Lake Neuchâtel.
The city has approximately 34,000 inhabitants (80,000 in the metropolitan area). The city is sometimes referred to historically by the German name Neuenburg , which has the same meaning. It was originally part of the Holy Roman Empire and later under Prussian control from 1707 until 1848.
The official language of Neuchâtel is French.
Neuchâtel is a pilot of the Council of Europe and the European Commission Intercultural Cities programme.Neuchâtel Castle
Neuchâtel Castle is a castle in the municipality of Neuchâtel of the Canton of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. It is a Swiss heritage site of national significance.Neuchâtel gulden
The gulden was the currency of Neuchâtel until 1850. It was subdivided into 21 batz, each of 4 creuzer. It was replaced by the Swiss franc.Noiraigue
Noiraigue was a municipality in the district of Val-de-Travers in the canton of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. On 1 January 2009, the former municipalities of Boveresse, Buttes, Couvet, Fleurier, Les Bayards, Môtiers, Noiraigue, Saint-Sulpice and Travers merged to form Val-de-Travers.René Felber
René Felber (born 14 March 1933) is a Swiss politician and member of the Swiss Federal Council (1987-1993).
Born 1933 in Bienne, Felber was a teacher in Boudevilliers and Le Locle (canton of Neuchâtel). He was mayor of Le Locle from 1964 to 1980 (in charge of gas and electricity supply and then of Finance), member of the Cantonal Parliament of Neuchâtel (1965-1976). He sat in the National Council from 1967 to 1981 when he became a member of the Conseil d'Etat (State Council) of the canton of Neuchâtel in charge of the Finance Department until his election to the Federal Council. In 1980/81, he was the floor leader of the Social Democratic Party in the Federal Parliament.
He was elected to the Swiss Federal Council on 9 December 1987 as member of the Canton of Neuchâtel and for the Social Democratic Party.
During his time in office, he headed the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and was President of the Confederation in 1992. Felber fought for Swiss membership of the European Economic Area that was narrowly defeated in a referendum on 6 December 1992.
He resigned from the Council on 31 March 1993 for health reasons.Stade de la Maladière
Stade de la Maladière is a multi-purpose stadium in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. It is currently used mostly for football matches and is the home ground of Neuchâtel Xamax. The stadium holds 12,000. It replaced the old Stade de la Maladière.Travers, Switzerland
Travers was a municipality in the district of Val-de-Travers in the canton of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. On 1 January 2009, the former municipalities of Boveresse, Buttes, Couvet, Fleurier, Les Bayards, Môtiers, Noiraigue, Saint-Sulpice and Travers merged to form Val-de-Travers.Vaumarcus
Vaumarcus is a former municipality in the district of Boudry in the canton of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. On 1 January 2018 the former municipalities of Bevaix, Saint-Aubin-Sauges, Gorgier, Vaumarcus, Montalchez and Fresens merged into the new municipality of La Grande-Béroche.
Territories and provinces of Prussia (1525–1947)