Canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden

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Canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden
coat of arms
coat of arms
Canton of the Swiss Confederation
Abbreviation / license plate : AR
Official language : German
Main town : Herisau , Trogen
Largest place : Herisau
Accession to the federal government : 1513
Area : 242.84  km²
Height range : 431–2501 m above sea level M.
Residents: 55,234 (December 31, 2018)
Population density : 227 inhabitants per km²
Proportion of foreigners :
(residents without citizenship )
15.7% (December 31, 2015)
Unemployment rate : 2.0% (December 31, 2015)
Location of the canton in Switzerland
Location of the canton in Switzerland
Map of the canton
Map of the canton
Municipalities of the canton
Municipalities of the canton

Coordinates: 47 ° 23 '  N , 9 ° 19'  E ; CH1903:  seven hundred and forty-one thousand five hundred and twenty-four  /  two hundred and forty-nine thousand one hundred and ninety-seven

Appenzell Ausserrhoden ( abbreviation AR ; in local Swiss German Appezell Osserode, French Appenzell Rhodes-Extérieures, Italian Appenzello Esterno, Rhaeto-Romanic Appenzell Dadora ? / I ) is a canton in northeastern German-speaking Switzerland and belongs to the region of northeastern Switzerland and the greater region of Eastern Switzerland . The government, parliament and, since the end of November 2012, the police headquarters are in Herisau , while the court is still in Trogen . Audio file / audio sample



Appenzell Ausserrhoden borders on the cantons of Appenzell Innerrhoden and St. Gallen . The two Appenzell are completely surrounded by the canton of St. Gallen.

The highest mountain is the Säntis ( 2502  m above sea level ) in the Alpstein , on which the borders of the three cantons of Appenzell Innerrhoden, Appenzell Ausserrhoden and St. Gallen meet.

In the canton, 11,945 hectares of the total area are used as agricultural land.

The geographical center of the canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden is outside the canton, namely in the neighboring canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden .



The inhabitants of the canton are called Ausserrhoder . As of December 31, 2018, the population of the canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden was 55,234. The population density of 227 inhabitants per square kilometer is above the Swiss average (207 inhabitants per square kilometer). The proportion of foreigners (registered residents without Swiss citizenship ) was 15.7 percent on December 31, 2015, while 24.6 percent were registered nationwide. As of December 31, 2015, the unemployment rate was 2.0 percent compared to 3.7 percent at the federal level.


The official language is German .

The spoken Appenzell German belongs to the north-east of Swiss German . There is little difference between the fore, midland and hinterland, only the Kurzenberg dialect differs more. Today, however, the local Appenzell dialect is harassed by the north-eastern Swiss Koiné .

Religions - denominations

The canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden is an Evangelical Reformed canton. Its territory separated in 1597 as part of the division of land from the previous capital, which had remained Roman Catholic , or what later became Appenzell Innerrhoden.

Since the 2000 census, there are no longer any membership figures for the various religious communities for the entire population of the canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden. However, the Federal Statistical Office carries out sample surveys in which people aged 15 and over are interviewed. In the 2017 sample survey, a third of respondents aged 15 and over in the canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden stated that they did not belong to either of the two regional churches . Depending on nationality or origin, the religion of the population also differs significantly in some cases:

Population aged 15 and over in Appenzell Ausserrhoden by religion and nationality / origin, 2017
(figures in percent, rounded)
religion Total of
Swiss people
without a migration
with a migration
heads of state
Christianity 73 76 79 63 52
- Evangelical Reformed Church 38 44 49 17th 05
- Roman Catholic Church 28 27 27 28 31
- other Christian churches 07th 05 03 18th 16
other religions 04th 02 00 11 16
- Islam 03 01 00 08th 12
- other religions 01 01 00 03 04th
non-denominational 22nd 21st 20th 23 28
other / no information 01 01 01 03 04th

Constitution and Politics

The current cantonal constitution was enacted by the Landsgemeinde on April 30, 1995 and central points were changed following the abolition of the Landsgemeinde in 1997.

legislative branch

Cantonal Council

The legislative authority is the Cantonal Council . It has 65 members who have been elected for four years in their local communities. Every Ausserrhoder municipality has the right to at least one cantonal council seat. The remaining seats are distributed among the municipalities according to the number of inhabitants. In most municipalities, the majority voting system applies to the election , but the municipalities have the competence to introduce the proportional voting system. Only Herisau has made use of this competence so far.

Distribution of seats after the elections between 2003 and 2019
Political party 2003 2007 2011 2015 2019 Distribution of seats in 2019 Share of voters in percent
FDP.The Liberals (FDP) 31 26th 24 24 24
20th 24 7th 
A total of 65 seats
  • SP : 9
  • EVP : 2
  • CVP : 3
  • Independent: 20
  • FDP : 24
  • SVP : 7
Cantonal election on March 17, 2019
Turnout: 35.9%
Gains and losses
compared to 2015
 % p
Social Democratic Party of Switzerland (SP) 05 04th 05 06th 09
Swiss People's Party (SVP) 11 08th 10 12 07th
Christian Democratic People's Party (CVP) 02 03 03 05 03
Evangelical People's Party (EPP) 02 01 01 02
Independent of party 16 22nd 22nd 18th 20th

Number of seats in the municipalities (as of March 29, 2019):

1: Schönengrund , Hundwil , Wald , Grub , Reute , Lutzenberg
2 each: Wolfhalden , Bühler , Schwellbrunn , Stein , Rehetobel , Walzenhausen , Trogen , Waldstatt
3: Urnaesch
4: Gais
5 each: Memory , pagans
7: Depth
19: Herisau

Direct democratic rights

300 residents who are entitled to vote and vote can apply for a total or partial revision of the constitution and the enactment, amendment or repeal of a law by means of a popular initiative .

A popular vote ( compulsory referendum ) is subject to amendments to the constitution; Popular initiatives to which the Cantonal Council does not approve unchanged; Amendments to a law if requested by a third of the cantonal councilors present; as well as financial decisions that exceed the final authority of the Cantonal Council. In addition, laws and international treaties with a legislative character must be submitted to the referendum if this is requested by 300 voters ( optional referendum ).

The popular discussion is a special feature of Appenzell : every canton resident can submit written proposals to the canton council on material proposals that are subject to the mandatory or optional referendum and give reasons for these personally to the council in accordance with the rules of procedure.

Former parish

Until its abolition in 1997 (with a decided at the rural community of ballot) all cantonal votes and elections were on the last Sunday in April annual at the rural community decided. It took place alternately in even years in Trogen and in odd years in Hundwil .

The voters gathered at the respective Landsgemeindeplatz in the "Ring", while the cantonal government stood on the "chair" (a kind of wooden stage). The ring was marked by a guy line, consisting of a thick rope held by soldiers from the so-called "Landsgemeindewache" from an Appenzell unit. The “side gun”, the parish sword passed down in the family or given to the community when they came of age, was used as a voting card entitling the holder to enter the ring. Those who did not have a sword could also take the military bayonet with them as a voting card. Only after the cantonal women's right to vote was adopted in 1989 was the printed voting card valid for women.

At the beginning of the Landsgemeinde, the Appenzell Landsgemeindelied was sung by the electorate and the government (“Ode to God” by Caroline Rudolphi , music: Johann Heinrich Tobler ). This was followed by the swearing-in of the government and the electorate before the election and business matters came to a vote.

The government voted by raising a hand and then multiplying (visual comparison of the number of raised hands from the chair). If the result was unclear, the increase was repeated and if the vote remained almost equal, three community governors were called to the chair to help with the increase. The decision of the now numerically strengthened cantonal government was given definitive validity.

During the elections, the names of people proposed for election had to be shouted loudly. The understood names were acknowledged by the countrywoman on the chair and asked for further suggestions. For example, rather unknown local politicians were repeatedly elected in place of the officially proposed candidates.

At the Ausserrhoder Landsgemeinde there was no free debate, so that the decidedly solemn Landsgemeinde usually ended after 60 to 90 minutes.

Erich Langjahr shot the documentary Men in the Ring about the last “male rural community” in Hundwil in 1989, where cantonal women's suffrage was accepted .

Executive - Government Council

The highest managing, planning and executing authority is the government council . Since mid-2015, it has consisted of five full-time government councilors who are elected by the people in a majority vote for four years. The chairman of the government council is the Landammann , who is elected by the people for two years.

Members of the government council (term of office 2019-2023)
Government Council Political party department
Alfred Stricker, Landammann non-party Department of Education and Culture
Paul Signer FDP Finance Department
Dölf Biasotto FDP Department of Construction and Economics
Yves Noël Balmer SP Department of Health and Social Affairs
Hansueli Reutegger SVP Home Affairs and Security Department


Ordinary jurisdiction is exercised in the first instance by the cantonal court and in the second instance by the higher court.

The mediators are placed upstream of the cantonal court as the arbitrating lower instance in civil matters . Other arbitration authorities are the arbitration board for rent and non-agricultural lease as well as the arbitration board for discrimination in employment .

Since the administrative court, created in 1994 and effective from 1995, was integrated into the higher court in early 2011, its administrative law departments have exercised administrative jurisdiction .


The municipalities are autonomous within the framework of cantonal law and regulate their organization in a municipal code.

Party system

The FDP is by far the strongest party in Ausserrhoden. It currently occupies the seat of the Council of States and two of the five seats in the government council, one seat is occupied by the Swiss People's Party (SVP), one by the Social Democratic Party (SP) and one by an independent party. A representative of the Christian Democratic People's Party (CVP) has never been elected to the Ausserrhoder government.

There are also reading societies in the municipalities that often recommend non-party members, which partly explains the high number of non-party members in the cantonal council. Another explanation for the unusually high proportion of non-party voters is the majority voting system that is used in 19 out of 20 municipalities.

Appenzell Ausserrhoden in the federal government

As a former half-canton, Appenzell Ausserrhoden has one seat on the Council of States . The canton is currently entitled to one seat in the National Council , in which the seats are allocated according to the number of inhabitants.

Administrative division


After the land was divided, the six Rhodes of the undivided canton of Appenzell, which were now in the area of ​​Ausserrhoden, became communities of the same name with largely the same borders. There were some changes in the borderline at the new border with Innerrhoden.

In the course of time, many communities split up until the current structure of 20 communities emerged with the separation of Steins from Hundwil around 1749 .

Municipalities in the canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden

Listed below are seven of the twenty municipalities with more than 2,000 inhabitants as of December 31, 2018:

Political municipality
(community of residents)
Herisau 15,745
Depth 06265
Storage 04382
Heathens 04162
Gais 03091
Urnaesch 02303
Walzenhausen 01971


Former districts of the canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden

In 1858 the canton was divided into three districts. The district administration was officially abolished in 1995. However, the breakdown lives on in the three regions that correspond to the former districts and is still very common in daily life (for example in the names of sports events and clubs). The registry offices are also broken down into the three former districts, and the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) continues to number the communes according to the old administrative district division at the request of the canton.

The three former districts are:

  • Hinterland (municipalities: Herisau (district capital), Hundwil, Schönengrund, Schwellbrunn, Stein, Urnäsch, Waldstatt)
  • Mittelland (municipalities: Bühler, Gais, Speicher, Teufen (district capital), Trogen)
  • Vorderland (municipalities: Grub, Heiden (district capital), Lutzenberg, Rehetobel, Reute, Wald, Walzenhausen, Wolfhalden)


The cantonal road network covers a total of 227 kilometers, of which are

In 2019, the level of motorization (passenger cars per 1000 inhabitants) was 579. There are no motorways and no meter of SBB track in the Ausserrhoder area .

The many private railways in Appenzell played a pioneering role in the Swiss rail system. Most are narrow-gauge railways, some of which have gear sections. The Rorschach-Heiden-Bergbahn (RHB), which is one of the very few standard-gauge rack-and-pinion railways in the world, has a special position . Since July 1, 2006, the Appenzell Railways have been united under the umbrella of the Appenzeller Bahnen (AB).

regional customs

Appenzell hinterland

New Year's Eve

In the hinterland and parts of the Central Plateau of Appenzell Ausserrhoden, the custom of New Year's Eve is maintained. Chlausen takes place on December 31st and / or January 13th, depending on the location.

Gidio Hosestoss

Every year on Ash Wednesday the eerily beautiful farewell ceremony for the most famous Herisau citizen takes place in Herisau . The honorable Gidio Hosestoss is buried and, like over 150 years ago, he suffocated on a stolen treat (small gingerbread without filling) this year. The funeral procession leads through the center of the village of Herisau and is led by his poor widow Eulalia Fadehäx and other relatives on moving trucks. Always there is the "Gidiopfarrer", a high school student who pointedly and with a sharp tongue included the past year in the funeral speech for Gidio. After the funeral service there will be treats, donuts and Öhrli for all children. Poor Gidio is then burned at the stake on Spark Sunday and offered as a sacrifice for an early beginning of spring.

The office of Gidioparre is always handed over from the current pastor to the next. Hardly any inhabitant knows who will be the pastor this year until Ash Wednesday, and so a lot is rumored and suspected from the outset.

The origin of the Gidio is believed to be in the neighboring Gossau. The name "Gidio" comes from the time when the children on the street said: "You're a Gidio!" Today the meaning of this statement is usually expressed much more clearly. The Gidio parade is only known to Waldstatt , which presumably adopted this custom from Herisau.

The Bloch

The bloch (large tree trunk) symbolizes the last trunk that is pulled out of the forest by wood extraction in winter. It is said to have been given by the forest owner to his hardworking workers, who are now pulling the tribe on a wagon in a colorful parade through the neighboring communities and proudly showing it to the population. In the evening, the tribe is donated and the proceeds are used to finance a party for the Bloch team. That is the background of this custom.

In addition to the carriage crew (dairymen, farmers and woodworkers), the Bloch team includes the blacksmith, who heats an iron stove mounted on the Bloch and audibly announces the arrival of Bloch with hammer blows on the anvil and firecrackers, the «hunter» (on horseback ), the bear and the bear keeper (the bear escapes the bear keeper occasionally and then frightfully chases after the children in the audience until he's caught again) and the "Kässelibuebe", who rattle a collecting box.

In reality, the Bloch is only grown by adult men in Urnäsch and only every two years. In the communities of Hundwil , Schwellbrunn and Stein , the train crew is made up of boys from the lower to upper grades every year (so-called “Buebebloch”).

Since Bloch Monday 2012, Herisau has had its own Bloch again after an interruption of 98 years, which is run by a newly founded men's Bloch Society.

Free healing activity

As early as 1871, the cantonal parish had decided by a large majority to adopt a law that allowed "free healing" for everyone. The canton's constitution guarantees this "free healing activity" even today (Article 48.6). It also stipulates that “the canton supervises public and private health care institutions, the health professions and the therapeutic products sector” (Article 48, paragraph 5). As part of the “free healing activity” and the Federal Medicines Act , the cantonal medicinal product control department regulates the area of ​​drug production and the area of ​​drug dispensing. In addition, the cantonal therapeutic product control department is responsible for the examination and approval of naturopaths in the canton. The special status of "free healing activity" meant that the canton of Appenzell A.Rh. - with a focus on Herisau and Teufen - became the canton of natural doctors , dentists and natural remedy manufacturers .


In 1597, Appenzell was divided into the Catholic Innerrhoden and the Reformed Outer Rhodes. The main place (town hall, stock ( neck iron stick ) and gallows) for Ausserrhoden was Trogen . From the 16th century, large textile houses were founded in various communities. The textile industry declined in the crisis years 1920 to 1939. Since 1749, Ausserrhoden has consisted of twenty parishes with nineteen Reformed parishes (Lutzenberg remains church connected to Thal SG ). The first liberal constitution was adopted in 1834 and revised in 1876 and 1908. In 1876 Herisau became the meeting place for the Cantonal Council, the seat of the government and important administrative branches. Various railway lines were built between 1875 and 1913. In 1910 the highest level of the non-Rhodian population was reached with 57,793 people (1990: 52,229). Johannes Baumann became the first Federal Councilor in Appenzell in 1934 . The right to vote for women was introduced at community level in 1974, and in 1989 it was extended to the canton. At the cantonal and communal level, the right to vote was reduced to 18 years.

For the first time in history, two women were elected to the government council in 1994. In 1995 a completely revised cantonal constitution was adopted. The Appenzell-Ausserrhodische Kantonalbank was sold to the Schweizerische Bankgesellschaft (SBG) in 1996 by bank president Hans-Rudolf Merz . In 1997 the Landsgemeinde was abolished and the government council was elected at the ballot box for the first time in 1998. In 2002, on the basis of the optional (instead of the previous obligatory) referendum introduced in 1997, a vote on a proposal took place at the ballot box for the first time. In 2015 the government was reformed.

Web links

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References and comments

  1. The cantonal constitution does not define a main town. Herisau is home to the government, parliament and the cantonal police, but that of the higher court is in Trogen. Appenzell Ausserrhoden therefore does not have a clearly defined main town, since in all other cantons all the authorities mentioned are located in the main town.
  2. Balance of the permanent resident population by canton, definitive annual results, 2018. Federal Statistical Office (FSO), August 27, 2019, accessed on September 18, 2019 (definitive annual results).
  3. Structure of the permanent resident population by cantons. Federal Statistical Office (FSO), August 26, 2016, accessed on May 31, 2017 .
  4. ^ The situation on the job market in December 2015. (PDF; 807 kB) State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), January 8, 2016, p. 9 , archived from the original on January 12, 2016 ; accessed on January 13, 2016 .
  5. Cantonal police move to Herisau. (No longer available online.), November 26, 2012, archived from the original on March 4, 2016 ; Retrieved June 20, 2015 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  6. Small but clear. Facts and figures 2019/20. Cantonal office of Appenzell Ausserrhoden, 2019, accessed on June 11, 2019 .
  7. Balance of the permanent resident population by canton, definitive annual results, 2018. Federal Statistical Office (FSO), August 27, 2019, accessed on September 18, 2019 (definitive annual results).
  8. Structure of the permanent resident population by cantons. Federal Statistical Office (FSO), August 26, 2016, accessed on May 31, 2017 .
  9. ^ The situation on the job market in December 2015. (PDF; 807 kB) State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), January 8, 2016, p. 9 , archived from the original on January 12, 2016 ; accessed on January 13, 2016 .
  10. Jakob Vetsch : The sounds of the Appenzell dialect. Frauenfeld 1910 (contributions to Swiss German grammar I).
  11. ^ Stefan Sonderegger , Thomas Gadmer: Appenzeller Sprachbuch. The Appenzell dialect in all its diversity. Appenzell / Herisau 1999.
  12. Audio sample: Otto Frehner, “D Appezëller Landsgmënd” ( Memento of the original from February 15, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  13. a b Since the last census in 2000, there are no more precise figures on the religious affiliation of the total population (of all ages) for the canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden. However, the Federal Statistical Office has been carrying out sample surveys on the religious communities in the canton since 2010, with people aged 15 and over being interviewed. It should be noted that the results of the surveys show a confidence interval. See also Population Census in Switzerland # Structure Survey .
  14. Federal Statistical Office: Permanent resident population aged 15 and over by religious affiliation and canton, 2017. (XLSX; 377 kB) 2019, accessed on May 12, 2020 .
  15. ^ Constitution of the Canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden. The federal authorities of the Swiss Confederation ( ), accessed on July 30, 2014 .
  16. Constitution of the canton Appenzell A.Rh. of April 30, 1995 (as of January 1, 2011) - issued by the Landsgemeinde on April 30, 1995. Canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden, accessed on July 30, 2014 .
  17. On March 4, 2018, the voters of Appenzell Ausserrhoden spoke out in favor of carrying out a total revision of the cantonal constitution . This means that the Ausserrhoder cantonal constitution is being scrutinized as a whole twenty years after it came into force.
  18. ^ Arnold Eugster: The rural community of Appenzell Ausserhoden. In: Heimatschutz = Patrimoine, Vol. 24, 1929, pp. 17-28, accessed on July 27, 2020.
  19. Before the reform of the government that was adopted in 2014 and implemented in 2015, the government council consisted of seven full-time government councilors. The Landammann was also elected directly by the people at that time, originally annually at the Landsgemeinde, and from 1998 in a ballot box for the entire four-year legislative period.
  20. ^ Government Council. Cantonal Office (Appenzell Ausserrhoden), accessed on June 11, 2019 .
  21. FDP defends seat - Dölf Biasotto elected to the Ausserrhoder government. March 19, 2017, accessed on March 19, 2017 (replacement for Marianne Koller-Bohl ).
  22. municipalities. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on January 18, 2017 ; accessed on January 18, 2017 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  23. Permanent and non-permanent resident population by year, canton, district, municipality, population type and gender (permanent resident population). In: bfs. . Federal Statistical Office (FSO), August 31, 2019, accessed on December 22, 2019 .
  24. ^ Directory of the cantonal roads. Retrieved January 18, 2017 .
  26. Buebebloch. Schwellbrunn municipal administration, accessed on July 30, 2014 .
  27. Bruno Eisenhut: Bloch awakes. St. Galler Tagblatt , February 28, 2012, accessed July 30, 2014 .
  28. ^ Office for Health. Alternative practitioners
  29. Constitution of the canton Appenzell A.Rh. As of June 1, 2015 (digitized version)
  30. Cantonal agency for therapeutic products control
  31. Hans Koller: The free healing activity in Appenzell A.Rh. In: Appenzellische Jahrbücher, Volume 98 (1970), pp. 3–54 ( digitized version ).
  32. Notker Kessler: The free healing activity in the health law of the canton Appenzell Ausserrhoden (Zürcher medizeschichtliche Abhandlungen 146). Juris, Zurich 1981.