Canton of Nidwalden

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Canton of Nidwalden
coat of arms
coat of arms
Canton of the Swiss Confederation
Abbreviation / license plate : NW
Official language : German
Main town : Stans
Accession to the federal government : 1291
Area : 275.85  km²
Height range : 432–2896 m above sea level M.
Residents: 43,223 (December 31, 2018)
Population density : 157 inhabitants per km²
Proportion of foreigners :
(residents without citizenship )
13.9% (December 31, 2015)
Unemployment rate : 1.4% (December 31, 2015)
Location of the canton in Switzerland
Location of the canton in Switzerland
Map of the canton
Map of the canton
Political municipalities of the canton
Political municipalities of the canton

Coordinates: 46 ° 57 '  N , 8 ° 24'  E ; CH1903:  673 185  /  200327

Nidwalden ( abbreviation NW , in local dialect Nidwaudä, Nidwaldä, French Nidwald, Italian Nidvaldo, Rhaeto-Romanic Sutsilvania ? / I ) is a German-speaking canton of Switzerland that belongs to the greater region of Central Switzerland ( Central Switzerland). The main town and at the same time the largest town is Stans . Nidwalden and Obwalden together formed Unterwalden , one of the three original cantons of the Swiss Confederation, from which the older name Unterwalden nid der Wald comes from. Audio file / audio sample


The highest point in the canton is the Rotstöckli at 2901  m above sea level. M. , which orographically belongs to the Uri Alps . Most of the canton, however, belong to the Unterwaldner Voralpen , a part of the Central Swiss Voralpen . The lowest point at 434  m above sea level. M. is the lake level of the Vierwaldstättersee .

Nidwalden is located in the center of Switzerland . In the north the inland canton is bounded by Lake Lucerne, in all other directions by mountain ranges. The neighboring cantons are Lucerne , Obwalden, Uri , Schwyz and Bern .


The inhabitants of the canton are called Nidwalden . As of December 31, 2018, the population of the canton of Nidwalden was 43,223. The population density of 157 inhabitants per square kilometer is below the Swiss average (207 inhabitants per square kilometer). The proportion of foreigners (registered residents without Swiss citizenship ) was 13.9 percent on December 31, 2015, while 24.6 percent were registered nationwide. As of December 31, 2015, the unemployment rate was 1.4 percent compared to 3.7 percent at the federal level.

Population development in Nidwalden since 1799 Source: Population censuses (1850–2000 Federal), Federal Statistical Office (since 2010)


The official language in the canton of Nidwalden is German . In 2017, 92.1 percent of the population stated German or Swiss German as their main language.

The Nidwalden dialect is highly Alemannic . Local dialectal differences can be demonstrated with the number word "five": fiif [fiːf] is said in Hergiswil, fììf [fɪːf] in Stans and feyf [feɪ̯f] in Wolfenschiessen. Since the lower parts of the canton are now in the Lucerne catchment area , the traditional local dialects are under pressure from Lucerne German.

Religions - denominations

The canton of Nidwalden is a predominantly Catholic canton. In 2017, 63.3 percent of the population was Roman Catholic , 10.5 percent Evangelical Reformed and 15.0 percent non-denominational .

The Catholic parishes belong to the Diocese of Chur , the Reformed to the Evangelical Reformed Church in Nidwalden .


In contrast to the old federal constitution , in which Nidwalden was listed as a half-canton , Nidwalden is listed as an independent canton in the federal constitution of April 18, 1999. The principle of legal equality between the cantons applies. However, two limitations exist for the principle of equality: the cantons of Basel-Stadt , Basel-Country , Appenzell Inner Rhodes , Appenzell Outer Rhodes , Obwalden and Nidwalden are used in the representation in the Senate as well as in determining the cantonal majority in the mandatory referendum only half the weight.


The constitution of the canton of Nidwalden (until 2010: constitution of the canton of Unterwalden nid dem Wald ) was enacted in 1965 and has since been changed several times.

Direct democratic people's rights

Enactment and amendment of the constitution, then enactments and amendments to laws, insofar as there is a "counter-motion" from "active citizenship", and spending decisions on one-off expenditures of more than 5 million Swiss francs or annual recurring expenditures of more than 500,000 francs are mandatory the popular vote ( compulsory referendum ).

The other legislative enactments and amendments, the inter-cantonal agreements, spending resolutions on one-off expenses of more than 250,000 francs or annually recurring expenses of more than 50,000 francs as well as the determination of the tax rate are subject to a referendum if requested by 250 active citizens is decided by the district administrator ( optional referendum ).

Active citizenship can propose amendments to the constitution and the law itself if 250 active citizens support a proposal (“application”). A partial revision of the constitution requires the support of 500, and a total revision of the constitution that of 1000 active citizens ( popular initiative ).

The traditional Landsgemeinde and with it the mandatory legal referendum were abolished in 1996.

Legislature - District Administrator

The legislative body ( legislature ) is the canton parliament called the district administrator . The district administrator has 60 seats and is elected for a four-year legislative period using proportional representation. Since 2014, seats have been allocated according to the system of the double proportional allocation procedure (double proportional ).

The last elections for the district administrator took place on March 4, 2018. The bourgeois parties, the Swiss People's Party (SVP) with 15 seats, the Christian Democratic People's Party (CVP) with 16 seats and the FDP, while the Liberals with 17 seats have a majority. The Green Nidwalden (GN) and the Social Democratic Party (SP) / Juso have eight and three seats respectively, and one seat went to a non-party.

Results of the 2002-2018 elections:

Political party 2002 2006 2010 2014 2018 Distribution of seats in 2018
Seats percent Seats percent Seats percent Seats percent Seats percent
Swiss People's Party (SVP) 07th 13.60 10 19.37 19th 26.61 17th 29.14 15th 25.91
8th 16 17th 15th 
A total of 60 seats
  • GN : 8
  • SP : 3
  • CVP : 16
  • FDP : 17
  • SVP : 15
  • Nemitz : 1
Christian Democratic People's Party (CVP) 24 33.50 23 30.93 18th 31.14 17th 29.06 16 26.74
FDP.The Liberals (FDP) 19th 31.90 18th 29.85 17th 27.82 15th 24.20 17th 28.01
Green Nidwalden (GN)
Democratic Nidwalden (DN)
07th 19.70 05 13.07 05 11.93 08th 12.82 08th 13.41
Social Democratic Party and Juso (SP / Juso) 02 01 3.70 01 2.09 03 4.78 03 04.47
Independent (Pierre Nemitz) 0- 0- 0- 0- 0- 0- 0- 0- 01 01.46
Free List Nidwalden (FLN) 0- 0- 02 02.40 0- 0- 0- 0- 0- 0-
Non-party list Dallenwil (PLD) 01 01.30 01 00.69 0- 0- 0- 0- 0- 0-

The elected representative of the PLD had joined the SVP parliamentary group at the time. The SP and the DN supported each other. In 2006 this led to a joint list in two municipalities (free list). The Democratic Nidwalden belongs to the Swiss Green Party and changed its name to Green Nidwalden on January 1, 2009 . Since 2010 the Greens and the SP have been competing separately again, most recently the SP started together with the Juso.

Executive - Government Council

The executive body ( executive ) is the government council and consists of seven people. The government council is elected for four years in a majority voting process. The chairman of the committee is called Landammann , in the female form Ms. Landammann, the vice-president of the state governor . Both are elected for one year.

The last elections took place on March 4, 2018. For the term of office from 2018 to 2022, the Nidwalden government consists of two representatives from the FDP, three representatives from the CVP and two representatives from the SVP.

Members of the Nidwalden government council (term of office 2018–2022)
Government Council function Political party Directorate
Alfred Bossard Landammann FDP Finance Directorate
Othmar Filliger Provincial governor CVP Department of Economics
Res Schmid member SVP Education Directorate
Michèle Blöchliger member SVP Health and Social Directorate
Joe Christians member FDP Agriculture and Environment Directorate
Josef Niederberger member CVP Building Director
Karin Kayser-Frutschi member CVP Justice and Security Directorate

Hugo Murer acts as land clerk.

Judicial branch - case law

Civil and criminal jurisdiction is exercised in the first cantonal instance by the cantonal court and in the second cantonal instance by the higher court. In most civil law matters, the proceedings before the court are preceded by an attempted conciliation before the cantonal conciliation authority.

Jurisdiction in administrative and social security disputes is exercised by the administrative court.

Constitutional Court is the higher court.

Administrative division

Municipalities in the canton of Nidwalden

All eleven political municipalities as of December 31, 2018 are listed below :

Political community Residents
Stans 8393
Hergiswil 5777
Buochs 5311
Ennetbürgen 4801
Stansstad 4580
Beckenried 3672
Oberdorf 3124
Wolf shooting 2097
Ennetmoos 2193
Dallenwil 1846
Emmetten 1429

The canton of Nidwalden is not divided into districts. The Federal Statistical Office (FSO) lists the entire canton as one district under FSO no. : 0700.

Federal parliamentarians

The canton of Nidwalden has a national council and a council of states . The Nidwalden representation in the Council of States has been FDP politician Hans Wicki since November 30, 2015 . The Weltwoche journalist Peter Keller from SVP has served as National Councilor since 2011 .


In 2016, the gross domestic product (GDP) was 2,934 million Swiss francs and therefore 69,048 Swiss francs per inhabitant. In 2012 there were 22,691 employees in the canton of Nidwalden, of which 1,374 were in the primary (primary production) , 6,490 in the secondary (industry) and 14,827 in the tertiary sector (services) . 3,992 jobs were counted in the canton in 2012 (500 of them in the primary, 574 in the secondary and 2,918 in the tertiary sector). The unemployment rate amounted at 31 December 2015 of 1.4 percent compared to 3.7 percent at the federal level.

First sector

Until the 20th century, Nidwalden was economically dominated by agriculture. Cattle and cheese were mainly exported to northern Italy.

Traditional farms and forestry are still important. Agriculture specializes in animal husbandry and dairy products. The farms are still family businesses. 16.6 percent of the establishments entitled to direct payments work according to organic guidelines .

Second sector

Trade, industry and tourism began to gain importance from the middle of the 19th century. Today many small and medium-sized entrepreneurs have established themselves in Nidwalden. The aircraft manufacturer Pilatus Aircraft is a major employer. Many of the industrial companies have specialized in mechanical engineering, medical equipment, international trade, optics or electronics.

Nidwalden is located in the middle of Switzerland, on the main north-south traffic axis and bordering Lake Lucerne. The connections to the road and rail network are therefore correspondingly good and favor the activities of nationally and internationally oriented companies.

Third sector

The regional banks are the Nidwaldner Kantonalbank and the Raiffeisenbank Nidwalden in Stans.

Because of the mountainous surroundings, tourism in Nidwalden is of great importance. The lake and the mountains attract many vacationers, both in summer and in winter. The lakeside communities have a variety of water sports and the foothills of the Alps are well developed with mountain railways. The most important tourist areas are Klewenalp , the Stanserhorn , the Titlis Glacier, the Bannalp and the Bürgenstock .


The canton has good transport links. The A2 runs right through the canton. In Hergiswil NW, the A8 branches off in the direction of Brünig . The road lines Lucerne - Engelberg , Lucerne - Sarnen - Brünig - Interlaken , Stans - Seelisberg and Stans - Kerns - Sarnen are the most important main routes for regional road traffic. In 2019, the degree of motorization (passenger cars per 1000 inhabitants) was 625.

The canton of Nidwalden is well served by public transport, especially by the Luzern – Stans – Engelberg line of the Zentralbahn . This branches off in Hergiswil NW from the Brünigbahn line, which also belongs to the Zentralbahn . Various municipalities can be reached by post bus from Stans .


Main article: History of the Canton of Nidwalden

Around 1291 Unterwalden (Nidwalden and Obwalden) founded the Confederation together with Uri and Schwyz . At that time it was not a state, but the first forms of government were established around the 14th and 15th centuries. These were early forms of rural communities and courts. In the 14th and 15th centuries, MPs from Nidwalden met with MPs from Obwalden to discuss important matters, but the two half-cantons were never one. For example, Obwalden was not involved when the areas of Bellinzona , Riviera and Blenio , which are now part of the Canton of Ticino , were annexed .

Around 1500 many people from Nidwalden went into foreign service as mercenaries. Some later emigrated forever, many to Alsace . After Nidwalden had rejected the Helvetic Constitution - the ideas of the French Revolution were not very popular in scenic Nidwalden - Nidwalden was ravaged by French troops on September 9, 1798. During these days of horror in Nidwalden , numerous damage was done and at least 400 people lost their lives. After Napoleon's defeat in 1814, many of the changes were reversed. Only in 1877 did Nidwalden introduce a new constitution. The Landsgemeinde was abolished in 1997.

coat of arms

Coat of arms of the canton of Nidwalden
Blazon : « In red a silver (white) double key. »
Justification for the coat of arms: The key is the symbol of St. Peter as the patron saint of Stans. Its shape as a double key was chosen to distinguish it from the coat of arms of Obwalden, which initially used a shield divided by red and silver analogous to the banner, but then also used a simple key.


Traditional culture is kept alive in Nidwalden by many small associations. There is traditional music, yodelling, dance, theater and traditional festivals. But modern culture is not neglected either. Concerts or galleries are widespread.

Two of the most famous Swiss film directors come from Nidwalden, Fredi M. Murer and Urs Odermatt , also some of the most important Swiss photographers, namely Martin Imboden , Arnold Odermatt and Leonard von Matt .


The song “Between the seas and heeche bears” by Heinrich J. Leuthold (1910–2001) is also known as the “Nidwalden Hymne”.

The Nidwalden hair snail is named after the canton, as it was first recorded in 1917 in a small area around the Bannalp (municipality of Wolfenschiessen ), which is still one of its main distribution areas today.

The inhabitants of Nidwalden are also jokingly referred to as rice sacks . The expression is based on the Reissäcklein (travel sack), a small bag, usually made of green cotton or wool, which is a traditional part of the Nidwalden costume.


  • Peter Steiner, Hansjakob Achermann, Emil Weber, Karin Schleifer-Stöckli, Fabian Hodel: Nidwalden. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland .
  • Canton Nidwalden (Hrsg.): History of the Canton Nidwalden. Historical Association Nidwalden, Stans 2014, ISBN 978-3-906377-14-8 .
  • Willy Elmer: Between sea and heeche bears. A linguistic biography of the canton of Nidwalden: history - geography - everyday social life (= contributions to the history of Nidwalden. Issue 46). Historischer Verein Nidwalden, Stans 2000, ISBN 3-906377-06-9 .

Web links

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Individual evidence

  1. 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).
  2. Structure of the permanent resident population by cantons. Federal Statistical Office (FSO), August 26, 2016, accessed on May 31, 2017 .
  3. ^ 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 .
  4. 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).
  5. Structure of the permanent resident population by cantons. Federal Statistical Office (FSO), August 26, 2016, accessed on May 31, 2017 .
  6. a b The situation on the labor 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 .
  7. Languages ​​and religions in 2017: Permanent resident population aged 15 and over by main language and canton , Federal Statistical Office (FSO), for the period 2017, from January 29, 2019, accessed on September 11, 2019
  8. ^ Linguistic Atlas of German-speaking Switzerland , Volume II, Map 125 (five) .
  9. Languages ​​and religions in 2017: Permanent resident population aged 15 and over by religious affiliation and canton , Federal Statistical Office (FSO), for the period 2017, from January 29, 2019, accessed on September 11, 2019
  10. ^ Constitution of the Canton of Nidwalden. Swiss Federal Chancellery , October 10, 1965, accessed on June 29, 2015 .
  11. DN becomes Green Nidwalden ( Memento from March 18, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Media information of the Green Nidwalden
  12. ^ Government Council. Canton of Nidwalden, accessed on February 28, 2020 .
  13. 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 .
  14. Gross domestic product (GDP) by major region and canton , Federal Statistical Office (FSO), accessed on September 11, 2019
  15. Cantonal gross domestic product (GDP) per inhabitant , Federal Statistical Office (FSO), accessed on September 11, 2019
  16. Bio Ob- und Nidwalden is strengthening. In: March 1, 2019, accessed March 4, 2019 .
  18. The origin of the Nidwalden coat of arms. (PDF) State Archives Nidwalden, accessed on September 20, 2018 .
  19. ^ Heinrich J. Leuthold. Website of the Federal Association of Yodel Conductors and Composers (EJDKV), accessed on February 28, 2020 .
  20. ^ Emil Weber, Christoph Baumgartner: Tschifeler and Reissäckler. (PDF; 177 kB) In: Publication by the State Archives, Canton Nidwalden. Retrieved February 28, 2020 .