What You Need To Know about Bern

The city of Bern or Berne is the de factor capital of Switzerland, referred to by the Swiss as their (e.g. in German) Bundesstadt, or “federal city”. With a population of 141,107 (April 2016), Bern is the fourth most populous city in Switzerland. The Bern agglomeration, which includes 36 municipalities, had a population of 406,900 in 2014. Bern is also the capital of the Canton of Bern, the second most populous of Switzerland’s cantons. The official language of Bern is (the Swiss variety of Standard) German, but the most spoken language is a Alemannic Swiss German dialect, Bernese German. In 1983 the historic old town in the centre of Bern became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bern is ranked among the world’s top ten cities for the best quality of life (2010).

Area: 51.62 km2
Population: 141,107



The currency is the Swiss franc (CHF), which is unique to Switzerland and Liechtenstein. In larger towns and tourist areas, the euro is often accepted. You can usually withdraw euros from ATMs.



As of 2010, Bern had an unemployment rate of 3.3{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f}. As of 2008, there were 259 people employed in the primary economic sector and about 59 businesses involved in this sector. 16,413 people were employed in the secondary sector and there were 950 businesses in this sector. 135,973 people were employed in the tertiary sector, with 7,654 businesses in this sector. In 2008 the total number of full-time equivalent jobs was 125,037. The number of jobs in the primary sector was 203, of which 184 were in agriculture and 19 were in forestry or lumber production. The number of jobs in the secondary sector was 15,476 of which 7,650 or (49.4{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f}) were in manufacturing, 51 or (0.3{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f}) were in mining and 6,389 (41.3{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f}) were in construction. The number of jobs in the tertiary sector was 109,358. In the tertiary sector; 11,396 or 10.4{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} were in wholesale or retail sales or the repair of motor vehicles, 10,293 or 9.4{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} were in the movement and storage of goods, 5,090 or 4.7{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} were in a hotel or restaurant, 7,302 or 6.7{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} were in the information industry, 8,437 or 7.7{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} were the insurance or financial industry, 10,660 or 9.7{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} were technical professionals or scientists, 5,338 or 4.9{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} were in education and 17,903 or 16.4{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} were in health care. In 2000, there were 94,367 workers who commuted into the municipality and 16,424 workers who commuted away. The municipality is a net importer of workers, with about 5.7 workers entering the municipality for every one leaving. Of the working population, 50.6{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} used public transport to get to work, and 20.6{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} used a private car.



The University of Bern, whose buildings are mainly located in the Länggasse quarter, is located in Bern, as well as the University of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule) and several vocations schools. In Bern, about 50,418 or (39.2{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f}) of the population have completed non-mandatory upper secondary education, and 24,311 or (18.9{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f}) have completed additional higher education (either university or a Fachhochschule). Of the 24,311 who completed tertiary schooling, 51.6{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} were Swiss men, 33.0{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} were Swiss women, 8.9{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} were non-Swiss men and 6.5{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} were non-Swiss women. The Canton of Bern school system provides one year of non-obligatory kindergarten, followed by six years of primary school. This is followed by three years of obligatory lower secondary school where the pupils are separated according to ability and aptitude. Following the lower secondary pupils may attend additional schooling or they may enter an apprenticeship. During the 2009–10 school year, there were a total of 10,979 pupils attending classes in Bern. There were 89 kindergarten classes with a total of 1,641 pupils in the municipality. Of the kindergarten pupils, 32.4{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} were permanent or temporary residents of Switzerland (not citizens) and 40.2{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} have a different mother language than the classroom language. The municipality had 266 primary classes and 5,040 pupils. Of the primary pupils, 30.1{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} were permanent or temporary residents of Switzerland (not citizens) and 35.7{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} have a different mother language than the classroom language. During the same year, there were 151 lower secondary classes with a total of 2,581 pupils. There were 28.7{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} who were permanent or temporary residents of Switzerland (not citizens) and 32.7{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} have a different mother language than the classroom language. Bern is home to 8 libraries. These libraries include; the Schweiz. Nationalbibliothek/ Bibliothèque nationale suisse, the Universitätsbibliothek Bern, the Kornhausbibliotheken Bern, the BFH Wirtschaft und Verwaltung Bern, the BFH Gesundheit, the BFH Soziale Arbeit, the Hochschule der Künste Bern, Gestaltung und Kunst and the Hochschule der Künste Bern, Musikbibliothek. There was a combined total (as of 2008) of 10,308,336 books or other media in the libraries, and in the same year a total of 2,627,973 items were loaned out. As of 2000, there were 9,045 pupils in Bern who came from another municipality, while 1,185 residents attended schools outside the municipality.


The City Council (Gemeinderat) constitutes the executive government of the City of Bern and operates as a collegiate authority. It is composed of five councilors (German: Gemeinderat/-rätin), each presiding over a directorate (Direktion) comprising several departments and bureaus. The president of the executive department acts as mayor (Stadtpräsident). In the mandate period 2013–2016 (Legislatur) the City Council is presided by Stadtpräsident Alexander Tschäppät. Departmental tasks, coordination measures and implementation of laws decreed by the City Parliament are carried by the City Council. The regular election of the City Council by any inhabitant valid to vote is held every four years. Any resident of Bern allowed to vote can be elected as a member of the City Council. The delegates are selected by means of a system of Majorz. The mayor is elected as such as well by public election while the heads of the other directorates are assigned by the collegiate. The executive body holds its meetings in the Erlacherhof, built by architect Albrecht Stürler after 1747. As of 2015, Bern’s City Council is made up of two representatives of the SP (Social Democratic Party, of whom one is also the mayor), and one each of CVP (Christian Democratic Party), GB (Green Alliance of Berne), and FDP (FDP.The Liberals), giving the left parties a majority of three out of five seats. The last election was held on 25 November 2012.


The four national languages of Switzerland are German, French, Italian and Romansh. All but Romansh maintain equal status as official languages at the national level within the Federal Administration of the Swiss Confederation.



From the 2000 census, 60,455 or 47.0{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} belonged to the Swiss Reformed Church, while 31,510 or 24.5{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} were Roman Catholic. Of the rest of the population, there were 1,874 members of an Orthodox church (or about 1.46{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} of the population), there were 229 persons (or about 0.18{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} of the population) who belonged to the Christian Catholic Church, and there were 5,531 persons (or about 4.30{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} of the population) who belonged to another Christian church. There were 324 persons (or about 0.25{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} of the population) who were Jewish, and 4,907 (or about 3.81{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} of the population) who were Muslim. There were 629 persons who were Buddhist, 1,430 persons who were Hindu and 177 persons who belonged to another church. 16,363 (or about 12.72{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} of the population) belonged to no church, are agnostic or atheist, and 7,855 persons (or about 6.11{fdd071fb351d8a673b7a7c3f84ce25114cd70e727e2f43795adfab593f066c7f} of the population) did not answer the question. On 14 December 2014 the Haus der Religionen was inaugurated.



Public transport works well in Bern, with the Bern S-Bahn, Bern tramway network, Bern trolleybus system and a bus network forming an integrated all-four style scheme connecting the different parts of the city.
Several Aare bridges connect the old parts of the city with the newer districts outside of the peninsula. Bern is well connected to other cities by several motorways (A1, A12, A6).
Bern railway station connects the city to the national and international railways network. Bern is also served by Bern Airport, located outside the city near the town of Belp. The regional airport, colloquially called Bern-Belp or Belpmoos, is connected to several European cities. Additionally Zürich Airport, Geneva Airport and Euro Airport Basel-also serve as international gateways, all reachable within two hours by car or train from Bern.



The climate is warm and temperate in Bern. There is significant rainfall throughout the year in Bern. Even the driest month still has a lot of rainfall. According to Köppen and Geiger, this climate is classified as Cfb. The average temperature in Bern is 8.8 °C. About 911 mm of precipitation falls annually.