1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Zürich (canton)

ZÜRICH (Fr. Zurich; Ital. Zurigo), one of the cantons of north-eastern Switzerland, ranking officially as the first in the Confederation. Its total area is 665.7 sq. m., of which 625.2 sq. m. are reckoned as "productive" (forests covering 180.8 sq. m., and vineyards 16.9 sq. m., the most extensive Swiss wine district save in Vaud and in Ticino). Of the rest, 21 sq. m. are occupied by the cantonal share of the lake of Zürich, while wholly within the canton are the smaller lakes of Greifen (3¼ sq. m.) and Pfäffikon (1½ sq. m.). The canton is of irregular shape, consisting simply of the acquisitions made in the course of years by the town. Of these the more important were the whole of the lower part of the lake (1362), Küssnacht (1384), Thalwil (1385), Erlenbach (1400), Greifensee (1402), Horgen (1406), Grüningen and Stäfa (1408), Bülach and Regensberg (1409), Wald (1425), Kyburg (1452), Winterthur (1467), Eglisau (1496), Konau (1512), and Wädenswil (1549) — Stein was held from 1484 to 1798, while in 1798 the lower part of the Stammheim glen, and finally in 1803 Rheinau, were added to the canton. In 1798 the town ruled nineteen “inner” bailiwicks and nine rural bailiwicks, besides the towns of Stein and of Winterthur. The canton at present extends from the left bank of the Rhine (including also Eglisau on the right bank) to the region west of the lake of Zürich. It is bounded on the E. and W. by low hills that divide it respectively from the valleys of the Thur, and from those of the Reuss and of the Aar. In itself the canton consists of four shallow river valleys, separated by low ranges, all running from S.E. to N.W. The most important of these is that of the Linth (q.v.), which forms the lake of Zürich. To the east are the valleys of the Glatt (forming lake Greifen) and of the Töss (forming lake Pfäffikon), both sending their streams direct to the Rhine. The highest point in the canton is the Albishorn (3012 ft.) in the Albis range, which limits the Sihl valley to the west. All the valleys named are traversed by railway lines, while many lines branch off in every direction from the town of Zürich. The first railway line opened (1847) in Switzerland was that from Zürich to Baden in Aargau (14 m.). From the town of Zürich mountain railways lead S.W. to near the summit of the Uetliberg (2864 ft.) and N.E. towards the Zürichberg (2284 ft.).

In 1900 the population was 431,036, of whom 413,141 were German-speaking, 11,192 Italian speaking, 3894 French-speaking, and 610 Romonsch-speaking, while there were 345,446 Protestants, 80,752 Catholics (Roman or "Old"), and 2933 Jews. The capital of the canton is Zürich (q.v.), but Winterthur (q.v.) is the only other considerable town, Uster (7623 inhabitants), and Horgen (6883 inhabitants) being rather large manufacturing villages. The land in the canton is highly cultivated and much subdivided. But the canton is above all a great manufacturing district, especially of machinery and railway rolling-stock, while both silk weaving and cotton weaving are widely spread. It is divided into 11 administrative districts, which comprise 189 communes. In 1869 the cantonal constitution was revised in a democratic sense, and with the exception of a few changes made later, it is the existing constitution. There is an executive or Regierungsrat of seven members and a legislature or Kantonsrat (one member to every 1500 resident Swiss citizens or a fraction over 750), each holding office for three years and elected at the same time directly by the vote of the people. The referendum exists in both forms, compulsory and optional: all laws and all money grants of a total sum over 250,000 frcs. or an annual sum of 20,000 must be submitted to a popular vote, the people meeting for that purpose at least twice in each year, while the executive may submit to a popular vote any other matter, though it fall within its powers as defined bylaw. One-third of the members of the legislature or 5000 legally qualified voters can force the government to submit to the people any matter whatsoever (initiative). Both members of the Federal Ständerat and the 22 members of the Federal Nationalrat are elected simultaneously by a popular vote and hold office for three years. The constitution provides for the imposition of a graduated and progressive income tax. In 1885 the penalty of death was abolished in the canton. (W. A. B. C.)