A multicultural, multilingual region

Vaud is the largest and most heavily populated canton in western Switzerland, with more than 746,300 inhabitants (9.2% of the Swiss population). French is the main language, but English is spoken fluently by a large number of people (17% of the population speak English every day at work), while German, one of the four national languages in Switzerland, is obligatory at school.

Switzerland and the canton of Vaud have a long tradition of multiculturalism: for more than 700 years, Switzerland has been made up of alliances between territories of German-speaking, French-speaking, Italian-speaking and even Rhaeto-Romanic cultures, Catholic first and then Protestant later.

Today, this openness towards others and this tolerance is extended to the whole world: one person in five living in Switzerland is not Swiss, a proportion that reaches 28% in the canton of Vaud. These totals for non-indigenous populations are the highest in Europe. This does not include the large number of mostly French cross-border commuters who work every day in the Vaud economy. Thus the population is used to dealing with people from throughout the world, and newcomers integrate easily. The Vaudois themselves like to travel, and more than 50,000 of them live outside the country.

Thus human diversity represents a crucial element in the region’s economic success and its cultural wealth.

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The canton of Vaud in 2015
Basic data about geography, history, economy and institutions