What are the most commonly spoken languages in Switzerland?

What are the most commonly spoken languages in Switzerland?

As a country where around a third of the population are not citizens, Switzerland is well-known as a melting pot for different languages and nationalities. Now, a new study from the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) has revealed which languages are most commonly spoken in the alpine nation.

German speakers make up two-thirds of Swiss population

According to the latest data, Switzerland continues to be dominated by German and Swiss German. As of 2022, 5.329.020 residents reported that either High German or a dialect of Swiss German was one of their mother tongues, accounting for 61,8 percent of the population.

Interestingly, language preference changed depending on location, with residents far more likely to use High German at work than at home. This reinforces the idea that while Swiss German remains alive and well, an increasing number of jobs necessitate the use of standard German.

In second place with 22,8 percent of residents were French and Swiss French. With a population of 1.964.103, French was leagues ahead of Italian, which counted 675.153 mother tongue speakers in 2022, or 7,8 percent of the total population.

English remains the fourth most common language in Switzerland

Taking fourth place was English, with 6,1 percent of the population of Switzerland reporting that it was their mother tongue. This amounts to 529.888 people, or just under the population of the agglomeration of Basel. English speakers were most commonly found in Zurich, Winterthur, Basel and St. Gallen.

The FSO report added that learning English is also part and parcel of the modern Swiss workplace: while only 6,5 percent of the population reported using English at home, 22,6 percent said they use it regularly as part of their job. 

Finally, in a new trend, Albanian has overtaken Portuguese as the fifth most commonly spoken language in Switzerland. The FSO explained that this is mainly down to the large number of Albanian speakers claiming residence permits in Switzerland in recent years. By the end of 2022, they estimated that 292.717 Albanian nationals called the alpine nation home, compared to 292.219 Portuguese.

Most commonly spoken languages in Switzerland

In all, here are the most commonly spoken languages in Switzerland:

  1. German or Swiss German (61,8 percent)
  2. French (22,8 percent)
  3. Italian (7,8 percent)
  4. English (6,1 percent)
  5. Albanian (3,4 percent)
  6. Portuguese (3,4 percent)
  7. Spanish (2,4 percent)
  8. Serbian or Croatian (2,2 percent)
  9. Romansh (0,5 percent)

For more information, check out the official FSO data.

Thumb image credit: trabantos /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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