Which Swiss canton is home to the most English mother-tongue speakers?

Which Swiss canton is home to the most English mother-tongue speakers?

While it is common knowledge that around a third of the Swiss population are not citizens, sometimes new metrics come along that brings the size of the international community in Switzerland into sharp relief. According to new data from the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), nearly one in seven people in Canton Zug uses English as their primary language.

One in seven Zug residents are mother-tongue English speakers

According to the data released by authorities in Canton Zug, 14 percent of people over 15 years old in Zug reported English as their primary language in 2022, the highest proportion of English mother-tongue speakers in Switzerland. This means that approximately one in seven residents in the canton either do not speak, are learning or have learnt (Swiss) German as a second language. This is in major contrast to the year 2000, when just 2 percent of Zug residents spoke English as their main language. 

Zug's population is also in contrast to Switzerland as a whole, where 7,1 percent of the population reported English as their primary language in 2022. The cities of Zug and Walchwil were found to be home to the most English speakers at 20 and 27,3 percent of the population respectively.

In a statement, officials in Zug noted that jobs and workplaces in the region have been significantly altered by the arrival of more English speakers. Four out of 10 workers reported using the language while on the clock, perhaps not a surprise given Zug's reputation as a haven for international companies thanks to its attractive business and personal taxes.

Which Swiss cantons have the most English speakers?

After Zug, Basel-Stadt was found to be home to the second highest proportion of English speakers at 12,5 percent. Geneva (11,8 percent), Zurich (10,8 percent), Vaud, Basel-Land and Schwyz rounded out the top seven. Because of its population, Zurich is therefore home to the most English mother-tongue speakers in Switzerland.

In contrast, Cantons Jura, Appenzell Ausserrhoden and Appenzell Innerrhoden have the lowest share of English mother-tongue speakers. The FSO data suggests that those who primarily speak English are concentrated in the regions most popular with expats, as 21 of the 26 cantons had an English-speaking population share lower than the national average.

For more information, check out the official statement from Canton Zug.

Thumb image credit: Michael Derrer Fuchs /

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...

Read more



Leave a comment

JosephTaussig2 22:51 | 1 February 2024

While English may be the first language of only a small minority in Switzerland, I believe that more people speak English than any of the official languages. First of all, roughly 30% of the population in Ticino and French speaking Switzerland do not speak German, and few in German speaking Switzerland speak the other three official languages. As such, English is the Esperanto to communicate between regions. Secondly, English is the official language in every major Swiss company and they will not hire people who cannot speak English. Thirdly, major portions of advertising signage are in English. Lastly, I find it ironic that the national airline is called "Swiss" Air, "Swiss" is not a word in any of the four official languages and all signage uses English first in large letters, followed by the other four official languages in smaller letters. - Joe Taussig Küsnacht