A little bit of history

A little bit of history

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Switzerland has been a country of emigration for a long time. The reasons behind the Swiss leaving their homeland to try their luck abroad have changed significantly.


Until the start of the 20th century, the reason for expatriation was primarily the wish of some of the population to escape poverty and find a better life beyond Swiss borders. The cantons and the confederation largely funded the emigration of their poor citizens. However, for financial or health reasons, the journey often ended in a European port, as emigrants were often prevented from continuing their adventure or returning home.


They banded together to sustain their communities. This is the origin of the oldest Swiss mutual-aid societies abroad. The need to be amongst Swiss people also gave rise to many other Swiss societies worldwide. Today, over 750 such societies are affiliated with the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad. These are Swiss circles, chambers of commerce, benevolence societies, sports clubs, school associations, folk and friendship groups and service clubs etc. This allows our fellow citizens abroad to maintain their ties with their native country to the present day.


Further information about the history of Swiss emigration in German, French or Italian.






Event partners:

Switzerland Tourism Swiss Care Lotteriefonds Kanton Bern Area of the Swiss Abroad Terre des Hommes Burgergemeinde Bern FDFA swissinfo.ch people2power Swiss Post Swiss Path Swiss Travel System City of Bern City of Bern Pro Patria Canton of Bern Swisscom iO soliswiss Zürcher Kantonalbank




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