Bern is the de facto capital of Switzerland, referred to by the Swiss as their "federal city". With a population of about 140,000 (as of 2019), Bern is the fifth-most populous city in Switzerland. The Bern agglomeration, which includes 36 municipalities, had a population of 406,900 in 2014. The metropolitan area had a population of 660,000 in 2000. Bern is also the capital of the canton of Bern, the second-most populous of Switzerland's cantons.
The official language in Bern is (the Swiss variety of Standard) German, but the most-spoken language is an Alemannic Swiss German dialect, Bernese German.
In 1983, the historic old town in the centre of Bern became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in north-central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich. The municipality has approximately 409,000 inhabitants, the urban agglomeration 1.315 million and the Zurich metropolitan area 1.83 million. Zurich is a hub for railways, roads, and air traffic. Both Zurich Airport and railway station are the largest and busiest in the country.
Permanently settled for over 2,000 years, Zurich was founded by the Romans, who, in 15 BC, called it Turicum. However, early settlements have been found dating back more than 6,400 years ago. During the Middle Ages, Zurich gained the independent and privileged status of imperial immediacy and, in 1519, became a primary centre of the Protestant Reformation in Europe under the leadership of Huldrych Zwingli.
The official language of Zurich is German, but the main spoken language is the local variant of the Alemannic Swiss German dialect, Zurich German.
Many museums and art galleries can be found in the city, including the Swiss National Museum and the Kunsthaus. Schauspielhaus Zurich is one of the most important theatres in the German-speaking world.
Zurich is a leading global city and among the world's largest financial centres despite having a relatively small population. The city is home to a large number of financial institutions and banking companies. Most of Switzerland's research and development centres are concentrated in Zurich and the low tax rates attract overseas companies to set up their headquarters there.
According to several surveys from 2006 to 2008, Zurich was named the city with the best quality of life in the world as well as the wealthiest city in Europe in terms of GDP per capita.