The canton of Solothurn is located in the North West of Switzerland. It is surrounded by the cantons of Basel-Landschaft to the north, Aargau to the east, and by the cantons of Bern and Jura to the south and west. It has been the Swiss Confederation’s eleventh canton since 1481. The figure 11 is the emblem of Solothurn, where almost everything comes in elevens. Indeed, the town of Solothurn, the canton’s capital, has a clock, the face of which only shows 11 hours. The number 11 appears particularly in the history of Solothurn Cathedral: it took 11 years to build (1762-1773) and the external staircases are made up of three series of 11 steps. The people of Solothurn even named their beer “Öufi-Bier” (Eleven Beer in Swiss German).
The canton of Solothurn enjoys a central position on the Swiss Plateau and has excellent road and rail networks. The town of Solothurn is less than an hour away from Basel, Bern, Biel/Bienne, Lucerne and Zürich by road. Grenchen Airport also helps boost the canton’s economic activity.
The landscapes are formed of the alluvial plain of the Aar River and a part of the Jura Mountains. The canton’s highest point, the peak of the Hasenmatt mountain, reaches an altitude of 4,741 ft. Over a third of the canton is made up of forests, with another third used as farmland. The canton’s population is for the most part concentrated in the river valleys, in 109 municipalities spread across 10 districts. The largest towns are Solothurn, Olten and Grenchen.
Tourism is booming in this particularly welcoming territory where museums, castles and ruins all form part of the region’s rich historical heritage. Those located in the Jura mountain range offer magnificent views of the surroundings. The regional nature park is one of the most popular sites, along with numerous monuments such as the Goetheanum in Dornach. There are also many picturesque little towns to discover, such as Altreu which attracts Switzerland’s largest colony of storks.
Although this canton has not had a central bank since 1995, it is experiencing marked economic growth, with one of the lowest unemployment rates in Switzerland. The trade, insurance and finance sectors figure prominently, along with public health with cutting-edge innovative medical techniques (Mathys Medizinaltechnik in Bettlach).