The canton of Aargau is an attractive and varied place to live and work. The Rhine, Aare and Reuss rivers form its natural borders to the north, west and southeast, respectively. It is urban, yet manageable as well.
Around 670,000 people live in the canton of Aargau – twice the figure from sixty years ago. Aargau is an attractive living and working environment, especially for young families. The population of Aargau today is younger and faster-growing than the national averages. In headcount terms, Aargau is Switzerland's fourth-largest canton after Zurich, Bern and Vaud. It is comprised of 213 municipalities grouped into eleven districts.
Sina, vocalist: "I am a passionate musician – and a moving force for Aargau. Even when my dialect makes it clear that I am actually from the Valais."
High quality of life
Aargau has cultural, artistic and leisure offerings with many facets. It boasts idyllic landscapes and river prospects, four thermal baths as well as many forts and castles, all providing varied spaces for sport and recreation. There are active village and neighbourhood communities, spirited tradition and lively club activities: from amateur theatre through to marching carnival bands ('Guggenmusik') and sporting associations.
The canton of Aargau also has a hand in public health matters. It maintains a modern healthcare system of a high standard for all residents. At the same time, people are encouraged to take personal responsibility for physical, mental and social health.
With its path-breaking policy toward aging, the canton of Aargau strengthens intergenerational involvement in communal life.
The security of the individual as well as society at large are priorities in the canton of Aargau. Social policy in keeping with the times, at-the-ready civil defence, and consumer protection are all significant contributors to a feeling of long-term security among the people of Aargau, with this in turn upholding the high quality of life in the canton.
The canton's origins
When the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte redrew the map of Switzerland in 1803, he carved out a new canton consolidating four territories – Bernese Argovia, the earldom centred on Baden, the Fricktal valley and the Freiamt (independent districts). This origin as a 'partnership of convenience' has shaped Aargau right up to the present day: while the canton lacks a dominant centre, it has strong regions providing rich diversity. Aargau is Switzerland in miniature. Policy here is characterised by balance between larger and smaller tracts of territory, urban and rural regions, stronger and weaker municipalities, natural, cultural, living and working spaces.
Aargau is the connecting canton between the major centres of Zurich, Basel, central Switzerland and Bern. It is also an important gateway to neighbouring regions in Germany.
A canton of waterways
The ties between Aargau and its six neighbouring cantons are not only historic in nature, but geographical as well. The Table Jura range marches eastwards from the Basel region, while the Jura folds with their imposing steep inclines begin around Solothurn. Geissfluhgrat is the highest point in the canton (908 metres above sea level).
3000 kilometres of waterways wend their way through Aargau: the river Aare flows in from the direction of Bern, the Limmat from Zurich and the Reuss from Lucerne and Zug. All three rivers converge at the "Wasserschloss" near Brugg. Together with the Klingnau reservoir, they form a unique natural reserve before emptying into the Rhine, which passes the lowest point in the canton on its way to the sea: Kaiseraugst, where the river exits Aargau at 260 metres above sea level. Lake Hallwil on the cantonal border with Lucerne is a popular excursion destination.
A canton of diversity
Numerous towns arose in the canton of Aargau during the Middle Ages. Aarau is the cantonal capital and as such performs the central functions of government. But the other large towns – Baden, Brugg, Zofingen – to this day also assert their influence and make sure that they host institutions of consequence. This federalist thinking in the regions shapes the politics of Aargau and that of its inhabitants: even two hundred years after the canton's founding, subtle differences in mentality are discernible between the folk of the former earldom (the Badeners), the Bernese Argovians, the people of the Valley and the