Neuchâtel Canton, Switzerland - Intercultural City
Neuchatel is a Swiss canton of 177'000 inhabitants. It is at the same time, a cross-border region that welcomes every day nearly 11,000 workers residing in neighboring France and 12,000 Confederates from other Swiss cantons. The Canton is famous for its watch industry (the largest in Switzerland), but it is also a national center for micro- and nanotechnologies and the sectors of biotechnology, computer engineering and renewable energies. Job creation and the need for resources resulting from Neuchâtel innovation is not new. Indeed, already in the seventeenth century, Neuchâtel welcomed workers from Italy, a reality that allowed the Canton to experience the living together and gradually acquire its reputation as a traditionally open and welcoming canton.
The population growth in Neuchâtel since many years is mainly due to the increase in foreign nationals, who constitute about 25% of the population. More than a third of the population is the result of migration. 151 nationalities are represented in the canton. The Portuguese nationals are the largest foreign community, followed by nationals of Italy, France, Spain, Kosovo and Turkey.
Neuchâtel was the first Swiss canton to appoint a delegate to foreigners as well as a cantonal commission dealing with migration and integration issues in the early 1990. Since then, several initiatives have been implemented to promote social cohesion – the objective of the law on integration and multicultural cohesion. Neuchatel, who joined the ICC network since its inception, has adopted the intercultural approach for its integration policy (term commonly used in Switzerland, from the federal level to municipalities).
A welcoming attitude, citizenship, participation and dialogue are the essential features of this canton where the residents who do not have Swiss nationality have the right to vote and stand as a candidate at municipal level and the right to vote at cantonal level (region).