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Zug - View over Lake Zug with the old city of Zug and the Zytturm
View over Lake Zug with the old city of Zug and the Zytturm
Country Switzerland Coat of Arms of Zug
Canton Zug
District n.a.
Population 27,961 (Dec 2013)[1]
- Density 799 /km2 (2,069 /sq mi)
Area 21.61 km2 (8.34 sq mi)[2]
Elevation 425 m (1,394 ft)
Postal code 6300
SFOS number 1711
Executive Stadtrat
with 5 members
Mayor Stadtpräsident (list)
Dolfi Müller SPS/PSS
(as of February 2014)
Parliament Grosser Gemeinderat
with 40 members , instaured 1963)
Surrounded by Cham, Baar, Walchwil, Steinhausen
Twin towns Fürstenfeld (Austria)
SFSO statistics
Zug is located in Switzerland

Zug (German: Zug,  ( ); French: Zoug; Italian: Zugo; Romansh: Zug; Neo-Latin Tugium (named in the 16th century)), is a German-speaking city in Switzerland. The name ‘Zug’ originates from fishing vocabulary; in the Middle Ages it referred to the right to ‘pull up’ fishing nets and hence to the right to fish.

The city of Zug is located in the Canton of Zug and is the Canton capital. As of 31 December 2013 it had a total population of 27,961 inhabitants.[1]


View of Zug before 1547
Unterstadt (lower town) as seen from Lake Zug harbour
Oberstadt (upper town) in the Altstadt


The oldest human traces date back to the time of around 14,000 BC. There have been Paleolithic finds on the north bank of Lake Zug, which come from nomadic hunters and gatherers. Archaeologists have also been able to prove the existence of over forty lake-shore settlements (pile dwellings), on the shores of Lake Zug, from the epoch of the first settled farmers in the Neolithic period (5,500-2,200 BC). The peak in these lake-shore village settlements was in the period between 3800 and 2450 BC. For the same epoch, the first pre-alpine land use has been proven in Menzingen and in the Ägeri valley. The well-known, historically-researched and interesting lake-shore village, ‘Sumpf’ (the swamp), dated from the late Bronze Age (up until 850 BC). These rich finds result in a quite differentiated picture of life in former times, attractively represented in the Zug Museum for Prehistory. In addition, many traces from the Iron Age (850-50 BC) and the Roman and Celtic-Roman time (from 50 BC) have been discovered.

The city of Zug – Kyburg foundation

In around AD 600, Alemannic families and tribes immigrated to the area of present day canton Zug. The name Blickensdorf, and place names with ‘- ikon’ endings, prove this as the first Alemannic living space. The churches of Baar and Risch also date back to the early Middle Ages. The first written document on the area originates from the year 858, and refers to King Ludwig the German giving the farm ‘Chama’ (Cham) to the Zürich Fraumünster convent. At this time, the area of present day Zug belonged to completely different monastic and secular landlords, the most important of whom were the Habsburgs, and who, in 1264, inherited the Kyburg rights and remained a central political power until about 1400.

In the course of the high medieval town construction, the settlement of Zug also received a city wall at some point after 1200. The city founders were probably the counts of Kyburg. The town, first mentioned in AD 1240, was called an "oppidum" in 1242 and a "castrum" in 1255. In 1273, it was bought by Rudolph of Habsburg from Anna, the heiress of Kyburg and wife of Eberhard, head of the cadet line of Habsburg.[3] Through this purchase it passed into the control of the Habsburgs and was placed under a Habsburg bailiff. The Aeusser Amt or Outer District consisted of the villages and towns surrounding Zug, which each had their own Landsgemeinden but were ruled by a single Habsburg bailiff. Zug was important as an administrative center of the Kyburg and the Habsburg district, then as a local market place, and, thereafter, as a stage town for the transport of goods (particularly salt and iron) over the Hirzel hill towards Lucerne.

Joining the Swiss Confederation

On 27 June 1352, both the town of Zug and the Aeusser Amt entered the Swiss Confederation, the latter being received on exactly the same terms as the town, and not, as was usual in the case of outer districts, as a subject land; but in September 1352, Zug had to acknowledge its own lords again, and in 1355 was obliged to break off its connection with the league. About 1364, the town and the Aeusser Amt were recovered for the league by the men of Schwyz, and from this time Zug took part as a full member in all the acts of the league. In 1379, the Holy Roman Emperor Wenceslaus exempted Zug from all external jurisdictions, and in 1389 the Habsburgs renounced their claims, reserving only an annual payment of 20 silver marks, which came to an end in 1415. In 1400 Wenceslaus gave all criminal jurisdiction to the town only. The Aeusser Amt, in 1404, then claimed that the banner and seal of Zug should be kept in one of the country districts and were supported in this claim by Schwyz. The matter was finally settled in 1412 by arbitration, and the banner was to be kept in the town. Finally in 1415, the right of electing their landammann was given to Zug by the Confederation, and a share in the criminal jurisdiction was granted to the Aeusser Amt by German king Sigismund.[3]

The alliance of the four forest cantons of Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden and Lucerne with the city of Zürich in 1351 set much in motion. The city of Zug was seen as having Habsburg ties with the cities of Zürich and Lucerne, and therefore had to be conquered. It is likely that this was more for political than economic reasons: the Lucerne market was very important for central Switzerland, but also strongly dependent on the city of Zürich. Zürich initiated a siege on Zug with the federal army in June 1352. Zug surrendered. On 27 June 1352 Zürich, Luzern, Zug, Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden formed an alliance. Zürich's saw this ‘Zugerbund’ (Zug alliance) as an alliance of convenience. For the city of Zug, little changed, and Zug remained Habsburg. That same year, the Zug alliance was declared invalid by all parties. A period of Schwyz domination then followed. Only gradually did Zug become sovereign and federal.

Simultaneously, Zug expanded its territory, acquiring a number of rural areas in the form of bailiwicks (Walchwil, Cham, Gangolfswil [Risch] Hünenberg and Steinhausen, and Oberrüti, now part of the canton of Aargau). Zug became a confederation in itself - with the ‘city’ and its subject territories, and the three outer (‘free’) municipalities, Ägeri, Menzingen (with Neuheim) and Baar. This problematic dualism dominated until 1798, i.e. until the end of the old confederation, the political structure of the Canton Zug. The unifying element of this miniature confederation was, among others, the rural municipalities and the forty-member city council.

Growth of the city

In 1385, Zug joined the league of the Swabian cities against Leopold III of Austria and shared in the victory of Sempach, as well as in the various Argovian (1415) and Thurgovian (1460) conquests of the Confederates, and later in those of Italy (1512), having already taken part in the occupation of the Val d'Ossola. Between 1379 (Walchwil) and 1477 (Cham), Zug had acquired various districts in its own neighborhood, principally to the north and the west, which were ruled till 1798 by the town alone as subject lands.[3]

In 1478, the building of a larger city wall began, which increased the city area six-fold - the same year as the building of the late gothic St. Oswald Church began. The building master of the new city wall was Hans Felder from Bavarian Swabia. The ground plan of the city wall is indicative of an ideal symmetric plan of the Renaissance period – something very rare at that time. The overall urban planning implemented in the small town of Zug was modern for its time.

The Reformation and Early Modern Era

During the turmoil of the Reformation, Zug remained on the Catholic side of central Switzerland and retained the old faith. Warring religious confederates fought at Kappel am Albis (1531) and at Gubel in Menzingen. Its location on the edge of central Switzerland made Zug a confessional border town. During the Reformation, Zug clung to the old faith and was a member of the Christliche Vereinigung of 1529. In 1586, it became a member of the Golden League.[3]

The period up until 1798 was marked by internal political rivalries and turbulence. The invasion of the French troops marked the end of the old order, and with the Helvetic order came a radical political change. Zug became part of the canton Waldstätten, and the cantonal capital for a short time. After a 50-year struggle between federalism and centralism, between confederation and central state, between conservative and liberal-radical vision, in 1848, today’s federal government of Switzerland emerged. Zug was given its current cantonal structure, consisting of eleven local municipalities.

Industrialization and internationalization

Until well into the 19th century, Zug consisted of agricultural land. Actual industrialization began with the entrepreneur Wolfgang Henggeler, who in 1834 built a cotton mill in Unterägeri. This was followed by the two companies in Neuägeri and Baar. In 1866, the American George Ham Page founded the first European condensed milk factory in Cham, which later merged with Nestlé. Industry in Zug was dominated by the company Landis+Gyr, founded in 1896, and now owned by Toshiba. The connection to the Swiss railway network in 1864 was important, as was the connection of mountain and valley with an electric tram at the beginning of the 20th century.

In the second half of the century, dynamic expansion took place and Zug became a national and international financial and trading center, aided by its proximity to Zürich, and by an attractive tax policy. In parallel, large industrial and commercial zones evolved; employment increased rapidly; the population rose sharply, and the building boom skyrocketed. Canton Zug catapulted itself into being at the top of the financially strong cantons. And the city today has become, as the British Guardian once wrote, ‘a compass of the global economy’.


Zug is a low tax region, and is headquarters for a number of multinational enterprises.

Zug's best known agricultural product is kirsch.

On 27 September 2001, an angry, unstable gunman, Friedrich Leibacher, shot and killed 15 people including himself in the cantonal parliament of Zug. The event became known as the Zug Massacre.[4]

Night view of Zug and its lake

Situation and features

The lake shore has been embanked and forms a promenade, from which glorious views of the snowy peaks of the Bernese Oberland, as well as of the Rigi and Pilatus, are gained. Towards its northerly end, a monument marks the spot where a part of the shore slipped into the lake in 1887.

The older part of the town is rather crowded together, though only four of the wall towers and a small part of the town walls still survive.

The most striking old building in the town is the parish church of St Oswald (late 15th century), dedicated to St Oswald, king of Northumbria (d. 642), one of whose arms was brought to Zug in 1485. The town hall, also a 15th-century building, now houses the Historical and Antiquarian Museum. There are some quaint old painted houses close by. A little way higher up the hillside is a Capuchin convent in a striking position, close to the town wall and leaning against it. Still higher, and outside the old town, is the fine new parish church of St Michael, consecrated in 1902.

The business quarter is on the rising ground north of the old town, near the railway station. Several fine modern buildings rise on or close to the shore in the town and to its south, whilst to the southwest is a convent of Capuchin nuns, who manage a large girls' school and several other educational establishments.

The Museum of Prehistory Zug houses an important collection of archaeological remains, especially from the late Bronze Age (urnfield culture) settlement of Zug-Sumpf. Many of Catharine II of Russia's relatives descended from Zug and became known as the Volga Germans.


View from the Zugerberg

Zug has an area, as of 2006, of 21.7 square kilometers (8.4 sq mi). Of this area, 35.5% is used for agricultural purposes, while 38.1% is forested. Of the rest of the land, 23.8% is settled (buildings or roads) and the remainder (2.6%) is non-productive (rivers, glaciers or mountains).[5]

The canton of Zug is located in the area between the lowlands and the foothills of the Alps. It borders the canton of Schwyz to the south and southeast; the cantons of Lucerne and the ‘Freiamt’ of canton Aargau to the west; and the canton of Zürich to the north and northeast.

Canton Zug’s borders were mainly established by nature itself: the rivers Sihl and Biber, and the Höhronen ridge in the east; the Rossberg mountain in the south, and the Rooterberg mountain, and the river Reuss in the west. Only the 87.5 km-long border between the cantons of Zürich and of Zug is not naturally defined. With its 1580 m peak, the Wildspitz mountain is the highest point in the canton. The lowest point in the north of the canton is at 388 m, at the Rüssspitz (Reussspitz), the confluence of the rivers Lorzen and Reuss.

Diverse landscape

The canton of Zug is multi-faceted, and this is also reflected in its geographic-topographic diversity. In rough terms, there are two zones, divided by the north-south axis of Lake Zug: the western part with Ennetsee and the plateau of Zug, Steinhausen and Baar; and the eastern part consisting of the hilly and mountainous zone. In the latter, is the Zugerberg mountain with the Rossberg mountain chain, the valley of Oberaegeri and Unteraegeri, with Lake Aegeri, and the mountain ridge of Höhronen and the countryside of Menzingen and Neuheim.

While the lowland area of Zug, Baar, Steinhausen and Cham are quite urbanized, we see that Ennetsee, with Risch and Hüneneberg, despite a building boom, have kept their rustic side. In Ägeri, Menzingen and Neuheim you find yourself in a completely different landscape and world. As is also the case in Walchwil, the ‘riviera’ of Lake Zug.

Impressive moraine landscape

The power of the glaciers in the ice age are impressively shown in the lateral moraines of Walchwilerberg mountain and Zugerberg mountain. These are the remaining witnesses of the Reuss glacier. The moraine and drumlin landscape of Menzingen and Neuheim are the result of the convergence of the Reuss glacier and the Linth glacier. The Swiss geologist, Albert Heim (1849–1937), once noted, that ‘this must be the most impressive moraine landscape in Switzerland’. The glaciation of the Zug mountains stopped in around 15,000 BC.

Rivers and lakes

The Lorze river is the only large river flowing wholly within the canton. The Sihl and Reuss rivers both follow cantonal borders. The Lorze flows from Lake Ägeri through the deep valley of the Lorzentobel to Baar and Lake Zug. In Cham, the Lorze leaves Lake Zug and joins the river Reuss at the afore-mentioned Reussspitz.



Zug has a population (as of 31 December 2013) of 27,961.[1] As of 2007, 26.4% of the population was made up of foreign nationals. Over the last 10 years the population has grown at a rate of 11.4%. Most of the population (as of 2000) speaks German (81.8%), with Italian being second most common ( 3.8%) and Serbo-Croatian being third ( 3.2%).[5]

In the 2007 federal election the most popular party was the FDP which received 24.9% of the vote. The next three most popular parties were the SVP (23.3%), the Green Party (22%) and the CVP (18.7%).[5]

In Zug about 76% of the population (between age 25-64) have completed either non-mandatory upper secondary education or additional higher education (either university or a Fachhochschule).[5]

Zug has an unemployment rate of 2.28%. As of 2005, there were 172 people employed in the primary economic sector and about 51 businesses involved in this sector. 5,821 people are employed in the secondary sector and there are 269 businesses in this sector. 21,445 people are employed in the tertiary sector, with 3,205 businesses in this sector.[5]


Zug has an average of 136.1 days of rain per year and on average receives 1,224 mm (48.2 in) of precipitation. The wettest month is August during which time Zug receives an average of 158 mm (6.2 in) of precipitation. During this month there is precipitation for an average of 12.7 days. The month with the most days of precipitation is June, with an average of 13.7, but with only 156 mm (6.1 in) of precipitation. The driest month of the year is January with an average of 67 mm (2.6 in) of precipitation over 12.7 days.[6]


The main sport team is the EV Zug, who plays in the Swiss National League A. They play their home games at the Bossard Arena.

There are also an association football team, Zug 94, which was formed in 1994 and two Rugby Teams, the Rugby Club Zug, which has a junior team, The Saints Rugby School and the Rugby Bombers Zug, which was founded by former members of the Rugby Club Zug.


Today, the small Canton of Zug is a sought-after place of residence, an attractive living space, and a successful business area. The foundations for this were laid in legislation of the 1920s. Like the pioneer Canton Glarus, the Canton of Zug lowered tax charges for holding and domiciled companies. The tax law revision after the Second World War especially benefitted companies.

From poorhouse to the richest canton

The business-friendly tax policy of the canton was effective, and Zug transformed itself from being the poorhouse to the richest canton in Switzerland in 1990. Even in the sixties, Zug had the highest per capita debt, and the average income was below the national average. Today, Zug pays the most into the inter-cantonal financial compensation scheme, NFA (approximately 300 million CHF = 2,042 CHF per capita). Zug has the lowest personal income tax rates in the entire country. In 2006, the total tax rate in Zug was 50.3% of the Swiss average.[7] In 2010, the average tax rate for a married couple with two children making 50,000 CHF was 0%. For the same couple making 150,000 CHF it was only 3.3%, while the next lowest rate was in the Canton of Schwyz at 6.2%. The highest rate was 15.0% in the Canton of Neuchâtel.[8] The national income per capita is among the highest in Switzerland. As of 2011, Zug has an estimated GDP per capita of $110,000 (US).

At the end of 2010, there were nearly 30,000 companies in the canton, of which 17,000 were stock exchange-listed companies. Of the approximately 83,000 jobs, nearly three quarters were in the service sector (agriculture: 2.2%, industry: 24.8%, trade and service sector: 73%). Every day about 37,000 people come to Zug to work, 12,000 of whom are from the canton of Lucerne. Between 2001 and 2008, the number of Full-time equivalent jobs in the city and surrounding areas increased by 20.2%.[8]

Largest private employers

1 Siemens Building Technologies, Zug Building 2‘223
2 Roche Group, Rotkreuz/Cham Pharma/Diagnostics 1‘520
3 V-Zug AG, Zug Household appliances 1‘498
4 Cooperative Migros Luzern, Ebikon Retail trade 1‘124
5 Johnson & Johnson, Zug Pharma/Diagnostics 750
6 Glencore International AG, Baar Commodity Trading 487
7 IMC Financial Markets, Zug Proprietary Trading 101

As a low tax region, Zug is home to corporate offices for a number of large and small companies. Even though Zug has a population of about 25,000 there are about 24,000 jobs and 12,900[9] registered companies in the city. Some of the registered firms include:

Zug as a cultural area

Library of the Zug Parish Church
Kunsthaus or Art Museum
Castle of Zug, now a museum

The “IG Culture Zug” society currently has some 200 members.

There are three museums in the city: the Museum of Prehistory, which displays archaeological finds from Canton Zug; the castle houses the Museum of Cultural History of the city and Canton Zug, and the Zug Art Gallery attracts visitors with its exhibitions.[22] Several municipalities also have their own local museum. The Casino Theatre in Zug and the Zug ‘Burgbachkeller’, along with the ‘Chollerhalle’ cultural center, are the most famous establishments. The event centers in Baar, Cham and Rotkreuz and the Zug youth scene (Galvanik, Podium Industrie 45) enrich the range of cultural events.

Zug is surrounded with mountains, rivers and lakes including the Zugerberg mountain and the Walchwilerberg Oberallmig, the Höhronen and the river Sihl. The Choller nature reserve is also near Lake Zug.

Sights with in the city include the late Gothic church of St. Wolfgang, near Hünenberg, or St. Oswald in Zug, the old town of Zug with the Town Hall and the Clock tower, the Huwiler Tower, the ‘Zurlaubenhof’, feudal estate of the family Zurlauben, on the outskirts of the city.

Zug’s culture also includes the famous Zuger cherry liqueur cake. Local specialties, in addition to the cherry and the cherry liqueur cake, include the Zug ‘Rötel’, a fine lake charfish, found on many menus.[23]

Heritage sites of national significance

There are a number of Swiss heritage sites of national significance in Zug. These include two libraries, the Library of the former Capuchin monastery and the library of the parish church of St. Michael. One archeological site, the Sumpf a late Bronze Age lake shore settlement, is included, as are three museums; the Burg (Castle museum), Kunsthaus (Art museum) and Museum für Urgeschichte (Museum for ancient history). There are three archives that are included in the list; Bürgerarchiv Zug (Citizen's archive of Zug), Staatsarchiv Zug (State/Canton of Zug archive) and the Unternehmensarchiv der Landis & Gyr AG (Landis & Gyr AG company archives). The rest of the sites are the Catholic Church of St. Oswald with Charnel house, the Seminary of St. Michael, the city walls and several buildings in the old city of Zug.[24]

The prehistoric settlements at Oterswil/Insel Eielen, Riedmatt and Sumpf are part of the Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[25]

Zug as an educational space

Zug has a long tradition of education. Private schools, like the Montana Institute Zug, on Zugerberg, or the Dr. Pfister Institute AG, Oberägeri supplement the range available. In addition, there are the three former non-state teacher training colleges in Menzingen, Holy Cross in Cham and St. Michael in Zug.

The Zug education system is based on equal abilities and includes compulsory primary and secondary school, with optional secondary education and vocational training. Two thirds of young people go into vocational education, connected to an apprenticeship, joining the professional world after the 9th grade of secondary school. The international business community of Zug offers many and varied apprenticeships along with the Zug technical and industrial college, GIBZ, and the business college, KBZ, provide the academic knowledge and skills.

Zug – Canton of tertiary education

Canton Zug has two high schools: the Canton High School in the city of Zug, and the Cantonal School in Menzingen. Also at higher secondary level, is the Vocational School Zug and the Business Studies School, incorporated within the Canton School. Zug is one of the university cantons, with, on the one hand, the University of Teacher Training, PHZ Zug, on the other, a polytechnic for financial services.

There are also six technical colleges (for business, computer science, engineering design, naturopathy and homeopathy, child education, and rescue services).

International Schools

The range of educational institutions is a key factor for location in the globalized world of competition, especially for foreign employees, the so-called ‘Expats’. The four international schools have been developed accordingly, and report a high student intake. 1300 children from more than 50 countries attend the International School of Zug and Luzern alone, at its two campuses in Hünenberg and Baar.


The railway station

Zug acts as an important transportation node.

The Zürich, Steinhausen - Affoltern am Albis, Arth-Goldau - St. Gotthard - Ticino and Italy, and Rotkreuz - Luzern. Zug is the hub of the Zug Stadtbahn (an S-Bahn-style commuter rail network) and is also a terminal station of the Zürich S-Bahn on the lines S9 and S21.

The Zugerbergbahn funicular links the Zug suburb of Schönegg with the Zugerberg mountain overlooking the city and Lake Zug.

The A4 motorway and other main roads connect Zug with the rest of the nation.

Water transportation has its node on Lake Zug at Zug.

Media attention

The town became noticed in American media when CBS 60 minutes made a critical piece on the town being the "safe-haven" for American corporations.[26]


  1. ^ a b c Canton of Zug population (German) accessed 19 September 2014
  2. ^ Arealstatistik Standard - Gemeindedaten nach 4 Hauptbereichen
  3. ^ a b c d  
  4. ^ Untersuchungsrichterlicher Schlußbericht (German)
  5. ^ a b c d e Swiss Federal Statistical Office accessed 22-Sep-2009
  6. ^ "Temperature and Precipitation Average Values-Table, 1961-1990" (in German, French, Italian). Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology - MeteoSwiss. Retrieved 8 May 2009. , the weather station elevation is 435 meters above sea level.
  7. ^ Regionale Disparitäten in der Schweiz - Schlüsselindikatoren (German) (French) accessed 20 March 2013
  8. ^ a b Daten der Grafiken und Karten aus der Publikation (2012) «Regionale Disparitäten in der Schweiz» (German) (French) accessed 20 March 2013
  9. ^ Zug City website - Numbers (German) accessed 9 March 2011
  10. ^ Wire website, accessed 3 December 2014
  11. ^ Transocean website accessed 13 May 2010
  12. ^ Xstrata website accessed 13 May 2010
  13. ^ Biogenidec website accessed 13 May 2010
  14. ^ Crypto AG website accessed 13 May 2010
  15. ^ Alliance Boots Website accessed 13 May 2010
  16. ^ Nord Stream website accessed 13 May 2010
  17. ^ "Global Contacts." Informa. Retrieved on 4 February 2011. "Head Office Gubelstrasse 11 CH-6300 Zug Switzerland"
  18. ^ Landis+Gyr website accessed 13 May 2010
  19. ^ Partners Group website accessed 13 May 2010
  20. ^ Expert website accessed 13 May 2010
  21. ^ Tata Group website accessed 28 November 2010
  22. ^ Museums of Zug
  23. ^ Zug Tourism
  24. ^ Swiss inventory of cultural property of national and regional significance 21.11.2008 version, (German) accessed 22-Sep-2009
  25. ^ UNESCO World Heritage Site - Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps
  26. ^ CBS news, 60 Minutes report

External links

  • (German) Official city website
  • Pictures Zug
  • Pictures and history Zytturm (klick "english" and "clocktower")
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