The German Switzerland (German: Deutschschweiz, French: Suisse alémanique, Italian: Svizzera tedesca, Romansh: Svizra tudestga) is the German speaking part of Switzerland which comprises about 65% of the country (North Western Switzerland, Eastern Switzerland, Central Switzerland, most of the Swiss plateau and the greater part of the Swiss Alps).
The canton of Bern has a French minority, while in Fribourg and Valais, German has minority status. In the canton of Graubünden, more than half of the population speaks German, while the rest speak Italian and Romansh. In each case, all languages are official languages of the respective canton.
While the French-speaking Swiss prefer to call themselves Romands and their part of the country la Romandie, the German speaking Swiss used to refer to (and, colloquially, still do) the French speaking Swiss as "Welsche" and to their area as Welschland, which has the same etymology as the English Welsh. In Germany Welsch and Welschland refer to Italy; there, the term is antiquated, rarely used, and somewhat disparaging.
In contrast to the Italian- and French-speaking Swiss, the German-speaking Swiss do not feel very close to their German neighbours in the north, even though the Alemannic dialects on both sides of the Rhine are similar. The reasons for this are mainly historical, as the German part of Switzerland has factually been separated from the rest of the German-speaking areas since the late Middle Ages and officially since the Peace of Westphalia. Another factor is the status of the dialect. High German is the official language and is used in writing and to a great part by the media, but the spoken language in Switzerland in all social classes is almost exclusively Swiss German (more precisely one of the Swiss German dialects) - in Germany, people with higher education seldom speak a marked dialect.
The German-speaking Swiss do not feel as a uniform group; the average German speaking Swiss feels foremost belonging to Solothurn, St. Gallen, or Uri and sees himself not speaking Swiss German but the Baseldytsch (dialect of Basel), Bärndütsch (dialect of Bern) or Züridütsch (dialect of Zurich). The marked subsidiarity of the Swiss federalism where many political decisions are taken at municipal or cantonal level supports this attitude.
The German-speaking part of Switzerland has no single culture. In the Middle Ages already there was a marked difference between the rural cantons and the city cantons focusing on trade and commerce. After the Reformation, all cantons were either Catholic or Protestant and the denominational influences on culture added to the differences. Even today, where all cantons are somewhat denominationally mixed, the different historical denominations can be seen in the mountain villages, where Central Switzerland abounds with chapels and statues of saints and the farm houses in the very similar landscape of the Bernese Oberland show Bible verses carved on the housefronts instead.