Surselva District

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Surselva District
District Surselva
Bezirk Surselva
Location of Surselva District
Country   Switzerland
Canton  Graubünden
Capital Ilanz
 • Total 1,373.54 km2 (530.33 sq mi)
Population (2013)
 • Total 21,347
 • Density 16/km2 (40/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Municipalities 33

Surselva District is an administrative district in the canton of Graubünden, Switzerland. It has an area of 1,373.39 km2 (530.27 sq mi) and has a population of 21,347 (as of 31 December 2013).[1]


Surselva valley near Trun

The Surselva encompasses the valley of the Vorderrhein and all its side valleys, from the source near the Oberalppass all the way down towards Reichenau (where the Vorderrhein joins the Hinterrhein to form the Rhine). The district ends before that confluence at the huge forest on the giant debris of Flims Rockslide that is responsible for the name of the region: The debris area lack of water and soil and were ever left as a big forest as it was useless for farming. This forest (romonsch: selva) is the border for "Sur-selva" (meaning "above the forest").

The Surselva is one of the few areas in Switzerland that is mainly Romansh-speaking (another notable valley being the Engadin, the valley of the Inn). There are a few German-speaking communities in the Surselva, two notable ones being Obersaxen and Vals, which were founded in the thirteenth century by the Walser.

Mergers and name changes[edit]

  • On 1 January 2012 the municipality of Schlans merged into the municipality of Trun.[2]

On 1 January 2015 the former municipality of St. Martin merged into the municipality of Vals.[2]


Romansh is the predominant language in the district, most of which speak the Sursilvan dialect. There is a large German-speaking minority in Surselva, notably the Walser settlements of Obersaxen and Vals. However, the percentage of Romansh-speakers is on the decline. Traditional Romansh-speaking cities such as Ilanz are losing ground to German.

Languages of Surselva District, GR
Languages Census 2000
Number Percent
German 7,335 34.5%
Romansh 12,606 59.4%
Italian 289 1.4%
TOTAL 21,231 100%

A long distance hike is signposted to follow the main Vorderrhein River through the whole of the district[4]

Sub division: Kreis[edit]

It consists of five Kreise (sub-districts) and forty-three municipalities:

Disentis sub-district
Municipality Population
(31 December 2013)[1]
Area (km²)
Breil/Brigels 1,290 50.84
Disentis/Mustér 2,064 91.08
Medel (Lucmagn) 408 136.20
Sumvitg 1,249 101.83
Trun 1,238 51.9
Tujetsch 1,405 133.92
Ilanz sub-district
Municipality Population
(31 December 2013)[1]
Area (km²)
Falera 594 22.35
Ilanz/Glion 4,573 133.47
Laax 1,506 31.68
Mundaun 307 8.59
Sagogn 673 6.95
Schluein 590 4.81
Valendas 288 22.79
Versam 237 16.77
Lumnezia/Lugnez sub-district
Municipality Population
(31 December 2013)[1]
Area (km²)
Lumnezia 2,118 165.48
Vals 1,006 175.56
Ruis sub-district
Municipality Population
(31 December 2013)[1]
Area (km²)
Andiast 209 13.63
Obersaxen 820 61.54
Waltensburg/Vuorz 338 32.32
Safien sub-district (Safien valley)
Municipality Population
(31 December 2013)[1]
Area (km²)
Safien 282 100.58
Tenna 114 11.28


  1. ^ a b c d e f Swiss Federal Statistics Office – STAT-TAB Ständige und Nichtständige Wohnbevölkerung nach Region, Geschlecht, Nationalität und Alter (German) accessed 18 August 2014
  2. ^ a b c Amtliches Gemeindeverzeichnis der Schweiz published by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (German) accessed 21 December 2011
  3. ^ Nomenklaturen – Amtliches Gemeindeverzeichnis der Schweiz (German) accessed 13 December 2014
  4. ^ Hiking Surselva, Switzerland on official tourism board

Coordinates: 46°46′N 9°12′E / 46.767°N 9.200°E / 46.767; 9.200