Romansh people

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Sprachen CH 2000 EN.svg
Romansh language areas are in magenta
Total population
Over 75,000
Regions with significant populations
Romansh, Swiss German
Christianity (majority Roman Catholic, Swiss Reformed)
Related ethnic groups
German Swiss, Italian Swiss, French Swiss

The Romansh people (also spelled Romansch, Rumantsch, or Romanche; Romansh: About this soundrumantsch , rumàntsch, About this soundromauntsch  or About this soundromontsch ) are a Romance[2] ethnic group of Switzerland, native speakers of the Romansh language. They are usually multilingual, also speaking German (both the standard variety and the local Swiss German) and sometimes Italian, which are the other official languages of Graubünden, the canton where they are concentrated.

They make up about 1% of Switzerland's population and 15% of Graubünden's.[1][3]

The Romansh people began advocating for an end to German dominion over them starting with World War I. In 1937 the Swiss government recognized the Romansh language for the first time as one of Switzerland's four national languages, though only for use within the canton, not at the federal level.

The Romansh people appeared to be mostly satisfied with this status until the 1980s when debate arose over Switzerland's relationship with the greater European continent and the concept of the European Union began to form. The Romansh people advocated heavily for Switzerland's membership in the Union, but the referendum to join it was narrowly defeated in 1992 by the German majority and Switzerland remained a nation apart with the Romansh people a nation apart within it though with ever-increasing sovereignty and recognition at the federal level to the point that Romansh is now considered one of the official federal languages of the Swiss Confederation.

The Romansh national leadership in Switzerland expressly stated its interest in Switzerland joining the European Union in terms of a pro-European stance and not an anti-Swiss-Confederation one, openly recognizing that the Confederation, though dominated by the German Swiss and with large Swiss French and Swiss Italian contingents, had sheltered the tiny Romansh minority population for nearly 200 years, never engaging in programs to erase their identity or language nor forcing them to relocate to accommodate any other ethnic group as had been the norm with a variety of other ethnic minorities throughout Europe. Though there have been some stumbling blocks, the history of the relationship between the Romansh people and the other ethnic peoples of Switzerland appears to have been and continues to be an unusually polite and respectful one.[4]

Notable Romansh people[edit]


  1. ^ a b CIA World Factbook - Switzerland
  2. ^ Minahan, James (2000). One Europe, Many Nations: A Historical Dictionary of European National Groups. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 776. ISBN 0313309841. Romance (Latin) nations...
  3. ^ (in German) (in Italian) Canton of Graubünden Website accessed October 26, 2008
  4. ^ James Minahan (1 January 2002). Encyclopedia of the stateless nations. 3. L – R. Greenwood. p. 1602. ISBN 978-0-313-32111-5. Retrieved 12 July 2013.