In 2015, 63.0% native speakers of German (of which speak 59.5% Swiss German and 10.4% Standard German at home); 22.7% French (mostly Swiss French, but including some Arpitan dialects); 8.4% Italian (mostly Swiss Italian, but including Lombard dialects); and 0.6% Romansh.
The German region (Deutschschweiz) is roughly in the east, north and center; the French part (la Romandie) in the west and the Italian area (Svizzera italiana) in the south. There remains a small Romansh-speaking native population in Graubnden in the east. The cantons of Fribourg, Bern and Valais are officially bilingual; the canton of Graubnden is officially trilingual.
The main languages of Swiss residents from 1950 to 2013, in percentages, were as follows:
In 2012, for the first time, respondents could indicate more than one language, causing the percentages to exceed 100%.
The German-speaking part of Switzerland (German: Deutschschweiz, French: Suisse almanique, Italian: Svizzera tedesca, Romansh: Svizra tudestga) comprises about 65% of Switzerland (North Western Switzerland, Eastern Switzerland, Central Switzerland, most of the Swiss Plateau and the greater part of the Swiss Alps).
In 17 Swiss cantons, German is the only official language (Aargau, Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Basel Stadt, Basel Landschaft, Glarus, Lucerne, Nidwalden, Obwalden, Schaffhausen, Schwyz, Solothurn, St. Gallen, Thurgau, Uri, Zug, Zurich).
In the cantons of Bern, Fribourg and Valais, French is co-official; in the trilingual canton of Graubnden, more than half of the population speaks German, while the rest speak Romansh or Italian. 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 (see Walha). In Germany Welsch and Welschland refer to Italy; there, the term is antiquated, rarely used, and somewhat disparaging.
The German-speaking Swiss do not feel like a uniform group: the average German-speaking Swiss feels foremost belonging to Solothurn, St. Gallen, or Uri, or any other canton, and sees himself not speaking Swiss German, but, for example, Baseldytsch (dialect of Basel), Brndtsch (dialect of Bern) or Zridtsch (dialect of Zurich). This is hardly surprising, however, since there is no single unifying or standard form of Swiss German itself, whereby the term "Swiss German" is simply a generic umbrella term referring in general to all of the various different Alemannic German dialects within German-speaking Switzerland. The marked subsidiarity of the Swiss federalism, where many political decisions are taken at municipal or cantonal level, supports this attitude.
Nevertheless, in 2015, 10.4%, or about 870,000 of the Swiss residents speak High German aka Standard German at home, but probably mainly due to German (and Austrian) immigrants.
By the Middle Ages, a marked difference had developed between the rural cantons (Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, Glarus, Zug, Appenzell, Schaffhausen) of the German-speaking part of Switzerland and the city cantons (Lucerne, Berne, Zurich, Solothurn, Fribourg, Basel, St. Gallen), divided by views about 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 Roman Catholic Central Switzerland abounds with chapels and statues of saints, and the farm houses in the very similar landscape of the Protestant Bernese Oberland show Bible verses carved on the housefronts, instead.