Bern or Berne is the de facto capital of Switzerland, referred to as the “federal city” With a population of about 144,000 (2020), Bern is the fourth-most populous city in Switzerland. The Bern agglomeration, which includes 36 municipalities, had a population of 406,900 in 2014. The metropolitan area had a population of 660,000 in 2000.
Bern is also the capital of the canton of Bern, the second-most populous of Switzerland’s cantons. The official language is German, but the main spoken language is the local variant of the Alemannic Swiss German dialect, Bernese German. In 1983, the historic old town in the center of Bern became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is notably surrounded by the Aare, a major river of the Swiss Plateau.
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