Surselva District

Surselva District
Romansh: district Surselva
German: Bezirk Surselva
Country   Switzerland
Canton  Grisons
Capital Ilanz
  Total 1,373.54 km2 (530.33 sq mi)
Population (2015)
  Total 21,325
  Density 16/km2 (40/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
Municipalities 33

Surselva District (Romansh:  District da la Surselva ) is an administrative district in the canton of the Grisons, Switzerland.[1] It has an area of 1,373.39 km2 (530.27 sq mi) and has a population of 21,325 (as of 31 December 2015).[2] The district's name derives from the name of the Vorderrein/Rein Anteriur's valley, namely the Surselva (excluding the side valleys).[note 1]


The Surselva near Trun

The Surselva District encompasses the valley of the Vorderrhein/Rein Anteriur (the Surselva) and all its side valleys, from the source near the Oberalp Pass all the way down towards Reichenau (where the Vorderrhein joins the Hinterrhein/Rein Posteriur 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: silva) is the border for "Sur-silva" (meaning "above the forest").

The Surselva is one of the few areas in Switzerland that is mainly Romansh-speaking (another notable valley being the Engadine, the valley of the Inn). There are a few German-speaking communities in the Surselva, e.g. Disentis/Mustér, with its Benedictine monastery, which dates back to 720, Obersaxen and Vals, which were founded in the thirteenth century by the Walser.

Mergers and name changes

On 1 January 2015 the former municipality of St. Martin merged into the municipality of Vals.[3]


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 follows the main Vorderrhein/Rein Ateriur through the whole Surselva.[4]

Sub division: Kreis

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

Disentis sub-district
Municipality Population
(31 December 2015)[2]
Area (km²)
Breil/Brigels 1,258 50.84
Disentis/Mustér 2,070 91.08
Medel (Lucmagn) 389 136.20
Sumvitg 1,218 101.83
Trun 1,202 51.9
Tujetsch 1,324 133.92
Ilanz sub-district
Municipality Population
(31 December 2015)[2]
Area (km²)
Falera 614 22.35
Ilanz/Glion 4,695 133.47
Laax 1,617 31.68
Mundaun 317 8.59
Sagogn 689 6.95
Schluein 616 4.81
Valendas 288 22.79
Versam 237 16.77
Lumnezia/Lugnez sub-district
Municipality Population
(31 December 2015)[2]
Area (km²)
Lumnezia 2,060 165.48
Vals 990 175.56
Ruis sub-district
Municipality Population
(31 December 2015)[2]
Area (km²)
Andiast 203 13.63
Obersaxen 829 61.54
Waltensburg/Vuorz 338 32.32
Safien sub-district (Safien valley)
Municipality Population
(31 December 2015)[2]
Area (km²)
Safien 282 100.58
Tenna 114 11.28

Notes and references


  1. It's called the Surselva, and not Surselva Valley.


  1. "Grisons Map: Map of local districts and communities" (PDF) (official website). Chur, Switzerland: Canton Grisons. January 2015. Retrieved 2016-01-11.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Swiss Federal Statistical Office - STAT-TAB, online database – Ständige und nichtständige Wohnbevölkerung nach institutionellen Gliederungen, Geburtsort und Staatsangehörigkeit (German) accessed 30 August 2016
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Nomenklaturen – Amtliches Gemeindeverzeichnis der Schweiz: Amtliches Gemeindeverzeichnis" (official website) (in German and French). Neuchâtel, Switzerland: Swiss Federal Statistical Office. Retrieved 2016-01-11.
  4. "85 Senda Sursilvana, Andermatt-Chur". Chur, Switzerland: Graubünden Ferien Schweiz. Retrieved 2016-01-11.

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

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