Fribourg or Freiburg is the capital of the Swiss canton of Fribourg and the district La Sarine. It is located on both sides of the river Saane/Sarine, on the Swiss Plateau, and is a major economic, administrative and educational centre on the cultural border between German and French Switzerland (Romandy). Its Old City, one of the best-maintained in Switzerland, sits on a small rocky hill above the valley of the Sarine.
Development of trade and economy Several types of industry developed in Fribourg as early as the 13th and 14th centuries. The extension of the city along the east bank of the Saane/La Sarine made about this time was indicative of a strong economic upturn. In Galterntal, water power was used for various mills. Along the Saane new trade districts developed with the towns of Au, Neustadt and Matten.
The tanneries and cloth manufacturers, strengthened by widespread sheep raising, led to an economic boom in the 14th and 15th centuries. This helped Fribourg by making its trades well known throughout central Europe. A gradual decline in cloth making in the second half of the 15th century occurred as local farmers replaced their sheep with cattle. Other reasons for the collapse of the cloth industry in the 16th century include the fact that the guild refused to use new materials or modern styles, and that the social structure of the city changed with the rise of the patrician class.
After this time, Fribourg was shaped by low-level trade, and was not industrialised until it was connected to the Swiss Railroad, beginning in the 1870s. After Lake Pérolles was built in 1872, energy was able to be supplied to the plateau south and west of the city. Thus, an industrial area developed there, dominated in its early years by a wagon factory and a lumber mill. Later, two breweries were established in this area. A chocolate factory was established in Villârs-sur-Glâne.
In the course of the 20th century, the plateau became the industrial section of the city. The development of new industrial areas in neighbouring municipalities, beginning in the 1970s, has permitted continued economic growth.
Economic situation As of 2008, there were 18 people employed in the primary economic sector and about 5 businesses involved in this sector. 3,821 people were employed in the secondary sector and there were 232 businesses in this sector. 21,614 people were employed in the tertiary sector, with 2,004 businesses in this sector. In the tertiary sector; 2,633 or 15.9% were in wholesale or retail sales or the repair of motor vehicles, 993 or 6.0% were in the movement and storage of goods, 1,003 or 6.1% were in a hotel or restaurant, 568 or 3.4% were in the information industry, 957 or 5.8% were the insurance or financial industry, 1,535 or 9.3% were technical professionals or scientists, 3,273 or 19.8% were in education and 1,970 or 11.9% were in health care.
Fribourg is a commuter destination for the largely agricultural surrounding area. Local industry includes food and luxury products, drinks (the breweries are owned by the Danish firm Carlsberg), metal and machine construction, electronics, and computer technology. The largest number of workers are active in the service industries. Many of these work in government administrative positions. Other important sectors are education (at the university), banks and insurance companies, tourism and restaurants, as well as health services. Fribourg is home to the administrative offices of several international companies. The Cantonal hospital is on the border with Villars-sur-Glâne.
Fribourg has a population of over 38,365 people.