Map of the Roman province Maxima Sequanorum (c. 300 AD), which comprised the territories of the Helvetii, Sequani and several smaller tribes. The relative locations of the Helvetian pagi Tigurini and Verbigeni, though indicated on the map, remain unknown.[1]
A map of Gaul in the 1st century BC, showing the relative positions of the Celtic tribes.

The Helvetii (Latin: Helvētiī [hɛɫˈweː.tjiː], anglicized Helvetians) were a Celtic[2] tribe or tribal confederation[3] occupying most of the Swiss plateau at the time of their contact with the Roman Republic in the 1st century BC. According to Julius Caesar, the Helvetians were divided into four subgroups or pagi. Of these Caesar only names the Verbigeni and the Tigurini,[4] while Posidonius mentions the Tigurini and the Tougeni (Τωυγενοί).[5] They feature prominently in the Commentaries on the Gallic War, with their failed migration attempt to southwestern Gaul (58 BC) serving as a catalyst for Caesar's conquest of Gaul.

The Helvetians were subjugated after 52 BC, and under Augustus, Celtic oppida, such as Vindonissa or Basilea, were re-purposed as garrisons. In AD 68, a Helvetian uprising was crushed by Aulus Caecina Alienus.The Swiss plateau was at first incorporated into the Roman province of Gallia Belgica (22 BC), later into Germania Superior (AD 83).The Helvetians, like the rest of Gaul, were largely Romanized by the 2nd century. In the later 3rd century, Roman control over the region waned, and the Swiss plateau was exposed to the invading Alemanni. The Alemanni and Burgundians established permanent settlements in the Swiss plateau in the 5th and 6th centuries, resulting in the early medieval territories of Alemannia (Swabia) and Upper Burgundy.


The endonym Helvetii is mostly derived from a Gaulish elu-, meaning "gain, prosperity" or "multitude", cognate with Welsh elw and Old Irish prefix il-, meaning "many" or "multiple" (from the PIE root *pelh1u- "many").[6][3] The second part of the name has sometimes been interpreted as *etu-, "terrain, grassland", thus interpreting the tribal name as "rich in land".[7]

The earliest attestation of the name is found in a graffito on a vessel from Mantua, dated to c. 300 BC.[8] The inscription in Etruscan letters reads eluveitie, which has been interpreted as the Etruscan form of the Celtic elu̯eti̯os ("the Helvetian"), presumably referring to a man of Helvetian descent living in Mantua.

Other Languages
Alemannisch: Helvetier
беларуская: Гельветы
български: Хелвети
brezhoneg: Helveted
català: Helvecis
čeština: Helvéciové
Cymraeg: Helvetii
Deutsch: Helvetier
español: Helvecios
Esperanto: Helvetoj
euskara: Helveziar
فارسی: هلوتی‌ها
français: Helvètes
galego: Helvecios
한국어: 헬베티족
Bahasa Indonesia: Helvetii
italiano: Elvezi
עברית: הלווטים
ქართული: ჰელვეტები
Latina: Helvetii
lietuvių: Helvetai
magyar: Helvétek
Nederlands: Helvetii
polski: Helweci
português: Helvécios
română: Helveți
русский: Гельветы
Simple English: Helvetii
slovenščina: Helveti
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Helveti
svenska: Helvetier
Türkçe: Helvetler
українська: Гельвети