Switzerland has never been a major colonial power like certain other European countries, but throughout its history, we nevertheless see a repeated pattern of collective emigration and colonisation on a smaller scale. For the reasons explained previously, there were times when emigration, with all the risks it entailed, seemed more attractive than remaining in Switzerland, and doubtless it was easier to face the unknown in the company of friends, or at least compatriots who spoke the same language and shared the same way of life.
An abundance of place names in the US and elsewhere bear witness to their Swiss settlers: Geneva (in 14 different US states!) Nueva Helvetia (later renamed Fort Sutter after its Swiss founder) in California, Bern in Indiana, New Bern in North Carolina, Bernstadt in Kentucky, New Glarus in Wisconsin, New St Gallen in W Virginia, Vevay and Switzerland County in Indiana, Tell City in Ohio, Grutli in Tennessee, Helvetia in W Virginia and Oregon, are just some examples. In Brazil, we find Nova Friburgo and Nouvelle Genève, and in Uruguay, Swiss colonists founded Nueva Helvecia and Nouvelle Berne. There was even a Zurichtal in the Eastern Crimea on the Black Sea. These and many other "islands" of Swiss colonialism typically maintained their Swiss identity with shooting clubs, choirs and welfare societies.
In this section, we look more closely at some of the groups who left the canton of Neuchâtel to start a new life far from home: those who travelled to East Prussia, the settlers of Purrysburg and the Neuchâtel Mennonites.