Imágenes de página

and Ouessant or Ushant, remarkable as the farthest headland of France towards the west, being about 12 miles from the continent.


Situation and Extent.] Switzerland is bounded N. and E. by Germany; S. by Italy and w. by France. It lies between 45° 45' and 47° 48' N. lat. and between 6° 6' and 10° 36' E. lon. The area is estimated at 19,000 square miles.

Divisions.) Switzerland formerly consisted of 13 cantons, with their allies and subjects. In 1803, the constitution underwent a considerable change, and the country was formed into 19 cantons. In 1815, 3 new cantons were added by the Congress of Vienna, making the whole number at present 22, as in the following table.

Cantons. Square miles. Population. Pop. on a sq. m. Religion. 1. Schaffhausen, 176 30,000 170 Protestant. %. Thurgau or

366 76,700 206 Prot. and Cath, Thurgovia, 3. Zurich,


182,000 184 Protestant. 4. Aargau or 792 143,960

181 Prot. and Cath. Argovia, 5. Bale or Basil, 275 47,200 171 Protestant. 6. Soleure,

286 47,882 167 Catb. and Prot. 7. Lucerne,


100,000 126 Catholic. 8. Zug,

121 14,300 118 Catholic. 9. Schweitz, 484 28,900 59 Catholic. 10. St. Galle,

880 130,300 180 Prot. and Cath. 11. Appenzell, 231 55,000 238 Cath. and Prot. 12. Glarus,


24,000 51 Cath. and Prot. 13. Uri,

528 14,000 26 Catbolic. 14. Underwalden, 286 21,200 74 Catholic. 15. Berne,

3,784 291,200 77 Protestant. 16. Friburg,

506 70,000 138 Catholic. 17. Pays de Vaud


150,000 97 Protestant. or Leman, 18. Tesino, 1,177 88,793 75 Catholic. 19. Grisons, 3,080 73,200 23 Prot. and Cath. 20. Valais,

2,024 63,400 31 Catholic. 21. Geneva,

132 47,800 362 Protestant. 22. Neufchatel, 330 50,800 154 Protestant.

[blocks in formation]

Mountains.) The principal chain of the Alps passes through the country in a northeasterly direction and with its numerous branches overspreads all the southern cantons.

In different parts of its course it has different names. 1. The most southern division, called the Pennine Alps, comes from Italy, and entering Switzerland at its S. W. corner, runs along the southern border of the canton of Valais as far as Mount Rosa. It passes over the summits of Mont Blanc (which is in Italy, and 14,676 feet high,) thę great St. Bernard (10,380 feet high,) Mount Combin, Mount Cer. yin and Mount Rosa (13,428 feet high.) 2. The Lepontine Alps stretch themselves from Mount Rosa over Mount Simplon (6,597 feet high,) the Griesburg and Mount St. Gothard (9,964 feet high,) to Mont Bernhardin, in the canton of the Grisons. A branch of the Lepontine Alps proceeds from Mount St. Gothard in a W. S. W. direction almost to the lake of Geneva, occupying the southern part of the canton of Bern and the northern part of the Valais, and containing among many others the summits of the Furca, the Schreckhorn, the Viescherhorn, the Jungfrau, all of which are more than 12,000 feet high. 3. The Rhaetian Alps commence at Mont Bernhardin at the eastern termination of the Lepontine Alps, and extend into Germany, after throwing off many branches both to the north and south which overspread the whole canton of the Grisons.— The Mount Jura chain forms the boundary bè. tween Switzerland and France.

Rivers.] The two principal rivers are, 1. The Rhine, which rises in the Lepontine Alps, a little to the east of Mount St. Gothard, and Aowing at first in a N. E. direction passes the town of Coire or Chur, where it begins to be navigable, and then, turning to the north, forms for a short distance the eastern boundary of Switzerland, and falls into the lake of Constance. Issuing from that lake with a copious corrent it flows west, forming the boundary between Switzerland and Germany till it reaches Bale, where it turns to the north, and leaves the country. Its principal tributary from Switzerland is the Aar, which rises a little west of Mount St. Gothard, and flowing in a N. W. direction through the lakes of Brientz and Thun, passes by Berne, and soon after turns to the N. E. and receiving the Great Emmen, the Reuss, and the Limmat, falls into the Rhine in the canton of Aargau. 2. The Rhone, which rises at the foot of Mount Furca, not far from Mount St. Gothard, and flowing in a W. S. W. direction through the canton of the Valais, discharges its turbid waters into the transparent Jake of Geneva. Issuing from that lake in a purer stream, it flows south and forms for some distance the boundary between France and Savoy.

Lakes. The principal lakes are, 1. The lake of Geneva, which is 50 miles long and in its widest part 10 broad, and is surrounded with the most magnificent scenery, the north bank being fertile and beautifully diversified, while the south rises gradually until it terminates in the loftiest summits of the Alps. 2. The lake of Constance or Boden See, 35 miles long and 12 broad, has fertile and well cultivated banks, lined with beautiful towns, vil,

lages and castles. 3. The lake of Neufchatel, in the west of Switzerland, about 20 miles long and 4 broad.

There are many small lakes in the interior, the principal of which are the lake of Zurich, in the canton of the same name, which discharges itself through the Limmat into the Aar; the lakes of Zug and Lucerne, in the cantons of the same name, through the last of which the river Reuss passes; and the lakes of Brientz and Thun, through both of which the river Aar passes. In the southern part of the canton of the Grisons is the lake of Lugano which discharges itself through the small river Tresa into the lake of Maggiore. The lake of Maggiore lies partly in Switzerland, bui principally in Italy. It receives the Tesino, Maggiore, and several other rivers from the eastern face of the Lepontine Alps.

Face of the Country. The southern part of Switzerland is covered with mountains, whose barren, inaccessible summits pierce the region of perpetual snow. The northern cantons contain an agreeable mixture of lofty mountains, rugged rocks, green hills, fertile vales, beautiful pastures and finelv cultivated fields. The lakes and mountains of Switzerland everywhere give a wonderful -ublimity and beauty to the scenery.

Climate. The climate is very different in different parts. In the proper Alps it is cold, rough and unfriendly; in the southern vallies the climate resembles that of Italy, and in the northern cantons that of the neighboring parts of France and Germany, yet on account of the many mountains and lakes it is extremely variable.

Soil and Productions. The soil in the vallies is deep and in some parts very fertile, particularly on the Aar; in the mountains it is very thin and so barren that cultivation is very rarely attempted. The vine is cultivated with success, principally in the cantons of Berne, Schaffhausen and the Pays de Vaud. Of all kinds of fruit there is an abundance, and corp, hemp and flax are cultivated to a considerable extent though not in sufficient quantities for the supply of the country. But the principal occupation of the Swiss farm is the raising of caiţie, particularly horned cattle, and must of the fertile land is used for meadow and pasture. In mineral productions Switzerland is not so rich as might be expected from its mountainous situation. For salt it is almost entirely dependent on France and Germany.

Natural Curiosities. The glaciers of the Alps are immense fields of ice, unrivalled in their extent and magnificence. The peaks and ridges of the higher summits are overspread with perpetual-now and ice, which reach often a great distance downthe mountains, even to the borders of the cultivated vallies. These iminense masses resting on an inclined plane, and often feebly supported, sometimes slide down the declivities, and in a moment over helm the villages and hamlets below. They are usually intersected by numerous deep fissures and chasms, which present to the eye a

thousand fantastic shapes of walls and pyramids, houses and temples, cascades and torrents. In some places the ice is

of a splendid white; in others of a beautiful azure, and everywhere transparent and dazzling.

Chief Towns.} Geneva, the largest town in Switzerland, is situated at the western extremity of the lake of Geneva, on the confines ot France and Savoy, and is divided by the Rhone into three parts connected together by beautiful bridges. Nothing can be more agreeable than the environs of Geneva. There are beautiful and interesting walks around the city in every direction, and the lake, the bills, the distant Alps covered with eternal snow, and above all, Mont Blanc, rearing its lofty head to the clouds, give a wonderful beauty and sublimity to the prospect. The number of inhabitants is 22,800. This population would naturally place it among European towns of the third or fourth rank, but it has acquired a celebrity equal to that of the first capitals. It owes this degree of reputation principally to its industry, and the civil and religious habits and institutions of its people. The great occupation of the inhabitants is watch-making, which empivy, nearly 7,000 individuals; and a great part of the continent is supplied with watches from this place. Education has always been conducted here with the greatest care; and for this purpose there is a university with 22 professors and usually about 1,000 students.

Bále or Basil is in the N. W. corner of Switzerland, on the Rhine, which divides it into two unequal parts, connected together by a bridge 600 feet long. It has 15,000 inhabitants, and a flourishing commerce maintained chiefly by the manufacture of silk ribbons. Berne is situated in a beautiful and fertile country on the Aar, which forms part of the town into a peninsula. It has 13,000 inhabitants. Zurich is a walled town on the Limmat, which here issues from the lake of Zurich and divides the city into two parts. It has 11,000 inhabitants, and a flourishing commerce maintained by the manufacture of silk and cotton goods. Lausanne, the capital of the Pays de Vaud, is delightfully situated on three eminences a mile from the north shore of the lake of Gepeva. It has long been the resort of strangers, who are attracted hither by the picturesque scenery presented by the lake and the surrounding mountains, by the institutions for education, and by the polished character of the society. It contains 8,000 inhabitants. Schaffhausen is 50 miles E. of Bâle, on the N. bank of the Rhine, over which there is a wooden bridge of very ingenious construction. The transit trade of this place has been for many ages considerable, owing to its situation about a league above the celebrated cataract of the Rhine, which requires that all the articles brought down the river should be landed here and conveyed round the falls. The population is 6,000. Lucerne is situated in a romantic country, on the Reuss, where it issues from the lake of Lucerne. It is on Loth sides of the river, and its two parts are connected hy four bridges. "The population is nearly 7,000. Neufchatel is pleasantly situated on the west bank of the lake of Neufchatel and contains 5,000 inhabitants. St. Gall, the capital of the canton of the same name, is the centre of the com.

merce and manufactures of all the surrounding cantons. Cotton and linen stuffs are made here of an extreme tineness, and the inhabitants have carried spinning and other machines to almost as great perfection as the English. The population is 9,000.

Mountain Passes.) There are several roads or passes across the Alps from Switzerland to Italy, the principal of which are, 1. The road over the Great St. Bernard between its two main Bummits. On the most elevated point of this passage (which is 8,038 feet above the sea,) is a Bernardine monastery and bospital, founded in the 10th century. The monks entertain all strangers gratis for three days, and in foggy or tempestuous weather, they send their servants to all parts of the mountain, in order to be at hand to give succor to travellers who may have lost their way. The French army under Bonaparte crossed this mountain, with its artillery and baggage, in the year 1800,

2. The road over Mount Simplon, which was finished in 1805 at the joint expence of France and the kingdom of Italy, in the reign of Bonaparte. It was a work of great labor and occupied several years. It is 36 miles long, 25 feet broad, and passes over 264 bridges, and through no less than six galleries, or passages cut through the superimpending rocks. The highest point of the road is nearly 6,000 feet above the level of the sea. 3. The road over Mount St. Gothard, which is froin 10 to 12 feet broad, and well paved with granite. In one place it passes over the Devil's bridge which consists of a single arch over the Reuss, resting on each side on peaks of rock at so great an elevation above the torrent as to appear a work almost superhuman. In another part there is a gallery or subterraneons passage cut through the rock, 200 feet long, 12 feet high and 12 feet broad.

Population, Language, Religion, &c.] The population is 1,750,000. A majority of the inhabitants speak the German language, the French prevails in the southwestern provinces, the Italian in the canton of Tesino, while in the country of the Grisons more than half the population speak the Romansh or ancient Rhaetian language. The religion is partly Catholic and partly Protestant. The Protestants on the whole are the most numer. ous and consist principally of Calvinists, although there are many Lutherans. Common schools are universally established, and there are universities at Geneva and Bâle, and colleges at Berne and Zurich.

Government.] Switzerland is a federal republic, the 22 cantons being united under one government for the protection of their liberty, independence and security against the attacks of foreiga powers, and for the preservation of internal tranquillity. The affairs of the confederacy are entrusted to a diet composed of ambassadors from the respective cantons. . The diet is empowered to declare war, to make treaties with foreign powers, to adopt · the necessary measures for the internal security of the confederacy, and to regulate the organization of the military contingent. When the diet is not in session the direction of affairs is entrusted to a substitute. The substitutes are the cantons of Zurich, Berne and

« AnteriorContinuar »