Flerden (Graubünden)


Graubünden or Grisons (German: , gʁaʊˈbyndən; Italian: Grigioni [gɾiˈdʒoːni]; Romansh: Grischun [gɾiˈʒun]) is the largest and easternmost canton of Switzerland. The name Graubünden translates as "Grey Leagues," referring to the canton's origin in three local alliances, the League of God's House, the Grey League, and the League of Ten Jurisdictions.


The area of the canton is 7,105 km². Only about a third of this is commonly regarded as productive land. Forests cover about a fifth of the total area. The canton is almost entirely mountainous, comprising the highlands of the Rhine and Inn river valleys. Many of its scenic areas are part of the Swiss National Park or the Ela Nature Park.

There are many significant elevations in the Grison Alps, including the Tödi at 3,614 m and the highest peak Piz Bernina at 4,049 m. Many of the mountain ranges feature extensive glaciers, such as at the Adula, the Albula, the Silvretta, the Bernina, the Bregaglia and the Rätikon ranges. The mountain ranges in the central area are very deep, some of which are considered the deepest valleys in Europe. These valleys were originally settled by the Raetians (Rhaeti).

The canton borders on Liechtenstein to the north, Austria to the north and the east, Italy to the south and southeast, and the cantons of St. Gallen to the northwest, Canton of Glarus, Uri to the west, and Ticino to the southwest. The capital city is Chur. The world-famous resorts of Davos and St. Moritz are located in the canton.


Most of the lands of the canton were once part of a Roman province called Raetia which was established in 15 BC. The area later was part of the lands of the diocese at Chur.

In 1367 the League of God's House (Cadi, Gottes Haus, Ca' di Dio), was founded to resist the rising power of the Bishop of Chur. This was followed by the establishment of the Grey League (Grauer Bund), sometimes called Oberbund, in 1395 in the Upper Rhine valley. The name Grey League is derived from the homespun grey clothes worn by the people. The name of this league later gave its name to the canton of Graubünden. A third league was established in 1436 by the people of ten bailiwicks in the former Toggenburg countship, as the dynasty of Toggenburg had become extinct. The league was called League of the Ten Jurisdictions (Zehngerichtebund).

The first step towards the canton of Graubünden was when the league of the Ten Jurisdictions allied with the League of God's House in 1450. In 1471 the two leagues allied with the Grey League. This was caused by the inheritance of the extinct Toggenburg dynasty possessions by the Habsburgs in 1496. This meant that the leagues allied with the Swiss Confederation. The Habsburgs were defeated at Calven Gorge and Dornach, helping the Swiss Confederation and the allied leagues of the canton of Grisons to be recognised.

The last traces of the Bishop of Chur's jurisdiction were abolished in 1526. The Musso war of 1520 drove the Three Leagues closer to the Swiss Confederacy. The lands of the canton of Graubünden were part of the Helvetic Republic, but the "perpetual ally" of Switzerland became a canton in 1803. The constitution of the canton dates from 1892.

The arms of the three original leagues are now all part of the coat of arms of the canton.


The Graubünden are known for a dried-beef delicacy called Bündnerfleisch and for a nut and honey pie known as Bündner Nusstorte. Another specialty, predominantly made in the western part of Grison, is Capuns a hearty meal of meat, cheese and salad leaves.


Agriculture and tourism are the pillars of the canton's economy. Agriculture includes forests and mountain pasturage in summer, particularly of sheep and goats. Tourism is concentrated in the mountains, particularly around the towns of Davos/Arosa, Laax and St. Moritz/Pontresina. There are, however, a great number of other tourist resorts in the canton.

There is wine production around the capital Chur. Chur is also an industrial centre. In the southern valleys of Mesolcina/Misox and Poschiavo there is corn (maize) and chestnut farming.

Public Transport

Public transport is provided by an integrated timetable of Postbuses and the Rhaetian Railway, the largest narrow-gauge railway network in Switzerland in which the cantonal government is the largest shareholder. The Swiss Federal Railways only extend a few kilometres into the canton, to the capital, Chur, where passengers transfer to the RhB. "Rhaetia" is a Latin name for the area.


The languages spoken in Graubünden are German in the northwest (54%), Romansh in the Engadin and around Disentis/Mustér (31%), and Italian in the valleys Mesolcina/Misox, Calanca, Val Bregaglia, and Poschiavo (15%). Graubünden is the only canton of Switzerland with three official languages.

Romansh is an umbrella term covering a group of closely-related dialects, spoken in southern Switzerland and all belonging to the Rhaeto-Romance language family. These dialects include Sursilvan, Sutsilvan, Surmiran, Puter and Vallader. Romansh was nationally standardised in 1982 by Zürich-based linguist Heinrich Schmid. The standardised language, called Rumantsch Grischun, has been slowly accepted. Romansh has been recognized as one of four "national languages" by the Swiss Federal Constitution since 1938. It was also declared an "official language" of the Confederation in 1996, meaning that Romansh speakers may use Rumantsch Grischun for correspondence with the federal government and expect to receive a response in the same language. Romansh has an official language at a cantonal level. Municipalities in turn are free to specify their own official languages.

The main religions are Catholicism and Protestantism. Both are well-represented in the canton, with Roman Catholics forming a slight majority.



There are 203 municipalities in the canton (as of April 2004).

See also: Municipalities of Switzerland

See also

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