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Switzerland

alps, north, valley, south, saint, ranges, rhine, rhone, passes and valleys

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SWITZERLAND, Fr. La Suisse • It. La Svizzera; Ger. Die Schweiz; Lat. Helvetia: An ancient federal republic of Central Europe, extending between 45° 49' 2" and 47° 48' 32" N. latitude and 5° 57' 26" and 10° 29' 40" E. longitude. The superficial area is approxi mately 15,983 square miles; greatest length, 226 miles; greatest breadth, 136 miles. The country is a confederation of 19 entire and six half cantons, the whole divided into 187 ad ministrative districts. It is bounded on the north by Baden, with the Rhine as frontier; northeast of Bavaria and Wiirttemberg, sepa rated from them by the Lake of Constance; east by Lichtenstein and the Tyrol, with the Rhine and the Grison Alps intervening; south by Italy, where the Alps and the Lake of Geneva form natural boundaries; and west and northwest by France, where the Jura Moun tains and the River Doubs form the line of demarcation. The following table shows the cantons, their areas and population, and the areas in which they joined the confederation: Nearly all the cantons have alternative names in French and German. Thus, Lucerne is Luzern in German, while Obwalden and Nidwalden are known in French as Unter walden-le-Haut and Unterwalden-le-Bas re spectively. Zug has a French equivalent in Zoug; Solothurn in Soleure; Grisons in Graubiinden in German; Neuchatel is Neuen burg; Ticino, Tessin; Vaud and Valais are Waadt and Wallis, and Geneva, Geneve or Genf.

Topography.— Embracing the highest and most mountainous land on the Continent, Switzerland has aptly been styled the fortress of Europe. Its frontiers are mainly natural ones, composed of mountains, rivers and lakes. Those great mountain ranges and the large number of easily-blocked tunnels by which alone it is possible for troops to cross them may be said to make the country absolutely impregnable in the hands of a determined gar rison. During the European War, Switzerland stood as a sohd rock in the midst of a turbulent sea, with four nations at war on all the four sides of it. That tfortress) was the strategic key to the mid-European battle-ground; its possession would have had an enormous mili tary value for any one of the belligerent nations. Besides the lofty ranges there are gigantic glaciers, magnificent lakes and wild, romantic valleys. Though Switzerland contains the highest ranges of the Alps and the greater por tion of the Jura chain, the highest peaks of both systems belong to France. Physically the country falls into four natural divisions, the High Alps, the Outer Alps (Voralpen), the Jura, and the intervening plain which makes up the rest of the territory. The High Alps, generally called the Alps,* contain the loftiest mountain-chains, lying chiefly in the south and east. They divide the warm south from the colder north and present an imposing spectacle of towering masses of granite, mica and gneiss capped with eternal snow. An apparent laby rinth of mountains possesses a remarkable nucleus or central junction in Mount Saint Gothard (10,500 feet), which forms a kind of starting-point radiating four mountain-chains to the north, south, east and west. In like manner it unites the principal watersheds of Europe and sends its waters into four large basins — north by the Rhine to the North Sea, southwest by the Rhone to the Mediterranean, southeast by the Po to the Adriatic, and east by the Danube to the Black Sea. The other

great range, the Jura (q.v.), is linked to the Alps by the small range of the Jorat. The longest and most important valleys follow the same direction as the main ranges. They are formed by the upper courses of the Rhone and the Rhine in Switzerland, besides those of the Inn and Salza, Enns and Mur, Drave and Save, farther east. The upper Rhone traces its course thnough the valley bounded north and south by the principal chains of the Alps, the Bernese Alps in the north, and the Pennine and Lepontine ranges in the south. The trans verse valleys are shorter and more abrupt; they lie athwart the main line of the ranges and are distinguished by a regular succession of narrow. gorges and level mountain glades. The largest are formed by the river Reuss in Switzerland, the Adige (Etsch) in the Tyrol, the Rhine between Coire (Chur) and L.ake Constance, and the Rhone between Martigny and the Lake of Geneva. The glaciers (of which there are over 1,000) slide down in solid masses of snow and ice from the upper regions; some continue their courses for 20 or 30 miles, forcing their way through the deep channels of the huge ravines by which the mountain sides are furrowed. The Alpine passes depend on the configuration of the val ley systems. Several of those passes are par tially the result of human labor. Some of them communicate between valleys confined to the north or Swiss side of the Alps, and of these the most celebrated are the Grimsel and Fnrka passes at the head of the Rhone valley, connecting it respectively with the Haslithal or upper part of the Bernese Oberland, and the Urserenthal, or head of the valley of the Reuss, and the Genuni or Daube Pass (7,265 feet), a remarkable piece of engineering skill, forming the only lateral communication between the Bernese Oberland and the Rhone valley. Other passes connect Switzerland with Italy, the most important being that of the Great Saint Ber nard in the Pennine Chain, that of the Simplon in the Lepontine Alps, the Saint Gothard (q.v.) at the head of the valleys of Reuss and Ticino, and those of Bernardino, Spliigen, Bernina, Septimer, and others leading from the Grisons southward. Altogether about 40 com merical highways pierce the Alps, besides a larger number of natural passes unprovided with roads. Of the great pass-roads connect ing Italy through Switzerland with southern Germany the most important in Roman times and in the Middle Ages was the Septimer Pass (7,580 feet), connecting the head of the Val Bregaglia with the Rhine valley above Chur by way of the Oberhalbstein and the Albula. The Saint Gothard was not known to the Romans, but was frequented by pilgrims in the 13th cen tury. The Simplon pass (6,600 feet) was a paved Roman road; the railway tunnel which runs under it was opened in 1906. The Great Saint Bernard pass (8,110 feet) connecting Switzerland with Italy starts on the Swiss side at Martigny in the valley of the Drance, and ends at Aosta in the Dora Baltea valley. The famous hospice of Saint Bernard is men tioned in documents of the 10th century.

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