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Canton du Valais
Kanton Wallis
Flag of Canton of Valais.svg Wappen Wallis matt.svg
Map of Switzerland, location of Valais highlighted
Coordinates 46°4′N 7°36′E / 46.067°N 7.6°E / 46.067; 7.6Coordinates: 46°4′N 7°36′E / 46.067°N 7.6°E / 46.067; 7.6
Capital Sion
Population 298,580 
 - Density 57 /km² (148 /sq mi)
Area  5,224 km² (2,017 sq mi)
Highest point 4,634 m (15,203 ft) - Dufourspitze
Lowest point 372 m (1,220 ft) - Lake Geneva
Joined 1815
Abbreviation VS
Languages French, German
Executive Conseil d'Etat, Staatsrat (5)
Legislative Grand Council (130)
Municipalities 143 municipalities
Districts 13 districts, Bezirke
Website VS.ch

The Valais (German: About this sound Wallis ) is one of the 26 cantons of Switzerland in the southwestern part of the country, around the valley of the Rhône from its headwaters to Lake Geneva, separating the Pennine Alps from the Bernese Alps. The canton is one of the drier parts of Switzerland in its central Rhône valley. Paradoxically it is also one of most well-watered parts, having large amounts of snow and rain up on the highest peaks found in Switzerland. The canton of Valais is probably best known for the Matterhorn and ski resorts such as Zermatt or Verbier.

Contents

History

The Romans called the area Vallis Poenina (Upper Rhône Valley). From 888 onwards the lands were part of the kingdom of Jurane Burgundy.

King Rudolph III of Burgundy gave the lands to the Bishop of Sion in 999, making him Count of the Valais. The count-bishops then struggled to defend their area against the dukes of Savoy, so that the medieval history of the Valais is inextricably linked with that of the diocese of Sion.

The Valais resisted the Protestant Reformation, remaining faithful to the Roman Catholic Church. On March 12, 1529, Valais became an associate member (Zugewandter Ort) of the Swiss Confederation. In 1628 the Valais became a republic, the République des Sept Dizains/Republik der Sieben Zehenden under the guidance of the prince-bishop of Sion and the bailli. The bishop remained in power until 1798 when Napoleon's troops invaded the Valais and declared a Revolutionary République du Valais (March 16) which was swiftly incorporated (May 1) into the Helvetic Republic until 1802 when it became the separate Rhodanic Republic. In 1810 the Rhodanic Republic was annexed by Napoleonic France as the département of Simplon. Independence was restored in 1813, and on August 4, 1815 the Valais finally entered the Swiss confederation as a canton. In 1845, the Valais joined the Catholic separate league (Sonderbund) which led to what is called the Sonderbund War. 99,000 Swiss Federal troops under General Henri Dufour were faced by 79,000 Separatists, but in the end the Valais chose not to fight.

Geography

The Dom (left), Matterhorn (centre) and Weisshorn (right)
A view of the Lötschental valley

The canton of Valais lies in the southwest of Switzerland. To its south lies Italy, to the southwest France. To the north the canton is bounded by the Swiss cantons of Vaud and Bern; the cantons of Uri and Ticino lie to its east.

The wide, glacial Rhône valley dominates the area. There are many side valleys which branch off the main valley. These vary from narrow and remote to reasonably populous and popular. At the head of the Mattertal valley lies Zermatt, a pretty tourist village dominated by views of the Matterhorn (4,478 m). Fifty of the mountains exceed 4,000 m with the highest, Monte Rosa, reaching to 4,638 metres (15,217 ft), and there are numerous glaciers including several of the largest in the Alps.

The Rhône drains almost the entire canton and flows in the main valley from east to west up to Martigny, then in a right angle north to its mouth in the Lake Geneva. After the small town of Saint-Maurice, the northern banks of the river belong to the canton of Vaud. However two regions are located on the south side of the Alps and are drained by the Po river: the valley south of the Simplon Pass and (of very limited extend) the area south of the Great St. Bernard Pass. The main valley is bound by the Bernese Alps in the north and the Pennine Alps in the south. Other ranges situated partially in Valais are the Chablais Alps, the Mont Blanc Massif, the Urner Alps and the Lepontine Alps. Only about half of the total area is considered productive.

Political subdivisions

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Districts

Districts in Valais

Valais is divided into 14 districts:

Municipalities

There are 143 municipalities in the canton (As of 2009).[1].

Demographics

Valais is predominantly French- and Arpitan-speaking. The eastern part of the canton (Upper Valais), however, speaks Walliser German. The French-speaking population makes up slightly more than two-thirds of the total population.

The canton is thinly populated. Its population is 298,580 of which 57,061 (or 19.1%) are foreigners.[2] The largest towns are the capital Sion (Sitten), Monthey, Sierre, Martigny and Brig. There is no major city located in the canton. As of 2000 81% of the population is Roman Catholic while only 6% are Protestant.[3]

Economy

Summertime skiing on Matterhorn Glacier Paradise

Wine and fruit cognacs, e.g. "Williamine" production and tourism are some of the main industries of the canton. The Matterhorn near Zermatt is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the Swiss mountains, as is its sister valley immediately east Saas Fee. Other parts of the mountains of the canton further west are popular as well, such as the more French-speaking resorts near Verbier and the Evolene and Arolla region. The resorts on the north side of the main Rhône river valley are popular, looking out southwards towards the Peninne Alps and still part of the southern slope of the Bernese Alps, such as the family-oriented resort of Crans-Montana. The resorts in the Goms region are slightly less known, yet also receive attention during the summer hiking season and the winter ski season.

Apart from tourism, agriculture is still important, particularly cattle breeding in the mountains and dairy farming in the plains. The wine industry of the canton is the largest in Switzerland. There are also a large number orchards in the area, and saffron is also gathered here.

Europe's tallest gravity dam is located at Grande Dixence in the canton. Hydroelectric power plants from the canton produce about a quarter of Swiss electricity.

The west part and the most industrial region of the canton is called Chablais. The area is very important for the economy. The lands from the Valais part of Lake Geneva to the town of St-Maurice are located in the Chablais. There are a lot of factories, the most important are the subsidiaries of Novartis and Syngenta, in Monthey. In the town of Collombey-Muraz, there is an oil refinery.

Near Visp there is a large aluminium processing plant. Other metal products and chemicals are produced around Visp and Sierre.

Transport

BLS train passing through Lalden station

A small airport is located at Sion, but the main routes of transport are rail and road. Both networks are extensive and benefit from tourism. There are three major rail tunnels at the Simplon (Simplon Tunnel), Lötschberg (Lötschberg Tunnel) and Furka (Furkatunnel) and a road tunnel at the Great St Bernard. Many of the road passes are well known, such as the Grimsel Pass. The longest land tunnel in the world, the Lötschberg Base Tunnel, is in operation since late 2007, connecting by rail the town of Frutigen in canton Bern, with the town of Visp in canton Valais/Wallis. This is to better allay car traffic in the highly scenic Kandertal, and also to provide faster transport through the Bernese Alps from the populous Mittelland in the north to the southern canton of Valais. Cars may be loaded onto the trains as freight. The old train line will still likely have traffic though, as it has highly scenic sections in both cantons on either side of the old tunnel through the dividing ridgeline, yet is somewhat slower than the new route which has a much longer tunnel section.

Because of the tourism there are many mountain railways and cable cars in the mountains. The scenic rail route across the Furka Pass originates in the canton of Valais.

See also

References

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

The Valais is exactly that: a long, narrow, L-shaped valley which was cut by glaciers between two alpine mountain ranges. The main cities in the region are along the river Rhone which cuts through the bottom of the valley, between its source at the Rhone glacier in the east and its temporary destination of Lake Geneva in the west. The main tourist resorts and many small villages are in the side valleys to the north or the south.

Valais offers an amazing diversity of landscapes. Within a few kilometers there are the highest glaciers and mountains of the Alps and almost subtropical places where even almond and pomegranate trees grow.

Some of the best spring skiing in the world is available in the Valais, at prices which although high beat the equivalent offerings in Colorado.

  • Upper Valais -- German speaking, eastern part of Valais
  • Lower Valais -- French speaking, western part of Valais
  • Martigny - old roman town at the bend in the valley, museums and great views
  • Verbier - first class ski destination with lots of English and Australian visitors throughout the ski season
  • Sion - the political center of the Valais
  • Brig - the center of Swiss-German speaking Valais, Stockalper castle
  • Visp - the second major Swiss-German speaking town, important centre of industry
  • Zermatt - the Matterhorn, skiing, glaciers, views
  • Saas-Fee - possibly the best place in the world to snowboard
  • Finhaut
  • Monthey -a town located near skiable pistes(Champery, Morgins) but not so far from the Geneva lake( 45 minutes from Lausanne, 1 hour and an half from Geneva).
  • Saint-Maurice - a small village in the mountains.
  • Leukerbad
  • Champex-Lac
  • The St. Bernard Pass - a pass to Italy, origin of the Bernhardine rescue dogs
  • Les 4 Vallées - A single lift ticket covers this huge ski area in French speaking Valais
  • Simplon - a high mountain village and a pass through the mountains to Italy
  • Turtmann - a nice little village with traditional houses with several theme walking trails.
  • Lötschental
  • Fiesch - a beautiful village in the upper Valais, at the foot of the Eggishorn.

Talk

The language divide between French and German speaking Switzerland runs through the Valais, with French spoken in the west of the canton, and local German dialects at the eastern end.

Get in

The nearest international airport is Geneva, from there you can take the train to Valais.

Get around

Swiss railways (SBB-CFF) in the main valley. Buses span out from the many train stations in the valley and go to almost every inch of the region. The main interchange station for the region is Brig, where trains from the north (Basel, Berne, Zurich) meet trains from the west(Geneva, Lausanne, Sion) and Italy (Milan).

For timetables and tickets for trains see: [1], Post Buses timetables: [2]

The train from Brig to Zermatt is run by a private company and is expensive. The journey is stunning, and is the only way to get to the centre of Zermatt, as the village is Car-Free.

  • Cherries Walks, +41.79.239.2161, [3]. Walk, hike, or snowshoe the beautiful alps. Private, tailor-made trips with a certified mountain guide. Guides fluent in english and french. info[at]cherrieswalks.com  edit
  • At Martigny, visit the Gianadda museum ([4]) : sculptures and paintings, history of the city (especially when the region was part of the Roman empire)
  • Near Martigny (Vernayaz) : the "Pissevache" cascade and the "Gorges du Trient" ([5] - [6])
  • If you happen to be in Valais during Carnival, don't miss the carnivals of Sion and Monthey
  • Easily accessible in the summer, the Great St. Bernard Hospice is a monastery situated on top of the St Bernard Pass. It is possible to eat with the monks and even stay the night. The monastery is open in the winter, but only accessible by helicopter or skis.
  • Heli-skiing is available in the winter, and you don't have to be a advanced skier to experience back-country terrain via helicopter. Most heli-ski companies are based in Anzere.
  • At Sion, the basilic of Valère on top of a hill with the oldest organ in Europe. On the opposite hill, the ruins of the Castle of Tourbillon, very nice view on the city and the valley.
  • Jet Fighter Flight in the Swiss Alps, +41 44 500 5010, [7]. Departing from Sion Airport, flights in real jet fighters are available. Flights will take plave in the Swiss alps. Flights manouvres according to the passengers preferences. € 3400.  edit
  • Fondue - Melt Swiss cheese in a pot, dipped with pieces of bread on a fork. There are some variants :
    • tomatoes mixed with cheese
    • chocolate instead of cheese
    • using vegetables (carrots) instead of bread
  • Raclette - Another fancy of melt cheese, with potatoes and gherkins
  • Cholera - Pastry made of potatoes, apples, onions and cheese
  • Brisolée - hot chestnuts with butter, bread, thin slices of dry-cured and smoked meat

Drink

A great diversity of world-class wines. The landscape in the main valley is covered by vineyards.

Stay safe

Very safe area, common sense is just required here. Don't leave luggage unattended etc...

Get out

In the Valais Region

  • Visit the main mountain resorts Zermatt,Saas-Fee,Champery
  • Brig for shopping
  • Get a rail pass and see the area from a train or bus

Close by

  • Domodossola for cheap everything compared to the Swiss prices. Direct train every 2 hours from Brig station. NOTE: Domodossola is in Italy so a passport will be required. Also don't go too mad with buying things as there are boarder patrol on the way back and they could search you and then make you pay tax
  • Berne Nice day out
  • Lausanne As above

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

VALAIS (Ger. Wallis, Ital. Vallese), one of the cantons of southern Switzerland. Its name has been explained as meaning the "Welsch" (i.e. non-Teutonic) land. But it is pretty certainly derived from vallis or vallensis pagus, for the region is simply the old Vallis Poenina, or upper valley of the Rhone from its source in the Rhone glacier to the gorge of St Maurice, together with the left bank of the Rhone from that gorge to the Lake of Geneva. The spelling "Vallais" prevailed till the end of the 18th century, and was officially superseded early in the 19th century by "Valais," a form that is very rarely found previously.

The total area of the canton is 2016.6 sq. m. (exceeded only by that of the Grisons and of Bern), of which, however, only 1107 is reckoned as "productive" (forests covering 297.4 sq. m. and vineyards 10.7 sq. m.), while of the rest no fewer than 375 sq. m. (the most considerable stretch in Switzerland) is occupied by glaciers, and 414 sq. m. by the cantonal share of the Lake of Geneva. It is therefore naturally one of the poorest cantons in the confederation. It would be still poorer were it not for its excellent wines, and for the fact that in summertime it is visited by many thousands of travellers, for whom inns have been built in nearly every glen and on many high pastures (Zermatt, Saas, Riffel Alp, Evolena, Arolla, Zinal, Champery, in the Val de Bagnes, in the Ldtschen valley, the Bel Alp, the Rieder Alp, the Eggishorn, Binn, and near the Rhone glacier). It consists of a deep and long trench, which becomes a mere gorge between Niederwald and Brieg, the general direction being south-west, till at Martigny the valley makes a sharp bend to the north-west. The loftiest point in the canton is the culminating summit or Dufourspitze (15,217 ft.) of Monte Rosa, which rises on a short spur projecting from the watershed, but the highest mountain which is wholly situated in the canton is the Dom (14,942 ft.), the culminating point of the Mischabel. range.

A railway line runs through the canton from Le Bouveret, on the Lake of Geneva, to (73 m.) Brieg, at the N. mouth of the magnificent Simplon tunnel (124 m., opened in 1906), the line from St Maurice (about 14 m. from Bouveret) onwards forming the through line from Lausanne towards Milan. There are also mountain railways from Visp up to Zermatt (thence a branch up to the Gornergrat), and from Vernayaz (near Martigny) past Salvan towards Chamonix, while the new tunnel, begun in 1906, beneath the Lotschen Pass or Lotschberg, connects Kandersteg, in the Bernese Oberland, with Brieg, and thus opens up a new direct route from London and Paris to Italy. As the canton is shut in almost throughout its entire length by high mountain ranges it is as a rule only accessible by foot paths or mule paths across this lofty Alpine barrier. But there are excellent carriage roads over the Great St Bernard Pass (811r ft.), as well as over the Simplon Pass (6592 ft.), both leading to Italy. At the very head of the Rhone valley two other finely engineered carriage roads give access to Uri over the Furka Pass (7992 ft.) and to the canton of Bern over the Grimsel Pass (7100 ft.). Being thus shut in it was almost impossible for the canton to extend its boundaries, save in 1536, when it won the left bank of the Rhone below the gorge of St Maurice. But at early though unknown dates it acquired and still holds the upper bit of the southern slope of the Simplon Pass, as well as the Alpine pastures on the northern slope of the Gemmi. The mineral waters of Leukerbad, and, to a lesser degree, those of Saxon, attract some summer visitors, the vast majority of whom, however, prefer the glorious scenery of the various high Alpine glens.

The canton forms the diocese of Sion (founded in the 4th century), and has St Theodule (or Theodore) as its patron saint. Till 1513 the diocese was in the ecclesiastical province of Moiltiers in the Tarentaise (Savoy), but since then has been immediately dependent on the pope. Within its limits are the three famous religious houses (all now held by Austin Canons) of St Maurice (6th century), of the Great St Bernard, and of the Simplon. Since 1840 the abbot of St Maurice has borne the title of bishop of Bethlehem "in partibus infidelium." Ecclesiastical affairs are managed without any control or interference on the part of the state, though the cantonal legislature presents to the pope as bishop one of four candidates presented by the chapter of Sion.

In 1900 the population was 114,438, of whom 74,562 were French-speaking, 34,339 German-speaking, and 5469 Italianspeaking, while 112,584 were Romanists, 1610 Protestants, and 25 Jews. The linguistic frontier has varied in the course of ages. Nowadays from Sierre (io m. above Sion) upwards a dialect of German is generally spoken (though it is said that the opening of the Simplon through route has given a considerable impetus to the extension of French among the railway officials), while below Sierre a French dialect (really a Savoyard patois) is the prevailing tongue. To a considerable degree the history of the Valais is a struggle between the German element (predominant politically till 1798) and the French element. Good wines are produced in the district, especially Muscat and Vin du Glacier. Otherwise the inhabitants of the main valley (at least from Brieg onwards) are engaged in agriculture, though suffering much from the inundations of the Rhone, against which great embankments have been constructed, while many swampy tracts have been drained, and so the plague of malarial fever abated to a certain extent.

In the higher valleys the inhabitants are employed in pastoral occupations. The number of "alps" or mountain pastures is 547 (3 1 9 in the Lower Valais and 228 in the Upper Valais, the line of division being drawn a little above Sierre), capable of supporting 50,735 cows (33,192 and 17,543 respectively) and of an estimated capital value of 10,873,900 fr. (7,969,500 and 2,904,400 respectively), so that, as might be expected for other reasons, the lower portion of the valley where the climate is less rigorous is richer and more prosperous than the upper portion where other conditions prevail. The capital is Sion (q.v.). Next in point of population came (in 1900) Naters (3953), on account of the numbers of Italian workmen engaged in piercing the Simplon tunnel. The neighbouring town of Brieg had then 2182 inhabitants, and the wide commune of Monthey 3392.

The canton is divided into 13 administrative districts, which comprise 166 communes. The cantonal constitution was little advanced till 1907 when it was entirely remodelled. The legislature (Grand Conseil or Gross Rath) is composed of members elected in the proportion of one for every 1000 (or fraction over 500) citizens, and holds office for four years. The executive (Conseil d'Etat or Staatsrath) is composed of five members, named by the Grand Conseil, and holds office for four years. The "obligatory referendum" prevails, while 4000 citizens (6000 in the case of a revision of the cantonal constitution) have the right of "initiative" as to legislative projects. The two members of the Federal Stiinde rath are named by the Grand Conseil, but the six members of the Federal Nationalrath are elected by a popular vote. The 1907 cantonal constitution has a curious provision (art. 84) that while members of the cantonal legislature are ordinarily elected by all the voters of a Bezirk or district, yet if one or several communes (numbering over 500 inhabitants) demand it, this commune or these communes form a kreis or cercle and elect a member or members.

The Vallis Poenina was won by the Romans after a great fight at Octodurus (Martigny) in J7 B.C., and was so thoroughly Romanized that the Celtic aboriginal inhabitants and the Teutonic Burgundian invaders (5th century) became Romancespeaking peoples. According to a tradition which can be traced back to the middle of the 8th century, the "Theban legion" was martyred at St Maurice about 285 or 302. Valais formed part of the kingdom of Transjurane Burgundy (888), which fell to the empire in 1032, and later of the duchy of Burgundia Minor, which was held from the emperors by the house of Zahringen (extinct 1218). In 999 Rudolph III. of Burgundy gave all temporal rights and privileges to the bishop of Sion, who was later styled "praefect and count of the Valais," and is still a prince of the Holy Roman Empire; the pretended donation of Charlemagne is not genuine. The bishops had much to do in keeping back the Zahringen, and later the counts of Savoy. The latter, however, succeeded in winning most of the land west of Sion, while in the upper part of the valley there were many feudal lords (such as the lords of Raron, those of La Tour-Chatillon, and the counts of Visp). About the middle of the 13th century we find independent communities or "tithings" (dizains or Zehnten) growing up, these, though seven in number, taking their name most probably from a very ancient division of the bishop's manors for administrative and judicial purposes. In the same century the upper part of the valley was colonized by Germans from Hasli (Bern), who thoroughly Teutonized it, though many Romance local names still remain. In 1354 the liberties of several of the seven "tithings" (Sion, Sierre, Leuk, Raron, Visp, Brieg and Conches) were confirmed by the Emperor Charles IV. A little later the influence of Savoy became predominant, and the count secured to his family the bishopric of Sion, of which he was already the suzerain. His progress was resisted by the tithings, which in 1375-76 crushed the power of the house of La TourChatillon, and in 1388 utterly defeated the forces of the bishop, the count and the nobles at Visp, this being a victory of the Teutonic over the Romance element in the land. From 1384 the Morge stream (a little below Sion) was recognized as the boundary between Savoyard or Lower Valais and episcopal or Upper Valais. In 1416-17 the Zehnten of the upper bit of the valley made an alliance with Lucerne, Uri and Unterwalden, with a view partly to the conquest of the Val d'Ossola, which was finally lost in 1422, and partly to the successful crushing of the power of the lords of Raron (1420). By the election of Walther von Supersax of Conches as bishop in 1457 the Teutonic element finally won the supremacy. On the outbreak of the Burgundian War the bishop of Sion and the tithings made a treaty with Bern. In November of the same year (1475) they seized all Lower or Savoyard Valais up to Martigny, and in 1476 (March), after the victory of Grandson, won St Maurice, Evian, Thonon and Monthey. The last three districts were given up in 1477, but won again in 1536, though finally by the treaty of Thonon in 1569 Monthey, Val d'Illiez and Bouveret alone were permanently annexed to the Valais, these conquests being maintained with the help of their old allies, Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden. These conquered districts (or Lower Valais) were always ruled as subject lands by the bishop and tithings of Upper Valais. The Valais took part in the Milanese war of 1512-16, and henceforth was reckoned as an "ally" of the Swiss Confederation. In 1533 a close alliance was made with the Romanist cantons; but by 1551 the Protestants had won so much ground that toleration was proclaimed by the local assembly. In 1586 Upper Valais became a member of the Golden League, and finally in 1603-04 the four tithings of Conches, Brieg, Visp and Raron carried the day in favour of the old faith against those of Leuk, Sierre and Sion. In 1790-91 Lower Valais rose in revolt; but it was not finally freed till 1798, when the whole of Valais became one of the cantons of the Helvetic Republic. Such prolonged and fierce resistance was, however, offered to French rule by the inhabitants that in 1802 Bonaparte declared Valais an independent state under the name of the "Rhodanic Republic," yet in 1810, for strategic reasons, he incorporated it with France as the "department of the Simplon," and it was not freed till the Austrians came in 1813. In 1815 a local assembly was created, in which each of the seven tithings of Upper and each of the six of Lower Valais (though the latter had nearly double the population of the former) elected four members, the bishop being given four votes. This constitution was approved by the Federal Swiss Diet, which thereupon (1815) received the Valais as a full member of the Swiss Confederation. In 1832 the Valais joined the League of Sarnen to maintain the Federal Pact of 1815. In 18 39-4 0 it was convulsed by a struggle between the Conservative and Radical parties, the split into two half cantons being only prevented by the arrival of Federal troops. The constitution was revised in 1839, the local assembly was to be elected according to population (1 member for every 1000 inhabitants), and the bishop was given a seat instead of his four votes, while the clergy elected one deputy. In 1844 civil war raged, many Liberals being slain at the bridge of Trient (May 1844), and the Valais becoming a member of the Sonderbund. By the 1844 constitution the clergy elected a second deputy. The introduction of the Jesuits embittered matters, and the Valais was the last canton to submit in the Sonderbund War (1847); it contented itself, however, with voting steadily against the acceptance of the Federal constitutions of 1848 and 1874. By the constitution of 1848 all ecclesiastical exemptions from taxation were swept away, and the bishop lost his seat in the assembly. New constitutions were framed in 1852, in 1875 and in 1907.

Authorities.-F. Barbey, La Route du Simplon (Geneva, 1906); J. Bernard de Montmelian, St Maurice et la legion Thebeenne (2 vols., Paris, 1888); M. Besson, Recherches sur les origines des evechis de Geneve, Lausanne, Sion (Fribourg, 1906); Bleitter aus der WalliserGeschichte (Sion, from 1889); L. Courthion, Le Peuple du Valais (Geneva, 1903); S. Furrer, Geschichte, Statistik and UrkundenSammlung fiber Wallis (3 vols., Sion, 1850-52); H. Gay, Histoire du Vallais (2nd ed., Geneva, 1903), and Melanges d'histoire vallaisanne (Geneva, 1891); F. de Gingins-la-Sarraz, Developpement de l'independance du Haut-Valais, &c. (Zurich, 1844); J. Gremaud, Documents relatifs a l'histoire du Vallais(8 vols. (to 1457), Lausanne, 1875-1898); P. A. Grenat, Histoire moderne du Valais de 1536 a 1815 (Geneva, 1894); J. Heierli and W. Oechsli, Urgeschichte des Wallis (Zurich, 1896); A. Heusler, Rechtsquellen des Cant. Wallis (Basel, 1890); R. Hoppeler, Beitreige z. Geschichte des Wallis im Mittelalter (Zurich, 1897); K. Pressel, Bauarbeiten am SimplonTunnel (Zurich, 1906); B. Rameau, Le Vallais historique (Sion, 1886); M. Schiner, Description du departement du Simplon (Sion, 1812); J. Schott, Die deutschen Colonien in Piemont (Stuttgart, 1842); J. Simler, Descriptio Vallesiae (Zurich, 1574); A Striiby, Die Alpwirthschaft im Ober-Wallis (Soleure, 1900), and L'economie alpestre du Bas-Valais (Soleure, 1902); Walliser-Sagen (Sion, 1872); Walliser Sagen (2 vols., Brieg, 1907); F. O. Wolf, The Valais, forming several numbers of the series "Illustrated Europe" (published at Zurich); J. Zimmerli, Die Sprachgrenze im Wallis (vol. iii. of his larger work, Die deutsch franzosische Sprachgrenze in der Schweiz), Basel and Geneva, 1899. (W. A. B. C)


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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

Proper noun

Valais

  1. A canton of Switzerland (its French name)

Synonyms

  • (1): the canton of Valais, Wallis (the German name), the canton of Wallis

Translations

  • Dutch: Kanton Wallis
  • Esperanto: Valezo
  • French: Valais fr(fr)
  • German: Kanton Wallis
  • Italian: Canton Vallese

See also

Anagrams


Simple English

La République et Canton du Valais
Der Republik und Kanton Wallis
[[Image:|170px|none|Map of Switzerland highlighting the Canton of Valais]]
Capital Sion
Population (2003) 278,200 (Ranked 9th)
  - Density 53 /km²
Area Coordinates: 46°14′N 7°36′E 5224 km² (Ranked 3rd)
Highest point Dufourspitze 4634 m
Joined 1815
Abbreviation VS
Languages French, German
Executive Conseil d'Etat, Staatsrat (5)
Legislative Grand Conseil, Grosser Rat (130)
Municipalities 160 municipalities
Districts 13 districts, Bezirke
Website www.VS.ch
[[Image:|250px|none|Map of the Canton of Valais]]

Valais is one of the 26 cantons of Switzerland in the south-western part of the country.

It is near the valley of the Rhone River from its springs to Lake Geneva, that separates Pennine Alps from the Bernese Alps. The canton is one of the drier parts of Switzerland in its central Rhone valley. It is also one of most well-watered parts, having large amounts of snow and rain up on the highest peaks found in Switzerland. It is perhaps best known world wide for the Matterhorn.

Contents

Geography

The canton of Valais is in the south of Switzerland. To its south lies Italy, to the southwest France. To the north the canton there are the Swiss cantons of Vaud and Bern; the cantons of Uri and Ticino lie to its east.

The wide, icy Rhone valley dominates the area. There are many side valleys off the main valley. At the head of the Mattertal valley lies Zermatt, a pretty tourist village dominated by views of the Matterhorn (4,478 m). Fifty of the mountains are more than 4,000m high, with the highest, Monte Rosa, that reaches to 4,638m (15,217ft), and there are many glaciers.

The Rhône drains the main valley from east to west up to Martigny, Switzerland, then in a right angle north to its mouth in the Lake Geneva. After the small town of Saint-Maurice, the northern banks of the river belong to the canton of Vaud. The main valley lies between the Bernese Alps in the north and the Pennine Alps in the south. Only about half of the total area is considered productive.

History

The Romans called the area Vallis Poenina ("Upper Rhône Valley").

In 888, Valais became a part of the kingdom of Jurane Burgundy.

King Rudolph III of Burgundy gave the area to the Bishop of Sion in 999, and made him Count of the Valais. The count-bishops had to defend their area against the dukes of Savoy.

Valais did not follow the Protestant Reformation.

On March 12, 1529, Valais became an associate member (Zugewandter Ort) of the Swiss Confederation.

In 1628 the Valais became a republic, the République des Sept Dizains / Republik der Sieben Zehenden but the bishop remained in power until Napoleon's troops invaded the Valais and created the République du Valais on March 16, 1798 but on May 1, 1798, the Valais became part of the Helvetic Republic and became independent again in 1802 as the Rhodanic Republic.

In 1810, the Rhodanic Republic was made a part of France, and was called the Simplon Department.

Valais became independent again in 1813 and on August 4, 1815 decided to join the Swiss confederation as a canton (state).

In 1845, the Valais joined the Catholic separatist league (Sonderbund), but never fought federal troops when other members of the league started fighting in 1847.

Economy

Wine production and tourism are some of the main industries of the canton. The Matterhorn near Zermatt is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the Swiss mountains, as is its sister valley immediately east Saas Fee. Other parts of the mountains of the canton farther west are popular as well, such as the more French speaking resorts near Verbier and the Evolene & Arolla region. The resorts on the north side of the main Rhone river valley are popular, looking out southwards towards the Peninne Alps and still part of the southern slope of the Bernese Alps, such as the family oriented resort of Crans-Montana. The resorts in the Goms region are slightly less known, yet also receive attention during the summer hiking season and the winter ski season.

Apart from tourism, agriculture is still important, particularly cattle breeding in the mountains and dairy farming in the plains. The wine industry of the canton is the largest in Switzerland. There are also a large number orchards in the area, and saffron is also gathered here.

The most industrial western region of the canton is called Chablais. The area is very important for the economy. There are a lot of factories, the most important are the subsidiaries of Novartis and Syngenta, in Monthey. In the town of Collombey, there is an oil refinery.

Near Visp there is a large plant of aluminium manufacturing. Other metal products and chemicals are produced around Visp and Sierre.

Despite the thriving tourist industry, high level of infrastructure, and the many vineyards, canton Valais is still one of the poorest of the Swiss cantons, and not near the wealthier banking/financial cantons. A large portion of the canton's land and houses are now owned by foreigners.

Transport

A small airport is located at Sion, but the main routes of transport are rail and road. Both networks are large and benefit from tourism. Many of the road passes are well known, such as the Grimsel Pass. The longest land tunnel in the world, the Lötschberg Base Tunnel, will soon be working, in late 2007 perhaps, connecting by rail the town of Frutigen in canton Bern, with the town of Visp in canton Valais/Wallis. This is to better spread car traffic in the highly scenic Kandertal, and also to provide faster transport through the Bernese Alps from the populous Mittelland in the north to the southern canton of Valais. Cars may be loaded onto the trains as freight.

Demographics

Valais is mostly French speaking. The eastern part of the canton Upper Valais, however, speaks Walliser German. The French speaking population makes up a two-thirds of the population.

The people of the canton are spread thinly. The largest towns are the capitals Sion (Sitten), Sierre and Brig. There is no major city located in the canton. Most of the population is Roman Catholic.

Towns and villages

Cities

The following are the cities of the canton, by district.

Brig

Conthey

Entremont

  • Bagnes
  • Bourg-Saint-Pierre
  • Liddes
  • Orsières
  • Sembrancher
  • Vollèges

Goms

  • Bellwald
  • Binn
  • Blitzingen
  • Ernen
  • Fiesch
  • Fieschertal
  • Grafschaft
  • Lax
  • Münster-Geschinen
  • Niederwald
  • Obergesteln
  • Oberwald
  • Reckingen-Gluringen
  • Ulrichen

Hérens

  • Ayent
  • Evolène
  • Hérémence
  • Les Agettes
  • Mase
  • Nax
  • Saint-Martin
  • Vernamiège
  • Vex

Leuk

  • Agarn
  • Albinen
  • Bratsch
  • Ergisch
  • Erschmatt
  • Gampel
  • Guttet-Feschel
  • Inden
  • Leuk
  • Leukerbad
  • Oberems
  • Salgesch
  • Turtmann
  • Unterems
  • Varen

Martigny

  • Bovernier
  • Charrat
  • Fully
  • Isérables
  • Leytron
  • Martigny
  • Martigny-Combe
  • Riddes
  • Saillon
  • Saxon
  • Trient

Monthey

  • Champéry
  • Collombey-Muraz
  • Monthey
  • Port-Valais
  • Saint-Gingolph
  • Troistorrents
  • Val D'Illiez
  • Vionnaz
  • Vouvry

Raron

  • Ausserberg
  • Betten
  • Bister
  • Bitsch
  • Blatten
  • Bürchen
  • Eischoll
  • Ferden
  • Filet
  • Grengiols
  • Hohtenn
  • Kippel
  • Martisberg
  • Mörel
  • Niedergesteln
  • Raron
  • Riederalp
  • Steg
  • Unterbäch
  • Wiler

Saint-Maurice

  • Collonges
  • Dorénaz
  • Evionnaz
  • Finhaut
  • Massongex
  • Mex
  • Salvan
  • Saint-Maurice
  • Vernayaz
  • Vérossaz

Sierre

  • Ayer
  • Chalais
  • Chandolin
  • Chermignon
  • Chippis
  • Grimentz
  • Grône
  • Icogne
  • Lens
  • Miège
  • Mollens
  • Montana-Vermala
  • Randogne
  • Sierre
  • Saint-Jean
  • Saint-Léonard
  • Saint-Luc
  • Venthône
  • Veyras
  • Vissoie

Sion

  • Arbaz
  • Grimisuat
  • Salins
  • Savièse
  • Sion
  • Veysonnaz

Visp

  • Baltschieder
  • Eisten
  • Embd
  • Grächen
  • Lalden
  • Randa
  • Saas Almagell
  • Saas-Balen
  • Saas-Fee
  • Saas-Grund
  • Sankt-Niklaus
  • Stalden
  • Staldenried
  • Täsch
  • Törbel
  • Visp
  • Visperterminen
  • Zeneggen
  • Zermatt

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