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Appenzell Ausserrhoden is divided into three districts: Hinterland (13,604 hectares), Mittelland (6,031 hectares), and Vorderland (4,648 hectares).
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Settlement in Appenzell started in the 7th and the 8th century alongside the river Glatt. The monastery of St. Gallen is of great influence on the local population. In 907 Herisau is mentioned for the first time, the canton (Appenzell: abbatis cella) is named first in 1071.
In 1513 Appenzell joins the Swiss confederation as the 13th canton. In 1597 the Protestant canton was divided for religious reasons from the former canton Appenzell, with the Catholic Appenzell Innerrhoden being the other half.
In 1834 for the first time a constitution was adapted, undergoing reforms in 1876 and 1908. The construction of numerous railway lines between 1875 and 1913 helped the local industry and the population grew to a maxium of 57,973 people in 1910 (compared with 53,200 in 2001).
In 1934 Johannes Baumann was the first citizen from Appenzell Ausserrhoden to become a federal councilor. Women's right to vote was introduced in 1972 on a local level, but only in 1989 on a canton-wide level. In 1994 for the first time two women were elected into government. The open assembly (Landsgemeinde) was abolished in 1997.