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Canton of Graubünden

Flag of the canton
Area:1,705 km²
Languages:German, Italian, Romansh

Graubünden or Grisons (German: Graubünden; Italian: Grigioni; Romansh: Grischun; French: Grisons), is the largest and easternmost Swiss canton.


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 valleys. There are many significant elevations in the Grison Alps, including the Tödi with 3,614m and the highest peak Bernina with 4,048m. Many of the mountain ranges feature extensive glaciers, such as at the Adula, the Albula, the Silvretta or the Rhätikon range.

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 Raeti (Rhaeti) people of probably Celtic origin.

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

Location of 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. The dynasty of Toggenburg has 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 when the Habsburgs inherited the possessions of the extinct Toggenburg dynasty in 1496. This meant that the leagues allied with the Swiss Confederation. The Habsburgs were defeated at Calven Gorge and Dornach. This helped the Swiss confederation and the allied leagues of the canton of Grison the be recognized.

The last traces of the bishop of Chur’s jurisdiction were abolished in 1526. 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 arms of coat of the canton of Graubünden.


The Graubünden are known for a lovely dried-beef delicacy called Bündnerfleisch.


Agriculture and tourism are the pillars of the canton’s economy. Agriculture includes forests and mountain pasturage in summer, particularly of sheep and goats. Tourisms 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.


The languages spoken in the Graubünden are German in the northwest (54%), Romansh in the Engadin and around Disentis/Mustér (31%), and Italian in the valleys Mesolcina/Misox, Calanca, Bregaglia/Bergell, and Poschiavo/Puschau (15%).

The main religions are Protestantism and Catholicism. The population is almost evenly split between the two.

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