Flag of the canton
Nidwalden is located in the centre of Switzerland. To the north it is bounded by the Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee), to all other directions by mountain chains.
Location of the canton
Around 1500 many people in Nidwalden worked as mercenary soldiers. Many of these soldiers later emigrated. This helped to lessen the pressure of a growing population. A popular destination was the Alsace. After rejecting a new constitution by Napoleon – the ideas of the French Revolution were not popular in such an agricultural area –, Nidwalden was attacked by French troops on 9 September 1798. Random destruction was caused and at least 400 people were killed. After the end of Napoleon's rule in 1814 most of the changes were reverted. Only in 1877 Nidwalden introduced a new constitution. The open assembly (Landsgemeinde) was abolished in 1997.
Within the Swiss Confederation Nidwalden is a half canton. This gives nidwalden all the rights and duties of full cantons, with the exception that the canton can only send one deputy to the Council of States. The local parliament has 60 seats.
Up to the 20th century Nidwalden was dominated by agriculture. Cattle and cheese were exported mainly to the north of Italy. Around 1500 many people in Nidwalden worked as mercenary soldiers.
From the middle of the 19th century onwards, trade, industry and tourism gained momentum. Nevertheless, until the middle of the 20th century agriculture dominated the canton. Today a great number of small and middle-sized businesses dominate the economy. A large employer os the airplane constructor Pilatus. The small and middle-sized businesses work in a wide range of areas. Many specialize in machine construction, medical equipment, international trade, optics and electronics.
Traditional areas such as forestry and agriculture are still of importance. Agriculture is specialized in cattle and diary farming. The farms are still run by individual families.
Because of its mountainous geography tourism is important in Nidwalden. The lake and the mountains attract many tourists, both during the winter and the summer. Major resorts include Klewenalp, Stanserhorn (mountain), the glacier of Titlis, the region around Bannalp, and Bürgenstock.
Traditional culture in Nidwalden has been kept alive by many local organizations. There is traditional music, yodeling, dances, theaters and festivals. There are also a number of modern cultural events, such a concerts and galleries.