Bern, Or Berne
canton thun switzerland
BERN, or BERNE, a canton of Switzerland, situated between 46° 19' and 47° 30' N. lat., and between 6° 50' and 8° 28' E. long. It extends from the French and Alsace frontier south-east through the heart of the Confederacy to -Valais, by which it is bounded on the S., while it has the cantons of Basel, Soleure, Aargau, Lucerne, Unterwalden, and Uri on the E., and -Vaud, Freiburg, Neufchatel on the W. Bern is the second largest canton of Switzerland, its surface being estimated at 2562 square miles. The population in 1870 amounted to 506,465, of whom 436,304 were Protestants, and 66,015 Catholics, while 1401 were Jews. German was spoken in 83,693 families, and French in 16,646, the latter language prevailing in the N.W. The canton is naturally divided into three regions, in which the climate varies with the elevation. The southern part, called the Oberland, is for its scenery the most attractive part of all Switzerland. Many of the grandest mountains of the Alpine system - such as the Grimsel, the Finsteraarhorn, the Schreckhorn, the Wetterhorn, the Eiger, and the Jungfrau - lie along the frontier chain, and numerous offshoots and valleys of great beauty stretch northward towards the central part of the canton. This latter district consists for the most part of an undulating plain, interspersed with lesser chains and hills, - the soil being fertile and well cultivated. The north is occupied with the ranges of the Jura system. The principal river in the canton is the Aar, which drains by far the larger proportion of its surface, either directly or by means of its numerous tributaries. Of these, the most important are the Saane, from the S.; the Thiele, which forms the outlet of the lakes of Bienne and Neufchatel ; and the Emme, which gives its name to the beautiful Emmenthal. The northern corner of the canton is divided between the basins of the Rhone and the Rhine. On the upper course of the Aar are the two lakes of Brienz and Thun. The mineral wealth of the country is neither extensive nor varied ; but iron-mines are worked, and gold is found in the River Emme. Quarries of sandstone, marble, and granite are abundant. The pastures in the Oberland and the Emmenthal are excellent, and cattle and horses of the best description are largely reared. The latter district also produces cheese of excellent quality, which is exported to Germany- and Italy. Fruit is extensively cultivated in the central region and in the neighbourhood of the lakes of Brienz and Thun ; the vine is principally grown to the north e)f Lake Bienne. In the forests, which are of considerable importance, the prevailing trees are the fir, the pine, and the beech. The industrial productions of the canton are cotton, woollen and flaxen stuffs, leather, watches, and wooden wares of all kinds. Bern is divided into thirty bailiwicks or prefectures, each with a local administrator. The capital is Bern, and the other chief towns are Bienne or Biel, Thun, Burgdorf or Berthoud, Porrentruy or Pruntruit, and Ddldmont or Delsberg. The highest legislative authority is the Great Council, the members of which are chosen in proportion to the number of the people ; and the executive power is in the hands of a lesser council of nine members, chosen by the Great Council for a space of four years. The educational institutions in the canton comprise a university and two gymnasiums in the capital, and progymnasiums and colleges at Biel, Thun, Burgdorf, Neuenstadt, Porrentruy, and Ddldmout. There is a deaf and dumb institution at Frienisberg, and a cantonal lunatic asylum at Waldau, about a mile from Bern.