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Graubünden

Graubünden or Grisons is the largest and easternmost canton of Switzerland. The canton shares borders with the cantons of Ticino, Uri, Glarus and St. Gallen and international borders with Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein. The name Graubünden translates as the "Grey Leagues," referring to the canton's origin in three local alliances, the League of God's House, the Grey League, and the League of Ten Jurisdictions. Graubünden is also home to three of Switzerland's ethnic groups and the subsequent languages of Swiss German, Italian and Romansh are all native to the state. It is also the only canton where the Romansh language is still spoken.

Geography

Graubünden is by far Switzerland's largest canton at 7,105.2 square kilometres (2,743.3 sq mi). Only about a third of this is commonly regarded as productive land of which forests cover about a fifth of the total area. The canton is entirely mountainous, comprising the highlands of the Rhine and Inn river valleys. In its southeastern part lies the only official Swiss National Park. In its northern part the mountains were formed as part of the thrust fault that was declared a geologic UNESCO World Heritage Site, under the name Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona, in 2008. Another Biosphere Reserve is the Biosfera Val Müstair adjacent to the Swiss National Park whereas Ela Nature Park is one of the regionally supported parks.

There are many significant elevations in the Grison Alps, including the Tödi at 3,614 metres (11,857 ft) and the highest peak Piz Bernina at 4,049 metres (13,284 ft). Many of the mountain ranges feature extensive glaciers, such as at the Adula, the Albula, the Silvretta, the Bernina, the Bregaglia and the Rätikon ranges. 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 Raetians (Rhaeti).

Graubünden borders on the cantons of St. Gallen to the northwest, Glarus, Uri to the west, and Ticino to the southwest. It also shares international borders with Italy (South Tyrol and Lombardy), Austria (Tyrol and Vorarlberg) and Liechtenstein. The capital city is Chur. The world-famous resorts of St. Moritz and Davos-Klosters are located in the canton, completed by the larger all year round tourism destinations of Arosa, Flims, Lenzerheide, Scuol-Sammnaun and more.

The Inhabitants of Grisons are called Buendner or (rarely) Grisonians (German: Bündner).

Languages

Graubünden is the only canton of Switzerland with three official languages: German in the northwest (68%), Romansh in the Engadin and around Disentis/Mustér (15%), and Italian in the Italian Graubünden (10%) with the remaining 7% speaking another language. Western Lombard is also spoken, primarily in the region of Val Poschiavo, though it has no official recognition.

Romansh is an umbrella term covering a group of closely related dialects, spoken in southern Switzerland and all belonging to the Rhaeto-Romance language family. These dialects include Sursilvan, Sutsilvan, Surmiran, Puter and Vallader. Romansh was nationally standardised in 1982 by Zürich-based linguist Heinrich Schmid. The standardised language, called Rumantsch Grischun, has been slowly accepted. Romansh has been recognized as one of four "national languages" by the Swiss Federal Constitution since 1938. It was also declared an "official language" of the Confederation in 1996, meaning that Romansh speakers may use Rumantsch Grischun for correspondence with the federal government and expect to receive a response in the same language. Romansh has a status of an official language at a cantonal level. Municipalities in turn are free to specify their own official languages. Before the introduction of the official written form of Rumantsch Grischuni in 2003, books for pupils in public schools were printed in the five different idioms throughout the state.

[ source: wikipedia ]

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