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Canton Ticino or Ticino is the southernmost canton of Switzerland. Ticino borders the Canton of Uri to the north, Valais to the west (through the Novena Pass), Graubünden to the northeast, Italy's regions of Piedmont and Lombardy to the south and it surrounds the small Italian exclave of Campione d'Italia. Named after the Ticino river, it is the one canton where Italian is the only official language and represents the bulk of the Italian-speaking area of Switzerland along with the Southern sections of Graubünden.
The land now occupied by the canton was annexed from Italian cities in the 15th century by various Swiss forces in the last Transalpine campaigns of the Old Swiss Confederacy. In the Helvetic Republic, established 1798, it was divided between the cantons of Bellinzona and Lugano, which since the formation of the Swiss Confederation five years later have been the canton's districts.
The canton of Ticino is located in the south of Switzerland. It is almost entirely surrounded by Italy which lies to its east, west and south. To the north lie the cantons of Valais and Uri, to the northeast the canton of Graubünden.
Its area is 2,812 square kilometres (1,086 sq mi), of which about three quarters are considered productive. Forests cover about a third of the area, but also the lakes Maggiore and Lugano make up a considerable part of the total area. These lakes are known with the above listed names, but are officially named Lake Verbano and Lake Ceresio.
The canton is split geographically in two parts by the Monte Ceneri pass. The northern, more mountainous part, the Sopraceneri, is formed by the two major Swiss valleys around Lake Maggiore: Ticino valley and Maggia valley. The southern part, the Sottoceneri, is the region around Lake Lugano.
The Ticino river is the largest river in the canton. It drains most of the canton, flowing from the northwest through the Bedretto valley and the Leventina valley to enter Lake Maggiore near Locarno. Its main tributaries are the Brenno in the Blenio valley and the Moesa in the Mesolcina valley in Graubünden. The lands of the canton are shaped by the river, which in its mid portion forms a wide valley, commonly known as the Riviera.
The western lands of the canton, however, are drained by the Maggia River. The Verzasca valley is located between the Ticino river and the Maggia river. There is also a smaller area that drains directly into the Lake Lugano. Most of the land is considered within the Alps (Lepontine Alps), but a small area is part of the plain of the River Po which drains the north of Italy.
The climate of Ticino, while remaining alpine, is noticeably milder than the rest of Switzerland's, enjoying a higher number of sunshine hours and generally warmer temperatures. Additionally, Ticino is prone to fierce storms and has the highest level of lightning discharge in the whole of Europe.
[ source: wikipedia ]
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