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Switzerland TravelSwitzerland / St. Gallen

St. Gallen canton

St. Gallen is a canton in the northeast of Switzerland. The population of the canton is nearly 470,000. Of these, nearly 100,000 are foreigners
St. Gallen is a canton in the northeast of Switzerland. The population of the canton is nearly 470,000. Of these, nearly 100,000 are foreigners.

The canton began with the abbey, St. Gallen, and gradually, lands were added over the centuries that eventually formed the canton. An Irish monk named Gallus, who lived from approximately 550 to 620 constructed a hermitage on the Steinach river in the year 612. This was the seed that grew into the city of St. Gallen. A century after Gallus' death, a priest named Othmar built an abbey and named it after Gallus.

By the year 1353, various guilds, most notably the cloth-weaving guilds, gained a majority in the civic government, and 60 years later the city of St. Gallen purchased its emancipation from King Sigismund. Almost a hundred years later the abbey became allies with Glarus, Schwyz, Lucerne, and Zurich, all of them Swiss federation members.

Joachim von Watt, who was also mayor of St. Gallen, intoduced the reformation to the city of St. Gallen in 1526. Riots caused the monks to leave and looters took down images from the churches, but the abbey itself escaped unharmed. The abbey was still the Catholic centerstone in the Protestant city untiil it was secularized in 1798. In 1803 St. Gallen became a canton on its own (it had been part of the canton of Santis). The canton's constitution was established in 1890.

Surround the canton are Lake Constance to the north, the Rhine valley on the east, the cantons of Shwyz, Glarus, and Graubunden to the south, and the cantons of Thurgau and Zurich to the west. Completely enclosed within the land of the canton of St. Gallen are Appenzell Innerrhoden and Appenzell Ausserrhoden, two so-called "half cantons" that are independent of St. Gallen.

The rivers Seez, Linth, thur, and Rhine run through the canton. The landforms start as plains near the Rhine River and Lake Constance, and then mountains in the Alps toward the south of the canton. One-third of the canton is forestland, and about half of the land in the canton is used for farming. Much of the farmland consists of alpine pastures. Within St. Gallen elevations range from 398 meters on Lake Constance to 3,251 meters on the Ringelspitz. In the mountains of St. Gallen include a geol fault that is now a UNESCO world heritage site called "Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona."

The canton is largely German speaking, with 88% claiming German as their primary language. The largest city is the city of St. Gallen, which is also the canton capital, with 69,700 residents. Other major cities in the canton are Jona, with 18,000 citizens, Will with 17,500, and Gossau with 17,000. A slight majority of the canton population is Roman Catholic, while 28% of the population is Protestant.

The dominant agricultural enterprise in St. Gallen is dairy farming. On the plains of St. Gallen, wine and fruit production take place, along with a mixture of other types of farming. Industry in the canton includes pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and optical goods. There are also several resorts that draw tourists in. Thermal spas in Bad Ragaz and St. Margrethen, and winter sports venues are top tourist destinations in St. Gallen.

The capital, St. Gallen is now part of an urban conglomeration with a metropolitan population of about 160,000 overall. The city's economy relies on service industries to support its economy. The abbey is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and houses a library with books that go back to the 9th century. Most of the city sits at about 700 meters above sea level. Because of its elevation, it receives quite a bit of snow every winter. Situated between the Appenzell Alps to the south and Lake Constance in the north, St. Gallen has easy access to top recreational facilities.

When the "founder" of St. Gallen, the monk Gallus built his hermitage, he probably didn't envision a modern metropolis being built around it. It didn't concern Gallus that his hermitage was built on unstable turf, but it was a challenge to those who eventually built the city. The city center is built on deep foundations called piles because of the unstable turf.

St. Gallen is famous for the University of St. Gallen, ranked the top business school in Europe by a German news magazine. The International MBA offered by the school is considered one of Europe's leading programs. With about 5,000 students, the University of St. Gallen offers degrees in business, management, economics, and political science. The public school system in St. Gallen educates about 6,800 students. St. Gallen is also the location of an elite international boarding school called Institute auf dem Rosenberg, which provides instruction in English, German, and Italian.

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