Appenzell is a historical canton in the northeastern part of Switzerland, and it is completely surrounded by the St. Gallen Canton. It is a distinct region. It is also referred to as Appenzellerland.
Appenzell got its independence from the St. Gallen Abbey in 1403, and entered into a partnership with the Old Swiss Confederacy eight years later. It became a real member in the confederacy in 1513. It has since been divided into Appenzell Ausserrhoden and Appenzell Innerrhoden. It was split in 1597 because of the Swiss Reformation.
The Appenzell territory is known as Appenzellerland geographically. It is sometimes mistakenly called das Appenzell. In terms of politics, these cantons are called beide Appenzell. That translates to “both Appenzells”.
Appenzell is an area of the alpine, especially in the south, where the limestone range of Alpstein is seen, but nearer the north the surface is comprised more of green hills, separating out green areas in which are nestled small villages and towns. It is mostly watered by a couple of streams that descend down from the Santis, the Urnasch combing with the Sitter (where there is the capital, Appenzell), which then flows down into Thur. There are trams that go from Appenzell to St. Gallen either through Herisau or through Gais, and there are lines that go from St. Gallen to Trogen and Heiden to Rorschach.
The area has been divided, for reasons of religion, since 1597, into a couple of half-cantons, which are very independent from one another, and they differ in important ways. The west and north part has an area of 94 square miles, and about 91 square miles of that are designated as “productive”. There are forests that cover 22.5 square and glaciers that cover less than half of a square mile. The population is mostly German-speaking and Protestant. The political capital is Togren, but the biggest town is Herisau, and Heiden and Teufen is the most visited of the many whey cure resorts for which the whole place is famous.
To the rest of the world, the Appenzell canton is most well known for its institution of Landsgemeinden, or democratic assemblies that are held out in the open, in which every citizen over 20 must come in person: each half-canton has an assembly. The meetings are held on the last Sunday in April. It is the supreme legislative authority.
Appenzell Photo Gallery
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