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Valais (in
French
French
) ( , , ; frp, Valês), or Wallis (in
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
) (german: Wallis ), more formally the Canton of Valais,; german: Kanton Wallis; in other official Swiss languages outside Valais: it, (Canton) Vallese ; rm, (Chantun) Vallais. is one of the 26 cantons forming the
Swiss Confederation , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federal Federal or foederal (archaic) may refer to: Politics General *Federal monarchy, a federation of monarchies *Federation, or ''Federal s ...

Swiss Confederation
. It is composed of thirteen districts and its capital and largest city is
Sion
Sion
. The flag of the canton is made of thirteen stars representing the districts, on a white-red background. Valais is situated in the southwestern part of
the country
the country
. It borders the cantons of
Vaud Vaud ( ; french: (Canton de) Vaud, ; german: (Kanton) Waadt, or ), more formally the canton of Vaud, is one of the forming the . It is composed of ten districts and its capital city is . Its flag bears the motto "Liberté et patrie" on a white ...
and
Bern ,german: Berner(in),french: Bernois(e), it, Bernese , neighboring_municipalities = Bremgarten bei Bern Bremgarten bei Bern is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corpor ...
to the north, the cantons of
Uri A Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) is a unique sequence of characters that identifies a logical or physical resource used by web technologies. URIs may be used to identify anything, including real-world objects, such as people and places, concep ...
and
Ticino Ticino (), sometimes Tessin (), officially the Republic and Canton of Ticino or less formally the Canton of Ticino,, informally ''Canton Ticino'' ; lmo, Canton Tesin ; german: Kanton Tessin ; french: canton du Tessin ; rm, chantun dal Tessin . ...
to the east, as well as
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...

Italy
to the south and
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
to the west. It is one of the three large southern
Alpine Alpine may refer to: Places * Alps, a European mountain range * Alpine states, associated with the mountain range, or relating to any lofty mountain areas * Mountainous or alpine; the mountains. Australia * Alpine, New South Wales, a Northern Vill ...

Alpine
cantons, along with Ticino and the
Grisons The Grisons or Graubünden, *german: (Kanton) Graubünden, Swiss Standard German Swiss Standard German (german: Schweizer Standarddeutsch), or Swiss High German (german: Schweizer Hochdeutsch or ''Schweizerhochdeutsch''), referred to by the S ...
. It is a bilingual canton,
French
French
and
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
being its two official languages. Traditionally, the canton is divided into Lower, Central and Upper Valais, the latter region constituting the German-speaking minority. Valais essentially coincides with the valley of the
Rhône The Rhône ( , ; german: Rhone ; wae, Rotten ; it, Rodano ; frp, Rôno ; oc, Ròse ) is one of the major rivers of Europe and has twice the average discharge of the Loire The Loire (, also ; ; oc, Léger; la, Liger) is the longest r ...

Rhône
from its headwaters to
Lake Geneva , pushpin_map = Switzerland , image = Lake Geneva by Sentinel-2.jpg , caption = Satellite image , image_bathymetry = , caption_bathymetry = , location = Switzerland, France , coords = ...

Lake Geneva
, separating the
Pennine Alps , german: Walliser Alpen, it, Alpi Pennine, la, Alpes Poeninae , photo=Valais Alps.jpg , photo_caption= View of Pennine Alps from Riederalp , country_type= Countries , country= , subdivision1_type= Canton/Regions , subdivision1= , parent ...
from the
Bernese Alps , topo_map= Swiss Federal Office of Topography swisstopo Swisstopo is the official name for the Swiss Federal Office of Topography (in German language, German: ''Bundesamt für Landestopografie''; French language, French: ''Office fédéral ...

Bernese Alps
. A major wine region, the canton is simultaneously one of the driest regions of Switzerland in its central Rhône valley and among the wettest, having large amounts of snow and rain up on the highest peaks found in Switzerland, such as
Monte Rosa : , other_name = Monte Rosa massif , translation = Mount Glacier , photo = Dufourspitze (Monte Rosa) and Monte Rosa Glacier as seen from Gornergrat, Wallis, Switzerland, 2012 August.jpg , photo_caption = Central ...

Monte Rosa
and the
Finsteraarhorn The Finsteraarhorn () is a mountain A mountain is an elevated portion of the Earth's crust, generally with steep sides that show significant exposed bedrock. A mountain differs from a plateau in having a limited summit area, and is larger ...

Finsteraarhorn
. Although a major hydroelectricity producer, Valais is essentially renowned for its tourism industry and for its numerous Alpine resort towns, notably
Crans-Montana Crans-Montana is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by national and regional laws to which it is su ...

Crans-Montana
,
Saas Fee Saas-Fee () is the main village in the Saastal, or the Saas Valley, and is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction ...

Saas Fee
,
Verbier Verbier is a village located in south-western Switzerland in the canton of Valais. It is a holiday resort and ski area in the Swiss Alps and is recognised as one of the premier off-piste, backcountry ski resorts in the world. Some areas are covere ...

Verbier
and
Zermatt Zermatt () is a municipality A municipality is usually a single having status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by national and regional laws to which it is subordinate. The term ''municipality'' may also mean the ...

Zermatt
. Overlooking the latter town, the
Matterhorn The (, ; it, Cervino ; french: Cervin ) is a mountain of the Alps, straddling the Main chain of the Alps, main watershed and border between Switzerland and Italy. It is a large, near-symmetric pyramidal peak in the extended Monte Rosa area of ...

Matterhorn
has become an iconic landmark of the canton. In 1529, Valais became an associate member of the
Swiss Confederation , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federal Federal or foederal (archaic) may refer to: Politics General *Federal monarchy, a federation of monarchies *Federation, or ''Federal s ...
. After having resisted the Protestant Reformation and remained faithful to the
Roman Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Roman Catholic Church
, it became a republic under the guidance of the prince-bishop of Sion in 1628. In 1815, Valais finally entered the Swiss Confederation as a canton.


History

The Romans called the upper Rhône valley '' Vallis Poenina''. The ''Vallis Poenina'' was won by the Romans after a great fight at Octodurus (now known as
Martigny Martigny (; german: Martinach, ; la, Octodurum) is the capital city of the district of Martigny (district), Martigny, cantons of Switzerland, canton of Canton of Valais, Valais, Switzerland. It lies at an elevation of , and its population is app ...
) in 57 BC and became part of the
Gallo-Roman Gallo-Roman culture was a consequence of the Romanization (cultural), Romanization of Gauls, Gaulish peoples under the rule of the Roman Empire. It was characterized by the Gaulish adoption or adaptation of Roman culture, Roman culture, languag ...
cultural sphere. According to a tradition which can be traced back to the middle of the 8th century, the
Theban legion The Theban Legion (also known as the Martyrs of Agaunum) figures in Christianity, Christian hagiography as a Roman legion from Roman Egypt, Egypt—"six thousand six hundred and sixty-six men"—who converted en masse to Christianity and were ma ...
was martyred at
Agaunum Ancient Rome, Roman Agaunum, the modern Saint-Maurice, Switzerland, Saint-Maurice in the cantons of Switzerland, canton Valais in southwesternmost Switzerland, was a minor post confined between the Rhône River, Rhône and the mountains along the w ...
(now
Saint Maurice Saint Maurice (also Moritz, Morris, or Mauritius; ) was an Egyptian Egyptian describes something of, from, or related to Egypt. Egyptian or Egyptians may refer to: Nations and ethnic groups * Egyptians, a national group in North Africa ** Egyp ...
) about 285 or 302. From 888 onwards the lands were part of the kingdom of Jurane Burgundy. Valais formed part of the kingdom of Transjurane Burgundy, which fell to the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
in 1032. It became part of the duchy of Burgundia Minor, which was held from the emperors by the
house of Zähringen The House of Zähringen (german: Zähringer) was a dynasty of Duchy of Swabia, Swabian nobility. Their name is derived from Zähringen castle near Freiburg im Breisgau. The Zähringer in the 12th century used the title of Duke of Zähringen, in c ...
(which became extinct in 1218). In 999, King
Rudolph III of Burgundy Rudolph III (called "the Idle" (french: Rodolphe le Fainéant, german: Rudolf der Faule) or "the Pious" (''le Pieux''); – 6 September 1032) was King of Burgundy The following is a list of the kings of the two kingdoms of Burgundy Kingdom o ...

Rudolph III of Burgundy
gave all temporal rights and privileges to the
Bishop of Sion The Diocese of Sion ( la, Dioecesis Sedunensis, french: Évêché de Sion, german: Bistum Sitten) is a Catholic ecclesiastical territory in the canton of Valais, Switzerland. It is the oldest bishopric in the country and one of the oldest north of ...
, who was later styled ''praefect and count of Valais'' and is still a prince of the Holy Roman Empire. The count-bishops then struggled to defend their area against the Zähringer and then the dukes of
Savoy Savoy (; frp, Savouè ; french: Savoie is a cultural-historical region in the Western Alps it, Alpi occidentaligerman: Westalpen , photo=Mont Blanc from Punta Helbronner, 2010 July.JPG , photo_caption=Mont Blanc Mont Blanc (french: Mont ...

Savoy
, so that the medieval history of Valais is inextricably linked with that of the diocese of Sion. The Dukes of Savoy, however, succeeded in winning most of the land west of
Sion
Sion
(Lower Valais), while in the upper part of the valley (Upper Valais) there were many feudal lords, such as the lords of Raron, those of La Tour-Châtillon, and the counts of Visp. About the middle of the 13th century, the large communities (Zenden or
tithing A tithing or tything was a historic English legal, administrative or territorial unit, originally ten hide (unit), hides (and hence, one tenth of a Hundred (country subdivision), hundred). Tithings later came to be seen as subdivisions of a Manoria ...
s) began to develop independence and grow in power. The name ''Zenden'' or tithings probably came from a very ancient division of the bishop's manors for administrative and judicial purposes. In the same century the upper part of the valley was colonized by Germans from Hasli( de) in the
Canton of Bern The canton of Bern or Berne (german: Kanton Bern; french: canton de Berne) is one of the Canton of Switzerland, 26 cantons forming the Switzerland, Swiss Confederation. It is composed of ten districts and its capital city is Bern. The bear is th ...
. The locals became , though many Romance local names still remain. In 1354 the liberties of several of the seven ''Zenden'' ( Sion,
Sierre Sierre (; german: Siders; frp, Siérro ) is the capital of the Districts of Switzerland, district of Sierre (district), Sierre in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Valais in Switzerland. It has a population of 16,332. Sierre is nicknamed Cit ...
,
Leuk Leuk (french: Loèche-Ville) is a Municipalities of Switzerland, municipality in the district of Leuk (district), Leuk in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Valais in Switzerland. On 1 January 2013 the former municipality of Erschmatt merged int ...
,
Raron Raron (french: Rarogne) is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by national and regional laws to whic ...

Raron
,
Visp Visp (french: Viège) is the capital of the district of Visp Visp (french: Viège) is the capital of the district of Visp Visp (french: Viège) is the capital of the district of Visp in the canton of Valais in Switzerland ,german: ...
,
Brig A brig is a sailing vessel with two square-rigged Square rig is a generic type of Sail-plan, sail and rigging arrangement in which the primary driving sails are carried on horizontal spar (sailing), spars which are perpendicular, or wikt:sq ...
and Conches) were confirmed by the
Emperor Charles IV Charles IV ( cs, Karel IV.; german: Karl IV.; la, Carolus IV; 14 May 1316 (22 May Greg.) – 29 November 1378''Karl IV''. In: (1960): ''Geschichte in Gestalten'' (''History in figures''), vol. 2: ''F-K''. 38, Frankfurt 1963, p. 294), also kn ...

Emperor Charles IV
. By the late 14th century, the counts of Savoy acquired the bishopric of Sion. The Zenden resisted his attempts to gather both spiritual and secular power in the valley. In 1375–76, Zenden forces crushed the army of the house of La Tour-Chatillon, and in 1388 utterly defeated the forces of the bishop, the count and his nobles at Visp. The German-speaking Zenden spread further into the valley. Starting in 1384 the Morge stream (a little below Sion) was recognized as the boundary between Savoyard, -speaking Lower Valais and German-speaking episcopal Upper Valais. During the
Raron affair The Raron affair (German: ''Raronhandel'') was a 15th-century rebellion in the Valais Valais (in French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Repu ...
rebellion in 1414 to 1420, some cantons of the
Swiss Confederation , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federal Federal or foederal (archaic) may refer to: Politics General *Federal monarchy, a federation of monarchies *Federation, or ''Federal s ...
took sides in the conflict.
Lucerne , neighboring_municipalities= Adligenswil Adligenswil is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by na ...

Lucerne
,
Uri A Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) is a unique sequence of characters that identifies a logical or physical resource used by web technologies. URIs may be used to identify anything, including real-world objects, such as people and places, concep ...
and
Unterwalden Unterwalden ( Latinized as ''Sylvania'', later also ''Subsylvania'' as opposed to ''Supersylvania'') is the old name of a forest-canton of the Old Swiss Confederacy The Old Swiss Confederacy or Swiss Confederacy, Swiss Confederation (Modern G ...

Unterwalden
supported the Upper Valais rebels, while
Bern ,german: Berner(in),french: Bernois(e), it, Bernese , neighboring_municipalities = Bremgarten bei Bern Bremgarten bei Bern is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corpor ...

Bern
supported the noble Raron family. The uprising was successful in driving out the Rarons, and almost brought the Confederation to civil war. Following the violence of the Raron affair, the canton was the location of the
Valais witch trialsThe Valais witch trials consisted of a witch-hunt including a series of witch trials which took place in the Valais (the House of Savoy and the prince-bishopric of Sion), today part of Switzerland, beginning in 1428. The Valais witch-hunt is the ...
between 1428 and 1447 in which at least 367 men and women were put to death. This event marks one of the earliest witch scares in late medieval Europe. The phenomenon later spread to other parts of the continent. With the election of Walther von Supersax of Conches as bishop in 1457, the German-speaking part of the valley finally won the supremacy. At the outbreak of the Burgundian War in 1475 the bishop of Sion and the Zenden made a treaty with Bern. In November of the same year they seized all Lower or Savoyard Valais up to Martigny. In March 1476, after the victory of
Grandson In human society, family (from la, familia) is a Social group, group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or Affinity (law), affinity (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of families is to maintain the w ...
, they advanced and captured St Maurice, , Thonon and
Monthey Monthey is the Capital (political), capital of the district of Monthey (district), Monthey in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Valais in Switzerland. History The castle in the town center was built in 950 on a hill, the first houses of Mo ...

Monthey
. They had to give up the last three districts in 1477, but won them again in 1536. In the treaty of Thonon in 1569, Monthey, Val-d'llliez and Le Bouveret were permanently annexed to Valais. These conquered districts in the Lower Valais were ruled as subject lands by the bishop and the Tithings of the Upper Valais until 1798. On March 12, 1529, Valais became an associate member (''Zugewandter Ort'') of the
Swiss Confederation , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federal Federal or foederal (archaic) may refer to: Politics General *Federal monarchy, a federation of monarchies *Federation, or ''Federal s ...
. In the early 17th century, the aristocratic governors of the districts in the Upper Valais preassured the prince-bishop of Sion to abdicate secular power, which was achieved temporarily in 1613 and then permanently in 1634, when the country became the federal
Republic of the Seven Tithings The Republic of the Seven Tithings ( German: ''Republik der Sieben Zenden'', French: ''République des Sept-Dizains'') was a state in the Upper and Central Valais, in what is now the canton of Valais Valais ( , , french: (Canton du) Valais, ), ...
under the rule of a ''
Landeshauptmann Landeshauptmann (if male) or Landeshauptfrau (if female) (, "state captain", plural ''Landeshauptleute'') is the chairman The chairperson (also chair, chairman, or chairwoman) is the presiding officer of an organized group such as a board Boar ...
''. The republic in its original form existed until 1798, when the districts of the Lower Valais, until then ruled as subjects, successfully revolted against the Seven Tithings and achieved equal status within the republic. During the French invasion of the Swiss Confederacy in the same year, Valais was incorporated into the
Helvetic Republic In Swiss history, the Helvetic Republic (1798–1803) represented an early attempt to impose a central authority over Switzerland ,german: Schweizer(in),french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = ...
until 1802 when it became the separate Rhodanic Republic. In 1810 the Rhodanic Republic was annexed by the
First French Empire The First French Empire, officially the French Empire, also known as the Napoleonic Empire, was the empire ruled by Napoleon, Napoleon Bonaparte, who established French hegemony over much of continental Europe at the beginning of the 19th cen ...
as the
departement In the administrative divisions of France, the department (french: département, ) is one of the three levels of government under the national level ("territorial collectivity, territorial collectivities"), between the regions of France, admini ...
of Simplon. The department was occupied by
Austrian Austrian may refer to: * Austrians, someone from Austria or of Austrian descent ** Someone who is considered an Austrian citizen, see Austrian nationality law * Something associated with the country Austria, for example: ** Austria-Hungary ** Austr ...
troops in late 1813, and on 4 August 1815 Valais finally entered the Swiss Confederation as a canton. In 1845, Valais joined the Catholic separatist league (''
Sonderbund The Sonderbund War (german: Sonderbundskrieg, fr , Guerre du Sonderbund) of November 1847 was a civil war A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same state or country ...

Sonderbund
'') which led to what is called the
Sonderbund War #REDIRECT Sonderbund War The Sonderbund War (german: Sonderbundskrieg, fr , Guerre du Sonderbund) of November 1847 was a civil war A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within t ...
. 99,000 Swiss Federal troops under General were faced by 79,000 Separatists, but in the end Valais chose not to fight. The beginning of the modern history of Valais essentially coincides with the exploration of the High Alps, the
first ascent of the Matterhorn The first ascent of the Matterhorn The (, ; it, Cervino ; french: Cervin ) is a mountain of the Alps, straddling the Main chain of the Alps, main watershed and border between Switzerland and Italy. It is a large, near-symmetric pyramidal pe ...
in 1865 making the end of the
golden age of alpinism upright=1.1, ''The First Ascent of the Matterhorn'', by Gustave Doré. This ascent, by Edward Whymper and party in 1865, traditionally marks the end of the golden age of alpinism. The golden age of alpinism was the decade in mountaineering betwee ...
. The boom of tourism followed in the late 19th century. In 1878, the Simplon Railway connected
Brig A brig is a sailing vessel with two square-rigged Square rig is a generic type of Sail-plan, sail and rigging arrangement in which the primary driving sails are carried on horizontal spar (sailing), spars which are perpendicular, or wikt:sq ...
, the last town before the
Simplon Pass The Simplon Pass (french: Col du Simplon; german: Simplonpass; it, Passo del Sempione) () is a high mountain pass A mountain pass is a navigable route through a mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and ...
, from
Lausanne , neighboring_municipalities= Bottens Bottens is a municipalities of Switzerland, municipality in the district of Gros-de-Vaud District, Gros-de-Vaud in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Vaud in Switzerland. History Bottens is first me ...

Lausanne
and
Geneva , neighboring_municipalities= Carouge Carouge () is a Municipalities of Switzerland, municipality in the Canton of Geneva, Switzerland. History Carouge is first mentioned in the Early Middle Ages as ''Quadruvium'' and ''Quatruvio''. In 124 ...

Geneva
and other major cities of the
Swiss Plateau The Swiss Plateau or Central Plateau (german: Schweizer Mittelland; french: plateau suisse; it, altopiano svizzero) is one of the three major landscapes in Switzerland, lying between the Jura Mountains and the Swiss Alps. It covers about 30% of ...

Swiss Plateau
.


Geography

Valais is the third largest canton of Switzerland by area. It is also one of its westernmost and southernmost cantons, while being adjacent to central Switzerland. With a few exceptions, it lies almost entirely in the
Rhône The Rhône ( , ; german: Rhone ; wae, Rotten ; it, Rodano ; frp, Rôno ; oc, Ròse ) is one of the major rivers of Europe and has twice the average discharge of the Loire The Loire (, also ; ; oc, Léger; la, Liger) is the longest r ...

Rhône
basin, more precisely in the wide Alpine Rhône Valley, above
Lake Geneva , pushpin_map = Switzerland , image = Lake Geneva by Sentinel-2.jpg , caption = Satellite image , image_bathymetry = , caption_bathymetry = , location = Switzerland, France , coords = ...

Lake Geneva
. The main settlements are all along the Rhône or in its proximity, the largest city being , followed by
Martigny Martigny (; german: Martinach, ; la, Octodurum) is the capital city of the district of Martigny (district), Martigny, cantons of Switzerland, canton of Canton of Valais, Valais, Switzerland. It lies at an elevation of , and its population is app ...

Martigny
,
Monthey Monthey is the Capital (political), capital of the district of Monthey (district), Monthey in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Valais in Switzerland. History The castle in the town center was built in 950 on a hill, the first houses of Mo ...

Monthey
,
Sierre Sierre (; german: Siders; frp, Siérro ) is the capital of the Districts of Switzerland, district of Sierre (district), Sierre in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Valais in Switzerland. It has a population of 16,332. Sierre is nicknamed Cit ...
, and
Brig-Glis , neighboring_municipalities= Lalden, Mund, Naters Naters is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative r ...
. The canton is traditionally divided into three regions: Lower Valais (French: ''Bas-Valais''), Central Valais (French: ''Valais central'') and Upper Valais (German: ''Oberwallis''), with the linguistic border of the canton being at Pfynwald, between the two latter regions. While the more populous Lower and Central Valais are
French-speaking French ( or ) is a Romance language The Romance languages (less commonly Latin languages, or Neo-Latin languages) are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin between the third and eighth centuries. They are a subgroup of t ...

French-speaking
, Upper Valais is
German-speaking The German language (, ) is a West Germanic language mainly spoken in Central Europe Central Europe is the central region of Europe. Central Europe includes contiguous territories that are sometimes also considered parts of Western Europe ...

German-speaking
. The Rhône Valley is a central Alpine valley, i.e. it lies well within the Alps and it is shut off from both northern and southern plains. Valais is separated from the
Swiss Plateau The Swiss Plateau or Central Plateau (german: Schweizer Mittelland; french: plateau suisse; it, altopiano svizzero) is one of the three major landscapes in Switzerland, lying between the Jura Mountains and the Swiss Alps. It covers about 30% of ...

Swiss Plateau
to the north by the
Bernese Alps , topo_map= Swiss Federal Office of Topography swisstopo Swisstopo is the official name for the Swiss Federal Office of Topography (in German language, German: ''Bundesamt für Landestopografie''; French language, French: ''Office fédéral ...

Bernese Alps
and from the Po plains to the south by the
Valais Alps The Pennine Alps (german: Walliser Alpen, french: Alpes valaisannes, it, Alpi Pennine, la, Alpes Poeninae), also known as the Valais Alps, are a mountain range in the western part of the Alps. They are located in Switzerland (Valais) and Italy ( ...

Valais Alps
, respectively north and south of the Rhône. Valais is also one of the three large southern cantons lying partially in the Po basin, therefore south of the Alps, along with
Ticino Ticino (), sometimes Tessin (), officially the Republic and Canton of Ticino or less formally the Canton of Ticino,, informally ''Canton Ticino'' ; lmo, Canton Tesin ; german: Kanton Tessin ; french: canton du Tessin ; rm, chantun dal Tessin . ...
and the
Grisons The Grisons or Graubünden, *german: (Kanton) Graubünden, Swiss Standard German Swiss Standard German (german: Schweizer Standarddeutsch), or Swiss High German (german: Schweizer Hochdeutsch or ''Schweizerhochdeutsch''), referred to by the S ...
. However, contrary to those two cantons, very few settlements are on the south side of the Alps, and they are all well above the plains. The largest regions not drained by the Rhône are the (Po basin) and two uninhabited areas north of the Sanetsch and the
Gemmi Pass Gemmi Pass is a high mountain pass A mountain pass is a navigable route through a mountain range or over a ridge A ridge or a mountain ridge is a geographical feature consisting of a chain of mountains or hills that form a continuous e ...
(
Rhine ), Surselva Surselva Region is one of the eleven administrative districts Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many s ...

Rhine
basin). Valais is the highest canton in term of absolute, relative and mean elevation. Therefore, its topography is extremely rugged, with the notable exception of the wide, glacial, Rhône valley. The latter valley dominates the geography of the canton. There are many side valleys branching off the main valley, often perpendicularly. These vary from narrow and remote to reasonably populous. On the south side on the Rhône, in the Valais Alps, some of the largest side valleys are (from east to west): the
Mattertal The Matter Valley (German: Mattertal, or sometimes ''Nikolaital'') is located in southwestern Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federalism, Federal semi-direct de ...
(including the Saastal), the
Val d'Anniviers The val d'Anniviers (in German Eifschtal) is a Swiss Alpine valley A valley is an elongated low area often running between hills or mountains, which will typically contain a river or stream running from one end to the other. Most valleys a ...

Val d'Anniviers
, the , the
Val de Bagnes Val may refer to: Val-a People * Val (given name), a unisex given name * Rafael Merry del Val (1865–1930), Spanish Catholic cardinal * Val (sculptor), born Valérie Goutard Places * Val (Rychnov nad Kněžnou District), a village and municipa ...
and the . On the north of the Rhône, in the Bernese Alps, the
Lötschental Image:Loetschental.jpg, View of the Lötschental from Fafleralp The Lötschental is the largest valley on the northern side of the Rhône valley in the canton of Valais in Switzerland. It lies in the Bernese Alps, with the Lonza (river), Lonza run ...

Lötschental
is the only large valley. East of Brig is the valley of Goms, the highest section of the Rhône Valley. The Rhône itself flows in the main valley from east to west from the
Rhône Glacier , french: Glacier du Rhône, it, ghiacciaio del Rodano , photo = Ghiacciaiorhone.jpg , photo_caption = View towards the Tieralplistock , type = Valley glacier , location = Furkapass, Valais, Switzerland , coords = ...
down to Martigny, then in a right angle north to its mouth in Lake Geneva. After the town of Saint-Maurice, the eastern banks of the river belong to the canton of
Vaud Vaud ( ; french: (Canton de) Vaud, ; german: (Kanton) Waadt, or ), more formally the canton of Vaud, is one of the forming the . It is composed of ten districts and its capital city is . Its flag bears the motto "Liberté et patrie" on a white ...
, although the western banks remain in Valais, down to Le Bouveret, on the shores of Lake Geneva. The main valley is bounded by the Bernese Alps in the north and the Valais Alps in the south, both ranges including numerous over 4,000 metre-high mountains, which are the highest in the country. Notables mountains include
Monte Rosa : , other_name = Monte Rosa massif , translation = Mount Glacier , photo = Dufourspitze (Monte Rosa) and Monte Rosa Glacier as seen from Gornergrat, Wallis, Switzerland, 2012 August.jpg , photo_caption = Central ...

Monte Rosa
(highest), reaching , and the
Finsteraarhorn The Finsteraarhorn () is a mountain A mountain is an elevated portion of the Earth's crust, generally with steep sides that show significant exposed bedrock. A mountain differs from a plateau in having a limited summit area, and is larger ...

Finsteraarhorn
(most prominent), reaching . Other iconic mountains are the
Matterhorn The (, ; it, Cervino ; french: Cervin ) is a mountain of the Alps, straddling the Main chain of the Alps, main watershed and border between Switzerland and Italy. It is a large, near-symmetric pyramidal peak in the extended Monte Rosa area of ...

Matterhorn
and the
Jungfrau The Jungfrau ( "maiden, virgin"), at is one of the main summits of the Bernese Alps, located between the northern canton of Bern ,german: Berner(in),french: Bernois(e), it, Bernese , neighboring_municipalities = Bremgarten bei Bern, Frauenkap ...

Jungfrau
, for a complete list, see list of mountains of Valais. Located there are numerous glaciers including several of the largest in the Alps, such as the
Aletsch Glacier The Aletsch Glacier (german: Aletschgletscher) or Great Aletsch Glacier () is the largest glacier in the Alps. It has a length of about (2014), has about a volume of (2011), and covers about (2011) in the eastern Bernese Alps in the Switzerland, ...

Aletsch Glacier
and the
Gorner Glacier The Gorner Glacier (german: Gornergletscher) is a valley glacier A glacier ( or ) is a persistent body of dense ice that is constantly moving under its own weight. A glacier forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its Ablation#Glaciology ...
. Other ranges situated partially in Valais are the
Chablais Alps The Chablais Alps are a mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similarity in form, structure, and alignment ...

Chablais Alps
, the
Mont Blanc Massif #REDIRECT Mont Blanc massif#REDIRECT Mont Blanc massif The Mont Blanc massif (french: Massif du Mont-Blanc; it, Massiccio del Monte Bianco) is a mountain range in the Alps, located mostly in France France (), officially the French Repu ...

Mont Blanc Massif
, the
Uri Alps The Uri Alps (also known as ''Urner Alps'', german: Urner Alpen) are a mountain range in Central Switzerland and part of the Western Alps. They extend into the cantons of Obwalden, Valais, canton of Bern, Bern, Canton of Uri, Uri and Nidwalden and a ...
, the
Gotthard Massif , photo=Pizzo Rotondo.jpg , photo_caption=Pizzo Rotondo , country= Switzerland , subdivision2_type= Cantons , subdivision2= , parent= Lepontine Alps , borders_on= , length_km= 30 , length_orientation= , width_mi= , width_orientatio ...
and the
Lepontine Alps , topo_map= Swiss Federal Office of Topography swisstopo Swisstopo is the official name for the Swiss Federal Office of Topography (in German language, German: ''Bundesamt für Landestopografie''; French language, French: ''Office fédéral ...
. Lake Geneva is the only truly large lake in the canton, although only a small fraction of it (about 10 km2) is in Valais, the plain of the Rhône comprehending only small lakes. There are however numerous sizable lakes in the high Alps, mostly artificial. The largest is
Lac des Dix Image:Shellac varities.png, Resin secreted by the female lac bug on trees is processed and sold as dry flakes. Lac is the resinous secretion of a number of species of Kerriidae, lac insects, of which the most commonly cultivated is ''Kerria lacca' ...

Lac des Dix
, closely followed by the . Other large high-elevation lakes are
Lac de Mauvoisin Lac de Mauvoisin is a reservoir in the canton of Valais, Switzerland. The reservoir is formed by the Mauvoisin Dam, which is 250 m high. The dam is currently the List of world's tallest dams, 11th highest in the world, and the 6th highest arch dam. ...

Lac de Mauvoisin
, , , and (see
list of mountain lakes of Switzerland This is a list of high-altitude lakes in Switzerland. It includes all significant lakes, natural or artificial, with an area over 4 hectares and a height over 800 metres above sea level. Altitudinal zonation, This height approximately correspo ...
for a more complete list). All these lakes are used for hydroelectricity production, but they are also popular for their scenic views over the Alps. Due to the high mountains surrounding the plains of the Rhône, the climate of central Valais is particularly dry, much drier than in the rest of Switzerland. While locations at high elevations are highly exposed to rainfall and snowfall, average rainfall per year is only about 600 mm in Sion, corresponding to 50% of that of
Lucerne , neighboring_municipalities= Adligenswil Adligenswil is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by na ...

Lucerne
(north of the Alps) and 30% of that of
Locarno , neighboring_municipalities= Ascona 300px, Ascona Ascona is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as gran ...

Locarno
(south of the Alps). Officially, the driest location in Valais and Switzerland is
Stalden Stalden is a Municipalities of Switzerland, municipality in the district of Visp (district), Visp in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Valais in Switzerland. It lies at the foot of the Mischabelhörner and Dom (Mischabel), Dom (). History Sta ...

Stalden
, with 545 mm of rainfall per year. Valais is often described as "semi-arid", although it is not in the climatic sense of the term. Therefore, in some areas, such as Les Follatères, are found plants that are uncommon or absent in the rest of Switzerland, such as cactuses. On the lower south-facing slopes of the Bernese Alps, numerous vineyards are cultivated, between Fully and Leuk. Unlike in the rest the of the country, irrigated agriculture is common in Valais. The canton is renowned for its numerous towns and villages in the high Alps. In the Mattertal and adjoining Saastal are
Zermatt Zermatt () is a municipality A municipality is usually a single having status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by national and regional laws to which it is subordinate. The term ''municipality'' may also mean the ...

Zermatt
and
Saas Fee Saas-Fee () is the main village in the Saastal, or the Saas Valley, and is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction ...

Saas Fee
. Other popular resorts are
Verbier Verbier is a village located in south-western Switzerland in the canton of Valais. It is a holiday resort and ski area in the Swiss Alps and is recognised as one of the premier off-piste, backcountry ski resorts in the world. Some areas are covere ...

Verbier
, Les Marécottes, Champéry,
Grimentz Grimentz is a village in the district of Sierre in the Swiss Swiss may refer to: * the adjectival form of Switzerland *Swiss people Places *Swiss, Missouri *Swiss, North Carolina *Swiss, West Virginia *Swiss, Wisconsin Other uses *Swiss-system t ...

Grimentz
,
Zinal Zinal is a village A village is a clustered human settlement In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabi ...

Zinal
,
Anzère Anzère is a small village in the canton of Valais Valais ( , , french: (Canton du) Valais, ), sometimes Wallis (german: (Kanton) Wallis ), more formally the Canton of Valais, is one of the 26 cantons forming the Swiss Confederation. It is com ...

Anzère
,
Crans-Montana Crans-Montana is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by national and regional laws to which it is su ...

Crans-Montana
, ,
Leukerbad Leukerbad (french: Loèche-les-Bains, Walliser German: ''Leiggerbad'', although locally known as ''Baadu'') is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and power ...

Leukerbad
and
Fiesch Fiesch is a Municipalities of Switzerland, municipality in the district of Goms (district), Goms in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Valais in Switzerland. Nearby Fiescheralp is administered by Fiesch and is accessible by the Eggishorn lift. ...

Fiesch
. All of them are tourist destination in both summer and winter seasons. The area of the canton is and only about half of the total area is considered productive. Valais share borders with four other cantons: to the north are the cantons of
Vaud Vaud ( ; french: (Canton de) Vaud, ; german: (Kanton) Waadt, or ), more formally the canton of Vaud, is one of the forming the . It is composed of ten districts and its capital city is . Its flag bears the motto "Liberté et patrie" on a white ...
and
Bern ,german: Berner(in),french: Bernois(e), it, Bernese , neighboring_municipalities = Bremgarten bei Bern Bremgarten bei Bern is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corpor ...
and to the east are the cantons of
Uri A Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) is a unique sequence of characters that identifies a logical or physical resource used by web technologies. URIs may be used to identify anything, including real-world objects, such as people and places, concep ...
and
Ticino Ticino (), sometimes Tessin (), officially the Republic and Canton of Ticino or less formally the Canton of Ticino,, informally ''Canton Ticino'' ; lmo, Canton Tesin ; german: Kanton Tessin ; french: canton du Tessin ; rm, chantun dal Tessin . ...
. The canton shares international borders as well: to the south are the Italian regions of
Aosta Valley , Valdostan or Valdotainian it, Valdostano (man) it, Valdostana (woman)french: Valdôtain (man)french: Valdôtaine (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = Official languages , population_blank1 = Italian Italian ...

Aosta Valley
and
Piedmont it, Piemontese , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = , demographics1_footnotes = , demographics1_title1 = , demographics1_info1 = , demographics1_title2 ...

Piedmont
and to the west is the French region of
Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (ARA; ; frp, Ôvèrgne-Rôno-Ârpes; oc, Auvèrnhe Ròse Aups; it, Alvernia-Rodano-Alpi) is a region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science d ...
.


Political subdivisions


Districts

Valais is divided into 13 districts, with the district of Raron being further divided into two half-districts. The districts are listed here in geographical order: Upper Valais: * Goms with capital * Östlich Raron (half-district) with capital Mörel-Filet *
Brig A brig is a sailing vessel with two square-rigged Square rig is a generic type of Sail-plan, sail and rigging arrangement in which the primary driving sails are carried on horizontal spar (sailing), spars which are perpendicular, or wikt:sq ...
with capital
Brig-Glis , neighboring_municipalities= Lalden, Mund, Naters Naters is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative r ...
*
Visp Visp (french: Viège) is the capital of the district of Visp Visp (french: Viège) is the capital of the district of Visp Visp (french: Viège) is the capital of the district of Visp in the canton of Valais in Switzerland ,german: ...
with capital
Visp Visp (french: Viège) is the capital of the district of Visp Visp (french: Viège) is the capital of the district of Visp Visp (french: Viège) is the capital of the district of Visp in the canton of Valais in Switzerland ,german: ...

Visp
* Westlich Raron (half-district) with capital
Raron Raron (french: Rarogne) is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by national and regional laws to whic ...

Raron
*
Leuk Leuk (french: Loèche-Ville) is a Municipalities of Switzerland, municipality in the district of Leuk (district), Leuk in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Valais in Switzerland. On 1 January 2013 the former municipality of Erschmatt merged int ...
with capital
Leuk Leuk (french: Loèche-Ville) is a Municipalities of Switzerland, municipality in the district of Leuk (district), Leuk in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Valais in Switzerland. On 1 January 2013 the former municipality of Erschmatt merged int ...

Leuk
Central Valais: *
Sierre Sierre (; german: Siders; frp, Siérro ) is the capital of the Districts of Switzerland, district of Sierre (district), Sierre in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Valais in Switzerland. It has a population of 16,332. Sierre is nicknamed Cit ...
with capital
Sierre Sierre (; german: Siders; frp, Siérro ) is the capital of the Districts of Switzerland, district of Sierre (district), Sierre in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Valais in Switzerland. It has a population of 16,332. Sierre is nicknamed Cit ...
* Hérens with capital Vex * Sion with capital * Conthey with capital Conthey Lower Valais: * Entremont (district), Entremont with capital Sembrancher * Martigny (district), Martigny with capital
Martigny Martigny (; german: Martinach, ; la, Octodurum) is the capital city of the district of Martigny (district), Martigny, cantons of Switzerland, canton of Canton of Valais, Valais, Switzerland. It lies at an elevation of , and its population is app ...

Martigny
* Saint-Maurice (district), Saint-Maurice with capital Saint-Maurice, Switzerland, Saint-Maurice * Monthey (district), Monthey with capital
Monthey Monthey is the Capital (political), capital of the district of Monthey (district), Monthey in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Valais in Switzerland. History The castle in the town center was built in 950 on a hill, the first houses of Mo ...

Monthey


Municipalities

There are 143 Municipalities of the canton of Valais, municipalities in the canton ().


Demographics

The western part of Valais (Central and Lower Valais) is French-speaking, while the eastern part (Upper Valais) is German-speaking. The language border crosses the Rhône between the towns of
Sierre Sierre (; german: Siders; frp, Siérro ) is the capital of the Districts of Switzerland, district of Sierre (district), Sierre in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Valais in Switzerland. It has a population of 16,332. Sierre is nicknamed Cit ...
and Salgesch and follows the mountain ridge including Bella Tola, Weisshorn and Dent Blanche. At the 2000 census, 62.8% of the population of Valais spoke or Franco-Provençal language, Arpitan, 28.4% spoke
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
or Walser German, 2.2% spoke Italian language, Italian and 6.6% spoke other languages. Only 114 people reported speaking Romansh language, Romansh. The canton is sparsely populated. Its population (as of ) is . , the population included 57,061 foreigners, or about 19.1% of the total population. The largest towns are the capital (''Sitten''),
Monthey Monthey is the Capital (political), capital of the district of Monthey (district), Monthey in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Valais in Switzerland. History The castle in the town center was built in 950 on a hill, the first houses of Mo ...

Monthey
,
Sierre Sierre (; german: Siders; frp, Siérro ) is the capital of the Districts of Switzerland, district of Sierre (district), Sierre in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Valais in Switzerland. It has a population of 16,332. Sierre is nicknamed Cit ...
,
Martigny Martigny (; german: Martinach, ; la, Octodurum) is the capital city of the district of Martigny (district), Martigny, cantons of Switzerland, canton of Canton of Valais, Valais, Switzerland. It lies at an elevation of , and its population is app ...

Martigny
and
Brig-Glis , neighboring_municipalities= Lalden, Mund, Naters Naters is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative r ...
. There is no major city located in the canton. As of 2017, 77% of total population was Roman Catholic, while only 6% were members of Swiss Reformed Church.


Politics


Federal election results

: FDP before 2009, FDP.The Liberals after 2009 : "*" indicates that the party was not on the ballot in this canton.


Economy


Primary sector

Wines and fruit brandy, brandies, e.g. "Williamine" are some of the main production of the canton. Agriculture is often irrigated, notably through small open-air canals bringing the water from the glaciers above. These are called ''bisses'' in French and ''Suonen'' in German. They also constitute popular hiking routes because of their low declivity. Vineyards are grown on terraces, typically on the south-facing slopes overlooking the Rhône Valley. The wine industry of the canton is the largest in Switzerland. There are also a large number orchards in the area, and saffron is also gathered here. Agriculture in Valais also consists of cattle breeding in the mountains and dairy farming in the plains. The canton is notable for its cheese and dried meat production. The Hérens cattle is also used in organised cow fights.


Secondary sector

Europe's tallest gravity dam is located at Grande Dixence Dam, Grande Dixence in the canton, closely followed by the Mauvoisin Dam. Hydroelectricity, Hydroelectric power plants from the canton produce about a quarter of Swiss electricity. The west part and the most industrial region of the canton is called Chablais. The area is very important for the economy. The lands from Lake Geneva to the town of St-Maurice are located in the Chablais. There are a lot of factories, the most important are the subsidiaries of Novartis and Syngenta, in
Monthey Monthey is the Capital (political), capital of the district of Monthey (district), Monthey in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Valais in Switzerland. History The castle in the town center was built in 950 on a hill, the first houses of Mo ...

Monthey
. In the town of Collombey-Muraz, there is an oil refinery. The Lonza Group has large factories in Visp. Near
Visp Visp (french: Viège) is the capital of the district of Visp Visp (french: Viège) is the capital of the district of Visp Visp (french: Viège) is the capital of the district of Visp in the canton of Valais in Switzerland ,german: ...

Visp
there is a large aluminium processing plant. Other metal products and chemicals are produced around Visp and
Sierre Sierre (; german: Siders; frp, Siérro ) is the capital of the Districts of Switzerland, district of Sierre (district), Sierre in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Valais in Switzerland. It has a population of 16,332. Sierre is nicknamed Cit ...
, including Swiss Diamond International aluminum cookware.


Tertiary sector

Valais has a long touristic tradition. Hoteliers were at the base of the development of Valais Tourism. Many of them, such as César Ritz, spent time and money to satisfy a clientele from around the world. The canton is nowadays a year-round destination, renowned for its wild landscapes and numerous tourist facilities. In winter, skiing and other snow-related sports are the most popular activities. In summer, hiking and trekking are particularly popular. Climbing and mountaineering can be practised year-round, with most highest mountains of western Europe surrounding Valais. Many of the huts owned by the Swiss Alpine Club are located in the canton. Valais counts more than 120 winter and summer destinations, including: * Goms (district):
Fiesch Fiesch is a Municipalities of Switzerland, municipality in the district of Goms (district), Goms in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Valais in Switzerland. Nearby Fiescheralp is administered by Fiesch and is accessible by the Eggishorn lift. ...

Fiesch
-Eggishorn, Bellwald, Binn, Ernen, Obergoms, Oberwald * Aletsch (UNESCO World Heritage): Bettmeralp, Fiescheralp, Riederalp *
Brig-Glis , neighboring_municipalities= Lalden, Mund, Naters Naters is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative r ...
and surrounding area: Blatten bei Naters, Blatten, Belalp, Mund, Termen, Birgisch *
Visp Visp (french: Viège) is the capital of the district of Visp Visp (french: Viège) is the capital of the district of Visp Visp (french: Viège) is the capital of the district of Visp in the canton of Valais in Switzerland ,german: ...

Visp
and surrounding area: Visperterminen, Bürchen, Eischoll,
Stalden Stalden is a Municipalities of Switzerland, municipality in the district of Visp (district), Visp in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Valais in Switzerland. It lies at the foot of the Mischabelhörner and Dom (Mischabel), Dom (). History Sta ...

Stalden
, Törbel, Unterbäch *
Zermatt Zermatt () is a municipality A municipality is usually a single having status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by national and regional laws to which it is subordinate. The term ''municipality'' may also mean the ...

Zermatt
with
Matterhorn The (, ; it, Cervino ; french: Cervin ) is a mountain of the Alps, straddling the Main chain of the Alps, main watershed and border between Switzerland and Italy. It is a large, near-symmetric pyramidal peak in the extended Monte Rosa area of ...

Matterhorn
and the largest summer ski area of Switzerland, on the southern slopes of Breithorn reachable from the cable car station of the Klein Matterhorn * Saas Valley: Saas-Fee, Saas-Almagell, Saas-Grund with Fee Glacier, the second largest summer ski area in Switzerland *
Leukerbad Leukerbad (french: Loèche-les-Bains, Walliser German: ''Leiggerbad'', although locally known as ''Baadu'') is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and power ...

Leukerbad
*
Sierre Sierre (; german: Siders; frp, Siérro ) is the capital of the Districts of Switzerland, district of Sierre (district), Sierre in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Valais in Switzerland. It has a population of 16,332. Sierre is nicknamed Cit ...
, Salquenen and Anniviers, Chandolin, Saint-Luc, Switzerland, St. Luc,
Grimentz Grimentz is a village in the district of Sierre in the Swiss Swiss may refer to: * the adjectival form of Switzerland *Swiss people Places *Swiss, Missouri *Swiss, North Carolina *Swiss, West Virginia *Swiss, Wisconsin Other uses *Swiss-system t ...

Grimentz
, Vercorin,
Zinal Zinal is a village A village is a clustered human settlement In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabi ...

Zinal
*
Crans-Montana Crans-Montana is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by national and regional laws to which it is su ...

Crans-Montana
* and surrounding area:
Anzère Anzère is a small village in the canton of Valais Valais ( , , french: (Canton du) Valais, ), sometimes Wallis (german: (Kanton) Wallis ), more formally the Canton of Valais, is one of the 26 cantons forming the Swiss Confederation. It is com ...

Anzère
, , Arolla, Euseigne, , Hérémence, Mase, Saint-Martin (Valais), Saint-Martin * 4 Vallées ski area: Nendaz,
Verbier Verbier is a village located in south-western Switzerland in the canton of Valais. It is a holiday resort and ski area in the Swiss Alps and is recognised as one of the premier off-piste, backcountry ski resorts in the world. Some areas are covere ...

Verbier
, Veysonnaz, Thyon-Les Collons, Mayens-de-Riddes/La Tzoumaz * Chablais and Portes du Soleil, Champéry, Champoussin, Morgins, Les Crosets, Torgon, Val-d'Illiez, Le Bouveret, Saint-Maurice (Valais), Saint-Maurice,
Monthey Monthey is the Capital (political), capital of the district of Monthey (district), Monthey in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Valais in Switzerland. History The castle in the town center was built in 950 on a hill, the first houses of Mo ...

Monthey
, Evionnaz, St. Gingolph * St. Bernard Region: Les Marécottes, Bruson, La Fouly, Champex, Vichères-Liddes The
Matterhorn The (, ; it, Cervino ; french: Cervin ) is a mountain of the Alps, straddling the Main chain of the Alps, main watershed and border between Switzerland and Italy. It is a large, near-symmetric pyramidal peak in the extended Monte Rosa area of ...

Matterhorn
near
Zermatt Zermatt () is a municipality A municipality is usually a single having status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by national and regional laws to which it is subordinate. The term ''municipality'' may also mean the ...

Zermatt
is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the Swiss mountains, as is its sister valley immediately east
Saas Fee Saas-Fee () is the main village in the Saastal, or the Saas Valley, and is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction ...

Saas Fee
. Other parts of the mountains of the canton further west are popular as well, such as the more French-speaking resorts near
Verbier Verbier is a village located in south-western Switzerland in the canton of Valais. It is a holiday resort and ski area in the Swiss Alps and is recognised as one of the premier off-piste, backcountry ski resorts in the world. Some areas are covere ...

Verbier
and the Evolene and Arolla region. The resorts on the north side of the main Rhône valley are popular, looking out southwards towards the Peninne Alps and still part of the southern slope of the Bernese Alps, such as the family-oriented resort of
Crans-Montana Crans-Montana is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by national and regional laws to which it is su ...

Crans-Montana
. The resorts in the Goms (district) are slightly less known, yet also receive attention during the summer hiking season and the winter Skiing, ski season.


Transport

The only natural low-elevation access to Valais is via the banks of
Lake Geneva , pushpin_map = Switzerland , image = Lake Geneva by Sentinel-2.jpg , caption = Satellite image , image_bathymetry = , caption_bathymetry = , location = Switzerland, France , coords = ...

Lake Geneva
, which have several railways and highways leading towards
Martigny Martigny (; german: Martinach, ; la, Octodurum) is the capital city of the district of Martigny (district), Martigny, cantons of Switzerland, canton of Canton of Valais, Valais, Switzerland. It lies at an elevation of , and its population is app ...

Martigny
, and the rest of the canton. The major axis is on the north side of the lake and passes via
Lausanne , neighboring_municipalities= Bottens Bottens is a municipalities of Switzerland, municipality in the district of Gros-de-Vaud District, Gros-de-Vaud in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Vaud in Switzerland. History Bottens is first me ...

Lausanne
and Vevey in the canton of
Vaud Vaud ( ; french: (Canton de) Vaud, ; german: (Kanton) Waadt, or ), more formally the canton of Vaud, is one of the forming the . It is composed of ten districts and its capital city is . Its flag bears the motto "Liberté et patrie" on a white ...
. From there runs the A9 motorway (Switzerland), A9 motorway and the Simplon Railway, ultimately leading to Italy via the
Simplon Pass The Simplon Pass (french: Col du Simplon; german: Simplonpass; it, Passo del Sempione) () is a high mountain pass A mountain pass is a navigable route through a mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and ...
and Simplon Tunnel respectively. On the south side of Lake Geneva, from the French border, is only a highway and the historical Saint-Gingolph–Saint-Maurice railway, Tonkin Railway, now operating in Valais only. The canton is entirely surrounded by high mountains, but some major mountain passes connect it with the rest of Europe. The main road passes are those of the Grimsel Pass, Grimsel (towards the canton of
Bern ,german: Berner(in),french: Bernois(e), it, Bernese , neighboring_municipalities = Bremgarten bei Bern Bremgarten bei Bern is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corpor ...
and the
Swiss Plateau The Swiss Plateau or Central Plateau (german: Schweizer Mittelland; french: plateau suisse; it, altopiano svizzero) is one of the three major landscapes in Switzerland, lying between the Jura Mountains and the Swiss Alps. It covers about 30% of ...

Swiss Plateau
), the Furka Pass, Furka (Uri), the Nufenen Pass, Nufenen (Ticino), the Simplon Pass, Simplon and the Great St. Bernard Pass, Great St. Bernard (Italy), and the Col de la Forclaz, Forclaz and the Pas de Morgins, Morgins (France). Also notable are the historical and pedestrian passes of the Sanetsch, Rawil Pass, Rawil, Gemmi Pass, Gemmi and the Lötschberg, connecting Valais with the Swiss Plateau. The Lötschberg, together with the Simplon, is one of the main north–south axis of Switzerland. The historical Lötschberg Railway opened in 1903. It connects directly Brig railway station, Brig to the Swiss Plateau across the
Bernese Alps , topo_map= Swiss Federal Office of Topography swisstopo Swisstopo is the official name for the Swiss Federal Office of Topography (in German language, German: ''Bundesamt für Landestopografie''; French language, French: ''Office fédéral ...

Bernese Alps
, via Spiez railway station, Spiez in the canton of Bern, through the high-elevation Lötschberg Tunnel. In 2007, the importance of that axis was further increased with the opening of the low-elevation Lötschberg Base Tunnel, the first high-speed railway connecting Valais to Bern, following essentially the same route, but at the level of the plains. The Lötschberg Base Tunnel was the longest land tunnel in the world when opened. The summit railway, through the historical tunnel, is still used for regional traffic and car transportation across the Lötschberg. The old train line is popular for its highly scenic sections in both cantons on either side of the old tunnel. An other railway axis connects Valais with central and eastern Switzerland. This is a metre-gauge railway owned by the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn, which ultimately leads to Disentis and Chur, from
Zermatt Zermatt () is a municipality A municipality is usually a single having status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by national and regional laws to which it is subordinate. The term ''municipality'' may also mean the ...

Zermatt
via Visp railway station, Visp and Brig railway station, Brig. The main railway goes through the Furka Base Tunnel in the extreme east of the canton, with the older Furka Summit Tunnel being popular for its highly scenic sections as well. The Glacier Express connects directly
Zermatt Zermatt () is a municipality A municipality is usually a single having status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by national and regional laws to which it is subordinate. The term ''municipality'' may also mean the ...

Zermatt
with St. Moritz, using both Mattherhorn Gotthard Bahn and Rhaetian Railway network. The canton comprehends a very extensive road network, with elevations ranging from that of Lake Geneva at Le Bouveret to that of the Nufenen Pass, the highest paved road in Valais. The A9, the only motorway, serves the valley up to
Sierre Sierre (; german: Siders; frp, Siérro ) is the capital of the Districts of Switzerland, district of Sierre (district), Sierre in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Valais in Switzerland. It has a population of 16,332. Sierre is nicknamed Cit ...
, the extension towards
Brig A brig is a sailing vessel with two square-rigged Square rig is a generic type of Sail-plan, sail and rigging arrangement in which the primary driving sails are carried on horizontal spar (sailing), spars which are perpendicular, or wikt:sq ...
being currently built. All inhabited side valleys are accessible to motorized transports since the 1960s; the high-elevation reservoirs built during those years, notably the Grande Dixence, necessitating paved roads as well. As in most other cantons, localities are essentially served by PostBus Switzerland, which also operates numerous tourist lines on the Alpine passes and to the high-elevation lakes. Martigny, Sion, Sierre and Brig are hubs of public transportation. The winding mountain roads of Valais are very popular with drivers, bikers and cyclists for their spectacular scenery and are the highlights of competitions such as Tour de Suisse and the Rallye International du Valais. For a list of high-elevation paved roads, see list of highest paved roads in Switzerland. Because of the tourism there are many railways and cable cars in the mountains. Railways serving side valleys are: the Aigle–Ollon–Monthey–Champéry railway, the Martigny–Orsières Railway (notably serving
Verbier Verbier is a village located in south-western Switzerland in the canton of Valais. It is a holiday resort and ski area in the Swiss Alps and is recognised as one of the premier off-piste, backcountry ski resorts in the world. Some areas are covere ...

Verbier
), the Martigny–Châtelard Railway (serving the Trient Valley) and the BVZ Zermatt-Bahn, Visp-Zermatt railway. Above
Zermatt Zermatt () is a municipality A municipality is usually a single having status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by national and regional laws to which it is subordinate. The term ''municipality'' may also mean the ...

Zermatt
, the Gornergrat Railway and the Klein Matterhorn cable car are respectively the highest open-air railway and highest public transport in Europe. In Valais are two ports on Lake Geneva served by the Compagnie Générale de Navigation sur le lac Léman, CGN: St. Gingolph, Switzerland, St. Gingolph and Le Bouveret. The largest airport is located at Sion.


Culture

The size and particular geographical situation of the canton within the Alps helped Valais develop a culture that is distinct from that of the cantons of the Swiss Plateau and the northern Alpine foothills. As a bilingual canton, Valais itself includes some cultural diversity as well. The most common denominator is a strong mountain culture, symbolized by the tenacious and austere mountain dweller facing the difficult conditions and dangers of nature.


Monuments

Many monuments dot the Valais landscape. The best known are the Valère Basilica, where the oldest organ in the world still playable is found, and the territorial Abbey of Saint-Maurice, which dates from the 6th century. Valais has several castles of historical importance, frequently built in formerly strategic locations: Tourbillon Castle, Saint-Maurice Castle, Stockalper Palace, La Bâtiaz Castle, Majorie Castle, the episcopal Leuk Castle etc. Amongst religious building are several churches which present a quality architecture, in particular those due to the architect Ulrich Ruffiner (16th century) who left many buildings between and the Goms (region), Goms valley: Church of St. Théodule, Sion, Saint-Théodule church in Sion, church of
Raron Raron (french: Rarogne) is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by national and regional laws to whic ...

Raron
and church of Ernen. In the valley of Goms, are also several notable baroque churches. Contemporary religious architecture has also given rise to interesting buildings, such as the works of the Genevan architect Jean-Marie Ellenberger (1913-1988) in Sierre (Sainte-Croix church) or in Verbier. In the civil architecture, two hospices, each located at one of the passes leading to Italy, formerly provided food for pilgrims who went to Rome and travelers in general: the Great St. Bernard Hospice and the Simplon Hospice. There are also interesting Roman remains, such as the amphitheater in Martigny. Sion is also a major site of European prehistory. In particular, are the dolmens of Le Petit-Chasseur, a group of large collective burials dating back to the 3rd millennium BC. Bridges are also an important element of the Valais built landscape. Due to its mountainous terrain which requires crossing many natural obstacles, the canton has several bridges, old or modern, often daring, including the Gueuroz Bridge which was once the highest bridge in Europe, and the Ganter Bridge, on the Simplon road. Visible from central Valais, the statue of Christ the King in Lens, Switzerland, Lens recalls the Catholic tradition of the canton. Among the most important museums in the canton, the Gianadda Foundation in Martigny attracts many visitors from all over Switzerland and neighboring countries. The canton also owns several large museums in Sion, the Cantonal Museum of Fine Arts, the Cantonal History Museum and the Cantonal Museum of Natural History. Other museums owned by the canton are the Vine and Wine Museum in Salgesch and the Museum of Traditions and Boats of Lake Geneva in St. Gingolph, Switzerland, St. Gingolph.


Gastronomy

Traditional food products of Valais are wines, cheeses, dried meat, and Pain de seigle valaisan, rye bread. Some of the wines produced in Valais, essentially in the Rhone Valley, are Fendant, Petite Arvine, Humagne Blanche, Syrah and Pinot Noir. The numerous cheeses notably include raclette, which is both a variety of cheese and a dish. Along with fondue, the latter has become an emblematic dish associated with mountain culture. Other dishes of Valais include the Cholera (food), Cholera, a pastry containing various ingredients, and the , a simple dish consisting of roasted chestnuts eaten along with various local cheeses and charcuterie.


See also

*Le Nouvelliste (Valais), Le Nouvelliste *Franco-Provençal language *List of mountains of Valais


Notes


References


External links


Cantonal government

Official information from Valais/Wallis Promotion
{{Authority control Valais, Cantons of Switzerland Cantons of the Helvetic Republic Wine regions of Switzerland Arpitania 1815 establishments in Switzerland States and territories established in 1815