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Lucerne, Canton Of

LUCERNE, CANTON OF (Ger. Luzern; Ital. Lucerna), one of the cantons of central Switzerland. Its total area is 579-3 sq. m., of which 530-2 sq. m. are classed as "productive" (forests covering 120-4 sq. m., and vineyards -04 sq. m.). It contains no glaciers or eternal snows, its highest points being the Brienzer Rothhorn (7714 ft.) and Pilatus (6995 ft.), while the Rothstock summit (5453 ft.) and the Kaltbad inn, both on the Rigi, are included in the canton, the loftiest point of the Rigi range (the Kulm) being entirely in Schwyz. The shape of the canton is an irregular quadrilateral, due to the gradual acquisition of rural districts by the town, which is its historical centre. The northern portion, about 155 sq. m., of the Lake of Lucerne is in the canton. Its chief river is the Reuss, which flows through it for a short distance only receiving the Kleine Emme that flows down through the Entlebuch. In the northern part the Wigger, the Suhr and the Wynen streams flow through shallow valleys, separated by low hills. The canton is fairly well supplied with railways. The lakes of Sempach and Baldegg are wholly within the canton, which also takes in small portions of those of Hallwil and of Zug.

In 1900 the population numbered 146,519, of which 143,337 were German-speaking, 2204 Italian-speaking and 747 Frenchspeaking, while 134,020 were Romanists, 12,085 Protestants and 319 Jews. Its capital is Lucerne (q.v.); the other towns are Kriens (pop. 5951), Willisau (4131), Ruswil (3928), Littau (3699), Emmen (3162) and Escholzmatt (3127). The peasants are a fine race, and outside the chief centres for foreign visitors have retained much of their primitive simplicity of manners and many local costumes. In the Entlebuch particularly the men are of a robust type, and are much devoted to wrestling and other athletic exercises. That district is mainly pastoral and is famous for its butter and cheese. Elsewhere in the canton the pastoral industry (including swine-breeding) is more extended than agriculture, while chiefly in and around Lucerne there are a number of industrial establishments. The Industrie des etr angers is greatly developed in places frequented by foreign visitors. The population as a whole is Conservative in politics and devotedly Romanist in religion. But owing to the settlement of many non-Lucerne hotel-keepers and their servants in the town of Lucerne the capital is politically Radical.

The canton ranks officially third in the Swiss confederation next after Zurich and Bern. It was formerly in the diocese of Constance, and is now in that of Basel. It contains 5 administrative districts and 107 communes. The existing cantonal constitution dates in its main features from 1875. The legislature or Grossrath consists of members elected in 55 electoral circles, in the proportion of i to every 1000 souls (or fraction over 500) of the Swiss population, and lasts for 4 years. On the 4th of April 1909 proportional representation was adopted for elections of members of the Grossrath. Since 1905 the executive of 7 members is elected by a popular vote for 4 years, as are the 2 members of the federal Standerath and the 7 members of the federal N ' ationalrath. Five thousand citizens ' can demand a facultative referendum as to all legislative projects and important financial decrees, or as to the revision of the cantonal constitution, while the same number can also revoke the mandate of the cantonal legislature before its proper term of office has ended, though this revocation does not affect the executive. Four thousand citizens have the right of " initiative " as to constitutional amendments or legislative projects.

The canton is composed of the various districts which the town acquired, the dates being those at which the particular region was finally secured Weggis (1380), Rothenburg, Kriens, Horw, Sempach and Hochdorf (all in 1394), Wolhusen and the Entlebuch (1405), the so-called " Habsburger region " to the N.E. of the town of Lucerne (1406), Willisau (1407), Sursee and Beromunster (1415), Mailers (1477) and Littau (1481), while in 1803, in exchange for Hitzkirch, Merenschwand (held since 1397) was given up. (W. A. B. C.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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