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The Canton of Bern is one of Switzerland's 26 cantons and is the second largest by population and area. Bern Canton's territory is bounded by Jura Canton and Solothurn Canton to the north; Neuchâtel, Fribourg, and Vaud to the west; Valais to the south; and Uri, Unterwalden, Lucerne, and Aargau to the east.[5] Bern is the capital city of Bern Canton and also bears the function of Switzerland's unofficial capital. According to Switzerland's laws, the country doesn't have a capital city. However, Bern is the seat of the country's parliament and government.[4] Geographically, the canton may be divided into three parts, the Lake Region covering the northern part of the territory, the central area called the Midlands, and the Bernese Highlands stretching across the southern part of the territory. Concerning the canton's tourism, reportedly the most significant draw is the southern mountainous area with a relatively large amount of winter ski resorts. However, the city of Bern itself serves as a considerable touristic destination as well.[1]

What Bern is known for

Bern Canton is often visited for its nature and abundance of outdoor activities. The southern area, namely the Bernese Alps, is known for hiking and ski resorts, located around Interlaken and the Jungfrau. Some of these resorts include the Mürren and Wengen in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, Grindelwald, and Aareschluch in the Haslital. Reichenbach Falls, situated in close proximity to the Meiringen, has become famous through the movie adaptation of Sherlock Holmes's 'death' scene. Further to the west of the Bernese Highlands is Kandersteg with the Oeschinensee and Adelboden ski resorts, accessed from Lake Thun. Continuing west, there's "Simmental with Lenk and Zweisimmen and the Saanenland with the famous resorts Gstaad and Saanen." Apart from the mountainous landscape with numerous cliffs, glaciers, and waterfalls, Bern County is also home to reportedly the longest gondola cableway in the world, leading from Grindelwald to the Männlichen.[1]

Bern, the namesake and capital city of the Bern Canton, is located in the central part of the territory, bearing the function of Switzerland's capital. The city tends to attract a considerable number of tourists seeking cultural and historical landmarks. UNESCO has protected Bern's old town as a World Heritage Site since 1983. Reportedly, one of the city's best-known monuments is the Zytglogge, or Clock Tower, which used to function as a city gate. Among other attractions are the Bern's Minister and the Parliament Building with Parliament Square. Additionally, in the city center is located Einstein House, where Albert Einstein lived for two years and developed the Theory of Relativity. Through Bern's old town flows the Aare River, which has become a common place for outdoor activities, such as swimming during the summer months. In terms of Bern's outdoor areas, there's also the Rose Garden, regarded as the "most beautiful" park in Bern, offering a view of Bern's old town.[9]

In the northern part of Bern Canton is located Lake Biel, at which shores dwellings from the Neolithic Age can be seen to this day. Aside from the prehistoric landmarks, Biel is often visited for an abundance of water activities, such as boating and swimming, to name a few. The lake is settled among sun-exposed hills covered in vineyards.[10] To the north of Biel stretches Chasseral Nature Park, with a landscape composed of hidden caves, vineyards, marshes, and typical wooded pastures. The nature park is also home to several traditional Swiss products, such as Tête de Moine cheese, Tatouillard, and air-dried sausages.[11]


Canton of Bern is located in the central-western part of Switzerland. Geographically, its territory can be divided into three divisions. The Bernese Highlands, covering the southern part of the territory, including the Alps, is reportedly known for its considerable scenic beauty. Finsteraarhorn is the highest mountain in the Bernese Alps, at an altitude of 4,274 meters above sea level. Concerning the water conditions of the Bernese Highlands, there are two larger water areas, Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. The last division is the Midlands, located further to the north, at the foothills of the Alps, consisting of the Aare and Emme River valleys. That is also where the canton's capital, Bern, is located. The northernmost part of the territory is called the Lake Region, as it is located around Lake Biel.[5] 

Several natural parks and protected regions can be found across Canton Bern's territory. In the central part of the region is located the Gantrisch Nature Park, which is reportedly one of the best places for hiking or biking tours in the area, namely by taking the Panoramaweg ("Panorama Trail"), which offers views of the local nature and country. The parks' landscape is composed of various habitats, creating living conditions for various species. [6] Further to the south, in the more mountainous part of Bern County, in the Bernese Highlands, is located the Diemtigtal Nature Park. Being situated between the mountain chains of Niesen and Turnen, the nature park is popular among tourists seeking mountain hiking opportunities. Bern Canton's most extensive forest reserve is also within the park's borders. Nature protection in the park is enhanced by extensive alpine farming, through which authentic cultural traditions and the local economy are said to be preserved.[7] 

Bern Caton's climate is diverse, depending on the altitude above sea level. The warmest month in Bern, the canton's capital, is July, with an average daily temperature of 25°C. January is said to be the coldest month due to its average temperature of 3°C. With an average of 54 mm of rainfall, February tends to be the driest month in Bern. The most precipitation falls during August, as the month receives about 117 mm on average.[8]


The oldest evidence of human inhabitation in Bern Canton territory is located in the caves of the Simmental region, which were widely used and inhabited during the last Ice Age. There are also significant Mesolithic settlements at Pieterlenmoos and Burgäschisee lake and Diemtig and Simmental valleys. The inhabitation of Bern Canton continued throughout the Neolithic Period and during the Iron Age as well. Romans invaded the canton's territory in 58 BC when they won a war against the Helvetii people. Due to Roman influence, the trade and business of Bern's territory are said to have flourished during that time. However, in the 5th century, Roman Empire withdrew from the Helvetii land, allowing the Burgundians to inhabit the area instead.[1]

The city of Bern, which is the Bern Canton's namesake, was founded in the late 12th century by Berthold V, Duke of Zähringen. Bern's old town was built westward along the peninsula, consisting of three longitudinal streets in the east-western direction. In 1218, Bern became an Imperial Free City in the Goldene Handfeste, and by the 13th century, Bern became an independent city-state within the Holy Roman Empire. Later, in the 14th century, Bern Canton achieved the status of a permanent member of the Old Swiss Confederacy.[2] After a fire in 1405, Bern had to be rebuilt with sandstone. From that time, the Old Bern city part remained intact until this day. The city grew in size and power, and by the 18th century, Bern governed approximately 52 territories. In 1848, Bern became the political capital of the Swiss Confederation.[3]

Bern has retained its capital position in current times, as it is the "de facto" capital of Switzerland, which means the state functions and government seats are in Bern. Yet, it is not legally recognized as Switzerland's capital.[4] The Canton of Bern, the country's second-largest canton by both surface and population, currently comprises ten districts. French and German are the two official languages in the Canton of Bern.[1]