Fribourg canton is one of 26 cantons contributing to Switzerland's territory. The region is located in the western part of the country, surrounded by Lake Neuchâtel and the cantons of Vaud on the west and south and Bern on the east. Several enclaves of the Fribourg canton are located within Vaud. Fribourg lies situated in close proximity to the French borders. Presumably, for that reason, the population generally speaks German and French, the official administrative languages. Throughout history, French and German were alternated as official languages, yet since 1991, both languages have been admitted to be equally valid. Regarding geomorphological features, Fribourg is located in the Swiss Plateau, with its territory divided into northwestern Swiss Mittelland and the southeast, which is part of the Swiss Pre-Alps. Among the protected regions and landscapes is the Gruyère Region, internationally known not only for its nature, mountains, and historical medieval towns but mainly for cheese production. Gruyère cheeses have been exported worldwide since the 19th century. However, the tradition of cheese production in the region can be dated back to the 15th century. Fribourg canton is named after its capital city, Fribourg, located in the northcentral part of the region. The city is known as a lively, student-friendly town with a relatively large amount of medieval architecture.
Fribourg canton has the Gruyère Region, which is located in the southeastern part of the territory. The area is protected as the Gruyère Pays-d'Enhaut Regional Nature Park, with its territory extending from Fribourg across the borders to the Vaud canton. Besides the Pre-Alpine landscape, formed by valleys scattered with preserved historical villages, there is also the town of Gruyères, which features historical medieval architecture. With Gruyères Castle and numerous traditional restaurants serving local specialties, Gruyères serves as one of the popular touristic destinations, mainly among tourists seeking authentic Swiss experience. However, cheese is reportedly the most "famous" feature of the Gruyère district. The cheese production tradition of the Gruyère Region dates back to the 15th century. Since the 19th century, Gruyère cheeses have been exported to Germany, Italy, France, Holland, America, and the Oriental Indies. In current times, people can experience and taste locally produced traditional cheeses either by visiting historic cheese villages or taking one of the so-called "cheese trails."
Another destination in the Fribourg canton is its capital, also called Fribourg. Fribourg, or Freiburg, is reportedly one of the largest medieval towns in Switzerland. The city's old town is built up of approximately 200 Gothic facades, which can be dated back to the 15th century. St. Nicholas Cathedral, known for its stained-glass windows, is considered Fribourg's heart. The cathedral was built in 1283, and its main tower offers a panoramic view of the surrounding city and nature. Additionally, in the city are also located 11 historic fountains, most of them dating back to the 16th century. Fribourg is said to have a young, lively, and student-friendly atmosphere, as it is a university town with a number of international students living and studying in the city.
For outdoor activities, Brecca Valley is one particular touristic draw. It is said to be one of the "most beautiful" alpine valleys in the region, as it was carved out by glaciers several thousands of years ago. When visiting, it is advised to take a chair lift from lake Schwarzsee to the Bärghuus Riggisalp, the starting point of walking and hiking trails through the Brecca Valley. Beyond Brecca's rocks, mountains, and nature, the Schwarzsee itself offers a variety of activities, including trails around the lake. However, the largest water surface, partly located in Fribourg canton, is Lake Neuchâtel (Lac de Neuchâtel). It is also the largest water area in Switzerland and another point of interest for tourists visiting Fribourg canton. Apart from historical villages and water activities available on the lake, visitors are also encouraged to take boat cruises, which are often combined with short or longer hiking trips.
Fribourg is located in the southeastern part of Switzerland, bound by Lake Neuchâtel to the west. The canton's territory might be described as discontinuous, as two Fribourg enclaves lie within Vaud and one within the canton of Bern. Another considerable exclave is on Lake Neuchâtel itself. Concerning the flowing waters of Fribourg canton, the most notable river is Saane/Sarine, flowing in the south-northern direction through the region. Saane, together with its tributaries, drains most of Fribourg's lands. The western part of the canton is drained by Broye, and the southwestern portion is drained by the river Veveyse, which flows south into Lake Geneva. In terms of geography, the whole Fribourg region lies on the elevated Swiss Plateau, one of three major landscapes in Switzerland. From a topographical point of view, Fribourg territory can be divided into two main areas, the northwest belonging to the Swiss Mittelland, and the southeast, which is part of the Swiss Pre-Alps. The highest peak in the Fribourg canton is Vanil Noir, which is located in the Gruyeres district at an altitude of 2,389 m above sea level.
Concerning local natural conditions, several protected areas are located within Fribourg canton's borders. In the southeastern part of the region can found the Vanil Noir Nature Reserve with a Pre-Alpine landscape filled with a number of different animal and plant species. The nature territory is located on the borders of Fribourg and Vaud cantons, with valleys of Bounavaux and Les Morteys belonging to Fribourg's domain. Some of the unique specimens found in the nature reserve are, for example, the Bristling betony, Pyramidal orchid, Lin Alps, Alpine Scabious, and the Tete de Dragon Ruysch, to name a few.
Located in the central part of Europe, Fribourg canton's weather conditions primarily depend on the altitude above sea level. Regarding the average temperatures in the canton's capital, Fribourg, the warmest month is July, with an average daily temperature of 23°C. January is the coldest month, with 1°C as the average temperature. February tends to be the driest month in Fribourg due to having 59 mm of rainfall on average. The most precipitation falls during August, receiving, on average, about 115 mm.
The territory of the Fribourg region and its adjacent area has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The city and canton developed in a succession of Roman, Burgundian, Frankish, New Burgundian, and finally, the Holy Roman settlements. During the early Middle Ages, several conflicts took place concerning the alliance and rule of the town of Fribourg and its rural area. In 1452, the city came into possession of the Dukes of Savoy after the old Zurich War. However, their rule was short-lived as Fribourg, in alliance with Bern, took part in the Burgundian Wars, which resulted in Fribourg's admission to the Swiss Confederation on December 22, 1481. Fribourg came into possession of several lordships during the 16th century. One of the most notable lordships was the County of Gruyeres. Over the years, numerous administrations and political and social changes took place in Fribourg canton. The University of Fribourg was founded in 1889. Since then, to this day, Fribourg has remained a representative democracy.
Fribourg is known to have multiple spoken languages in the area, with the two official languages being German and French. Initially, during the 15th-18th centuries, an administrative language was declared as German. German and French were considered official languages in the following century, and all the administrative texts had to be translated into both languages. Until 1990, only French was considered legally binding, even though German and French were used equally. It is only since 1991 that French and German have been equally politically and administratively valid. Additionally, there are several locations where traditional dialects are spoken. Regarding geographic divisions, German is mainly used in the north and northeast of Fribourg canton, while most of the population is French-speaking.
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