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Glarus canton, found in the central-eastern part of Switzerland, is one of the state's 26 self-governing units. The area is bordered by the cantons of Grisons to the south, Uri to the southwest, Schwyz to the northwest, and St. Gallen to the east and northeast. Glarus lies in a predominantly hilly territory, with notable mountains covering mostly southern and southwestern parts of the region. The highest peak, Tödi, has an altitude of 3614 m above sea level. Glarus is divided by the Linthal River Valley, which cuts through the landscape in the south-northern direction and flows into the Walensee, the most extensive water surface partly located in the Glarus territory.[2] As a result of the mountainous character of the local landscape, outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, or skiing in the winter, serve as notable attractions for tourists seeking nature recreation.[7] From a geological standpoint, Glarus can be considered a point of interest, as it is the place where the Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona, a mountain formation raised by the collision of European and African continents, is found.[6] Historically, Glarus has been one of the founding cantons of the Old Swiss Confederacy.[2] Presumably, for that reason as well, traditions and culture are upheld in Glarus. One example of that is Glarner Landsgemeinde, which is a form of a direct public democratic vote. Landsgemeinde tends to attract a number of tourists and onlookers to the capital, the city of Glarus, at the time of elections.[11] 

What Glarus is known for

Glarus is presumably visited the most for its nature. One of the notable natural landmarks is the UNESCO-protected Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona with the Glarus overthrust. This mountain formation was raised when the continents of Africa and Europe collided. Apart from being created by the collision of two continents, Tectonic Arena Sardona is, to this day, a point of geologic research, as the ancient stone formations overlie others that are millions of years younger. Thus, the Glarus overthrust is reported to be a point of international interest.[6] During summer months, a wide selection of hiking, cycling, and walking trails attracts people seeking outdoor recreation. Within the Glarus territory are also located several via ferratas, leading over four summits, allowing for panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and nature. Another popular hike leads tourists along Klöntal Lake, providing swimming, windsurfing, angling, and ice diving opportunities.[7] Since most of the Glarus landscape is covered by mountains, the canton serves as a popular winter sports destination. There are several ski centers to be found within the canton's borders, one of them in the Elm, where the renowned skier, Vreni Schneider, comes from. Another point of interest is the village of Braunwald, which offers scenic hiking and horse sleigh riding during winter.[8] 

In terms of history and culture, a strong presence is seen in the Freulerpalast, where the Museum of the State of Glarus is located. Settled in the 17th-century Swiss residential building of the Freulerpalast, the museum expositions are found in the original historical rooms with stucco work, richly ornamented paneling, and coffered ceilings designed by Kaspar Freuler. The Museum of the State of Glarus presents expositions concerned with the state's earliest history, chronologically leading to the present day.[9] Concerning customs, one of the oldest local traditions upheld in the canton is Glarner Landsgemeinde. The Landsgemeinde is an example of the original form of direct democracy when the assembly of the residents is entitled to vote in a public, non-secret ballot way.[10] In this way of voting are selected the Landammann and the state governor, the judges, and the public prosecutor of Glarus. Voters have to hold up their voting card, and then the current Landammann determines the majority by estimating. Nowadays, elections in Glarus tend to attract not only voters, but also several onlookers, and tourists.[11]


Linth River Valley, cutting through the land in the south-northern direction, is the predominant feature characterizing Glarus canton's landscape, with the smaller Sernftal Valley located further to the east. However, most of the Glarus territory is of mountainous character, as the Glarus Alps cover the canton. The highest peak within the canton's borders is Tödi, found in the southernmost part of the region, on the borders with Grisons canton, with an altitude of 3614 m above sea level. Other prominent peaks in the Glarus territory include the Hausstock at 3,158 meters and the Glärnisch at 2,910 meters above sea level. Concerning water and water flows in Glarus, Linth presumably is the most notable river in the region. Beyond the two bigger lakes, Klöntalersee and Limmernsee, the largest water area is the Walensee, which protrudes through the Glarus canton's borders in the north.[2]

Regarding the geomorphology of the Glarus canton, some of the Glarus' mountains are protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site under the name Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona. The protection area stretches across three cantons, Glarus, St. Gallen, and Graubünden. However, among these, the most notable part of the region belongs to Glarus, as its territory contains the Glarus Overthrust and its precise exposure—which is reportedly a significant part of the Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona. The value of the mountainous area is given by the three-dimensional orientation of the mountain, built through continental collision.[4]

Located in the central part of Europe, Glarus canton's climate is primarily continental, influenced mainly by the altitude above sea level. Concerning the average temperatures in Braunwald, one of the centrally located villages in the Glarus canton, the warmest month is July, with an average daily temperature of 19°C. January is the coldest month, with 0°C being the average temperature during that time. February tends to be the driest month in Braunwald due to having 75 mm of rainfall on average. The most precipitation falls during August, receiving about 136 mm on average.[5]


Remains of ancient human presence in Glarus can be dated back to the Bronze Age, in approximately the 13th to 9th century BC. In the 3rd century BC, there was a Celtic settlement in the Glarus territory. Several remains of Roman buildings have been found near Walen Lake and on Kerenzen as well.[1] The area of the Linth Valley, where the Glarus territory is located, was converted to Christianity in the 6th century, allegedly by the Irish monk Saint Fridolin. Säckingen Abbey, founded by Saint Fridolin, owned Glarus territory since the 9th century. At that time, the town of Glarus was called Clarona. However, the abbey's governing function didn't last long, as, in 1288, the Habsburgs claimed Säckingen Abbey's rights. In 1352, Glarus became part of the Old Swiss Confederacy, being one of its eight original founding states.[2] 

Reformation and the rise of Protestantism during the 16th century brought unrest to the originally Catholic Glarus territory. For the following period, approximately three centuries, not only people but also state services have been divided. The courts, military, postal services, and salt trade were separated between the two faith groups. This separation manifested in different ways. For example, mail was delivered separately to Catholics and Protestants. The separation was brought to an end by the new canton constitution adopted in 1836.[3] In the early 1840s, a considerable portion of the canton's population became poor due to several years of failed crops. For this reason, a considerable number of Glarus inhabitants emigrated to the United States of America, settling primarily in Wisconsin.[2]