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Schwyz is one of Switzerland's 26 cantons, located in the country's central part. The canton lies bordered by the cantons of Uri and Nidwalden to the south, Lucerne, Zug, and Zürich to the west, and St. Gallen and Glarus to the east and northeast. The canton's capital, also named Schwyz, is not only the namesake of the canton but also the basis of the country's name (Schweiz or Switzerland). Schwyz played a significant role in the foundation of Switzerland, as the city and the canton stood behind the Old Swiss Confederacy. Nowadays, the story of Switzerland's formation with the Swiss Federal Charter is on display in the city of Schwyz, in the Museum of Federal Charters. The canton is also the homeland of the Swiss Army Knife, which was first manufactured in the town of Ibach. In terms of geographic features, the Alps are found to the south of the canton, while to the north, Schwyz reaches all the way to the Swiss Plateau. Thus, the landscape is mainly composed of rugged hills, with the highest peak being the Bös Fulen. Moreover, several lakes, such as Lake Zürich, Lake Lucerne, and a small portion of Lake Zug, extend across the Schwyz canton's borders. Thus, the variety of natural landscapes is another reason for the considerable touristic popularity of Schwyz.
Schwyz, the capital city of the Schwyz canton, belongs among the historically significant settlements of Switzerland, as the country's name (Schweiz) has been derived from the name of the city. Switzerland's name has been based on the name of the Schwyz city due to its central role in establishing the Everlasting League, which later developed into the Old Swiss Confederacy, laying the foundations of Switzerland as we know it today. The state history is commemorated in the Museum of Federal Charters in the city of Schwyz, which showcases the most important alliances of the Old Swiss Confederation and a collection of historical flags. Beyond that, myths, legends, and stories connected to Swiss national identity are told and explained in the exhibition. The museum also focuses on the Federal Charter of 1291, which has long been considered the founding document of Switzerland. Various events and educational sessions that regard Switzerland's history are occasionally held at the museum. The city of Schwyz is also recognized for housing the original producer of the Swiss Army Knives, which are manufactured by the company Victorinox. A Swiss knife is a multifunctional tool with screwdrivers, a can opener, a saw blade, a pair of scissors, and others. First produced in 1891 in Ibach, the Swiss Army Knife has gradually become a Swiss cultural icon and is often used as a figure of speech to describe a product that provides many uses.
Beyond Schwyz's historical heritage, the city also has access to three ski resorts: Mythenregion, Stoos, and Sattel-Hochstuckli, which serve as tourist destinations, mainly among visitors seeking winter outdoor activities such as skiing and snowboarding. During the summer, the local mountains of the Alpine foothills serve as a hiking spot. One particular trail is the "Cherry Street" or Kirschstrasse hike, running from Lucerne, via Zug and Schwyz, through the Alpine foothills, which features a number of cherry tree orchards. The route ends at the Brunnen on Lake Lucerne, where people can visit some of the local distilleries. Another reportedly popular hike is the Fronalpstock - Klingenstock loop trail found east of Lake Lucerne. The hike offers panoramic views of the lake on one side, while on the other side, tourists can enjoy the scene of snow-capped Alps.
Schwyz stretches across an area of 908.2 square kilometers, with over 40% of its area being used for agriculture, 33% for forests, and nearly 25% being either settled. Found in the central part of Switzerland, there are several mountainous areas in the Schwyz canton. The highest peak within the region's borders is the Bös Fulen, with an elevation of 2,802 m above sea level. Despite this, allegedly the most famous mountains in the Schwyz canton are the summits of the Rigi massif (Kulm at 1,798 m and Scheidegg at 1,665 m above sea level). Concerning water flows, two main rivers—Sihl and Muota—traverse the canton. Schwyz also includes parts of Lake Zürich and Lake Lucerne and a small portion of Lake Zug. Entirely within the canton's borders are smaller lakes, Lauerz (Lauerzersee) and Sihl (Sihlsee).
Schwyz's territory spans from the foothills of the Alps in the south all the way to the Swiss Plateau in the north. The topography is characteristic of rugged peaks of Alpine foothills, inhabited by a considerable number of various species. The most common species found in the Schwyz woods are European beech, silver fir, and Sycamore maple. Norway spruce, oaks, and tilia occupy lower elevations. Higher elevated Alpine fields are home to wildflower species, such as willow gentian, common heather, great horsetail, fragrant orchid, monk's hood, silver thistle, and germander speedwell. Some of the animal species that could be encountered in Schwyz's nature are western roe deer, northern chamois, ibex, European fallow deer, marmot, the brown hare, wild boar, red fox, common hedgehog, Eurasian beaver, and stone marten.
Regarding the average temperatures in Schwyz canton's capital, also called Schwyz, the warmest month is July, with an average daily temperature of 22°C. January is the coldest month, with 3°C being the average temperature. February tends to be the driest month in Schwyz due to having 57 mm of rainfall on average. The most precipitation falls during August, receiving about 158 mm on average.
The Schwyz area has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The oldest of the most extensive settlements within the region were in the Freienbach-Hurden area, dating back approximately 4-5,000 years ago. Later, during the Roman era, most settlements were found on the shores of lakes or several slopes. Finally, the Alemanni people arrived on the territory circa 1,400 years ago. Eventually, Christianity spread to the region, with the first church buildings in Tuggen and Schwyz dating back to the 7th and 8th centuries. Some of the significant settlements from that time were located near Lake Zürich and in the circular valleys of Schwyz and Arth.
The first written mention of Schwyz valley comes from the year 972 when the area was known by the name of "Suittes." A community of freemen, subject only to the count of the Zürichgau, settled at Grosser Mythen. In 1240, the mentioned community gained the privilege of being subject immediately to the empire. However, Rudolf IV of Habsburg refused to recognize those privileges, which led to Schwyz initiating the establishment of the Everlasting League, in 1291, with the neighboring districts of Uri and Unterwalden. As a result of being the leading country that established the league, Schwyz's name in dialectal form has been applied when naming the country Schweiz (Switzerland), as we know it today. In 1386, Schwyz won over Austria at Sempach, which led to extending the region's borders. In the following years, the canton opposed the Reformation and eventually took part in the Battle of Kappel, in which the Swiss Reformation leader, Huldrych Zwingli, fell in 1531. The region became part of the Helvetic Republic in 1798 and regained the status of an independent canton in 1803.
In recent years, Schwyz wrote a new constitution in 1832 and another in 1848 and 1898. Despite the political upheaval, the canton developed, presumably due to the construction of railroads in the 19th century, which brought industries to the area. During that time, the population of Schwyz doubled, with people immigrating mainly from Italy, though a considerable number of people left the canton for the United States.
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