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Uri is one of Switzerland's 26 cantons. Located in the central part of the country, the canton of Uri, together with the cantons of Schwyz and Unterwalden, played a prominent role in establishing the Swiss Confederacy. The agreement and latter founding of the Everlasting League between the three cantons in 1291 became the foundation of the Swiss Confederacy as we know it today.[2] Those historical events are also tied to one of the popular touristic attractions in the canton, the Swiss Path or Weg der Schweiz, which was established to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the Confederation. The circular path leading around the southern part of Lake Lucerne is divided into 26 divisions to honor the 26 cantons of Switzerland.[10] Another considerable attraction is the city of Altdorf, which also serves as the capital city of Uri.[7] From a geographical standpoint, Uri lies in the central part of Switzerland, surrounded to the east by the cantons of Obwalden, Bern, and Nidwalden, to the south by Schwyz, to the west by Glarus and Grisons, and to the north by Ticino and Valais. The local landscape is mountainous, as most of Uri's territory is covered by the Alps. Some of the predominant mountain peaks include Dammastock, Fleckistock, Piz Giuv, Oberalpstock, Schächentaler Windgällen, and Brunnistock.[4] 

What Uri is known for

Uri's capital city is Altdorf, located in the canton's northern part, near Lake Lucerne, which locals know as "Urnersee." The city is intertwined with the legend of William Tell. According to the legend, Altdorf is supposedly where William Tell, a Swiss national hero, shot the apple from his son's head. To honor the legend, in 1895, at the foot of an old city tower was set up a bronze statue depicting Tell and his son. The figure is regarded as one of the city's symbols and is presumably one of its "best-known" sights. Beyond the statue, there was also a theatre opened in 1899 to perform Schiller's play Wilhelm Tell. Another considerably visited place in Altdorf is the Historisches Museum and the Haus für Kunst Uri, a museum housing collections of local antiques, weapons, furniture, and other historical artifacts.[7] Apart from historical monuments, there are both summer and winter outdoor recreational activities that are available when visiting Altdorf. During winter, there is a family-friendly ski area near the city with panoramic views of Lake Lucerne. In summer, hiking and cycling are popular options among tourists, with numerous farms in the area that offer visitors food and drink.[8]

Weg der Schweiz, or Swiss Path, is presumably one of Switzerland's most notable circular hiking trails. The trail starts in Brunnen, leads around the southern part of Lake Lucerne—which is often referred to as Lake of Uri—and ends in Rütli. The hiking trail was named the Swiss Path because the course itself has been divided into 26 sections, each representing one of Switzerland's 26 cantons. Several of the cantons decorated their part of the Swiss Path with their landmarks.[9] Weg der Schweiz was established to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the Confederation in 1991. The order of cantons represented throughout the path depends on the order in which they joined the Swiss Confederacy. On the other hand, the length of the Swiss Path dedicated to each canton depended on the canton's population on the day it joined the Confederacy.[10] Beyond the panoramic views of Lake Lucerne and the surrounding nature, the placement of the Swiss Path bears its own symbolism. The path ends in Rütli, a mountain meadow where the "Rütlischwur"—the oath marking the foundation of the original Swiss Confederacy—took place.[11]


Uri Canton is found in the central-southern part of Switzerland, covering a total area of 1,076.4 square kilometers. Approximately 24% of the canton's land is used for agriculture, while forests cover roughly 18%. Regarding the canton's location, Uri is positioned on the north side of the Swiss Alps. The highest point of the canton is the Dammastock, part of the Urner Alps, with an altitude of 3,630 m above sea level. Beyond the Urner Alps, other mountain ranges, such as Glarus and Lepontine Alps, partially extend into Uri's territory. Apart from the mountain ranges, several valleys contribute to the canton's territory, such as Reuss valley and other valleys of the main river's tributaries.[1]

Flora and fauna in the region are fairly abundant due to the lack of human development and varying landscapes and conditions in the Uri area. The local forests are mainly home to alder, birch, pine, and larch trees. Some other plant species found in the territory are primrose, tulip, lily, and astragalus. Wool grasses and frangula shrubs cover higher elevated alpine regions. Concerning the local population of wild animals, some of the most common species in the nature of Uri are red deer and chamois. Alpine landscapes and rock fields, along with rivers and lakes, provide habitats for weasels, beavers, and snow hares. Additionally, wolves, green lizards, and rock ptarmigans are also present in Uri's nature.[4] 

Uri's climate is temperate, with rainy winters and warm summers. The average temperatures in Uri move around 15°C, and the rainfall is approximately 637 mm in a year.[5] In Uri canton's capital, Altdorf, the warmest month is July, with an average daily temperature of 22°C. January is the coldest month, with a typical average of 3°C. February tends to be the driest month in Altdorf due to having 57 mm of rainfall on average. The most precipitation falls during August, which generally receives about 158 mm.[6]


The traces of settlement in the Uri territory date back to the Bronze and Iron Ages, when the trans-alpine trade developed. Later, Uri mainly remained isolated from Roman influence. After the fall of the Roman Empire, villages near Lake Lucerne sought support from northern towns, whereas southern alpine villages joined their forces.[1]

The Canton of Uri was first mentioned in 732 as a place of banishment for the abbot of Reichenau. Subsequently, in 853, the area was given by Louis the German to the newly founded nunnery in Zürich. The canton's name, Uri, is presumably derived from the German word "auerochs," meaning wild ox, as the bull's head was traditionally borne as the arms of the region. In 1243, Uri territory had a common seal, and later, the territory's privileges became recognized by Rudolf of Habsburg in 1274. Uri, together with Schwyz and Unterwalden, founded the Everlasting League in 1291. The league helped with the victory over the Austrians in 1386.[2] The Canton of Uri is also tied to the legend of Swiss national hero William Tell. According to the legends, Tell's defiance against Austrian rule led to open rebellion and resulted in the aforementioned pact between Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden, marking the foundation of the Swiss Confederacy.[12]

In 1798, due to the new Swiss constitution, Uri was merged with Schwyz, Unterwalden, and Zug into one canton called Waldstätte. However, in 1803, after the Mediation Act, Uri was restored as an independent canton. Uri's first constitution was issued in 1850 and revised in 1888. Women's suffrage was introduced in the canton in 1972, which led to the complete revision of Uri's constitution in 1984.[3]