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Canton of Aargau
Flag of the Canton of Aargau
Flag of the canton
Capital: Aarau
Abbr.: AG
Joined: 1803
Population: 550,900
Area: 1404 km²
Language: German

Aargau (German Aargau, French Argovie, Italian Argovia, Romansh Argovia, in English sometimes Argovia) is one of the more northerly cantons of Switzerland. It comprises the lower course of the river Aar, which is why the canton is called Aargau (meaning Aar district).



Its total area is 1,404 km², its population is 550,000 (as of 2002). The capital is Aarau. It borders Germany to the north. To the west lie the cantons of Basel-Landschaft, Solothurn and Bern. The canton of Lucerne lies south of the canton of Aargau, Zürich and Zug to the east.

The canton of Aargau is one of the least mountainous Swiss cantons, forming part of a great table-land, to the north of the Alps and the east of the Jura, above which rise low hills. The surface of the country is beautifully diversified, undulating tracts and well-wooded hills alternating with fertile valleys watered mainly by the Aar and its tributaries. The valleys alternate with pleasant hills, most of which are wooded.

Location of the canton
Location of the canton

It contains the famous hot sulphur springs of Baden and Schinznach , while at Rheinfelden there are very extensive saline springs. Just below Brugg the Reuss and the Limmat join the Aar, while around Brugg are the ruined castle of Habsburg, the old convent of Koenigsfelden (with fine painted medieval glass) and the remains of the Roman settlement of Vindonissa (Windisch ).


As this region was, up to 1415, the centre of Habsburg power, many historical old castles can be found there. Examples include Habsburg, Lenzburg and Wildegg. There is also a number of former monasteries, such as in Wettingen and Muri. All of these were founded by the Habsburg family. The family was suppressed in 1841, which was one of the main causes of the civil war called the "Sonderbund War ," in 1847 in Switzerland. Aargau is also believed to be the ancestral home of Reformist author George Mangold (1822-1894 ).

In 1415 the Aargau region was taken from the Habsburgs by the Swiss Confederates. Bern kept the south-west portion (Zofingen , Aarburg, Aarau, Lenzburg, and Brugg). Some districts, named the Freie Ämter or free bailiwicks (Mellingen, Muri, Villmergen, and Bremgarten), with the county of Baden, were ruled as subject lands by all or certain of the Confederates. In 1798 the Bernese portion became the canton of Aargau of the Helvetic Republic, the remainder forming the canton of Baden. In 1803, the two halves were united under the name of canton of Aargau, which was then admitted a full member of the reconstituted Confederation. The Frick glen, ceded in 1802 by Austria to the Helvetic Republic, was also part of the canton Aargau. In the year 2003 the canton Aargau celebrated its 200th birthday.

For centuries, two villages in the Aargau, Endingen and Lengnau, were the only places in Switzerland where Jews were permitted to live. They were not permitted to own houses or to live under the same roof with Christians. For the slow process of Jewish emancipation in Aargau and Switzerland, see link below.


The lands of the canton of Aargau are of the most fertile in Switzerland. Dairy farming, crops and fruits are of the principal economic activities in the canton. Industry is developed, particularly in electrical engineering, precision instruments, iron, steel and cement.

There are a number of nuclear power plants at Beznau in the canton of Aargau. A significant number of people commutes into the financial centre of the city of Zürich just across the cantonal border.

Tourism is of significant size, particularly caused by the hot springs at Baden and Schinznach Bad. Hillwalking is another source of tourists, but only of limited significance.


There are a total of 232 municipalities in the canton of Aargau. The following municipalities have an entry on their own: Aarau, Baden, Habsburg, Koblenz, Lenzburg.

See also: municipalities of the canton of Aargau, municipalities of Switzerland


Aargau is divided into 11 districts:

External links

  • Official website (German)
  • Official Statistics
  • Jewish Encyclopedia: aargau

Last updated: 02-07-2005 06:48:30
Last updated: 02-28-2005 02:49:17