Valais (Ger. Wallis), a S. W. canton of Switzerland, bounded N. by Vaud and Bern, E. by Uri and Ticino, S. E. and S. by Piedmont, and S. W. and S. by Savoy; area, 2,026 sq. m.; pop. in 1870, 96,887, nearly all Roman Catholics. Valais is one of the most picturesque of Swiss cantons, being surrounded on all sides by some of the loftiest mountains, such as the, Monte Rosa group (highest peak, 15.150 ft.) and the Matterhorn (14,835 ft.), both belonging to the Pennine Alps and separating Valais from Italy; and besides other branches of these Alps S. and W., there are those of the Helvetian or Lepontine Alps on the east, and their divergent branch known as the Bernese Alps on the north. Among over 100 glaciers in this canton, which are best seen from the valleys descending into it from Monte Rosa, are several of great extent and magnificence, especially the Gorner ice stream and the Viescher glacier, forming an ice cataract, and the Aletsch, the largest of all the glaciers, separated by a ridge from the Eggischhorn, one of the present headquarters of high Alpine explorations. The Sallenche waterfall adjoins Martigny, the starting point of the roads over the Great St. Bernard and Col de Balme passes.

The new road over the Furca pass, completed in 1867, directly connects the St. Gothard group with the valley of the Rh6ne, the principal valley in this canton, and has greatly increased the traffic across the Alps from Upper Valais. Several other great and minor passes, such as the Grimsel near the Rhone glacier, the Gemmi near the mineral springs of Leuk, and others, are in part or wholly in this canton. The chief occupation is the rearing of cattle, in connection with dairies. Grapes and figs ripen at the foot of ice-clad mountains, and wine is produced in the central and lower parts of the canton. The crops of maize have lately increased, as well as the mineral productions. Emigration to the United States has much increased since 1868. The country is generally divided into Upper and Lower Valais. French, in a corrupt form, is spoken by a majority of the inhabitants. - Valais was long ruled by Bern; it became a separate canton under the Helvetic constitution of 1798, was subsequently annexed to France, and after the fall of Napoleon was again admitted as a canton.

It joined in the movement which led to the formation of the Sonderbund in 1843, and after its overthrow in 1846 adopted a liberal constitution, which was modified in 1852 through the ultramontane influence of Upper Valais. The grand council consists of 85, and the council of state of 7 members, the former initiating laws and the latter carrying them out. The Roman Catholic bishop resides at Sion or Sitten, the capital.