A N Canton Of Switzerland, bounded N. by Schaffhausen and the grand duchy of Baden, E. by Thurgau and St. Gall, S. by Schwytz and Zug, and W. by Aargau; area, 665 sq. m.; pop. in 1870, 284,786, chiefly of German origin, and all Protestants excepting about 18,000 Catholics and 500 Jews. It is in the basin of the Rhine, which forms part of the northern boundary line, while the Reuss bounds the S. W. corner. The Thur, Toss, Glatt, and Limmat (the last issuing from the lake of Zurich, and joined by the Sihl) form fine valleys. The highest elevations do not exceed 2,800.ft., and consist of a chain of hills extending from S. E. to N. W. Pasturage, agricultural products, and fruit abound; wine and timber are produced, and the canton has many manufactories of cotton, silk, and machinery. The schools of the canton are among the best in Switzerland. German is the prevailing language, and a patois known as Swiss German is much used in conversation. - Zurich joined the Swiss confederacy in 1351, as the fifth canton; it seceded about 1440 on account of disputes as to the Toggenburg inheritance, allied itself to Austria, suffered a bloody defeat at Pfäffikon in 1443, and finally returned to the confederacy in 1450. Early in the 16th century it became the centre of the reformation under Zwingli, and in it was fought the battle of Kappel, which decided the peace of 1531. (See Switzerland.) In modern times the canton took a leading part against the Sonderbund, the dissolution of which was formally decreed by a majority of 12½ votes (July 20, 1846) upon its original motion in the diet of 1845. The latest modification of the constitution dates from 1869, when it became still more democratic.
The legislature consists of a great council, and the executive of a governmental council of nine members, elected by the former body for four years. The canton is divided into 12 districts. Next to the capital, the most important town is Winterthur.
A City (Anc. Twricum), capital of the canton, on both sides of the Limmat and at the N. W. end of the lake of Zurich, 58 m. N E. of Bern; pop. in 1870, 21,199 (with the adjoining suburban communes, 56,700). It is divided into the Kleine Stadt on the left bank of the Limmat and the Grosse Stadt on the right bank. The Grossmünster or cathedral, dating from the 11th century, is chiefly remarkable for its associations with Zwingli. In the Peterskirche Lavater was minister. Among other notable churches are the Frauenmünster and Barfüsserkirche. The new arsenal, the music hall, and especially the new polytechnic institute, are the finest public buildings. The university in 1875 had 72 professors and 375 students, including in medicine women from Russia and the United States, to whom degrees are given. The city has a public library of upward of 60,000 volumes, an archaeological museum, and a cremation society established early in 1874. Zurich has been greatly improved and embellished by new buildings, bridges, and railway stations. It is associated with the memories of many distinguished reformers, poets, and scholars, and is still a great intellectual and artistic centre. It has a large book trade, and is noted also for its manufactures of silk, cottons, machinery, and paper.
The fine environs, promenades, and hotels make it a favorite resort of tourists. - Zurich is one of the oldest towns in central Europe. In 1219 it was declared a free imperial city. From 1519 to 1531 Zwingli preached the doctrines of the reformation in the cathedral. It had previously furnished a secure shelter to Arnold of Brescia. During the reign of Queen Mary it was a place of refuge for many English Protestants, and Miles Coverdale here translated and carried through the press in 1535 the first English version of the Scriptures ever printed. On Sept. 25, 1799, Massena defeated the Russians under Korsakoff in the immediate vicinity of the city. The appointment of David Friedrich Strauss in 1839 to a professorship resulted in a bloody riot and the flight of the authorities. A treaty of peace between France, Italy, and Austria was signed here, Nov. 10, 1859, mainly in accordance with the stipulations of Villafranca.