Grisons , (Ger. Graubundten), the easternmost and largest of the Swiss cantons, bordering on Liechtenstein, Tyrol, Italy, and the cantons of St. Gall, Glarus, Ticino, and Uri; greatest length 90 m., greatest breadth 64 m.; area, 2,774 sq. m.; pop. in 1870, 91,782, of whom about 52,000 were Protestants. The whole canton is an alternation of valleys and mountains, several of the latter of which reach an elevation of from 10,000 to 13,000 ft. above the sea. Among the Alpine mountain passes are those of the Bernardino, Splugen, Julier, and Bernina; among the valleys is the Engadine. The scenery is surpassingly grand. The climate is more diversified than is usual even in Switzerland. While on the mountains winter reigns for more than half the year, the air of the vale below is almost as mild and genial as that of Italy. In the loftier districts the snow sometimes continues as late as July, but in the valleys which look toward the south cultivation can commence as early as the beginning of March. The principal rivers are the upper courses of the Rhine and Inn, and several tributaries of the upper Ticino and Adda. The chief productions are rye, barley, oats, timber, hemp, flax, potatoes, fruit, wine, cheese, and cattle; the rearing of the last constitutes the great business of the inhabitants.
Iron, lead, and zinc are produced, but not extensively mined. There are no manufactures of importance, but a considerable transit trade is carried on through the canton between Italy and Germany. The annual value of exports is about 6,500,000 francs; of imports, 8,000,000. The canton is divided into three leagues, the Graubund (league of counts, or gray league), Gotteshausbund (league of God's house), and Zehngerichtenbund (league of ten jurisdictions), which are governed by their respective presidents and by a general diet of deputies from each Bund. They are subdivided into communes, each of which was formerly almost independent within its own limits. Of late centralization has made some progress; the cantonal government has received greater powers, and cantonal courts have taken the place of the former independent courts. As a canton the country is now divided into 14 districts, which are subdivided into circles. The name of the canton is said to be derived from the color of the dress worn by a band of the people who in 1424 met in a forest near Trons and bound themselves to defend each other against their feudal lords.
Formerly Romansh was the language of the entire population; the first German settlers came into the country about 600 years ago, since which time the German language has steadily gained ground, until by the census of 1870 the number of German families was found to exceed the Romansh. Capital, Coire.