Bern, or Berne, a Swiss canton, bounded on the N. by France. It is the most populous, and next to the Grisons the largest canton of Switzerland; its area being 2650 sq. m., and its pop. (1900) 589,433 - more than one-sixth of the total inhabitants of Switzerland. Most of these are Protestant and German-speaking. - Bern, the capital of the canton, and since 1849 of Switzerland, 68 miles by rail SSW. of Basel, is situated on a lofty sandstone promontory formed by the winding Aar, which surrounds it on three sides. It is one of the best and most regularly built towns in Europe, as it is the finest in Switzerland. The houses are massive structures of freestone, resting upon shop-lined arcades. Rills of water flow through the streets. The view of the Alpine peaks from the city is magnificent. The principal public buildings are a Gothic cathedral (1421-1573); the magnificent Federal Council Hall (1857), the mint, the hospital, and the university. Bern has an interesting museum, and a valuable public library of 50,000 volumes. Population, 65,000. Bern was founded in 1191, was made a free imperial city in 1218, under Frederick II.; and between 1288 and 1339 successfully resisted the attacks of Rudolf of Hapsburg, Albert his son, and Louis of Bavaria. The ' Disputation of Bern' between Catholics and Reformers in 1528 (January 6-27) prepared the way for the acceptance of the reformed doctrine. On account of the traditionary derivation of its name (Swabian bern, 'a bear'), bears are maintained in a public bear-pit.