1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/St Gall (canton)
ST GALL (Ger. St Gallen), one of the cantons of north-east Switzerland, on the border of the Austrian province of the Vorarlberg and of the independent principality of Liechtenstein. It entirely surrounds the canton of Appenzell, which, like a great part, of this canton, formerly belonged to the abbots of St Gall, while the “ enclave ” of Horn is in the canton of Thurgau.
Its area is 779.3 sq. m., of which 710.1 sq. m. are reckoned “productive,” forests covering 157.1 sq. m. and vineyards 1.8 sq. m., while of the remainder 2.8 sq. m. are occupied by glaciers. The altitude above the sea-level varies from 1306 ft.(the lake of Constance) to 10,667 ft. (the Ringelspitz). The canton includes portions of the lake of Constance (21½ sq. m.), of the Walensee (rather over 7 sq. m.), and of the lake of Zürich (4 sq. m.), and several small lakes wholly within its limits. Hilly in its N. region, the height radually increases towards the S. border, while to its S. W. and extend considerable alluvial plains on the banks of the Linth and of the Rhine. The two rivers just named form in part its frontiers, the principal stream within the canton being the Thur (as regards its upper course), with the middle reach of its principal affluent, the Sitter, both forming part of the Rhine basin. It has ports on the lake of Constance (Rorschach) and of Zürich (Rapperswil), as well as Weesen and Walenstadt on the Walensee, while the watering place of Ragatz (q.v.) is supplied with hot mineral waters from Pfafers. The main railway lines from Zurich past Sargans for Coire, and from Sargans past Altstatten and Rorschach for Constance, skirtits borders, while the capital is on the direct railway line from Zürich past Wil to Rorschach, and communicates by rail with Appenzell and with Frauenfeld. In 1900 the population of the canton was 250,285, of whom 243,358 were German-speaking, 5300 Italian-speaking and 710 French-speaking, while there were 150,412 “ Catholics " (whether Roman or “Old”), 99,114 Protestants and 556 Jews (mostly in the town of St Gall). Its capital is St Gall, the other most populous places being Tablat (pop. 12,590), Rorschach (9140), Altstatten (8724), Straubenzell (8090), Gossau (6055) and Wattwil (4971). In the southern and more Alpine portion of the canton the inhabitants mainly follow pastoral pursuits. In 1896 the number of “alps” or mountain pastures in the canton amounted to 304, capable of supporting 21,744 cows, and of an estimated total value of nearly 14 million francs. In the central and northern regions agriculture is generally combined with manufactures.
The canton is one of the most industrial in Switzerland. Cottonspinning is widely spread, though cloth-weaving has declined. But the characteristic industry is the manufacture, mostly by machines, of muslin, embroidery and lace. It is reckoned that the value of the embroideries and lace exported from the canton amounts to about one-seventh of the total value of the exports from Switzerland. The canton is divided into fifteen administrative districts, which comprise ninety-three communes.
The existing constitution dates from 1890. The legislature or Grossrat is elected by the communes, each commune of 1500 inhabitants or less having a right to one member, and as many more as the divisor 1500, or fraction over 750, justifies. Members hold office for three years. For the election of the seven members of the executive or Regierungsrat, who also hold office for three years, all the communes form a single electoral circle. The two members of the federal Ständerat are named by the legislature, while the thirteen members of the federal Nationalrat are chosen by a popular vote. The right of “facultative referendum” or of “initiative” as to legislative projects belongs to any 4000 citizens, but in case of the revision of the cantonal constitution 10,000 must sign the demand. The canton of St Gall was formed in 1803 and was augmented by many districts that had belonged since 1798 to the canton Linth or Glarus—the upper Toggenburg, Sargans (held since 1483 by the Swiss), Gaster and Uznach (belonging since 1438 to Schwyz and Glarus), Gams (since 1497 the property of the same two members), Werdenberg (owned by Glarus since 1517), Sax (bought by Zürich in 1615), and Rapperswil (since 1712 under the protection of Zürich, Bern and Glarus).