Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Ticino

TICINO, or Tessin, a canton of Switzerland, ranking as eighteenth in the Confederation, consists of the upper basin of the river from which it takes its name, the Val Leventina, with the tributary valleys of Blegno and Maggia and farther south takes in the districts of Lugano and Mendrisio between Lakes Maggiore and Como. Its total area is 1088*2 square miles, which is exceeded by only four other Swiss cantons, Graubiinden (Grisons), Bern,Valais, and Vaud. Of this 725 8 square miles are classed as pro ductive, including 215 3 square miles covered by forests and 33 8 by vines; of the unproductive portion 24 3 square miles are occupied by lakes (most of that of Lugano belonging to the canton) and 13 1 by glaciers. The highest points in the canton are the Basodine (10,749 feet) in the north-west and the Valrhein (11,148 feet) in the north-east corners. In 1880 the population was 130,777 (the females exceeding the males by 10,000, doubtless owing to the emigration of the latter), being an increase of 11,158 on that of 1870; the increase was particularly marked in the Val Leventina and is due to the influence of the St Gotthard Railway, which traverses the entire canton. Of this population 129,409 speak Italian; 342 of the remainder form the German-speaking hamlet of Bosco or Gurin in the Val Caverna (in north west), a colony from the neighbouring valley of Formazza or Pommat, which is politically Italian. In religion 130,017 are Roman Catholics. Until 1859 Ticino was partly (Val Leventina, Val Blegno, and the Riviera) in the metropolitan diocese of Milan, chiefly in that of Como, and is still practically (though not legally) administered by these two bishops, all attempts made hitherto to incor porate them with the see of Chur or to secure the erection of a special see for them having failed. The chief towns are Lugano (6129 inhabitants), Airolo (3674), Mendrisio (2749), Locarno (2645), and Bellinzona (2436). Formerly Lugano, Locarno, and Bellinzona were the capital by turns of six years each; but since 1881 the seat of government has been permanently fixed at Bellinzona. Ticino stands in a comparatively low position as regards moral, educa tional, agricultural, and commercial matters. It has pro duced a number of sculptors, painters, and architects. Many of the men migrate during the summer in search of work as picture-dealers, waiters in cafes, chimney-sweeps, and especially as masons, plasterers, labourers, and navvies. A large quantity of fruit is grown; the chief articles ex ported are cattle, hay, fish, chestnuts, and earthenware. In manners, customs, and general character the inhabitants strongly resemble their Italian neighbours.

The canton is made up of all the permanent conquests (with one or two trifling exceptions) made by different members of the Swiss League south of the main chain of the Alps. From an historical point of view Italian Switzerland falls into three groups: (1) Val Leventina, conquered by Uri in 1440 (previously held from 1403 to 1426); (2) Bellinzona, the Riviera, and Val Blegno (held from 1419 to 1426), won in 1500 from the duke of Milan by men from Uri, Schwyz, and Nidwald, and confirmed by Louis XII. of France in 1503; (3) Locarno, Val Maggia, Lugano, and Mendrisio, seized in 1512 by the Confederates when fighting for the Holy League against France, ruled by the twelve members then in the League, and confirmed by Francis I. in the treaty of 1516. These districts were governed by bailiffs holding office two years and purchasing it from the members of the League; each member of group 3 sent annually an envoy, who conjointly constituted the supreme appeal in all matters. This government was very harsh and is one of the darkest pages in Swiss history. Yet only one open revolt is recorded that of the Leventina against Uri in 1755. In 1798 the people were distracted by the Swiss and "Cisalpine re public " parties, but sided with the Swiss. On being freed from their hated masters, they were formed into two cantons of the Helvetic republic Bellinzona ( = 1 and 2 above) and Lugano ( = 3). In 1803 all these districts were formed into one canton Ticino which became a full member of the Swiss Confederation. From 1810 to 1813 it was occupied by the troops of Napoleon. The roads over the Bernardino (1819-23) and the St Gotthard (1820-30) were made under the constitution of 1814. But many of the old troubles reappeared and were only done away with by the consti tution of 23d July 1830, which (with subsequent modifications) prevails at the present time. A legislative assembly (112 members) chosen by direct election and an executive (5 members) chosen by the legislature are its principal features. The "optional referen dum " (permitting the submission of any law to a popular vote if asked for by a certain number of citizens) was adopted in 1883. In 1848, on religious grounds and owing to fears as to customs duties, the canton voted in the minority against the Federal constitution of that year; but in 1874, though the people voted against the re vised constitution, the legislature adopted it, and the canton was counted as one of the majority. Since 1830 the local history of the canton has been very disturbed owing to the fact that, though Roman Catholicism is the state religion, and all the population are Roman Catholic (the few Protestants having been expelled from Locarno in 1555), they are divided between the Radical and Ultra montane parties. Since 1876 the intervention of Federal troops (already known in 1870) has been quite common in consequence of conflicts of the local authorities inter se, or against the Federal assembly.

See Der Kanton Tessin, by Stefano Franscini (St Gall, 1835).