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Neuchâtel

Neuchâtel (nöshätĕlˈ) [key], Ger. Neuenburg, canton (1993 pop. 162,600), 309 sq mi (800 sq km), NW Switzerland, in the Jura Mts. It is a forested region with pastures. Cattle are raised, and cheese and wine are produced. Watches, mainly manufactured at Le Locle and La Chaux-de-Fonds, have been an important industrial product since the 18th cent. There are rich asphalt deposits at Val de Travers and an oil refinery at Cressier. The population is mainly French-speaking and Protestant. A part of Burgundy by the 10th cent., Neuchâtel was later governed by counts under the Holy Roman Empire. The county passed (1504) to the French house of Orléans-Longueville and in 1648 became independent. In 1707 it chose Frederick I of Prussia as its prince. It remained an autonomous principality, although in 1815 it became a canton of the Swiss Confederation, with which it had been allied since the 15th cent. In 1848 a revolution abolished the monarchy within Neuchâtel, and in 1857, after some complications, the king of Prussia renounced his claim to the canton. Its capital, Neuchâtel (1993 pop. 31,700), has industries that produce watches, tobacco, paper, and chocolate; it is home to a significant wine market. The town still retains a medieval aspect with its numerous statues, fountains, and old structures. It has an old church (12th–13th cent.), a castle (12th–17th cent.), and a noted university (founded 1838). The town is on the northern shore of the Lake of Neuchâtel, 24 mi (39 km) long and 4 to 5 mi (6.4–8 km) wide, which borders on the cantons of Neuchâtel, Bern, Fribourg, and Vaud. The lake is surrounded by valuable vineyards and picturesque settlements. There are many remains of lake dwellings (see La Tène).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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