Biel bēl [key] or Biennebyĕn [key], city (1990 est. pop. 52,020), Bern canton, NW Switzerland, at the northeast end of the Lake of Biel. A watchmaking center, Biel also manufactures chains and machinery. There is a 16th-century Gothic town hall and a late Gothic church. Both French and German are spoken. The Schwab museum has archaeological relics of lake dwellings found in the Lake of Biel, or Lake of Bienne (15 sq mi/39 sq km), at the foot of the Jura Mts. The lake is connected with the Lake of Neuchâtel by the Zihl Canal. It contains the Isle of Saint-Pierre (now a peninsula), made famous by J. J. Rousseau.

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

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Swiss Political Geography