Lausanne lōzän´ [key], city (1990 pop. 117,600), capital of Vaud canton, W Switzerland, on the Lake of Geneva. An important rail junction and lake port (see Ouchy), it is the trade and commercial center of a rich agricultural region. The construction of the Simplon Tunnel (see under Simplon) in 1906 gave Lausanne much greater commercial significance, putting it on the road between Paris and Milan. Food and tobacco products are produced, as well as precision instruments, clothing, metal products, and leather goods. Lausanne is also a well-known resort city and has been the meeting place of many international conferences. It is headquarters of the International Olympic Committee, many sport governing bodies, and the seat of the Swiss federal court of appeal.

Originally a Celtic settlement, it became a Roman military camp called Lousanna. An episcopal see since the late 6th cent., it was ruled by prince-bishops until 1536, when it was conquered by Bern and accepted the Reformation. Bernese rule ended in 1798, and Lausanne became (1803) the capital of the newly formed canton of Vaud. The scene of brilliant social life in the 18th cent., Lausanne was the residence of Gibbon, Rousseau, and Voltaire. Lausanne has the famous Gothic Cathedral of Notre Dame and several notable museums. The Univ. of Lausanne was founded as a Protestant school of theology in 1537 and became famous as a center of Calvinism. It was made a university in 1890. It and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (part of the university until 1969) are now in the suburb of Ecublens.

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

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