Saint Gall sānt gôl, găl, gäl [key], Ger. Sankt Gallen, canton (1993 pop. 432,800), 777 sq mi (2,012 sq km), NE Switzerland. Bordering on Lake Constance in the north and on the Rhine River in the east, it surrounds the entire canton of Appenzell. The south is fairly mountainous, and the north is mainly a meadowland. Wine and fruit are produced. The canton is especially known for its lace embroideries and silk and cotton textiles. Other manufactures include textile machinery, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, pyrotechnics, matches, chocolate, optical goods, felt, and paper. Tourism is also a major industry, with many winter and summer resorts. Its inhabitants are mainly German-speaking. The canton and its capital city,
Saint Gall (1993 pop. 72,000), take their name from the Benedictine abbey erected (8th cent.) on the site of the hermitage of St. Gall, an Irish monk, around which the town grew. The abbots of St. Gall, who also ruled Appenzell, became princes of the Holy Roman Empire in the early 13th cent. The town became a free city of the Holy Roman Empire in 1311. Rebelling against the abbot, the city made an alliance with the Swiss Confederation (1454). The Reformation, accepted by the town but suppressed in the districts controlled by the abbot, brought about a long series of disturbances (notably the War of the Toggenburg) until 1718. In 1803 the town and the abbot's domains (secularized in 1798) were consolidated as a canton of the Swiss Confederation under Napoleon's Act of Mediation. One of the oldest scholastic centers north of the Alps, St. Gall has a library with a world-famous collection of medieval manuscripts. An episcopal see since 1846, it also has a noted 18th-century cathedral (formerly the abbey church). There are several museums, schools, and institutes.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Swiss Political Geography