Unterwalden(redirected from Obwalden)
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a canton in Switzerland. Unterwalden consists of two demicantons—Nidwalden and Obwalden. Nidwalden has an area of 300 sq km and a population of 27,000 (1974); its capital is Stans. Obwalden has an area of 500 sq km and a population of 26,300, and its capital is Sarnen.
In the fifth and sixth centuries, Unterwalden was conquered by the Alamanni, who subjugated the region’s inhabitants, the Helvetii. At the turn of the 13th century, the region became dependent on the Austrian Hapsburgs. In 1291, Unterwalden signed a treaty of perpetual alliance with the cantons of Uri and Schwyz, thus forming the Swiss state. The united cantons achieved independence from the Hapsburgs in 1308, and their independence was strengthened by their victory at Morgarten in 1315.
Unterwalden became one of the main areas for recruiting Swiss mercenaries into European armies in the late 15th century. In the 16th century, Unterwalden and other economically backward cantons opposed the Reformation in Switzerland. From 1789 to 1803 it was part of the “one and indivisible” Helvetian Republic. In the mid-19th century, Unterwalden joined the reactionary unions known as the League of Sarnen and the Sonderbund.