ArgoviaAargau (also in German) or Argovia is one of the more northerly Swiss cantons, comprising the lower course of the river Aar, whence its name (meaning "Aar district").
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Its total area is 1404 sq km (541.9 sq.m.), its population is 550,000 (2002). The capital is Aarau. It is one of the least mountainous Swiss cantons, forming part of a great table-land, to the north of the Alps and the east of the Jura, above which rise low hills. The surface of the country is beautifully diversified, undulating tracts and well-wooded hills alternating with fertile valleys watered mainly by the Aar and its tributaries.
It contains the famous hot sulphur springs of Baden and Schinznach, while at Rheinfelden there are very extensive saline springs. Just below Brugg the Reuss and the Limmat join the Aar, while around Brugg are the ruined castle of Habsburg, the old convent of Koenigsfelden (with fine painted medieval glass) and the remains of the Roman settlement of Vindonissa (Windisch).
As this region was, up to 1415, the centre of Habsburg power, we find here many historical old castles (for example Habsburg, Lenzburg, Wildegg), and former monasteries (for example Wettingen, Muri), founded by that family, but suppressed in 1841, this act of violence being one of the main causes of the civil war called the "Sonderbund War," in 1847 in Switzerland.
1415 the Argovia region was taken from the Habsburgs by the Swiss Confederates. Bern kept the south-west portion (Zofingen, Aarburg, Aarau, Lenzburg, and Brugg), but some districts, named the Freie Ämter or "free bailiwicks" (Mellingen, Muri, Villmergen, and Bremgarten), with the county of Baden, were ruled as "subject lands" by all or certain of the Confederates. In 1798 the Bernese portion became the canton of Argovia of the Helvetic Republic, the remainder forming the canton of Baden. In 1803, the two halves (plus the Frick glen, ceded in 1802 by Austria to the Helvetic Republic) were united under the name of Canton Argovia, which was then admitted a full member of the reconstituted Confederation. In the year 2003 the canton Argovia will celebrate its 200th birthday.