The Republic and Canton of the Jura, also known as the Canton of Jura or Canton Jura, is one of the cantons of Switzerland. It is the newest (created in 1979) of the 26 Swiss cantons, located in the northwestern part of Switzerland. The capital is Delémont. It shares borders with the Canton of Basel-Landschaft, the Canton of Bern, and the French département of Doubs.
The King of Burgundy donated much of the land that today makes up Canton Jura to the Bishop of Basel in 999. The area was a sovereign state within the Holy Roman Empire for more than 800 years. After the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 the Jura had close ties with the Swiss Confederation. At the Congress of Vienna (1815), the Jura was given to the canton of Bern. This act caused dissention. The Jura was French-speaking and Roman Catholic, whereas the canton of Bern was mostly German-speaking and Protestant.
After World War II, a separatist movement campaigned for a secession of Jura from the Canton of Bern. After a long and partly militant struggle, which included some arson attacks by a youth organisation Les Béliers, a constitution was accepted in 1977. In 1978 the split was made official when the Swiss people voted in favour of it, and in 1979 the Jura joined the Swiss Confederation as a full member. It celebrates its independence from the Canton of Bern on 23 June. However, the southern part of the Jura region, which is also predominantly French-speaking but has a Protestant majority, opted not to join the newly-formed canton, and instead remained part of the Canton of Bern. This decision may seem somewhat strange from a linguistic standpoint. However this choice may have been influenced by the fact that the Canton of Bern is financially richer and is at the heart of federal power in Switzerland. The area is now known as Bernese Jura. The word Jura, therefore, may refer either to Canton Jura, or to the combined territory of Canton Jura and the Bernese Jura. Switzerland as a whole, often presents the latter from a touristic standpoint with documentation easily available in French or German.
Since 1994, the question of the Jura region has again been controversial. In 2004, a federal commission proposed that the French-speaking southern Jura be reunited with the Canton of Jura, as the language question now seems to be more important than the denominational one. A possible solution would be to create two Half-Cantons, as reunification with the creation of only a single Canton would mean a complete restructuring of the Jura's current political system with the Cantonal capital being transferred from Delémont to Moutier.
Jura Mountain region photos at be seen at the Wikimedia commons site.
Geography & Attractions
The Jura mountains – gentle in the west, precipitous in the east, with wide, high forested plateaux in between – cover most of the old county of Franche-Comté, once part of the realms of the Grand Dukes of Burgundy, but properly French only since the late seventeenth century. Within its four départements – the Territoire de Belfort, the Haute-Saône, the Doubs and, largest of all, the Jura – the towns, especially the capital Besançon, are beautiful and tranquil, with the River Doubs flowing through, and the villages, such as Baume-les-Messieurs and Château Chalon, are some of the prettiest in France. Otherwise, what there is to see is countryside – hundreds of square kilometres of woodland, lake and pasture that are hard to reach without a car – but are best explored once you're there on foot or by bicycle. There are several GR footpaths in the area, including the marathon GR5 from the Netherlands to the Mediterranean, and the GR9, which snakes its way through the Parc Régional du Haut-Jura. One of the best things about this part of France in summer is that it sees a lot fewer visitors than its neighbouring regions.
Jura, mountain range, straddling the border between France and Switzerland. Beginning in eastern France on the northern bank of the River Rhône in Ain Department, the range extends northwards, forming the western bank of the river until it reaches the Swiss frontier near Geneva. From that point it extends through the Jura and Doubs departments, following the boundary line between France and Switzerland in a long curve towards the north-east. The range finally passes wholly into Switzerland and terminates on the southern bank of the Rhine west of its confluence with the Aare.
The range thus defined is the Jura proper, but many geographers apply the name also to the mountains north of the Rhine and south of the Rhône, considering that these rivers merely make two breaks in an otherwise continuous chain. South of the Rhône the chain is known as the Jura Alps and merges with branches of the western Alps. North of the Rhine an irregular chain extends east of the Black Forest in the state of Baden-Württemberg, Germany, and through the state of Bavaria as far as the River Main. This chain, called the German or Swabian Jura, is similar to the Jura proper in the character of rock formations, but different in structure, being formed entirely by faulting.
The Jura proper consists of a series of parallel folds in the strata, forming together a plateau about 320 km (200 mi) long and 32 to 56 km (20 to 35 mi) wide. These folded ridges have in many places suffered transverse fractures, which, in the form of steep gorges known as cluses, add greatly to the picturesque character of the landscape. The general height of the range is from 910 to 1,520 m (about 3,000 to 5,000 ft). It is highest near the southern end, west of Lake Geneva, where the Crêt de la Neige has an altitude of 1,718 m (5,636 ft). The Jura are formed of limestone rich in fossils; for this reason the Jurassic period of the Mesozoic era was named after the range. 
The Jura (meaning "forest" in Gaulish language) is a beautiful land of lakes, rivers, waterfalls, forest and caves. The Jura mountains form a natural border between France and Switzerland (200 Km-125 miles- long) with a maximum elevation of 1,723 m (5 650 feet) at the "Cret de la Neige". They are known for their good hiking and skiing. The "Parc Naturel Régional du Haut Jura" includes 46 communities. Cheese, wine and smoking pipe made Jura famous. Many exhibitions are on view to outline the evolution of stone polishing, eyeglasses and smoking pipe manufacturing, diamond and toy productions perpetuated today by traditional artisans through their high quality products. The architectural and artistic wealth can be seen in each town and village of Jura: houses, churches, castles, archeologic sites remind us of the past, still alive. A traditional, rustic way of life continues in that most peaceful, relaxing region of France still little affected by tourism.
Notes & References