The Republic and Canton of Ticino or Ticino (; ; see also in other languages) is the southernmost canton of Switzerland. Ticino borders the Canton of Uri to the north, Valais to the west (through the Novena Pass), Graubünden to the northeast, Italy's regions of Piedmont and Lombardy to the south and it surrounds the small Italian exclave of Campione d'Italia.
Named after the Ticino river, it is the only canton where Italian is the sole official language and represents the bulk of the Italian-speaking area of Switzerland along with the southern sections of Graubünden.
The land now occupied by the canton was annexed from Italian cities in the 15th century by various Swiss forces in the last Transalpine campaigns of the Old Swiss Confederacy. In the Helvetic Republic, established 1798, it was divided between the cantons of Bellinzona and Lugano, which since the formation of the Swiss Confederation five years later have been the canton's districts.
In ancient times, the area of what is today Ticino was settled by the Lepontii, a Celtic tribe. Later, probably around the rule of Augustus, it became part of the Roman Empire. After the fall of the Western Empire, was ruled by the Ostrogoths, the Lombards and the Franks. Around 1100 it was the centre of struggle between the free communes of Milan and Como: in the 14th century it was acquired by the Visconti, Dukes of Milan. In the fifteenth century the Swiss Confederates conquered the valleys south of the Alps in three separate conquests.
Between 1403 and 1422 some of these lands were already annexed by forces from the Canton of Uri, but subsequently lost. Uri conquered the Leventina Valley in 1440. In a second conquest Uri, Schwyz and Nidwalden gained the town of Bellinzona and the Riviera in 1500. Some of the land and Bellinzona itself were previously annexed by Uri in 1419 but lost again in 1422. The third conquest was fought by troops from the entire Confederation (at that time constituted by 12 cantons). In 1512 Locarno, the Maggia Valley, Lugano and Mendrisio were annexed. Subsequently, the upper valley of the Ticino River, from the St. Gotthard to the town of Biasca (Leventina Valley) was part of Uri. The remaining territory (Baliaggi Ultramontani, Ennetbergische Vogteien, the Bailiwicks Beyond the Mountains) was administered by the Twelve Cantons. These districts were governed by bailiffs holding office for two years and purchasing it from the members of the League.
In the early 19th century, Ticino was the poorest of the cantons of Switzerland. According to the contemporary Franco-Danish scholar Conrad Malte-Brun, "in no part of Switzerland is there more poverty, bordering on wretchedness, so much idleness, and so little industry". Until 1878 the three largest cities, Bellinzona, Lugano and Locarno, alternated as capital of the canton. In 1878, however, Bellinzona became the only and permanent capital. The 1870-1891 period saw a surge of political turbulence in Ticino, and the authorities needed the assistance of the federal government to restore order in several instances, in 1870, 1876, 1889 and 1890-1891.
The current cantonal constitution dates from 1997. The previous constitution, heavily modified, was codified in 1830, nearly 20 years before the constitution of the Swiss Confederation.