BASEL, BALE, or BASLE (the first being the German, the others the French and Old French forms of the name), a canton in the N.W. of Switzerland, with an area of 184 English square miles. It is bounded on the N.W. by Alsace, N. by the grand-duchy of Baden, E. by the canton of Aargau, and S. and S.W. by those of Solothurn and Berne. The canton is traversed by the Jura chain, the highest peaks of which rise to from 4000 to 5000 feet. With the exception of the Rhine and its tributaries,the Birse and the Ergolz,there are no streams of any magni-tude. The soil is for the most part fertile and well culti-vated, the mountain sides affording excellent pasturage. The principal pursuits of the people are agricultural and pastoral, though here and there, as at Liestal, Sissach, and Miinchenstein, coal-mining is carried on. The chief manu-factures are ribbons, woollen, linen, and cotton goods, and iron and steel wares. Politically the canton consists of two divisions, one urban and the other rural (Basel-stadt and Basel-landschaft), each with its own constitution and laws. The former sends two members to the National Council; its legislative power is in the hands of a Great Council which consists of 134 members, chosen for six years, and its executive power belongs to a Lesser Council of 15 members. In the rural division the legislative body (or Landrath) is chosen for three years, and has the ultimate authority over all departments; the executive council con-sists of five members elected for the same period; it sends three members to the National Council. The prevailing language is German. Population of Basel-stadt in 1870, 47,760, and of Basel-landschaft, 54,721.
SEE ALSO: Basel (city), Switzerland