Graubünden (Grisons) is the largest and easternmost canton of Switzerland. Most of its inhabitants speak German, but there are several valley where the people speak Romansh and in the south there are some Italian speaking areas. The Romansh name of the canton is Grischun, the Italian Grigioni. The name is derived from Grauer Bund (Grey League), which was established in 1395.
The canton is almost entirely mountainous, so only about a third of it is commonly regarded as productive land. There are two rather deep valleys of the Rhine and Inn, with a flat and fertile floor. The highest peak is Piz Bernina (4,048 m asl), the most important mountain ranges are called Adula, Albula, Silvretta and Rätikon range. There are numerous glaciers.
The canton is the central part of the natural barrier of the Alps, the deep valleys and the passes are important north south connections. This importance since prehistoric times influenced the history of the area very much. Today it results in famous railroads and roads across passes, and tunnels below mountain ridges.
Graubünden covers the central area of the Alp orogeny, with the oldest crystalline rocks, young intrusions, thermal activity and spas and numerous hydrothermal ore deposits. There are a lot of historic mines, the high grade low amount deposits are not profitable for modern mining. But during history they were an important factor for the survival of the people in this rough mountains. Today the collecting and sale of minerals has become more important. There is even a profession called Strahler, who collects or mines minerals to sell them.