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City (pop., 2000 est: city, 128,600; metro. area, 317,300), capital of Switzerland. Lying along a loop of the Aare River, it was founded as a military post in 1191 by Berthold V, duke of Zähringen. It became a free imperial city in 1218. Gradually extending its power, it became an independent state, and in 1353 it entered the Swiss Confederation. It was a scene of disputation in 1528 between Roman Catholics and reformers, which led to its subsequent championing of Protestant doctrines. It became a member of the Helvetic Republic and in 1848 was made the capital of Switzerland. It is headquarters of the international postal, railway, and copyright unions.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Bern, visit Britannica.com.