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Back in October we had a few days exploring Engadin, that got me thinking about what and where exactly is Engadin.

I’d assumed Engadin was an administrative region of canton Graubunden, ie a collection of gemeinden (municipalities). I’d also known those collections as a Bezirk (district), because that is what I’d been used to in Baselland, but apparently it is up to the canton to decide how to organise internally. Thinking about it, this makes sense in the Swiss federal model. Anyway, Graubunden previously called the administrative terms Kreise and (sometimes?) grouped them into Bezirke but since the beginning of 2016 it now just has 11 Regions. No single one of these Kreise, Bezirke or the new Regions cover the area most people think of when considering Engadin.

So what defines Engadin?

Let us start with where the name comes from. The initial En is relatively simple it is the Romansh name for the river Inn which runs through Engadin. The rest is apparently derived from the celtic ending -ates meaning inhabitants of. Which gives us a possible meaning as – people of the Inn valley.

Which to me means Engadin should be defined as the Inn valley, but what defines the border of a valley?

I’m not sure of the official geographical definition, but as we are talking about a valley with a river (still) running through it, I think it makes sense to define the valley by the water catchment area – I believe drainage basin in another term – for that river. ie the valley includes anywhere that if you stood there and poured out a glass of water, that water would end up in the river.

Wikimedia has a good map showing this area.

So Engadin is the Swiss part of the drainage basin of the river Inn. No wonder this description hasn’t caught on.


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