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Interlaken is a municipality in the Interlaken-Oberhasli administrative district in the Canton of Bern in Switzerland, a well-known tourist destination in the Bernese Oberland.
History Until 1891 Interlaken was known as Aarmühle. The convent of the Augustinian Canons was built in 1130 and lasted until 1528. Previously, printing, textiles, and to a smaller extent watchmaking were also of importance, but today tourism is the most significant source of income.
Interlaken is one of the oldest tourist resorts in Switzerland, and it remains one of the most popular.
Geography Interlaken is located between Lake Brienz to the east and Lake Thun to the west in the area called Bödeli. The town takes its name from its geographical position between the lakes (in Latin inter lacus). The Aare River flows through the town connecting the lakes.
Interlaken is located at 570 m (1,870 ft) above sea level.
Interlaken has an area, as of 2009, of 4.4 km2 (1.7 sq mi). Of this area, 1.05 km2 (0.41 sq mi) or 24.4% is used for agricultural purposes, while 0.97 km2 (0.37 sq mi) or 22.6% is forested. Of the rest of the land, 2.03 km2 (0.78 sq mi) or 47.2% is settled (buildings or roads), 0.3 km2 (0.12 sq mi) or 7.0% is either rivers or lakes and 0.01 km2 (2.5 acres) or 0.2% is unproductive land.
Of the built up area, industrial buildings made up 5.3% of the total area while housing and buildings made up 21.4% and transportation infrastructure made up 16.0%. while parks, green belts and sports fields made up 4.0%. 20.9% of the total land area is heavily forested and 1.6% is covered with orchards or small clusters of trees. Of the agricultural land, 6.5% is used for growing crops and 16.3% is pastures, while 1.6% is used for orchards or vine crops. All the water in the municipality is in rivers and streams.
Interlaken has a population (as of 31 December 2010) of 5,429. As of 2007, 24.0% of the population was made up of foreign nationals. Over the last 10 years the population has grown at a rate of 4.5%. Most of the population (as of 2000) speaks German (83.4%), with Portuguese being second most common ( 3.9%) and Italian being third ( 2.8%).
Interlaken has an unemployment rate of 3.86%. As of 2005, there were 28 people employed in the primary economic sector and about 6 businesses involved in this sector. 742 people are employed in the secondary sector and there are 76 businesses in this sector. 4,935 people are employed in the tertiary sector, with 535 businesses in this sector. The historical population is given in the following table:
Tourism The town is a base from which to explore the surrounding areas by train or bus. One of the main attractions is the Jungfrau, (4,158 m (13,642 ft)) and the Jungfraujoch railway station (3,450 m (11,320 ft)). Many hotels are located along the Höheweg. Mystery Park, a paranormal-based theme park owned by Erich von Däniken, was closed in 2006 after three years because of financial difficulties but re-opened in 2009.
Interlaken is a destination for backpackers throughout the year. Interlaken has numerous backpacker-friendly hostels and companies providing guided services in skydiving, canyoning, hang gliding, paragliding, and skiing.
Transportation Interlaken has two railway stations Interlaken Ost and Interlaken West and two funicular railways, the Harderbahn and the Heimwehfluhbahn. Train connections in Interlaken serve the Jungfrau region via the Berner Oberland Bahn, and the narrow-gauge lines of the Zentralbahn extending over the Brünig Pass to Luzern. The main line connects Interlaken with the cities of Spiez, Thun and Bern. There are also regular bus links to the neighbouring town of Thun. Boat services across Lake Brienz to Brienz and across Lake Thun to Spiez and Thun are operated by BLS Lötschbergbahn. Interlaken also has an airport, Interlaken Airport. It serves the cities of Matten and Interlaken.
- In September, the Jungfrau Marathon starts in Interlaken.
- The Unspunnenfest is a festival held in Interlaken and the neighbouring communities of Matten and Wilderswil approximately every twelve years. The festival highlights traditional Swiss culture and features competitions of Steinstossen (stone put), Schwingen (wrestling) and yodelling. The last Unspunnenfest was held in September 2006. The next celebration is scheduled for the year 2017.
- On July 15 of 2007, the Red Bull Air Race World Series was held on the Airport situated near Interlaken.
- During Summer, there is the Greenfield Music Festival on the outskirts of Interlaken.