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The municipality lies in the Lauterbrunnen Valley and comprises the villages Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, MÃ¼rren, Gimmelwald, Stechelberg, and Isenfluh. The population of the Lauterbrunnen village is less than that of Wengen, but greater than that of the others.
History and origin of name
Lauterbrunnen was first mentioned in 1240 as in claro fonte. In 1304 it was mentioned as Luterbrunnen. According to locals, the name Lauterbrunnen is a combination of lauter meaning many, and brunnen meaning spring, fountain, or well. However, there is considerable dispute about the meaning of 'lauter', with some translating it as louder and others as clear, bright, or clean.
Lauterbrunnen has an area, as of 2009, of 164.56 square kilometers (63.54 sq mi). Of this area, 36.79 square kilometers (14.20 sq mi) or 22.4% is used for agricultural purposes, while 28.84 square kilometers (11.14 sq mi) or 17.5% is forested. Of the rest of the land, 2.31 square kilometers (0.89 sq mi) or 1.4% is settled (buildings or roads), 1.08 square kilometers (0.42 sq mi) or 0.7% is either rivers or lakes and 95.39 square kilometers (36.83 sq mi) or 58.0% is unproductive land.
Of the built up area, housing and buildings made up 0.7% and transportation infrastructure made up 0.5%. 13.6% of the total land area is heavily forested and 2.0% is covered with orchards or small clusters of trees. Of the agricultural land, 3.5% is pastures and 18.9% is used for alpine pastures. All the water in the municipality is in rivers and streams. Of the unproductive areas, 10.3% is unproductive vegetation, 31.3% is too rocky for vegetation and 16.3% of the land is covered by glaciers.
The river Weisse LÃ¼tschine flows through Lauterbrunnen and overflows its banks about once a year. The source of the river comes from melting snow high in the mountains, thus making it a very pure and clean source of water. It is common practice in the camp sites to chill drinks in the water.
Lauterbrunnen lies at the bottom of a U-shaped valley that extends south and then south-westwards from the village to meet the 8 kilometers (5.0 mi) Lauterbrunnen Wall. The valley of Lauterbrunnen (Lauterbrunnental) is one of the deepest in the Alpine chain when compared with the height of the mountains that rise directly on either side. It is a true cleft, rarely more than one kilometre in width, between limestones precipices, sometimes quite perpendicular, everywhere of extreme steepness. It is to this form of the valley that it owes the numerous waterfalls from which it derives its name. The streams descending from the adjoining mountains, on reaching the verge of the rocky walls of the valley, form cascades so high that they are almost lost in spray before they reach the level of the valley. The most famous of these are the Staubbach Falls within less than one kilometres of the village of Lauterbrunnen. The height of the cascade is between 800 and 900 feet (240 and 270 m), one of the highest in Europe formed of a single unbroken fall.
Trummelbach Falls is 3 km from Lauterbrunnen, connected by bus from the station.
Lauterbrunnen has a population (as of 31 December 2011) of 2,509. As of 2007, 19.2% of the population was made up of foreign nationals. Over the last 10 years the population has decreased at a rate of -14.3%. Most of the population (as of 2000) speaks German (85.2%), with Portuguese being second most common (4.9%) and Serbo-Croatian being third (2.0%).
In the 2007 election the most popular party was the SVP which received 38.1% of the vote. The next three most popular parties were the FDP (19.8%), the SPS (14.5%) and the Green Party (10.5%).
The age distribution of the population (as of 2000) is children and teenagers (0â€“19 years old) make up 22.4% of the population, while adults (20â€“64 years old) make up 58.9% and seniors (over 64 years old) make up 18.7%. The entire Swiss population is generally well educated. In Lauterbrunnen about 66.9% of the population (between age 25-64) have completed either non-mandatory upper secondary education or additional higher education (either university or a Fachhochschule).
Lauterbrunnen has an unemployment rate of 3.57%. As of 2005, there were 186 people employed in the primary economic sector and about 64 businesses involved in this sector. 197 people are employed in the secondary sector and there are 32 businesses in this sector. 1557 people are employed in the tertiary sector, with 194 businesses in this sector.
The Berner Oberland Bahn (BOB) train runs to Interlaken and Grindelwald.
The Wengernalpbahn (WAB) train leads to Kleine Scheidegg and on to Grindelwald.
The cable car and connecting train, both operated by the Bergbahn Lauterbrunnen-MÃ¼rren (BLM), provide service to MÃ¼rren. An alternative route to MÃ¼rren is available using the bus via the Trummelbach Falls to Stechelberg and then the Luftseilbahn Stechelberg-MÃ¼rren-Schilthorn (LSMS).
In other media
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's poem Gesang der Geister Ã¼ber den Wassern (literal translation: Song of the Spirits above the Waters) was written while he stayed at the parish house near the Staubbach Falls waterfall in Lauterbrunnen. The Lauterbrunnen valley also provided the pictorial model for J. R. R. Tolkien's sketches and watercolours of the fictitious valley of Rivendell, and possibly also the name of the Bruinen river (meaning 'Loudwater') which flowed through it.
Lauterbrunnen featured in several scenes from the 1969 James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service, including a car chase in which Bond (played for the only time by George Lazenby) was driven away from henchmen of Ernst Stavro Blofeld by his girlfriend Tracy di Vicenzo in a dramatic pursuit which culminated in them shaking off the pursuers in a stock car race. The 360 degree revolving restaurant Piz Gloria which crowns the Schilthorn peak was used to film Blofeld's hideout. In the movie Bond escapes from it by skiing down the mountain to reach the village of MÃ¼rren at its base.
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