Swiss canton bans nude hiking | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 26.04.2009
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Swiss canton bans nude hiking

The small Swiss canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden will no longer welcome nude hikers to their meadows and valleys. The region has seen a rise in the number of hikers in the buff and local sensitivities were offended.

Nude hiking in Appenzell

Nude hiking has increased in popularity in Appenzell, to the dismay of its citizens

Visitors to Appenzell who chose to pursue a hike through the Alps without wearing a stitch could now face a fine of 200 Swiss francs (132 euros).

Residents in the Alpine region approved the measure banning nude hiking on Sunday under the traditional "Landsgemeide" voting system.

The Landsgemeide system has the the citizens of Appenzell meeting once a year on the last Sunday in April to vote, by raising their hands, on local issues.

Voting was an exclusive right of men until 1990 when women were allowed to participate.

At this year's meeting, between 3,000 and 4,000 voters showed up. On the matter of the nude hiking ban, there were hardly any dissenting votes regarding prohibiting what the local police department called "immoral habits."

Unwelcome attention

Landsgemeide voting in Swiss Appenzell

Citzens in Appenzell voted overwhelmingly to ban nude hiking in the area

Last fall citizens began noticing an influx of visitors to the region who shed their clothes before enjoying a hike through the region. It was trend the locals frowned upon and threatened to establish a reputation Appenzell didn't want.

"It's ridiculous that Appenzell is getting an international reputation for such a despicable habit," said Peter Schmid in an interview with the Reuters news agency.

But supporters of nude hiking say roaming in nature in one's birthday suit provides a liberating feeling that's hard to beat.

Switzerland isn't the only country where people are known to experience nature without the hindrance of clothing. It's seen in Germany and France, for example, but doesn't meet as much hostility.

"Switzerland is a lot more conservative and very traditional," Edith Zweifel of the Swiss tourism board told Reuters.

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