The mountain village of Laret

Cows, sheep, goats and horses are our neighbours

The scenic beauty of the Alpine settlement areas has developed over thousands of years. Because the valleys were marshy, wooded, not very sunny and prone to flooding, farms were established on the mountain slopes.

The first settlers arrived in the Samnaun valley more than a thousand years ago (see also "The settlement of Samnaun"). Over the course of hundreds of years, the mountain farmers created a cultural landscape that protects and fulfils a function. This created the basis for many different ecosystems and cultural landscapes and protects the area from erosion, debris flows and avalanches.

Because Samnaun has been a Swiss customs exclusion zone since 1892, the area has its own agricultural rules which force farmers to process and sell their produce in the valley. Some 550 tonnes of milk are processed every year in the municipal cheese dairy, of which only around 20 tonnes can be imported into Switzerland at a reduced rate of duty. The rest has to be sold to hotels, restaurants, and to guests and locals in the shops.