Engelberg is first mentioned as Engilperc in 1122, when the Abbey was first founded there, although the Alpine pasture of Trüebsee was already exploited collectively before this time.
From 1850, Engelberg became an international vacation resort (mineral water, milk serum and fresh air cures). Many hotels were built by the families Cattani, Hess and Odermatt, pioneers of tourism. From 1872 to 1874, a new, wider road was built, and the Stansstad-Engelberg electric railway was opened in 1898.
Hiking and other mountain sports developed at the end of 19th Century and Engelberg first held a winter season in 1903-1904. A funicular railway (opened in 1913) connects Engelberg to Gerschni and, from there, the second cable car in Switzerland (opened in 1927) runs onwards to Ober Trüebsee. The decade preceding the First World War was a period of boom conditions (165,922 visitor-nights in 1911). The widening of the road and the extension of the railway to Lucerne (in 1964) considerably opened up the tourism catchment area of the station and, in 1967, the higher section of the Titlis cable car was opened. Recently, regular conferences in Engelberg came to supplement winter tourism. In 2000, the tertiary sector, especially tourism, offered three quarters of the employment of Engelberg.
Engelberg is situated within the Uri Alps mountain range.
Engelberg is sourrounded by major mountain summits, such as Titlis in the south (3,238 metres (10,623 ft)) above sea level), the Walenstöcke (2,572 metres (8,438 ft)) and Ruchstock (2,814 metres (9,232 ft)) to the north, Hahnen (2,606 metres (8,550 ft)) and Wissberg (2,627 metres (8,619 ft)) to the east, the Engelberger Rotstock and Wissigstock (2,887 metres (9,472 ft)), and Gross Gemsispil (2,518 metres (8,261 ft)) to the northeast, and the upper valley of the Engelberger Aa leading to the Surenen Pass (2,291 metres (7,516 ft)) leading to the Urner Reusstal.
Engelberg has an area of 74.8 square kilometers (28.9 sq mi). Of this area, 28.5% is used for agricultural purposes, while 24.5% is forested. Of the rest of the land, 3.1% is settled (buildings or roads) and the remainder (43.9%) is non-productive (rivers, glaciers or mountains).
The average altitude of Engelberg is 1,020 m (3,350 ft). However the village is surrounded by the Alps, creating very steep terrain. The highest point in the borders of the municipality is the Titlis which is 3,239 m (10,627 ft). The Engelberg Valley (German: Engelbergertal) is drained by the Engelberger Aa, a tributary of Lake Lucerne. The valley is located southwards from the lake.
The municipality of Engelberg is served by two stations on the Luzern–Stans–Engelberg line. Engelberg railway station is located in the village and is the terminus of the line. Grafenort station is to the north, one station away. Both stations are served by hourly InterRegio trains from the city of Lucerne.
A free bus system provides daytime transport within the village, with a network of seven routes during the winter season (from December through to April) and a single route during the summer season (from April until October).
The major tourist activities in the village and surrounding area are skiing and other snow sports in the winter season, and hiking and mountain activities during the summer.
In the village itself the main sights are the Benedictine monastery Engelberg Abbey which incorporates a cheese factory and demonstration shop, the Talmuseum showing the history of the area and Swiss rural life, and a number of old chapels.
The winter sports season generally lasts from December until April, although the high altitude glacier areas on the Titlis can sometimes be used (by advanced skiers) from October until May. Snow coverage is generally reliable, although in recent years artificial snow machines have been installed on some of the lower altitude runs in order to improve snow cover.
Engelberg hosts a round of the ski jumping world cup at the Gross-Titlis-Schanze jump.
In common with the rest of Switzerland, there is a village celebration for Swiss National Day on the 1st August, with parades and events throughout the day.
On the last Saturday in September the Alpabzug takes place, when the cattle are brought from the mountain pastures back to their winter barns in the village and valley.
There are three main mountain areas, accessible from the village, offering various activities in winter and summer. The cable cars generally run all year round, providing access for hikers and mountain bikers as well as skiers.
The Titlis in the south of Engelberg at 3,238 metres (10,623 ft) above sea level is the highest summit of the range north of the Susten Pass, between the Bernese Oberland and Central Switzerland.
The Titlis mountain massif is accessible by cable cars of the Titlis Bergahnen. The cable car bottom station is also the central terminus of the village bus services. A funicular railway (dating from 1913) runs up to station Gerschnialp (1,267 m (4,157 ft)) and an wide Alpine pasture called Gerschni, with easy snow areas suitable for beginners and cross country ski trails, and a toboggan run leading back down to the valley station. In the summer there are two cheese dairies, with walking trails leading up to Ober Trüebsee and back down to the village, or level trails leading to Unter Trüebsee to the west.
The "Titlis Xpress" gondola lift, opened in 2015 to replace an older one dating from the 1970s, runs from the valley station (996 m (3,268 ft)) up to the middle station Trübsee (1,788 m (5,866 ft)) and on to Stand (2,428 m (7,966 ft)). This area provides more challenging skiing, on the lower slopes of the Titlis and via further chair lifts to the Jochpass (2,207 m (7,241 ft)) and below the Jochstock at 2,508 m (8,228 ft). A continuous ski piste leads down to Unter Trüebsee and back to the cable car valley station. In summer the lake is a popular walking area, with rowing boats available on the lake and picnic places around it. Walking routes lead over the Jochpass to Engstlenalp and Melchsee-Frutt, or directly from Engleberg over the Juchli Pass (2,171 m (7,123 ft)) or Storegg Pass (1,742 m (5,715 ft))) into the Melchtal.
The "Rotair" cable car ("the world's first rotating cable car") runs up to the Kleintitlis mountain station (3,028 m (9,934 ft)) where there is a restaurant and shops, an observation terrace and access to the glacier and summit. The high altitude glacier runs down from the peak are suitable for advanced skiers, with off-piste routes leading down to Trübsee and the Laubersgrat ridge.
The Brunni mountain area, to the north of the village, is accessible from the cable car station which runs up to Ristis (1,600 m (5,200 ft)), with a further chair lift up to Brunnihütte (1,860 m (6,100 ft)). The ski runs here are of a beginner to medium standard, although sometimes not having so much snow cover as the Titlis side due to the south facing aspect. There is another toboggan run from Brunnihütte back down to Ristis. In summer there are a number of walking trails starting from here, including the Walenpfad leading to Bannalp and the Rot Grätli ridge across the mountains to the north and northeast. There are also a number of prepared rock climbing routes (German: Klettersteig).
At the eastern end of the Engelberg valley, there is a cable car up to Fürenalp (1,840 m (6,040 ft)), passing over the Fürenwand rock climbing area. From the top station or from the valley, summer walking routes with views of the Chli Spannort (3,140 m (10,300 ft)) and Gross Spannort (3,198 m (10,492 ft)) mountain peaks lead to the Surenenpass (2,291 m (7,516 ft)) in the east.
The historical population is given in the following table:
Engelberg has a population (as of 31 December 2015) of 4,097. As of 2007, 21.0% of the population was made up of foreign nationals. Over the last 10 years the population has grown at a rate of 7.1%. Most of the population (as of 2000) speaks German as their mother tongue (88.2%), with Serbo-Croatian being second most common (2.5%) and English being third (2.2%). As of 2000 the gender distribution of the population was 49.9% male and 50.1% female. As of 2000 there are 1,650 households in Engelberg.
In the 2007 election the most popular party was the SVP which received 37.4% of the vote. The next three most popular parties were a variety of other parties (not major) (28.6%), the CVP (22.7%) and the SPS (11.3%).
The age distribution of the population (as of 2000) is children and teenagers (0–19 years old) make up 26.2% of the population, while adults (20–64 years old) make up 58.3% and seniors (over 64 years old) make up 15.4%. In Engelberg about 65.5% of the population (between age 25-64) have completed either non-mandatory upper secondary education or additional higher education (either university or a Fachhochschule).
There are 320 local businesses which employ 1700 people. 11% of these are in the agricultural sector, 14% in trade and industry, 75% in services.
Engelberg has an unemployment rate of 1.22%. As of 2005, there were 176 people employed in the primary economic sector and about 65 businesses involved in this sector. 227 people are employed in the secondary sector and there are 36 businesses in this sector. 1,295 people are employed in the tertiary sector, with 186 businesses in this sector.
Due to the risks of filming in the disputed region of Kashmir, many Bollywood films requiring a Kashmir/snowy mountain setting are filmed in Engelberg.
Between 1961 and 1990 Engelberg had an average of 157.9 days of rain per year and on average received 1,510 mm (59 in) of precipitation. The wettest month was August during which time Engelberg received an average of 185 mm (7.3 in) of precipitation. During this month there was precipitation for an average of 14.7 days. The month with the most days of precipitation was June, with an average of 16.1, but with only 179 mm (7.0 in) of precipitation. The driest month of the year was February with an average of 90 mm (3.5 in) of precipitation over 14.7 days. This area has a long winter season, with little precipitation mostly in the form of snow, and low humidity. The Köppen Climate System classifies the climate in Engelberg as subarctic and abbreviates this as Dfc.Erika Hess, world champion slalom, giant slalom and combined, born 1962
Dominique Gisin, Olympic downhill gold medallist and World Cup winner, born 1985
Fabian Bösch, Olympic freestyle skier and 2015 slopestyle gold medallist, born 1997
Lena Häcki, Junior Biathlon silver medallist, born 1995
Felicitas von Reznicek (born 1904 in Charlottenburg; died 1997 in Engelberg) was a German writer, British agent during Nazi Germany, and Mountaineer.