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Between the 2nd and the 4th century the area was repeatedly invaded by Alemannic tribes, and in the 5th century the Burgundians occupied the area.The Merovingian Franks later replaced the Burgundians.The capital and biggest city is Lausanne, officially designated "Olympic Capital" Along the lakes, Vaud was inhabited in prehistoric times.Later, the Celtic tribe of the Helvetii inhabited the area.The central area of the canton, in contrast, consists of moraines and is hilly. In the north, Avenches is in an exclave of the canton surrounded by the canton of Fribourg and Lake Neuchâtel.On the other hand, there are three enclaves of the canton of Fribourg (Estavayer-le-lac, Vuissens, Surpierre), as well as two enclaves of the canton of Geneva (Céligny), that are surrounded by the canton of Vaud.

In the Jura mountains in the west, the canton borders the French departments of Ain, Jura, and Doubs.

The Zähringens themselves were succeeded in 1218 by the counts of Savoy.

It was only under the counts of Savoy that the area was given political unity, establishing the Barony of Vaud.

The north-western part of the canton is also mountainous but in a more modest way with mountains generally not above 1,500 metres; the Jura Mountains.

The Vallée de Joux is one of the most popular destinations in the region and also a centre of luxury mechanical Swiss watch manufacturing.

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