Herisau has an area, as of 2006, of 25.2 km2 (9.7 sq mi). Of this area, 56.8% is used for agricultural purposes, while 27.1% is forested. Of the rest of the land, 15.5% is settled (buildings or roads) and the remainder (0.6%) is non-productive (rivers, glaciers or mountains).
The municipality is located in the former District of Hinterland. It is located at the crossing point of two major routes through the region, the St. Gallen-Toggenburg road and the Gossau-Appenzell road. In addition to being the capital of the half canton, about one-third of the population of the entire half canton lives in Herisau. It consists of the village of Herisau and scattered hamlets as well as bedroom communities and industrial sections. Before 1648 it controlled about twice the land area as is currently part of the municipality. Until 1648 Schwellbrunn was part of the municipality and until 1720, Waldstatt was part of Herisau.
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