Geneva ( , , , ) is the
second-most-populous city in Switzerland (after Zürich) and is the
most populous city of Romandie (the
French-speaking part of
Switzerland). Situated where the Rhône River exits Lake Geneva (in French also known as Lac Léman), it is
the capital of the Republic and Canton of Geneva.
The city proper had a population of 186,825 in June 2008, and the
metropolitan area had 812,000 residents, according to a 2007
census. The Geneva metropolitan area extends partly over
Switzerland (517,000 inhabitants) and partly over France (293,000
a worldwide centre for diplomacy and
international co-operation, and is widely regarded as a global city, mainly because of the presence of
organisations, including the headquarters of many of the
agencies of the United Nations and
the Red Cross.
It is also the place where the Geneva Conventions
were signed, which
chiefly concern the treatment of wartime non-combatants and
prisoners of war
. In the heart of the
International Geneva is located the Graduate Institute of International and
Development Studies an institution of advanced research and teaching
which proposed MA and PhD programmes and prepare international
actors to respond to the challenges of tomorrow's
been described as the world's sixth most important financial centre by the
Global Financial Centres
Index, ahead of Tokyo, Chicago, Frankfurt and Sydney, and a 2009
survey by Mercer found
Geneva to have the third-highest quality
of life in the world (narrowly outranked by Zürich).
The city has been referred to as the world's most compact metropolis and the "Peace Capital".
The name Geneva
is probably of Celtic
origin. The city was mentioned in
texts with the spelling Genava
The name takes various forms in modern languages. Thus, it is
and , ,
, , and .
- For the Catholic ecclesiastical history, see Lausanne and Geneva
Geneva first appears in history as a border town, fortified against
the Celto-Germanic Helvetii
, which the
Romans took in 121 B.C. It became an episcopal seat in the 4th
century. In A.D. 443 it was taken by Burgundy, and with the latter
fell to the Franks
in 534. In 888
the town was part of the new Kingdom
, and with it was taken over in 1033 by the German
Emperor. According to legendary accounts found in the works of
Gregorio Leti ("Historia Genevrena", Amsterdam, 1686) and Besson
("Memoires pour l'histoire ecclésiastique des diocèses de Genève,
Tantaise, Aoste et Maurienne", Nancy, 1739; new ed. Moutiers, 1871),
Geneva was Christianised by Dionysius Areopagita and Paracodus, two
of the seventy-two disciples, in the time of Domitian; Dionysius went thence to Paris and
Paracodus became the first Bishop of Geneva but the legend is
fictitious, as is that which makes St. Lazarus the first Bishop of
Geneva, an error arising out of the similarity between the Latin
names Genara (Geneva) and Genua (Genoa, in
The so-called "Catalogue de St. Pierre",
which names St. Diogenus (Diogenes) as the first Bishop of Geneva,
A letter of St. Eucherius
makes it almost certain that St. Isaac
400) was the first bishop. In 440 St. Salonius
appears as Bishop of Geneva; he was a son of St. Eucherius, to whom
the latter dedicated his Instructiones'; he took part in the
Councils of Orange (441),
Vaison (442) and Arles (about 455), and is supposed to
be the author of two small commentaries, In parabolas
Salomonis and on Ecclesisastis (published in P.
LII, 967 sqq., 993 sqq. as works of an otherwise unknown bishop,
Salonius of Vienne). Little is known about the following Bishops
Theoplastus (about 475), to whom St. Sidonius Apollinaris
a letter; Dormitianus (before 500), under whom the Burgundian
Princess Sedeleuba, a sister of Queen Clotilde
, had the remains of the martyr and St.
Victor of Soleure transferred to Geneva, where she built a basilica
in his honour; St.
(about 512-41), a friend of Avitus, Archbishop of Vienne
and Cyprian of Toulon
, with whom
he was in correspondence (Wawra in "Tübinger Theolog.
Quartalschrift", LXXXV, 1905, 576-594). Bishop Pappulus sent the
priest Thoribiusas his substitute to the Synod of Orléans (541).
Bishop Salonius II is only known from the signatures of the Synods
of Lyon (570) and Paris (573) and Bishop Cariatto, installed by
in 584, was present at the two
Synods of Valence and Macon in 585.
From the beginning the bishopric of Geneva was a suffragan of the
archbishopric of Vienne
bishops of Geneva had the status of prince of the Holy Roman
since 1154, but had to maintain a long struggle for
their independence against the guardians (advocati
) of the
see, the counts of Geneva and later the counts of the House of Savoy
. In 1290 the latter
obtained the right of installing the vice-dominus of the diocese, the title of
Vidame of Geneva was granted to the counts of the House of Candia under count François de Candie of Chambery-Le-Vieux a Chatellaine of the Savoy, this official
exercised minor jurisdiction in the town in the bishop's.
1387 Bishop Adhémar Fabry granted the town its great charter, the
basis of its communal self-government, which every bishop on his
accession was expected to confirm. When the line of the counts of
Geneva became extinct in 1394, and the House of Savoy came into
possession of their territory, assuming after 1416 the title of
Duke, the new dynasty sought by every means to bring the city of
Geneva under their power, particularly by elevating members of
their own family to the episcopal see. The city protected itself by
union with the Swiss Federation
), uniting itself in 1526 with Berne and Fribourg.
Plan of Geneva and environs in
The colossal fortifications, among the most important in
Europe, were demolished ten years later.
The Protestant Reformation
affected Geneva. While Bern favoured the
introduction of the new teaching and demanded liberty of preaching
for the Reformers Guillaume Farel
and Antoine Froment, Catholic
Fribourg renounced in 1511 its allegiance with
In 1532 the Roman Catholic bishop of the city was
obliged to leave his residence, never to return. In 1536, the
Genevans declared themselves Protestant and proclaimed their city a
republic. The Protestant leader John
was based in Geneva from 1536 to his death in 1564 (save
for an exile from 1538 to 1541) and became the spiritual leader of
the city. Geneva became a centre of Protestant activity, producing
works such as the Genevan Psalter
though there were often tensions between Calvin and the city's
civil authorities. Though the city proper remained a Protestant
stronghold under St. Francis de
, a large part of the historic diocese returned to
Catholicism in the early seventeenth century.
During the French Revolution
(1789-1799), aristocratic and democratic factions contended for
control of Geneva. In 1798, however, France, then under the
, annexed Geneva and its
the diocese was united with that of Chambéry. At the Congress of Vienna of 1814-15, the
territory of Geneva was extended to cover 15 Savoyard and six
French parishes, with more than 16,000 Catholics; at the same time
it was admitted to the Swiss Confederation.
Swiss Army in Geneva on June 1st, 1814
(painting from 1880)
The Congress expressly provided—and the
same proviso was included in the Treaty of Turin (16 March 1816) --
that in these territories transferred to Geneva the Catholic
religion was to be protected, and that no changes were to be made
in existing conditions without the approval of the Holy See. The
city's neutrality was guaranteed by the Congress. Pius VII
in 1819 united the city of Geneva and 20
parishes with the Diocese of Lausanne, while the rest of the
ancient Diocese of Geneva (outside of Switzerland) was
reconstituted, in 1822, as the French Diocese of Annecy
View of Geneva in 1860
The Great Council of Geneva (cantonal council) afterwards ignored
the responsibilities thus undertaken; in imitation of Napoleon's
"Organic Articles", it insisted upon the Placet
, or previous approval of publication, for
all papal documents. Catholic indignation ran high at the civil
measures taken against Marilley, the parish priest of Geneva and
later bishop of the see, and at the Kulturkampf
, which obliged them to
contribute to the budget of the Protestant Church and to that of
the Old Catholic Church
providing any public aid for Catholicism.
On 30 June 1907, aided by strong Catholic support, Geneva adopted a
separation of Church and
. The Protestant faith received a one-time compensatory
sum of 800,000 Swiss francs (then about US$160,000), while other
faiths received nothing. Since then the Canton of Geneva has given
aid to no creed from either state or municipal revenues.
international status of the city was highlighted after World War I when Geneva became the seat of the
League of Nations in 1919-—notably
through the work of the Federal Council member Gustav Ador and of Swiss diplomat William Rappard who is one of the founders
of the Graduate Institute of International and
Development Studies, the Europe's oldest graduate school of
international and development studies.
League of Nations conference in
In the wake of the war, a class
in Switzerland grew and culminated in a general strike
country—-beginning on Armistice Day
11 November 1918, and directed from the German-speaking part of the
nation. However the prevailing friendliness toward France in Geneva
moderated its impact upon that city.
On 9 November 1932, several small Fascist-inspired political
parties, such as the National Union, attacked Socialist leaders,
which action led to a later demonstration of the Left against the
Fascists. On that occasion, young recruits in the Swiss Army
fired without warning
into a crowd, leaving thirteen dead and 63 wounded. As a result, a
new general strike was called several days later in protest.
After World War II
, the European
headquarters of the United Nations and the seats of dozens of
international organisations were installed in Geneva, resulting in
the development of tourism and of business.
In the 1960s, Geneva became one of the first parts of the nation
movements achieved a certain
measure of success. It was the third canton to grant women's
suffrage on the cantonal and communal levels.
Geography and climate
located at 46°12' North, 6°09' East, at the south-western end of
Geneva, where the lake flows back into the Rhône River. It is surrounded by
two mountain chains, the Alps and the
Geneva seen from SPOT Satellite
of Geneva has an area of , while the area of the Canton of
Geneva is , including the two small enclaves of Céligny in Vaud.
The Geneva area seen from the
part of the lake that is attached to Geneva has an area of and is
sometimes referred to as Petit lac
( ). The Canton has
only a long border with the rest of Switzerland. Out of a total of of
borders, the remaining 103 are shared with France, with the
Départment de l'Ain to the North and the Département de la
Haute-Savoie to the
of Geneva is , and corresponds
to the altitude of the largest of the Pierres du Niton
, two large rocks emerging
from the lake which date from the last ice age
. This rock was chosen by
General Guillaume Henri
as the reference point
for all surveying in Switzerland.The second main river of Geneva is the
River which flows into the Rhône River just west of the city
Blanc can be seen from Geneva and is only an hours drive
away from the city centre.
The climate of Geneva is temperate. Ice storms near Lac Léman are quite normal in the winter.
summer many people enjoy swimming in the lake, and frequently
patronize public beaches such as Genève Plage and the Bains des
Pâquis. Geneva often receives snow in the colder months of the
year. The nearby mountains are subject to sunstantial snowfall and
are usually suitable for skiing. Many world-renowned ski resorts such as
Verbier are just over an hour away by car.
Mont Salève (1400 m) dominates the southerly view from the city
centre and is the closest skiing destination to
Society and culture
The city's main newspaper is the Tribune de Genève,
readership of about 187,000, a daily
founded on 1 February 1879 by James T. Bates
founded in 1868, was originally supported by the
Roman Catholic Church
, but has
been completely independent since 1996. Mainly focused on Geneva,
is trying to expand into other cantons in
. Both Le
(headquartered in Geneva) and Le Matin
are widely read in
Geneva, but both journals actually cover the whole of Romandy
Geneva is covered by the various French
language radio networks
, in particular the Radio Suisse Romande
. While these
networks cover the whole of Romandy
programs related to Geneva are sometimes broadcast on some of the
local frequencies in the case of special events such as elections.
local station broadcast from the city, including RadioLac (FM 91.8 MHz), Radio
Cité (Non-commercial radio, FM 92.2 MHz), OneFM (FM
107.0 MHz, also broadcast in Vaud), and
World Radio Switzerland (FM
88.4 MHz), Switzerland's only English language radio
The main television channel
covering Geneva is the Télévision Suisse
. While its headquarters are located in Geneva, the
programs cover the whole of Romandy
not specific to Geneva. Léman Bleu is a local TV channel, founded
in 1996 and distributed by cable. Due to the proximity to France, French television
channels are also available.
Traditions and customs
Geneva observes Jeûne genevois
on the first Thursday following the first Sunday in September. By
local tradition, this commemorates the date the news of the
St. Bartholomew's Day
of Huguenots reached Geneva. The Genevois joke that
the federal equivalent holiday, Jeûne fédéral
, is observed
two weeks later on account of the rest of the country being a bit
slow on the uptake.
Since 1818, a particular chestnut tree
been used as the official "herald of the spring" in Geneva. The
(secretary of the Parliament of the Canton of
Geneva) observes the tree and notes the day of arrival of the first
bud. While this event has no practical impact, the sautier issues a
formal press release
and the local
newspaper will usually mention the news.
As this is one of the world's oldest records of a plant's reaction
to climatic conditions, researchers have been interested to note
that the first bud appears earlier and earlier in the year. During
the first century, many dates were in March or April. In recent
years, it has usually been in mid-February and sometimes even
earlier.In 2002, the first bud appeared unusually early, on 7
February, and then again on 29th of December of the same year. The
following year, which was one of the hottest years recorded in
Europe, became a year with no bud. In 2008, the first bud also
appeared very early, on 19 February.
Museums and art galleries are everywhere in the city. Some are related to
the many international organizations as the International Red Cross and Red Crescent
Museum or the Microcosm in the CERN area. The Palace of
Nations, home of the United Nations headquarters can also
The main sport team in Geneva is Servette
, a football
club founded in
1890 and named after a borough on the right bank of the Rhône
. Servette was the only club to have remained
in the top league in Switzerland since its creation in the 1930s.
however, management problems resulted in the bankruptcy of the
club's parent company
, causing the
club to be demoted two divisions. It is now playing in second
Geneva is also home of the Genève-Servette Hockey Club
play in the Swiss National League
. In 2008 the team made it to the league finals but lost to
the ZSC Lions
The city is divided into eight quartiers
, or districts
, sometimes composed of several
neighborhoods. On the Left Bank are (1) Jonction, (2) Centre.
Plainpalais, and Acacias, (3) Eaux-Vives, and (4) Champel, while
the Right Bank includes (1) Saint-Jean and Charmilles, (2) Servette
and Petit-Saconnex, (3) Grottes and Saint-Gervais, and (4) Paquis
As of June 2008, the population of the Commune (city) of Geneva was
186,825. The city of Geneva is at the centre of the Geneva
metropolitan area, known as the agglomération
. The agglomération
franco-valdo-genevoise includes the Canton of
Geneva in its entirety as well as the District of Nyon in the Canton of Vaud and several
areas in the neighboring French departments of Haute-Savoie and Ain.
2007 the agglomération franco-valdo-genevoise
inhabitants, two-thirds of whom lived on Swiss soil and one-third
on French soil. The Geneva metropolitan area is experiencing steady
demographic growth of 1.2% a year and the agglomération
is expected to reach one million people
The population of the Canton contains 148,500 people originally
from Geneva (33.7%), 122,400 Swiss from other cantons (27.6%) and
170,500 foreigners (38.7%), from 180 different countries. Including
people holding multiple
, 54.4% of people living in Geneva hold a foreign
While Geneva is usually considered a Protestant
city, there are now more Roman Catholics
(39.5%) than Protestants
(17.4%) living in the Canton. 22% of the inhabitants claim no
religion. Some did not respond, and the remaining practice Islam
or other religions.
Geneva's economy is mainly services
oriented. The city has an important and old finance sector
, which is specialized in
(managing assets of
about 1 trillion USD) and financing of international trade
. It is also an
important centre of commodity
Geneva hosts the international headquarters of companies like
, Mediterranean Shipping
Générale de Surveillance
. Many other multinational companies
, Take Two
, Electronic Arts
, Procter & Gamble
and Sun Microsystems
have their European
headquarters in the city. Hewlett
Packard has its Europe, Africa, and Middle East headquarters in
headquarters in Meyrin, near Geneva.
There is a long tradition of watchmaking
(Baume et Mercier
, Franck Muller
, Patek Philippe
, Raymond Weil
, Vacheron Constantin
, etc.). Two major
international producers of flavours
have their headquarters and main production facilities in
Many people also work in the numerous offices of international organisations
located in Geneva (about 24,000 in 2001).
The Geneva Motor Show
is one of
the most important international auto-shows. The show is held at
Palexpo, a giant convention centre located next to the
In 2009, Geneva was ranked as the fourth most
in the world. Geneva moved up four places from
eighth place in last year's survey. Geneva is ranked behind Tokyo, Osaka, and Moscow at first,
second, and third respectively. Geneva also beat
Kong, which came in at fifth place.
is served by the Geneva Cointrin International
Airport. It is connected to both the Swiss railway network SBB-CFF-FFS, and the French SNCF network, including direct connections to Paris, Marseille and Montpellier by TGV.
Geneva is also
connected to the motorway systems of both Switzerland (A1 motorway
) and France.
is provided by Transports Publics Genevois
(TPG). In addition to an extensive coverage of the city centre, the
network covers most of the municipalities of the Canton, with a few
lines extending into France. Public transport by boat
is provided by the Mouettes
Genevoises, which link the two banks of the lake within the
city, and by the
Compagnie Générale de Navigation sur le lac Léman (CGN)
which serves more distant destinations such as Nyon, Yvoire, Thonon, Evian, Lausanne and Montreux using both modern diesel vessels and vintage
Geneva Sécheron Train station
Trains operated by SBB-CFF-FFS
the airport to the main station of Cornavin
in a mere six minutes, and carry on to towns such as Nyon,
Lausanne, Fribourg, Montreux, Neuchâtel, Berne, Sion, Sierre, etc.
Regional train services are being increasingly developed, towards
Coppet and Bellegarde. At the city limits, two new stations have
been created since 2002: Genève-Sécheron (close to the UN and the
work started on the CEVA (Cornavin - Eaux-Vives - Annemasse)
project, first planned in 1884, which will connect Cornavin with
the Cantonal hospital, the Eaux-Vives station and Annemasse, in France.
The link between the main
station and the classification
of La Praille already exists; from there, the line will go
mostly underground to the Hospital and the Eaux-Vives, where it
will link up to the existing line to France. Support for this
project was obtained from all parties in the local
Taxis in Geneva can be difficult to find, and may need to be booked
in advance especially in the early morning or at peak hours.
addition, which may be surprising in a modern country like Switzerland, taxis often refuse to take babies and
, natural gas
are provided to the
the Canton of Geneva
by the state-owned Services Industriels de
(shortly SIG). Most of the drinkable water (80%) is
extracted from the lake; the
remaining 20% is provided by groundwater
originally formed by infiltration from the Arve River.
30% of the Canton's electricity needs is
locally produced, mainly by three hydroelectric dams
the Rhone River
(Seujet, Verbois and
Chancy-Pougny). In addition, 13% of the electricity produced in the
Canton is made from the heat induced by the burning of waste at the
of Les Cheneviers
remaining needs (57%) are covered by imports from other cantons in
Switzerland or other European countries; SIG buys only electricity
produced by renewable methods
in particular does not use electricity produced using nuclear reactors
or fossil fuels
.Natural gas is available in the
City of Geneva, as well as in about two-thirds of the
municipalities of the canton, and is imported from Western Europe
by the Swiss company
Gaznat. SIG also
provides telecommunication facilities to carriers, service providers
and large enterprises.
From 2003 to 2005 "Voisin, voisine" a Fibre to the
pilot project with a Triple play
launched to test the end-user
market in the
home to the University of Geneva, founded by John Calvin
in the heart of International Geneva, The Graduate Institute of International and
Development Studies was among the first academic institutions to teach
international relations in the world and proposed MA and PhD
programmes in Law, Political Science, History, Economics and
oldest international school in
the world is located in Geneva, the International School of
Geneva, founded in 1924 along with the League of Nations. Webster
University, an accredited American university, also has a
campus in Geneva.
Moreover, the city is home to the Institut International de
(founded in 1903).
Geneva School of Diplomacy and
International Relations is a private
university on the grounds of the Château de Penthes, an old
manor with a park and view of Lake Geneva.
Geneva's public school system has écoles
primaires (ages 4–12) and cycles d'orientation (ages
12–15). The obligation to attend school ends at age
16, but secondary education is provided by collèges (ages
15–19), the oldest of which is the Collège Calvin, which could be considered one of the oldest
public schools in
Geneva also has a choice of private schools.However, out of all
the educational and research facilities in Geneva, CERN (the
European Organization for Nuclear Research) is probably the best
known on a world basis.
Founded in 1954, CERN was one of
Europe's first joint ventures
developed as the world's largest particle physics laboratory
. Physicists from around the world
travel to CERN to research matter and explore the fundamental
forces and materials that form the universe
the seat of the European headquarters of the United
Nations. It is located in the Palace of
Nations building (French: Palais des Nations) which was
also the headquarters of the former League of Nations.
Several agencies are headquartered at Geneva, among which the
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR), the United Nations
High Commissioner for Human Rights
(UNHCHR), the World Health Organization
(ILO) or the World Intellectual
(WIPO) just to name a few.
Apart from the United Nation agencies, Geneva hosts many inter-governmental organizations
such as the World Trade
(WTO), the World
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent
(IFRC), and the International Committee
of the Red Cross
Organizations on the European level, include
Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the CERN (European
Organization for Nuclear Research) which is the world's largest
particle physics laboratory.
The Geneva Environment Network (GEN) publishes the Geneva Green
Guide, and extensive listing of Geneva-based global organisations
working on environment protection and sustainable development. A
website (by the Swiss Government, WBCSD
stories about how NGOs, business, government and the UN cooperate.
By doing so, it attempts to explain why Geneva has been picked by
so many NGOs and UN as their headquarters location.
Geneva in popular culture
Film and television
- The final part of Krzysztof Kieślowski's film
trilogy, Three Colours called
Three Colours: Red
(1994), is set in Geneva
- The sequence The Ozerov Inheritance (1972) of the
television series The
Persuaders! is set in Geneva
- The protagonists of the television series The Champions are agents for a United
Nations law enforcement organisation called "Nemesis", which is
based in Geneva.
- In the 2005 film Syriana,
Matt Damon plays an energy analyst based
- In the television series Babylon
5, Earthdome, the capital of the Earth Alliance is located in
- The final scene of the film F/X
takes place in Geneva as the characters played by Bryan Brown and Brian
Dennehy go there to recover a fortune from a bank.
- In the television series Mighty Morphin Power
Rangers, the original Red,
Yellow, and Black Rangers (Jason, Trini, and
Zack) were sent to a peace conference in
Geneva when their actors left the show mid-season.
- Scenes from the James Bond film
Goldfinger (1964) are set
in Geneva, though these were actually filmed in German-speaking part of Switzerland.
- In the film Starship
Troopers, Geneva is the capital of the United Citizens'
- The film The Cassandra
Crossing is partially set in Geneva.
- In the television series Doctor
Who UNIT's headquarters are based in
- The song "My Manic And I" by Laura
Marling describes a lover who wishes to die in Geneva.
- The New Jersey band Trophy Scars
has a song entitled "Geneva" on their 2009 album "Bad Luck".
- The Chicago band Russian Circles 2009 Album is entitled
- Mercer's 2009 Quality of Living survey highlights .
Last updated 28 April 2009.
- Binz, Louis Brève histoire de Genève, p. 66.
- Louis Binz, Brève histoire de Genève, p. 69
- Binz, Louis Brève histoire de Genève, p. 78
Height reference for Switzerland. Last accessed on 1
- La Une de la FAO no 93 année 253 : FAO: La Treille,
promenade et lieu d'observation climatique
- Population of Geneva, on the website of
Statistique Genève. Last accessed 1 February 2007.
- OCSTAT. Les binationaux dans le canton de Genève. Résultats du
recensement fédéral de la population 2000. Communications
statistiques n° 24, Geneva, December 2005.
- Inhabitants of the Canton of Geneva according to
their religion, on the website of Statistique Genève.
Last accessed 1 February 2007.
- " Plan de commune." Meyrin. Retrieved on 29
- " Office Locations." Hewlett Packard.
Retrieved on 22 July 2009.
- " How to Find Us." PrivatAir. Retrieved on 22 October 2009.
- " Overview." PrivatAir. Retrieved on 22 August 2009.
- Partnerships for the Planet - Stories from Geneva
- Jean de Senarclens, "Geneva: Historic Guide", Editions
du Tricorne, 1995. ISBN 2-8293-0144-7