Geneva

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Coordinates: 46°12′N 6°09′E

Genève
Coat of Arms of Genève
Country Switzerland
Canton Geneva
District n/a
Coordinates 46°12′N 6°09′E
Population 185726   (as of 2007)
Area 15.86 km2 (6.12 sq mi)
Elevation 375 m (1,230 ft)
Postal code 1200
SFOS number 6621
Mayor (list) Patrice Mugny (as of July 2007)
Demonym Les Genevois
Surrounded by
(view map)
Carouge, Chêne-Bougeries, Cologny, Lancy, Grand-Saconnex, Pregny-Chambésy, Vernier, Veyrier
Website www.ville-ge.ch

Geneva (pronounced /dʒɨˈniːvə/, French: Genève IPA: [ʒənɛv], German: [gɛnf], Italian: Ginevra [dʒiˈneːvra], Romansh: Genevra) is the second biggest city in Switzerland. Only Zürich is bigger. Geneva is the biggest city in Romandy (the French-speaking part of Switzerland).

It is situated where the Rhône River leaves Lake Geneva (French Lac Léman) and is the capital of the Republic and Canton of Geneva.

There are many international organizations in Geneva, including the headquarters of many of the agencies of the United Nations and of the Red Cross.[1] A 2007 survey found Geneva to have the second highest quality of living in the world (narrowly outranked by Zürich).[2]

Internationally, Geneva is strongly associated with the Geneva Conventions.

History[change | change source]

Views of Geneva

Geneva was first written about as a border town, set up to protect the Roman Empire against the Helvetii. The Romans took the city in 120 B.C. 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 of Burgundy, and with it was taken over in 1033 by the German Emperor.

From 1154 the bishops of Geneva had the status of prince of the Holy Roman Empire since 1154, but the counts of Geneva and later the counts of Savoy were "guardians", always ready to take over from the bishops. In 1290 the counts of Savoy got the right to appoint a deputy ruler (vice-dominus) of the diocese, the title of Vidame of Geneva was granted to the family of count François de Candie of Chambéry-Le-Vieux a Chatellaine of the Savoy. The vidame had some powers in the town.

In 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. The last Count of Geneva died in 1394, and the House of Savoy took over their land. In 1416 the counts became dukes, and kept trying to bring the city of Geneva under their control, often by making members of their own family to Bishops of Geneva. The city protected itself by joining the Swiss Federation (Eidgenossenschaft), uniting itself in 1426 with Berne and Fribourg.

In the Protestant Reformation Bern favoured the new Protestant teaching and demanded liberty of preaching for the Reformers Guillaume Farel and Antoine Froment, but Catholic Fribourg renounced in its union with Geneva in 1511. Later the Protestant leader John Calvin was based in Geneva from 1536 to his death in 1564.

At the Congress of Vienna (1814-15) the territory of Geneva was enlarged to cover 15 Savoyard and 6 French parishes, with more than 16,000 Catholics; at the same time it became a part of the Swiss Confederation. The treaty said that Catholic religion was to be protected, and that no changes were to be made without agreement with the Holy See. Later, Pope Pius VII made the cities of Geneva and Lausanne a new diocese of and part of Geneva diocese that was in France part of the French diocese of Annecy.

The Protestant and Old Catholic churches got money from the city taxes, but the Roman Catholics did not. On 30 June 1907, most of the Catholics of Geneva voted for the separation of Church and State.

Geography[change | change source]

The old town of Geneva in winter

Geneva is located at 46°12' North, 6°09' East, at the south-western end of Lake Geneva, where the lake meets the Rhône River. It is surrounded by two mountain chains, the Alps and the Jura.

The city of Geneva has an area of 15.86 km2 (6.12 sq mi), while the area of the Canton of Geneva is 282 km2 (108.88 sq mi).

The altitude of Geneva is 373.6 m. That is the altitude of the largest of the Pierres du Niton, two large rocks in the lake, are used as the reference point for all surveying in Switzerland.[3] The second main river of Geneva is the Arve River which flows into the Rhône River just west of the city centre.

Climate[change | change source]

Geneva has a temperate oceanic climate (Cfb in the Koeppen climate classification). The winter is cool and generally a little cloudy. During the winter, it is possible to go several days without thawing, and a day or two with severe freezes where the thermometer displays -10 °C. There are several days each month when, if anticyclonic conditions are stable, the clouds may stay for several days. From March, with temperatures rising it feels like summer in late May. However, the rain intensifies and often has a stormy character during the month of May. These may be short but strong storms depositing several centimetres of rain within just a few minutes. Summers are often hot and rather humid, although some may be more changeable, the mornings remain relatively fresh. During the summer season, the rains are less frequent but more intense. This is the season where you most likely get thunderstorms with hail. If the weather in early September is still hot, it cools down quickly to become really cold in November. The morning frosts are then reappearing. Autumn is also the season of mists, and the month of October is often the month with the most fog in the year. The fog can be very intense, restricting vision to less than 100 m in the areas outside the city.

Cityscape[change | change source]

Culture[change | change source]

Media[change | change source]

The city's main newspaper is the Tribune de Genève, a daily newspaper founded on 1 February 1879 by James T. Bates, with a readership of about 187,000. Le Courrier, founded in 1868, was originally supported by the Roman Catholic Church, but has been completely independent since 1996. Mainly focused on Geneva, Le Courrier is trying to expand into other cantons in Romandy. Both Le Temps (headquartered in Geneva) and Le Matin are widely read in Geneva, but both actually cover the whole of Romandy.

Geneva is covered by the various French language radio networks of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, in particular the Radio Suisse Romande. While these networks cover the whole of Romandy, special programs related to Geneva are sometimes broadcast on some of the local frequencies in the case of special events such as elections. Other 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 Geneva (FM 88.4 MHz), Switzerland's only English-language radio station.

The main television channel covering Geneva is the Télévision Suisse Romande; while its headquarters are in Geneva, the programmes cover the whole of French-speaking Switzerland. Léman Bleu is a local TV channel, founded in 1996 and distributed by cable. Because Geneva is nearly surrounded by France, many French television and radio channels can be picked up in Geneva.

Entertainment[change | change source]

Theatre
Most theatre in Geneva is in French, however there are several companies that stage regular English productions.

Cinema
Movie going is a favorite activity in Geneva and there are plenty of theaters throughout the city. Most movies are dubbed into French. Because of the number of English speakers in the city movies may also be subtitled.

Restaurants
In has over 1,000 restaurants, so it is the undisputed capital of cuisine in Switzerland. However eating out can be expensive, and many people drive the few kilometres over the border into France where prices are lower.

Traditions and customs[change | change source]

Since 1818, a particular chestnut tree is used as the official "herald of the spring" in Geneva. The sautier (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. In 2007, the first bud appeared on 2 March.

Geneva celebrates Jeune genevois on the first Thursday following a Sunday in September. By local tradition, this commemorates when the news of the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of Huguenots reached Geneva. The Genevois (people of Geneva) joke that the federal equivalent holiday, Jeune fédéral, is celebrated two weeks later on account of the rest of the country being a bit slow on the uptake.

Genevans also traditionally celebrate the failure of a Savoyard attempt to invade the city in 1602. The celebration, which takes place in December, is called L'Escalade, and includes a parade in the Old Town, a marathon, and numerous costume parties across the city. Inhabitants generally eat vegetable stew to commemorate a fictional character called Mère Royaume who is said to have thrown boiling hot soup on the Duke of Savoy's men when they were climbing the walls of the city during the night (hence the name L'Escalade, which means "the climb" in French). Traditionally, children are encouraged to knock on people's doors and sing songs in old Genevan, while teenagers generally throw eggs and flour at each other. Another tradition is to cross a pot made of chocolate filled with marzepan vegetables while saying "and so perished the enemies of the Republic".

Sports[change | change source]

The main sport team in Geneva is Servette FC, a football club founded in 1890 and named after a borough on the right bank of the Rhône River. Servette was the only club to have remained in the top league in Switzerland since its creation in the 1930s; however, in 2005, management problems caused the bankruptcy of the club's parent company, causing the club to be demoted two divisions lower. It is now playing in second division. Geneva is also home of the Genève-Servette Hockey Club, who play in the Swiss Nationalliga A.

Local government[change | change source]

The city of Geneva is divided into 8 "quartiers" or districts, often made up of several conglomerated neighborhoods.[4] On the Left Bank (Rive Gauche) these include Jonction, Centre / Plainpalais / Acacias, Eaux-Vives and Champel while the Right Bank includes Saint-Jean / Charmilles, Servette / Petit-Saconnex, Grottes / Saint-Gervaise and Paquis / Nations.

Demographics[change | change source]

As of 2005, the population of the Commune (city) of Geneva was 185,028, while 441,000 people lived in the Canton of Geneva; around 960,000 people live in the Geneva urban community, which extends into Vaud Canton and neighbouring France.

The population of the Canton is split between 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.[5] Including people holding multiple citizenship, 54.4% of people living in Geneva hold a foreign passport.[6]

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 not to be religious, the rest being shared between Islam (4.4%), Judaism (1.1%), other religions and people who did not respond.[7]

Economy[change | change source]

Geneva's economy is mainly services oriented. The city has an important and old finance sector, which is specialized in private banking (managing assets of about 1 trillion USD) and financing of international trade. It is also an important centre of commodity trade.

Geneva hosts the international headquarters of companies like JT International (JTI), Mediterranean Shipping Company, Serono, SITA, Société Générale de Surveillance and STMicroelectronics. Many other multinational companies like Caterpillar, DuPont, Electronic Arts, Hewlett-Packard, INVISTA, Procter & Gamble and Sun Microsystems have their European headquarters in the city too.

There is a long tradition of watchmaking (Baume et Mercier, Chopard, Franck Muller, Patek Philippe, Rolex, Raymond Weil, Omega, etc.). Two major international producers of flavours and fragrances, Firmenich and Givaudan, have their headquarters and main production facilities in Geneva.

Many people also work in the numerous offices of international organizations in Geneva (about 24,000 in 2001).

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 International Airport. The show is so important that the Jet d'Eau is switched on for longer than usual because of all the visitors in the city during the show.

Infrastructure[change | change source]

Transport[change | change source]

The city 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.

Public transport by bus, trolleybus or tram 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 paddle steamers.

Trains operated by SBB connect the airport to the main station of Cornavin in 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 Botanical Gardens) and Lancy-Pont-Rouge.

In 2005, 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 yard 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 parliament.

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. In addition, which may be surprising in a modern country like Switzerland, taxis often refuse to take babies and children. [8]

Education[change | change source]

Geneva is home to the University of Geneva, founded by John Calvin in 1559. Also, the oldest international school in the world is 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.

The city is also home to one of the most prestigious graduate schools of international relations, the Graduate Institute of International Studies. Other international schools include the International School of Geneva and Institut International de Lancy (founded in 1903).

The Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations is a private university located on the grounds of the Château de Penthes, an old manor with a park and view of Lac Leman.

The Canton of Geneva's public school system has "écoles primaires" (4-12), "cycles d'orientation" (12-15), and the post-obligatory "collèges" (15-19), the oldest of which is the Collège Calvin. It is housed in the ancient buildings of the University of Geneva, and could be considered one of the oldest public schools in the world.[9]

Geneva also has a wide choice of reputed private schools.[10]

Communities[change | change source]

As the Geneva authorities say, the history of the city is closely related to that of the foreign communities. Ever since the migration of foreigners to Geneva, these communities have found refuge, bringing their know-how, their customs and hope of a new life. They have widely participated in the international influence of Geneva, to its economic prosperity, and also to the spreading of views and of science.

LGBT community[change | change source]

Many other communities or minorities are also very well represented in Geneva, including sexual minorities, with no less than three organizations: Dialogai, a gay organization; Lestime, a lesbian organization; and association 360, an LGBT organization. The Gay International Group (Geneva, Switzerland) is a good resource for gay foreigners, tourists or expatriates. Also, a new LGBT group has debuted within the University of Geneva itself, called "Think Out". This group addresses students and professors linked directly or indirectly with the matter of sexual diversity.

Religious communities[change | change source]

There are a lot of different communities in Geneva. Even if Geneva is supposed to be the Protestant Rome, many religions are represented in Geneva. The Plymouth Brethren have a thriving assembly there, established since the days of John Nelson Darby. Besides the Protestants, the Catholic religion becomes more influential thanks to immigration from Latin countries. The Jewish community is one of the oldest of Switzerland, and the more recent Muslim community is emerging in this tolerant city.

International organizations[change | change source]

Geneva is the seat of the European headquarters of the United Nations and of many other inter-governmental organizations, including:

Geneva was the seat of the League of Nations between 1919 and the league's dissolution in 1946. It was first housed in the Palais Wilson, and then in the Palais des Nations, which now hosts the United Nations. Numerous international non-governmental organizations have also elected Geneva as their headquarters, including:

Famous literature involving Geneva[change | change source]

Comic books
Film and television

References[change | change source]

  1. "36 Hours in Geneva". The New York Times. http://travel.nytimes.com/2007/09/16/travel/16hours.html?scp=1&sq=Geneva+Switzerland&st=nyt. Retrieved 2008-02-02.
  2. Mercer Human Resource Consulting World-wide quality of living survey. London, 2 April 2007. Retrieved 13 January 2008.
  3. Swisstopo, Height reference for Switzerland. Retrieved 1 February 2007.
  4. "Districts of Geneva". Official Website of Geneva. http://www.ville-ge.ch/en/quartiers/index.htm. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
  5. Population of Geneva, on the website of Statistique Genève. Retrieved 1 February 2007.
  6. OCSTAT. Les binationaux dans le canton de Genève. Résultats du recensement fédéral de la population 2000. Communications statistiques n° 24, Geneva, December 2005.
  7. Inhabitants of the Canton of Geneva according to their religion, on the website of Statistique Genève. Retrieved 1 February 2007.
  8. "20 Minutes: Bebés et enfants ne sont pas bienvenus dans les taxis (French)". http://www.20min.ch/ro/rechercher/story/27606758.
  9. "Du Collège de Genève au Collège Calvin (historique)" (in French). Geneva Education Department. http://wwwedu.ge.ch/po/calvin/histoire_college.htm. Retrieved 2008-02-04.
  10. "Introduction to the Geneva Association of Private Schools". Geneva Association of Private Schools. http://www.agep.ch/eng/agep_presentation2.php. Retrieved 2008-02-04.

Other websites[change | change source]

Official
Tourism
Study
Other