Canton of Geneva

Canton of Geneva

The Canton of Geneva is the westernmost canton or state of Switzerland, surrounded on almost all sides by France and centered around the city of Geneva. The official name of this canton in French is République et Canton de Genève. Like some other Swiss cantons (Ticino, Neuchâtel, Jura) this canton calls itself a republic, as part of the Swiss confederation.

The canton of Geneva is located in the southwestern corner of Switzerland and is considered one of the most cosmopolitan areas of the country. As a center of the Calvinist Reformation, the city of Geneva had a great influence on the canton, which essentially consists of Geneva and its hinterlands.

Since the city of Geneva is the predominant community within the Canton, much information relevant to the Canton can be found in the article about the city.


The area of the canton of Geneva is . The canton is practically isolated from other cantons of Switzerland. The canton is bordered only by Vaud. The adjoining French departements are Ain (to the North) and Haute-Savoie (to the South). The current boundaries of the canton were established in 1815. As of 2007 the population of the canton is 447,584.


As home of Calvin's Reformation the canton of Geneva has traditionally been a Protestant Christian stronghold. However, over the latter part of the 20th century the proportion of Catholics rose, in large part due to immigration from Southern Europe, and now they outnumber Protestants in the canton. However, the canton is still officially considered Protestant. The surrounding regions of France are mostly Roman Catholic.


The city of Geneva dominates the economy of the canton. It is a center of commerce, trade and finance. A great number of Swiss banks are located in Geneva, particularly in the area of private banking. The service industry is most significant in Geneva where there are headquarters of a number of international corporations and organizations, such as the United Nations and the International Labor Organization. The city of Geneva is of international significance also as a financial center. Agriculture is commonplace in the hinterlands of Geneva, particularly wheat and wine.

Precision machinery and instruments are other branches where the economy of the canton of Geneva is strong. This is also reflected in the tradition of watchmaking in Geneva.

International organizations


The main educational institution is the University of Geneva, founded in 1559 by Calvin. It was originally called Schola Genevensis. The original buildings are not used by the University anymore, but by Collège Calvin.


Most of the main roads in the canton of Geneva radiate from the capital city of Geneva. Of these main roads, a great number lead into France rather than any Swiss canton.

The canton is served by an international airport at Cointrin (Geneva International Airport) which has one terminal only.

There are good rail links to cities in France and Switzerland. Since 1984 the French high-speed trains (TGV) come to Geneva.

In 1964 the canton of Geneva was connected to the Swiss highway system, in 1970 to that of France.


The constitution of the canton was established in 1847 and since then amended several times. The cantonal government (Council of State) has seven members who are elected for four years. The legislative (Great Council) has 100 seats, with deputies elected for four years at a time.

In a similar way to what happens at the Federal level, any change to the Constitution is subject to compulsory referendum. In addition, any law can be subject to a referendum if it is demanded by 7000 persons entitled to vote, and 10,000 persons may also propose a new law.

The canton is divided into municipalities (communes, see below) which have their own assemblies and a mayor.


Geneva was an independent republic until 1798, but had been an "everlasting ally" of the Swiss Confederation since 1584. During the Napoleonic wars, Geneva was occupied and annexed to France. After its liberation in 1813, Geneva joined the Swiss Confederation in 1815 as the 22nd canton, having been enlarged by French and Savoyard territories at the Vienna Congress.

On 9 October 2005, the elections to the Great Council gave an increased majority to the right. On 13 November 2005, a new Council of State was elected, with a left-wing majority for the first time since 1936.

Public holidays

Jeûne genevois is a public holiday specific to Geneva, celebrated on the Thursday following the first Sunday of September.

Famous people


Geneva does not have any administrative districts. There are 45 municipalities in the canton:

  • Cologny
  • Confignon
  • Corsier
  • Dardagny
  • Genève
  • Genthod
  • Grand-Saconnex
  • Gy
  • Hermance
  • Jussy
  • Laconnex
  • Lancy
  • Meinier
  • Meyrin
  • References

    External links

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