Geneva, Fr. Genève, canton (1990 pop. 373,019), 109 sq mi (282 sq km), SW Switzerland, surrounding the southwest tip of the Lake of Geneva. One of the smallest cantons, Geneva is in the plain between the Jura and the Alps. It borders on Vaud canton for 3.5 mi (5.6 km) in the north, but otherwise it is almost entirely surrounded by French territory. The population is primarily French-speaking. The rural areas produce fruit, vegetables, cereals, and wine; industry and population are centered in the city of Geneva (1990 pop. 171,042), the capital of the canton. Situated on the Lake of Geneva and divided by the Rhône River, which emerges from the lake, it is a picturesque city joined by numerous bridges. Geneva is a cultural, financial, and administrative center. Its major industries are trade, banking, insurance, and the manufacture of precision machinery, watches, jewelry, chemicals, and food. Among its historic buildings are the Cathedral of St. Pierre (12th-14th cent.), where John Calvin preached, the 16th-century town hall, and the 18th-century palace of justice. The Univ. of Geneva (1473; founded as an academy by Calvin in 1559) faces the noted Reformation monument (1917). The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art opened in 1994. A very high fountain on the south shore of the lake has become a symbol of the city.


Geneva was an ancient settlement of the Celtic Allobroges and was later included in Roman Gaul. An episcopal see under the Roman Empire, Geneva passed successively to the Burgundians (5th cent.), the Franks (6th cent.), Transjurane Burgundy (9th-11th cent.), and the Holy Roman Empire. The bishops of Geneva gradually absorbed the powers of the feudal counts of Geneva and in 1124 became rulers of the city. The rising merchant class soon grew antagonistic to episcopal authority.

In 1285, the citizens of Geneva placed themselves under the protection of the counts (later dukes) of Savoy, and by 1387 they had won extensive rights of self-rule. However, by gradually transforming the bishops into their tools, the dukes nearly succeeded in mastering the city by the beginning of the 16th cent. Incensed, the citizens allied themselves with two Swiss cantons—Fribourg and Bern—expelled the bishop (1533), and accepted (1535) the Reformation preached by Guillaume Farel.

The arrival (1536) of John Calvin thrust upon Geneva a role of European importance as the focal point of the Reformation. With its population swelled by Protestant refugees, notably Huguenots, Geneva became a cosmopolitan intellectual center. During the 18th cent., when the stern theocracy of Calvin had mellowed into patrician rule, the city's intellectual life reached its zenith. Voltaire settled there; J. J. Rousseau, H. B. de Saussure, Jacques Necker, Albert Gallatin, and P. E. Dumont were among the famous sons of Geneva in the 18th cent.

The city, annexed to France from 1798 to 1813, joined Switzerland as a canton in 1815—the last canton to join the Confederation. It is the headquarters of many public and private international organizations. In 1864, Geneva was made the seat of the International Red Cross; it was also the seat of the League of Nations (1920-46). Geneva is headquarters for the International Labor Organization, the World Health Organization, and other international bodies. In 1945 it became the European headquarters of the United Nations. Geneva has been the scene of the Geneva Conferences and other high-level international meetings.

Geneva, city (1990 pop. 14,143), Ontario co., W central N.Y., in the Finger Lakes region; inc. as a city 1897. Located in a farm area, Geneva's manufactures include cans and canning machinery, paper containers, metal and optical products, and water purification systems. There are also printing plants. Hobart and William Smith Colleges and a state agricultural experiment station are in the city.
Geneva, Lake, Fr. Lac Léman, crescent-shaped lake, 224 sq mi (580 sq km), c.45 mi (70 km) long, on the Swiss-French border, between the Alps and the Jura mts. About 134 sq. mi. are Swiss and 90 French. It has a maximum depth of 1,017 ft (310 m). The Rhône River traverses the lake, emerging at the western end at the city of Geneva. Noted for its deep blue and remarkably transparent waters, the lake is dotted with numerous resorts and villas. The northern (Swiss) shore is bounded by sloping vineyards and orchards. The lake is subject to seiches, tidal fluctuations that suddenly change the lake's level. A region of great scenic beauty, Lake Geneva has been the favorite theme of many writers (notably Rousseau and Byron). Lausanne and Montreux are other large lakeside cities.
Geneva (Genève) is the second-most populous city in Switzerland (after Zürich) and is the most populous city of Romandy (the French-speaking part of Switzerland). Situated where the Rhône River exits Lake Geneva (French 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 769,000 residents according to a 2005 census. The Geneva metropolitan area extends partly over Switzerland (517,000 inhabitants) and partly over France (251,000 inhabitants).

Geneva is widely regarded as a global city, mainly because of the presence of numerous international organizations, 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.

A 2007 survey by Mercer Consulting found Geneva to have the second-highest quality of life in the world (narrowly outranked by Zürich).


The word Geneva is of Celtic origin, and the city was later mentioned in Latin texts with the spelling Genava in sweden. It has been transformed by the speakers of other languages. Thus, it is Geneva in English and , Genève ʒənɛv, [gɛnf], Ginevra [dʒiˈneːvra], and Genevra.


For the Catholic ecclesiastical history, see Lausanne and Geneva bishopric(s)

Geneva (Genava of Geneva, also Janua and Genua), capital of the Swiss canton of the same name situated where the Rhône issues from the Lake of Geneva (Lacus Lemanus), first appears in history as a border town, fortified against the Celto-Germanic Helvetii, which the Romans took 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. 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 northern Italy). The so-called "Catalogue de St. Pierre", which names St. Diogenus (Diogenes) as the first Bishop of Geneva, is unreliable. A letter of St. Eucherius to Salvius makes it almost certain that St. Isaac (c. 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. L., 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 addressed 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. Maximus (about 512-41), a friend of Avitus, Archbishop of Vienne and Cyprian of Toulon, with whom he was in correspondence (Wawra in "Tubinger 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 King Guntram 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. The bishops of Geneva had the status of prince of the Holy Roman Empire 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. 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. 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 (Eidgenossenschaft), uniting itself in 1526 with Berne and Fribourg. The Protestant Reformation plunged Geneva into new entanglements: 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 Geneva. In 1532 the Roman Catholic bishop of the city was obliged to leave his residence, never to return. The Protestant leader John Calvin 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 center 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 Sales a large part of the historic diocese returned to Catholicism in the early seventeeth century.

In 1802 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. 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. 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. 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, without providing any public aid for Catholicism.

On 30 June 1907, aided by strong Catholic support, Geneva adopted a separation of Church and State. 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 out of either state or municipal revenues.

Geography and climate

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

The city 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 part of the lake that is attached to Geneva has an area of and is sometimes referred to as Petit lac (small lake). 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 South.

The altitude 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 Dufour as the reference point for all surveying in Switzerland. The second main river of Geneva is the Arve River which flows into the Rhône River just west of the city center.

The climate of Geneva is temperate. Ice storms near the Lac Léman are quite normal in the winter. In the summer many people enjoy swimming in the lake, and frequently patronize public beaches such as Genève Plage and Bains des Pâquis.




The city's main newspaper is the Tribune de Genève, with a readership of about 187,000, a daily newspaper founded on 1 February 1879 by James T. Bates. 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 journals 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 Switzerland (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 located in Geneva, the programs cover the whole of Romandy and are not specific to Geneva. Léman Bleu is a local TV channel, founded in 1996 and distributed by cable.

Traditions and customs

Geneva observes Jeune 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 massacre of Huguenots reached Geneva. The Genevois joke that the federal equivalent holiday, Jeune 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 has been 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.

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, one of the hottest Europe has ever had, became a year with no bud. In 2008, the first bud also appeared very early, on 19 February.


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. Servette was the only club to have remained in the top league in Switzerland since its creation in the 1930s; in 2005, 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 division.

Geneva is also home of the Genève-Servette Hockey Club, who play in the Swiss National League A. In 2008 the team made it to the league finals but lost to the ZSC Lions.

Administrative divisions

The city of Geneva is divided into eight "quartiers" or districts, often made up of several conglomerated neighborhoods. 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-Gervais and Paquis / Nations.


As of June 2008, the population of the Commune (city) of Geneva was 186,825. The city of Geneva is at the center of the Geneva metropolitan area, known as the agglomération franco-valdo-genevoise in French. 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. In 2005 the agglomération franco-valdo-genevoise had 769,000 inhabitants, two-third 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 franco-valdo-genevoise is expected to reach one million people in 2030.

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 citizenship, 54.4% of people living in Geneva hold a foreign passport.

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, and the remainer practice Islam (4.4%), Judaism (1.1%), other religions, or did not respond.


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, Take Two Interactive, 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 located 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 center located next to the International Airport



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-CFF-FFS connect 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 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.


Water, natural gas and electricity are provided to the municipalities of the Canton of Geneva by the state-owned Services Industriels de Genève (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 on 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 waste incineration facility of Les Cheneviers. The remaining needs (57%) are covered by imports from other cantons in Switzerland or other European countries; SIG buys only electricity produced by renewable methods, and 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 Home pilot project with a Triple play offering was launched to test the end-user market in the Charmilles district.


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

The city is home to the Graduate Institute of International Studies, as well as 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 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 (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 the world.

Geneva also has a choice of private schools. However, out of all the educational and research facilities in Geneva, CERN is probably the best known on a world basis. Founded in 1954, CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) was one of Europe's first joint ventures and has 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 world.


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.

Religious communities

Many religions are represented in Geneva. The Plymouth Brethren have an assembly there, established since the days of John Nelson Darby. The Catholic religion has become more influential, due to immigration from Latin countries. The Jewish community is one of the oldest of Switzerland. There have been two mosques in Geneva for more than 20 years.

International organizations

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:

The Geneva Environment Network (GEN) publishes the Geneva Green Guide, and extensive listing of Geneva-based global organizations working on environment protection and sustainable development. A website (by the Swiss Government, WBCSD, UNEP and IUCN) includes 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 headquarter location.

Entrepreneurial climate

Geneva is home to a number of startups and venture capital firms. Index Ventures is located in the heart of Geneva in Eaux-Vives. Other notable startups based out of Geneva include CoComment, NewsCred, and MixIn. Geneva is also home to the annual LIFT Conference, a multi-day conference about technology, innovation and media.

Geneva in popular culture


See also


Further reading

  • Jean de Senarclens, "Geneva: Historic Guide", Editions du Tricorne, 1995. ISBN 2-8293-0144-7

External links


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