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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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).
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.
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 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.
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.