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Genève
Coat of arms of Genève
Coat of arms
Country Switzerland
Canton Geneva
District n/a
Area
 • Total 15.93 km2 (6.15 sq mi)
Elevation 375 m (1,230 ft)
Population (Dec 2015 )
 • Total 198,072
 • Density 12,434/km2 (32,204/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Les Genevois
Postal code 1200
Surrounded by Carouge, Chêne-Bougeries, Cologny, Lancy, Grand-Saconnex, Pregny-Chambésy, Vernier, Veyrier

Geneva (pronounced /dʒɨˈniːvə/, French: Genève IPA: [ʒənɛv], [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).

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

Geneva is a very important financial and diplomatic center. There are many international organizations in Geneva, including the United Nations and the Red Cross. A 2009 survey states that Geneva has the third highest quality of living in the world (narrowly outranked by Zürich).

Internationally, Geneva is strongly associated with the Geneva Conventions.

History

City of Geneva
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, 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 and climate

Topography

Geneva SPOT 1124
Geneva seen from SPOT Satellite

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. It is surrounded by two mountain chains, the Alps and the Jura.

Genève vue du Salève
The Geneva area seen from the Salève in France. The Jura mountains can be seen on the horizon.

The city has an area of 15.93 km2 (6.2 sq mi), while the area of the canton is 282 km2 (108.9 sq mi), including the two small exclaves of Céligny in Vaud. The part of the lake that is attached to Geneva has an area of 38 km2 (14.7 sq mi) and is sometimes referred to as Petit lac (small lake). The canton has only a 4.5 km (2.8 mi) long border with the rest of Switzerland. Of 107.5 km (66.8 mi) of border, 103 are shared with France, the Département de l'Ain to the north and west and the Département de la Haute-Savoie to the south and east.

Of the land in the city, 0.24 km2 (0.093 sq mi) or 1.5% is used for agricultural purposes, while 0.5 km2 (0.19 sq mi) or 3.1% is forested. Of the rest of the land, 14.63 km2 (5.65 sq mi) or 91.8% is settled (buildings or roads), 0.49 km2 (0.19 sq mi) or 3.1% is either rivers or lakes and 0.02 km2 (4.9 acres) or 0.1% is unproductive land.

Of the built up area, industrial buildings made up 3.4% of the area while housing and buildings made up 46.2% and transportation infrastructure 25.8%, while parks, green belts and sports fields made up 15.7%. All the forested land area is covered with heavy forests. Of the agricultural land, 0.3% is used for growing crops. Of the water in the municipality, 0.2% is in lakes and 2.9% is in rivers and streams.

Confluence Rhône et Arve
Confluence of the Rhône and the Arve

The altitude of Geneva is 373.6 metres (1,225.7 ft), 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 surveying in Switzerland. The second main river of Geneva is the Arve which flows into the Rhône just west of the city centre. Mont Blanc can be seen from Geneva and is an hour's drive from the city centre.

Climate

Average Temp and Precipitation Geneva
Average temperature and precipitation 1961–1990

The climate of Geneva is temperate, oceanic (Köppen: Cfb). Winters are cool, usually with light frosts at night and thawing conditions during the day. Summers are relatively warm. Precipitation is adequate and is relatively well-distributed throughout the year, although autumn is slightly wetter than the other seasons. Ice storms near Lac Léman are quite normal in the winter. In the summer many people enjoy swimming in the lake, and frequently patronise public beaches such as Genève Plage and the Bains des Pâquis. Geneva, in certain years, receives snow in the colder months of the year. The nearby mountains are subject to substantial snowfall and are suitable for skiing. Many world-renowned ski resorts such as Verbier and Crans-Montana are just over two hours away by car. Mont Salève (1379 m), just across the border in France, dominates the southerly view from the city centre and Mont Blanc, the highest of the Alpine range is visible from most of the city, towering high above Chamonix, which along with Morzine, Le Grand Bornand, La Clusaz, and resorts of the Grand Massif such as Samoens, Morillon and Flaine, are the closest French skiing destinations to Geneva.

During the years 2000–2009, the mean yearly temperature was 11 °C and the mean number of sunshine-hours per year was 2003.

Demographics

Population

Horloge Fleurie au Quai du Général-Guisan (Jardin Anglais) Genève
L'horloge fleurie at the Quai du Général-Guisan (Jardin anglais), during the 2012 Geneva Festival
Rue Pierre-Fatio, Genève
Rue Pierre-Fatio in Geneva.

The city of Geneva is at the centre of the Geneva metropolitan area, known as the Grand Genève in French (Greater Geneva). The Greater Geneva 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 2011, the agglomération franco-valdo-genevoise had 915,000 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 franco-valdo-genevoise is expected to reach soon the mark of one million people.

The official language of Geneva, in both the city and canton is French, the main language used in Romandie. As a result of immigration flows in the 1960s and 1980s, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish are also spoken by a considerable proportion of the population. English is also quite common due to the high number of anglophone expatriates and foreigners working in international institutions and in the bank sector. Lack of proficiency in French of English-speaking expatriates (even after years spent in Geneva) is an increasing concern.

The age distribution of the population (as of 2000) is children and teenagers (0–19 years old) make up 18.2% of the population, while adults (20–64 years old) make up 65.8% and seniors (over 64 years old) make up 16%.

As of 2000, there were 78,666 people who were single and never married in the municipality. There were 74,205 married individuals, 10,006 widows or widowers and 15,087 individuals who are divorced.

As of 2000, there were 86,231 private households in the municipality, and an average of 1.9 persons per household. There were 44,373 households that consist of only one person and 2,549 households with five or more people. Out of a total of 89,269 households that answered this question, 49.7% were households made up of just one person and there were 471 adults who lived with their parents. Of the rest of the households, there are 17,429 married couples without children, 16,607 married couples with children There were 5,499 single parents with a child or children. There were 1,852 households that were made up of unrelated people and 3,038 households that were made up of some sort of institution or another collective housing.

Geneva - Quartier des Grottes
Apartment buildings in the Quartier des Grottes
Geneva-aerial-view
Geneva, aerial view
Geneva and Lake Geneva View
Geneva and Lake Geneva View

In 2000 there were 743 single family homes (or 10.6% of the total) out of a total of 6,990 inhabited buildings. There were 2,758 multi-family buildings (39.5%), along with 2,886 multi-purpose buildings that were mostly used for housing (41.3%) and 603 other use buildings (commercial or industrial) that also had some housing (8.6%). Of the single family homes 197 were built before 1919, while 20 were built between 1990 and 2000. The greatest number of single family homes (277) were built between 1919 and 1945.

In 2000 there were 101,794 apartments in the municipality. The most common apartment size was 3 rooms of which there were 27,084. There were 21,889 single room apartments and 11,166 apartments with five or more rooms. Of these apartments, a total of 85,330 apartments (83.8% of the total) were permanently occupied, while 13,644 apartments (13.4%) were seasonally occupied and 2,820 apartments (2.8%) were empty. As of 2009, the construction rate of new housing units was 1.3 new units per 1000 residents.

As of 2003 the average price to rent an average apartment in Geneva was 1163.30 Swiss francs (CHF) per month (US$930, £520, €740 approx. exchange rate from 2003). The average rate for a one-room apartment was 641.60 CHF (US$510, £290, €410), a two-room apartment was about 874.46 CHF (US$700, £390, €560), a three-room apartment was about 1126.37 CHF (US$900, £510, €720) and a six or more room apartment cost an average of 2691.07 CHF (US$2150, £1210, €1720). The average apartment price in Geneva was 104.2% of the national average of 1116 CHF. The vacancy rate for the municipality, in 2010, was 0.25%.

In June 2011 the average price of an apartment in and around Geneva was 13,681 Swiss francs (CHF) per square metre (11 square feet). The average can be as high as 17,589 Swiss francs (CHF) per square metre (11 square feet) for a luxury apartment and as low as 9,847 Swiss francs (CHF) for an older or basic apartment. For houses in and around Geneva, the average price was 11,595 Swiss francs (CHF) per square metre (11 square feet) (June 2011), with a lowest price per square metre (11 square feet) of 4,874 Swiss francs (CHF), and a maximum price of 21,966 Swiss francs (CHF).

Religion

World council of churches logo
World Council of Churches logo

The 2000 census recorded 66,491 residents (37.4% of the population) as Roman Catholic, while 41,289 people (23.20%) belonged to no church or were agnostic or atheist, 24,105 (13.5%) belonged to the Swiss Reformed Church, and 8,698 (4.89%) were Muslim. Of the rest of the population, there were 3,959 members of an Orthodox church (2.22%), there were 220 individuals (or about 0.12% of the population) who belonged to the Christian Catholic Church of Switzerland, and there were 2,422 individuals (1.36%) who belonged to another Christian church. There were 2,601 individuals (1.46%) who were Jewish. There were 707 individuals who were Buddhist, 474 individuals who were Hindu and 423 individuals who belonged to another church. A total of 26,575 individuals (14.93%) did not answer the question.

According to 2012 statistics by Swiss Bundesamt für Statistik 49.2% are Christian, divided into 34.2% Roman Catholic, 8.8% Swiss Reformed (organized in the Protestant Church of Geneva) and 6.2% other Christian (mostly various other Protestants). 38% of Genevans are unaffiliated, 6.1% are Muslim and 1.6% are Jews.

Geneva has historically been considered a Protestant city and was known as the Protestant Rome due to it being the base of John Calvin, William Farel, Theodore Beza and other Protestant Reformers. Over the past century, substantial immigration from France and other predominantly Roman Catholic countries, as well as general European secularization, especially among Christians, has changed its religious landscape. As a result, three times as many Roman Catholics as Protestants lived in the city in 2000, while a large number of residents were members of neither group. Roman Catholics form part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg.

The World Council of Churches has its headquarters at the Ecumenical Centre in Grand-Saconnex, Geneva.

World Communion of Reformed Churches, a worldwide organization of Presbyterian, Continental Reformed, Congregational and other Reformed churches gathering more than 80 million people around the world was based here from 1948 until 2013. The Executive Committee of the World Communion of Reformed Churches voted in 2012 to move its offices to Hanover, Germany, citing the high costs of running the ecumenical organization in Geneva, Switzerland. The move was completed in 2013.

The Lutheran World Federation of 74 million people is also based here.

Protestant Rome

ReformationsdenkmalGenf1
Reformation Wall in Geneva; from left to right: William Farel, John Calvin, Theodore Beza, and John Knox

Prior to the Protestant Reformation the city was de jure and de facto Roman Catholic.

As highlighted by popular perception, the Protestant Reformation caused major transformations in the religious and political life of Geneva. Reaction to the new movement varied across Switzerland. While Bern favoured the introduction of the new teaching, Fribourg renounced its allegiance to Geneva in 1531 and stayed Catholic. John Calvin went to Geneva in 1536 after William Farel encouraged him to do so. Calvin's previous residence was Strasbourg in his native France, where he ministered on invitation from fellow reformer Martin Bucer. In Geneva, the Catholic bishop had been obliged to seek exile already in 1532 as a new Protestant leader was to arrive to take his place as city's ecclesiastical leader. Geneva became a stronghold of Calvinism, making religious progress and theological advances within that tradition. Some of tenets created there influenced Protestantism as a whole through the lasting influence of Calvinism. St. Pierre Cathedral was where Calvin and his Protestant Reformers preached. A hotbed of thriving religious debate among major clergy, it constituted the epicenter of the newly developing Protestant thought that would later become to be known as the Reformed tradition. Many prominent Reformed theologians operated there, including William Farel and Theodore Beza, Calvin's successor who progressed Reformed thought after his death.

Geneva was deeply shaped by Calvinism, and Calvin was its spiritual leader until his death. It was a shelter for Calvinists, but at the same time it persecuted Roman Catholics and other heretics. The case of Michael Servetus, an early Nontrinitarian, is notable. Condemned by Catholics and Protestants alike, he was arrested in Geneva and burnt at the stake as a heretic by order of the city's Protestant governing council. John Calvin and his followers denounced him, and possibly contributed to his sentence.

Nowadays, Protestants simply use the word Geneva in multiple contexts to refer to the collective legacy of John Calvin and his theological successors. Another major city in Switzerland during the Protestant Reformation, often placed alongside Geneva, was Zürich. Several major Reformed theologians like Huldrych Zwingli and Heinrich Bullinger operated there.

In 1802, during its annexation to France under Napoleon I, the Diocese of Geneva was united with the Diocese of Chambéry, but the 1814 Congress of Vienna and the 1816 Treaty of Turin stipulated that in territories transferred to a now considerably extended Geneva the Catholic religion was to be protected, and that no changes were to be made in existing conditions without agreement with the Holy See. Napoleon's common policy was to emancipate Catholics in Protestant-majority areas, and the other way around, as well as emancipating Jews. In 1819 the city of Geneva and 20 parishes were united to the Diocese of Lausanne by Pope Pius VII and in 1822 the non-Swiss territory was made into the Diocese of Annecy. A variety of concord with the civil authorities came as a result of the separation of church and state, enacted with strong Catholic support in 1907.

Cityscape

View of Geneva to the south. Mont Salève (in France) dominates the foreground, with the white summit of Mont Blanc just visible behind it and 70 km (43 mi) away to the southeast. To the left of Mont Blanc is the point of Le Môle.

Heritage sites of national significance

There are 82 buildings or sites in Geneva that are listed as Swiss heritage site of national significance, and the entire old city of Geneva is part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites.

Religious buildings: Cathedral St-Pierre et Chapel des Macchabés, Notre-Dame Church, Russian church, St-Germain Church, Temple de la Fusterie, Temple de l'Auditoire

Civic buildings: Former Arsenal and Archives of the City of Genève, Former Crédit Lyonnais, Former Hôtel Buisson, Former Hôtel du Résident de France et Bibliothèque de la Société de lecture de Genève, Former école des arts industriels, Archives d'État de Genève (Annexe), Bâtiment des forces motrices, Library de Genève, Library juive de Genève «Gérard Nordmann», Cabinet des estampes, Centre d'Iconographie genevoise, Collège Calvin, École Geisendorf, University Hospital of Geneva (HUG), Hôtel de Ville et tour Baudet, Immeuble Clarté at Rue Saint-Laurent 2 and 4, Immeubles House Rotonde at Rue Charles-Giron 11–19, Immeubles at Rue Beauregard 2, 4, 6, 8, Immeubles at Rue de la Corraterie 10–26, Immeubles at Rue des Granges 2–6, Immeuble at Rue des Granges 8, Immeubles at Rue des Granges 10 and 12, Immeuble at Rue des Granges 14, Immeuble and Former Armory at Rue des Granges 16, Immeubles at Rue Pierre Fatio 7 and 9, House de Saussure at Rue de la Cité 24, House Des arts du Grütli at Rue du Général-Dufour 16, House Royale et les deux immeubles à côté at Quai Gustave Ador 44–50, Tavel House at Rue du Puits-St-Pierre 6, Turrettini House at Rue de l'Hôtel-de-Ville 8 and 10, Brunswick Monument, Palais de Justice, Palais de l'Athénée, Palais des Nations with library and archives of the SDN and ONU, Palais Eynard et Archives de la ville de Genève, Palais Wilson, Parc des Bastions avec Mur des Réformateurs, Place Neuve et Monument du Général Dufour, Pont de la Machine, Pont sur l'Arve, Poste du Mont-Blanc, Quai du Mont-Blanc, Quai et Hôtel des Bergues, Quai Général Guisan and English Gardens, Quai Gustave-Ador and Jet d'eau, Télévision Suisse Romande, university of Geneva, Victoria Hall

Archeological sites: Fondation Baur and Museum of the arts d'Extrême-Orient, Parc et campagne de la Grange and Library (neolithic shore settlement/Roman villa), Bronze Age shore settlement of Plonjon, Temple de la Madeleine archeological site, Temple Saint-Gervais archeological site, Old City with Celtic, Roman and medieval villages

Museums, theaters, and other cultural sites: Conservatoire de musique at Place Neuve 5, Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques, Fonds cantonal d'art contemporain, Ile Rousseau and statue, Institute and Museum of Voltaire with Library and Archives, Mallet House and Museum international de la Réforme, Musée Ariana, Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Museum d'art moderne et contemporain, Museum d'ethnographie, Museum of the International Red Cross, Musée Rath, Muséum d'histoire naturelle, Salle communale de Plainpalais et théâtre Pitoëff, Villa Bartholoni et Museum d'Histoire et Sciences

International organizations: International Labour Organization (BIT), International Committee of the Red Cross, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), World Meteorological Organization, World Trade Organization, International Telecommunication Union, World Alliance of Young Men's Christian Association

Society and culture

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 massacre of Huguenots reached Geneva.

Geneva celebrates L'Escalade on the weekend nearest 12 December celebrating the defeat of the surprise attack by troops sent by Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy during the night of 11–12 December 1602. Besides festive traditions that includes chocolate cauldrons filled with vegetable-shaped marzipan treats and the Escalade procession on horseback in seventeenth century armour, Geneva has been organizing 'Course de l'Escalade', which means 'Climbing Race'. This race takes place in Geneva's Old Town, and has been very popular amongst racers across all ages. Non-competitive racers have fun by dressing up in fancy costumes, while walking in the race. 2015 marks the 38th edition of this race.

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 effect, 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 29 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.

Music and festivals

The opera house, the Grand Théâtre de Genève, which officially opened in 1876, was partly destroyed by fire in 1951 and reopened in 1962. It has the largest stage in Switzerland. It features opera and dance performances, recitals, concerts and, occasionally, theatre. The Victoria Hall is used for classical music concerts. It is home of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.

Every summer, the Fêtes de Genève (Geneva Festival) are organised in Geneva. According to the Radio télévision suisse, in 2013, hundreds of thousands of people came to Geneva to see the annual one-hour long grand firework display of the Fêtes de Genève.

Besides, a music festival occurs in Geneva every year in June. Different groups of artists make their show in different areas of the city. In 2016, the festival celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Museums

Museums and art galleries are numerous throughout 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 be visited.

Economy

IntAutoSalonGenf08
Geneva Motor Show, 2008

Geneva's economy is mainly services oriented. The city has an important and old finance sector, which is specialised in private banking (managing assets of about 1 trillion USD) and financing of international trade. In the 2017 Global Financial Centres Index, Geneva was ranked as having the 15th most competitive financial center in the world (up from 20th in March 2017), and fifth most competitive in Europe (after London, Zürich, Frankfurt and Luxembourg).

Geneva hosts the international headquarters of companies like Japan Tobacco International, Mediterranean Shipping Company, Vitol, Gunvor, Mercuria Energy Group. Merck Serono, SITA, Société Générale de Surveillance, STMicroelectronics, and Weatherford International. Many other multinational companies like Caterpillar, DuPont, and Cargill have their international headquarters in the city; Take Two Interactive, Electronic Arts, INVISTA, Procter & Gamble and Oracle Corporation have their European headquarters in the city. Hewlett Packard has its Europe, Africa, and Middle East headquarters in Meyrin, near Geneva. PrivatAir has its headquarters in Meyrin, near Geneva.

There is a long tradition of watchmaking in Geneva which roots back to the 16th century, directly related to the Calvinism of Geneva. Many watchmakers are based in Geneva since their foundation, such as (Baume et Mercier, Charriol, Chopard, Franck Muller, Patek Philippe, Rolex, Universal Genève, Raymond Weil, Vacheron Constantin, Frédérique Constant, etc.). Two major international producers of flavours and fragrances, Firmenich and Givaudan, have their headquarters and main production facilities in Geneva.


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