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Geneva (French: Genève, German: Genf, Italian: Ginevra, Romansh Genevra, Spanish: Ginebra) is the second-most populous city in Switzerland located where Lake Geneva (French: Lac de Genève or Lac Léman) empties into the Rhône River. It is the capital of the Canton of Geneva.



Genava was the name of a settlement of the Celtic people of the Allobroges, and the name of Genava (or Genua) in Latin appeared for the first time in the writings of Julius Caesar in De Bello Gallico, his comments on the Gallic Wars. Its name is probably identical in origin to the name of the Ligurian city of Genua (modern Genoa), meaning "knee", i.e. "angle", referring to its geographical position. After the Roman conquest it became part of the Provincia Romana (Gallia Narbonensis). In 58 BCE, at Geneva, Caesar hemmed in the Helvetii on their westward march. In the 9th century it became the capital of Burgundy. Though Geneva was contested between Burgundians and Franks and the Holy Roman Emperors, in practice it was ruled by its bishops, until the Reformation, when Geneva became a republic.

Geneva: the Mont Blanc bridge over the and St Peter's Cathedral
Geneva: the Mont Blanc bridge over the Rhône River and St Peter's Cathedral

Due to the work of reformers such as John Calvin, Geneva was sometimes dubbed the Protestant Rome. In the 16th century Geneva was the center of Calvinism; the old town St Peter's Cathedral was John Calvin's own church.

One of the most important date in Geneva's history is the Escalade. For the people of Geneva the Escalade is the symbol of their independence. The Escalade (literally: "scaling the walls") marks the final attempt in a series of assaults mounted throughout the 16th century by Savoy which wanted to annex Geneva as its capital north of the Alps. This last assault happened on the night of the 11th-12th December 1602 and is still celebrated in Geneva, with numerous demonstrations and shows of men in arms in original costumes, cannons and horses in the Geneva old town.

Geneva, still called today Canton and Republic of Geneva, became a canton of Switzerland in 1815. The first of the Geneva Conventions was signed in 1864, to protect the sick and wounded in war time.


Geneva is the seat of many international organizations, including the European seat of the United Nations and several United Nations organizations, such as the World Health Organization, the International Labour Organization, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Children's Fund, the World Intellectual Property Organization, the World Trade Organization, etc. Geneva also hosts the CERN, the International Organization for Standardization, the World Council of Churches, the World Wide Web Virtual Library and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Notable sights in Geneva include the Flower Clock, the Art & History Museum and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum.

Geneva's most visible landmark however is a fountain: the Jet d'Eau (water-jet) which is situated in Lake Geneva and visible throughout the city for its 140 metre high water column.

Its famous
Its famous Jet d'Eau

The city is served by the Geneva Cointrin International Airport. Public transportation within the city is provided by Transports Publics Genevois (TPG). World Radio Geneva, Switzerland's only English language radio station, broadcasts from the city.


  • Population (December 2003) of the city of Geneva: 184,758, of which 44.2% foreign.
  • Population (December 2003) of the canton of Geneva: 434,500, of which 38.7% foreign.

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