Fast Facts and Orientation about Switzerland
Population: 7, 6 million
Official language: German, French, Italian and Romansh
President: Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf
Area: 41’293 square kilometres
Currency: Swiss Franc (CHF), CHF 1= EUR 0,83 (May, 2012 www.oanda.com)
Time zone: UTC/GMT +1
Country dialing code: +41
Population of Geneva: 200'000
Size of Geneva: 15.9 square kilometres
Geneva telephone area code: (0)22
The climate in Geneva is temperate and in June it is usually mild and sunny but you should prepare for rain and chilly evenings. The daytime temperature ranges from 18º C to 28º C.
The City of Geneva
Geneva is a multi-faceted city: capital of peace, birthplace of the watchmaking industry, as well as citadel of gastronomy. It is home to an impressive number of international institutions and offers a wide range of cultural events and quality services, all of which creates an exceptional quality of life.
This incredible sociocultural diversity is mirrored in the variety of its landscapes along the lakeshore and makes Geneva into a world of its own.
One of Switzerland’s most spectacular landscapes
From the lakeshore, the panorama offering a view of the Jura Mountains and the Alps with the Mont Blanc is absolutely stunning. Residents and visitors enjoy fifty parks and public gardens in the centre of the city and 3’500 acres of leisure grounds in the neighbouring municipalities. The lake, the mountains and the green areas bring the joys of nature close to the city dweller.
Epitome of European life
According to Mercer’s annual Quality of Living Survey, Geneva with its array of picturesque settings, from the very urbane to the most rural, comes third among the top five world cities. Trends, styles and periods freely mix, one hops in minutes from the lovely Sardinian town of Carouge to the trendy district des Bains before enjoying the green slopes of the Geneva’s vineyards. Here and there you can relax on a terrace, do some shopping or enjoy tasty local produce. Geneva’s most prestigious hotels also have many spas and other places fully devoted to the relaxation and well-being of their guests.
The best of luxury shopping
The dazzling shop-windows of the famous Rue du Rhone are part of the attractiveness of the city. This street alone has 80 haute horlogerie and jewellery boutiques. The leading brands in the world of fashion are present as well. This impressive concentration of luxury shops enables visitors to discover a maximum of products in a very short time.
Peace and freedom in one single heartbeat
Geneva is not only home to the European headquarters of the United Nations, but birthplace of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, host to 153 international organisations and many NGOs as well. With 40% of foreign nationals from all five continents, cosmopolitan is the city’s well earned adjective. 186 nationalities contribute daily to Geneva’s incredible diversity. The famous Broken Chair on the square leading to the United Nations symbolises the campaign against landmines; the UNHCR building (United Nations Refugee Agency) and the Human Rights Commission reflect Geneva’s historic commitment to peace. Opposite the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, the Palais des Nations overlooks the international district and continues to inspire pacifist ideals. In the scientific field, Geneva once again has become one of the most important international hubs. The CERN’s research arouses interest around the world. The researchers and scientists working at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics represent 113 nationalities. Visitors at CERN can learn about the Laboratory’s decisive experiments by visiting two permanent exhibitions: Microcosm and Universe of particles.
Place of excellence
The fine eye for details is what distinguishes Geneva’s watchmaking tradition as well as its hospitality and gastronomy. In the city’s hotel business, 16 palaces guarantee premium services. Several international agencies offer 24 hours’ concierge services all year round. With 45 private schools, six of them private universities, the city also excels in the field of education. Last but not least, Geneva boasts an important medical sector with ten private clinics that are very popular with foreign patients.
An intercultural network in the centre of Europe
Aside from the cosmopolitan and intellectual attractions, the cultural life of the city is continuously stimulated and galvanised by a large number of places and events. All year round, more than 15 festivals and important events celebrating cinema, music and various themes take place. Forty public and private museums arouse curiosity and fascination in various domains, such as natural sciences, modern art, history and ethnology, among them the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, the International Museum of the Reformation, the Patek Philippe Museum and the Martin Bodmer Foundation. Their collections and exhibitions are unique in the world. During the Fetes de Geneve from mid-July to mid-August, the city welcomes two million visitors. Switzerland’s biggest tourist events with its attractions, musical festivities and spectacular fireworks light up the lakeshore.
The delights of local cooking associated with Haute Gastronomy
Geneva’s catering business is of high standard. Eight gourmet restaurants proudly exhibit Michelin stars and 45 appear in the Gault Millau guide. Geneva, Switzerland’s third largest winemaking area, produces outstanding quality wine. In 2010, winemakers won a dozen international awards. Many prestigious vintage wines are stored in the cellars of Geneva’s gourmet restaurants and palaces. The choice of grape varieties goes hand in hand with the variety of culinary traditions. 140 ethnic restaurants, mainly located in the Paquis district, form a colourful and fragrant mosaic of 30 world cuisines. On the other hand, Geneva’s countryside offers local produce and specialties in the ambience of country inns. And let’s not forget the city’s 30 master chocolatiers and Favarger, Switzerland’s first chocolate manufacturer. They satisfy the cravings of all chocolate lovers.
At the crossroads of religions
Stronghold of the Reformation, Geneva is known as the protestant Rome. Overlooking the city and the lake, the Old Town is reminiscent of the 15th century influx of protestant refugees from all corners of Europe. However, the predominance of the Reformed Church has not prevented Geneva from welcoming other beliefs. The multicultural nature of the city is expressed by a multitude of architecturally remarkable places of worship. St. Peter’s Cathedral, the Beth-Yaacov Synagogue (classified a historic monument), the Catholic Church of Saint-Trinity with its spherical structure, the magnificent Russian-Orthodox Church and the Mosque of Petit-Saconnex evoke the city’s spiritual riches. Geneva clearly shows how to combine quality and diversity in a series of landscapes and intellectual or cultural treasures. In peaceful and harmonious settings, this surprising city has created a world of its own.