Geneva, the Protestant Rome, is an oasis of Swiss territory surrounded on virtually all sides by France.This content was published on April 28, 2008 - 09:08
A city of contrasts, it is undeniably the most cosmopolitan of all Swiss towns.
Geneva is host to 22 international organisations, including the United Nations' European headquarters, 180 non-governmental organisations and 150 diplomatic missions.
This all adds to the city's international flavour, with citizens from 180 nations making up 45 per cent of the population.
In many of the city's neighbourhoods money doesn't seem to be a problem. But for Romansh author Chasper Pult, this is not what Geneva is about.
"You have to remember the way the city welcomed French Huguenot refugees. It seems somewhat contradictory to have all the very rich people moving to Geneva, who seem to have colonised parts of the city," he said.
For many Swiss, Geneva is not even part of Switzerland. Pult disagrees.
"I have given Romansh classes there. The very fact that this language is taught there shows that it is open to Swiss cultural values," he added.
But for ethnologist Jacques Hainard, there is a kernel of truth to the popular view.
"Geneva is a city that is extremely proud of what it has become. It would like to portray itself as an international city without referring to Swiss policies," he said.
"For some people Geneva is a separated from the rest of the country. This characteristic is one of the city's qualities though, with an international and local culture."
Tucked between the lake and the mountains, Geneva cannot escape the fact that it is part of Switzerland. It's here that the Swiss watch industry was born, and banks are to be found on many street corners.
What Geneva really is though is a jigsaw puzzle of different cities.
The elegant old town, the vast buildings of the international organisations, the hidden secrets of the particle research centre Cern on the outskirts, the postcard-pretty quays beside the Jet d'Eau, and the chaotic Pâquis neighbourhood are just some of the pieces.
"The fact that there are a lot of Asians and Africans in Geneva means that you get the feeling that you aren't really in Switzerland," Pult said. "The main railway station and the airport could be anywhere in the world."
French-speaking Geneva is at the western end of Lake Geneva, surrounded on almost all sides by France. The canton has 103 kilometres of borders with Switzerland's neighbour and just 4.5 kilometres with the rest of the country.
The city itself has 185,000 inhabitants, while the canton has 445,000. The metropolitan Geneva area (which includes nine other towns) covers most of the canton.
Euro 08 in Geneva
Geneva stadium, home of local club Geneva Servette, was opened in 2003. It can hold 30,000 spectators.
There will be three matches there during Euro 08:
Portugal-Turkey on June 7
Czech Republic-Portugal on June 11
Turkey-Czech Republic on June 15
An official fan zone that can host 80,000 people will be set up at Plainpalais in the centre of Geneva. A fan village for 20,000 people and a camping ground are planned in nearby Carouge.
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