Basic facts, weather, history gas up yr hearse


Geneva is the second largest city in Switzerland behind Zurich and the most international city in Europe with over 40% of its population coming from outside Switzerland. The main industries are banking, inter- and non-governmental administration, technology, and tourism. Geneva prides itself as being one of the most beautiful and cultured cities in the world, combining the splendors of nature with a rich palette of historic and architectural offerings. As well, the city is a major gateway to the Alps for outdoor enthusiasts year round.

Geneva has a rich history that dates back more than 4000 years and continues to influence the development of the city today. Evidence of Geneva’s past is preserved throughout the city in its many museums, monuments and architectural treasures.

Geneva is the capital of the Swiss Canton of Geneva located in the south-westernmost corner of Switzerland. The city is situated along the banks of Europe’s largest lake, Lake Geneva (Lac Léman), at the mouth of the Rhone River and is bordered by the Jura Mountains to the west and the French Alps in the east. The city is easily reached within 2 hours by plane from most major cities in Europe and is a hub of Europe’s highway network. High-speed train connections to Paris and Milan as well as fast trains to Spain and Germany provide additional access.

Geneva, located at the southwest peak of Switzerland, is geographically surrounded by France from west, south and east. The closest French town to Geneva is Annemasse, located just behind the Swiss-France borders. Distance between Geneva and Annemasse, France, is 4 kilometers. You can easily walk from Geneva to Annemasse without leaving the urban area.

Switzerland has three official languages: French, German and Italian. French is the predominant language spoken in Geneva, but most citizens speak at least one other language. English is spoken by about a quarter of the local population and majority of foreigners. Of course, you can hear just about every other language in Geneva if you listen hard enough, from Albanian to Zimbabwean. When dealing with locals it is recommended that you start off in French, even if it is only a greeting, before transitioning to English.

Due to the tempering effects of the lake and surrounding mountains, Geneva is pleasant almost year round. September and October are the rainiest months. January and February are the coldest but rarely drop below freezing. However, perceived temperature in winter is colder than actual, because of cold moist air coming from the lake. Summers are long, with clear sunny sky, with relatively low humidity and cool breezes from the lake. The Mont Blanc is visible from Geneva about half of the days out of the year. Have a look on our weather page for more information.

Most European appliances also require an adapter as Switzerland uses a 3-prong outlet system that is smaller than most Continental plugs. Adapter can be bought in electro shops (9CHF) and supermarkets, from which Migros has the lower price (from 5 to 7 CHF) and Coop the highest. You will be provided with adapters in Your hotel.

Geneva is a safe city with 2.37 violent crimes per 100,000 in 2015. Petty crimes such as pick-pocketing are common around the central train station, buses, airport, in trains and in touristy places in general, but common sense usually prevails. Top quality hospitals and clinics are available 24 hours throughout the city (see Print and Take).