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Switzerland, Central Europe

Switzerland facts and history in brief

Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia.

Basel (in older English texts Basle, German Basel, French Bâle, Italian Basilea) is Switzerland's third most populous city (162,800 inhabitants in the canton of Basel-City as of 2003; but 553,800 inhabitants in the conurbation stretching across the immediate cantonal boundaries, making this Switzerland's second-largest urban area as of 2003).
It functions as a major industrial centre for the chemical and pharmaceutical sector, located in north-west Switzerland on the river Rhine.
The city borders on both Germany and France.
The Basel region, culturally extending into German Baden and French Alsace, reflects the heritage of its three nations in the modern Latin name: "TriRhena").

Basel has Switzerland's only cargo port, through which goods pass along the navigable stretches of the Rhine.
Basel-Mulhouse International Airport, known as "Euroairport", shares its facilities and services between Switzerland and France.
The airport lies in an enclave in France: a notional border runs through the airport terminal.
Basel has long held an important place as a railway node.
Three passenger-oriented railway stations: those of the German, French and Swiss networks, lie within the city.
A goods railway complex exists as well.

Industry and Trade
An annual Swiss national trade fair (Mustermesse) takes place in Kleinbasel on the right bank of the Rhine.
The Swiss chemical industry concentrated in Basel: this grew into the modern focus of the city's manufacturing: pharmaceuticals.
Firms like CIBA-Geigy (now part of the Novartis group), Sandoz and Hoffmann-la-Roche have headquarters in Kleinbasel.
Major innovative products stemming from the Basel area include DDT, Araldite and LSD.

Banking has long held importance for Basel: major Swiss banks have their headquarters in the city, and the Bank for International Settlements found a home here from 1930.

History and science
Basel traces its history back to at least the days of the Roman empire settlement of Augusta Raurica.
The city's position on the Rhine long emphasised its importance: Basel for many centuries possessed the only bridge over the river "between Lake Constance and the sea".
Basel became the focal point of western Christendom during the 15th-century Council of Basel.

Architecture The Romanesque Minster, with its two (uneven) towers forms an architectural monument which survived mediaeval earthquake.
The tomb of Erasmus lies inside the Minster.

Basel also hosts Switzerland's oldest university, dating from the 15th century.
Bernoulli, Euler and Nietzsche worked here.
More recently, work in tropical medicine has gained prominence.

Geo-politically, the city of Basel functions as the capital of the Swiss half-canton of Basel-City (Basel-Stadt), though several of its suburbs form part of the half-canton of Basel-Country ((Basel-Land) or of the canton of Argovia (Aargau).

I have been in Basel before in 1978.

In 2003 Hui Chin and I travelled around in Europe on a Eurail Pass and visited Switzerland and spent some time on conducted sightseeing and exploring Basel, Zurich and some other Swiss cities.

We have enjoyed our visit.

You can click on these photos for an enlargement

Basel Basel Basel Basel Basel

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