Switzerland, Central Europe
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
The city borders on both Germany and
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
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.
The Romanesque Minster, with its two
(uneven) towers forms an architectural
monument which survived
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 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
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