Main Births etc
Country Switzerland Coat of Arms of Basel
Canton Basel-Stadt
District n.a.
47°34′N 7°36′E / 47.567, 7.6Coordinates: 47°34′N 7°36′E / 47.567, 7.6
Population 170,635 (Mar 2012)[1]
- Density 7,500 /km2 (19,426 /sq mi)
Area  23.91 km2 (9.23 sq mi)[2]
Elevation 260 m (853 ft)
  - Lowest 244.75 m - Rhine shore, national border at Kleinhüningen
Postal code 4000
SFOS number 2701
Mayor (list) Guy Morin (as of February 2014) GPS/PES
Demonym Basel (Basler)
Surrounded by Allschwil (BL), Hégenheim (FR-68), Binningen (BL), Birsfelden (BL), Bottmingen (BL), Huningue (FR-68), Münchenstein (BL), Muttenz (BL), Reinach (BL), Riehen (BS), Saint-Louis (FR-68), Weil am Rhein (DE-BW)
SFSO statistics

Basel is located in Switzerland

Augusta Raurica (Kaiseraugst).

1493 woodcut of the City of Basel, from the Nuremberg Chronicle.

Basel ( /ˈbɑːzəl/ or /ˈbɑːl/; or less often used Basle;[3] German: Basel pronounced [ˈbaːzəl]; French: Bâle [bɑl]; Italian: Basilea [baziˈlɛːa]; Romansh: Basilea [baziˈlɛːa]) is Switzerland's third most populous city (behind Zürich and Geneva) with about 195,000 inhabitants.[4] Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany. In 2011, the Basel agglomeration was the third largest in Switzerland with a population of 500,600[5] in 74 municipalities in Switzerland and an additional 53 in neighboring countries (municipal count as of 2000).[6] The tri-national Basel metropolitan area has around 830,000 inhabitants in 226 municipalities.[7]

Located in northwest Switzerland on the river Rhine, Basel functions as a major industrial centre for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. The Basel region, culturally extending into German Baden-Württemberg and French Alsace, reflects the heritage of its three states in the modern Latin name: "Regio TriRhena". It has the oldest university of the Swiss Confederation (1460).

The official language of Basel is (the Swiss variety of Standard) German, but the main spoken language is the local variant of the Alemannic Swiss German dialect.

Basel is among the most important cultural centres of Switzerland. The city comprises a large number of theatres and many museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts, the world's oldest art collection accessible to the public. In addition, the Theater Basel was chosen in 1999 as the best stage for German-language performances and in 2009 & 2010 as "Opera of the Year" by German Opera Magazine "Opernwelt".[8]


Early history[]

During the days of the Roman Empire, the settlement of Augusta Raurica was founded 10 to 20 km (6 to 12 mi) upstream of present Basel, and a castle was built on the hill overlooking the river where the Basel Münster now stands. But even older Celtic settlements (including a vitrified fort) have been discovered recently in the area predating the Roman castle.

The town of Basel was called Basilea or Basilia in Latin (from Ancient Greek Basileia, Βασιλεια meaning kingship) and this name is documented from 374 AD.[9]

The Magyars destroyed Basel in 917, and later burnt down the monasteries of St. Gallen and Rheinau. Their incursions only ended when they were routed by the German king Otto I in 955.[10]

Since the donation by Rudolph III of Burgundy[11] of the Moutier-Grandval Abbey and all its possessions to Bishop Adalbero II in 999 till the Reformation, Basel was ruled by prince-bishops (see Bishop of Basel,[12] whose memory is preserved in the crosier shown on the Basel coat-of-arms – see above).

Prince-Bishopric of Basel[]

In 1019, the construction of the cathedral of Basel (known locally as the Münster) began under German Emperor Heinrich II.[13] In 1225–1226, the Bridge over the Rhine was constructed by Bishop Heinrich von Thun and lesser Basel (Kleinbasel) founded as a bridgehead to protect the bridge. The bridge was largely funded by Basel's Jewish community which had settled there a century earlier.[14] For many centuries to come Basel possessed the only permanent bridge over the river "between Lake Constance and the sea".

The Bishop also allowed the furriers to found a guild in 1226. Eventually about 15 guilds were established in the 13th century. They increased the town's, and hence the bishop's, reputation, influence, and income from the taxes and duties on goods in Basel's expanding market.[14]

In 1347, the plague came to Europe but did not reach Basel until June 1349. The guilds, asserting that the Jews were responsible—several had been tortured and confessed—demanded they be executed, which the Council did in January 1349, except for a few who escaped to Alsace.[14] During the Basel massacre, 600 Jews were murdered. They were shackled inside a wooden barn on an island in the Rhine, which was set afire. The few survivors - young orphans - were forcibly converted to Christianity. The council then forbade Jews in Basel for 200 years, except that their money was helpful in rebuilding after the Basel earthquake of 1356 which destroyed much of the city along with a number of castles in the vicinity. The city offered courts to nobles as an alternative to rebuilding their castles, in exchange for the nobles' military protection of the city.

In 1412 (or earlier), the well-known guesthouse Zum Goldenen Sternen was established. Basel became the focal point of western Christendom during the 15th century Council of Basel (1431–1449), including the 1439 election of antipope Felix V. In 1459, Pope Pius II endowed the University of Basel where such notables as Erasmus of Rotterdam and Paracelsus later taught. At the same time the new craft of printing was introduced to Basel by apprentices of Johann Gutenberg.

The Schwabe publishing house was founded in 1488 by Johannes Petri and is the oldest publishing house still in business. Johann Froben also operated his printing house in Basel and was notable for publishing works by Erasmus.[15] In 1495, Basel was incorporated in the Upper Rhenish Imperial Circle; the Bishop of Basel was added to the Bench of the Ecclesiastical Princes. In 1500 the construction of the Basel Münster was finished. In 1521 so was the bishop. The Council, under the supremacy of the guilds, explained that henceforth they would only give allegiance to the Swiss Confederation, to whom the bishop appealed but in vain.[14]

As a member state in the Swiss Confederacy[]

Map of Basel in 1642, engraved by Matthäus Merian, oriented with SW at the top and NE at the bottom.

The city had remained neutral through the Swabian War of 1499 despite being plundered by soldiers on both sides. The Treaty of Basel ended the war and granted the Swiss confederates exemptions from the emperor Maximillian's taxes and jurisdictions, separating Switzerland de facto from the Holy Roman Empire.[16]

On 9 June 1501, Basel joined the Swiss Confederation as its eleventh canton.[17] It was the only canton that had been asked to join, not the other way round. Basel had a strategic location, good relations with Strasbourg and Mulhouse, and control of the corn imports from Alsace, whereas the Swiss lands were becoming overpopulated and had few resources. For its part, Basel secured the military help of the other cantons when threatened, and some protection for its rural subjects outside its walls. A provision of the Charter accepting Basel required that in conflicts among the other cantons it was to stay neutral and offer its services for mediation.[18][19]

In 1503, the new bishop Christoph von Utenheim refused to give Basel a new constitution whereupon, to show its power, the city began the construction of a new city hall.[14]

In 1529, the city became Protestant under Oecolampadius and the bishop's seat was moved to Porrentruy. The bishop's crook was however retained as the city's coat of arms. For the centuries to come, a handful of wealthy families collectively referred to as the "Daig" played a pivotal role in city affairs as they gradually established themselves as a de facto city aristocracy.

The first edition of Christianae religionis institutio (Institutes of the Christian ReligionJohn Calvin's great exposition of Calvinist doctrine) was published at Basel in March 1536.[20]

In 1544, Johann von Brugge a rich Dutch Protestant refugee was given citizenship and lived respectfully until his death in 1556 then buried with honors. His body was exhumed and burnt at the stake in 1559 after it was discovered that he was the Anabaptist David Joris.[14]

In 1543, De humani corporis fabrica, the first book on human anatomy, was published and printed in Basel by Andreas Vesalius (1514–1564).[21]

There are indications Joachim Meyer, author of the influential 16th century martial arts text Kunst des Fechten ("The Art of Fencing") came from Basel. In 1662 the Amerbaschsches Kabinett was established in Basel as the first public museum of art. Its collection became the core of the later Basel Museum of Art.

The Bernoulli family, which included important 17th and 18th century of mathematicians such as Jakob Bernoulli, Johann Bernoulli and Daniel Bernoulli, were from Basel. The 18th century mathematician Leonhard Euler was born in Basel and studied under Johann Bernoulli.

Modern history[]

In 1792, the Republic of Rauracia, a revolutionary French client republic, was created. It lasted until 1793.[22] After three years of political agitation and a short civil war in 1833 the disadvantaged countryside seceded from the Canton of Basel, forming the half canton of Basel-Landschaft.[23]

On July 3, 1874, Switzerland's first zoo (the Zoo Basel) opened its doors in the south of the city towards Binningen.

On November 16, 1938, the psychedelic drug LSD was first synthesized by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann at Sandoz Laboratories in Basel.

Basel as international meeting place[]

Basel has often been the site of peace negotiations and other international meetings. The Treaty of Basel (1499) ended the Swabian War. Two years later Basel joined the Swiss Confederation. The Peace of Basel in 1795 between the French Republic and Prussia and Spain ended the First Coalition against France during the French Revolutionary Wars. In more recent times, the World Zionist Organization held its first congress in Basel on September 3, 1897. Because of the Balkan Wars, the Second International held an extraordinary congress at Basel in 1912. In 1989, the Basel Convention was opened for signature with the aim of preventing the export of hazardous waste from wealthy to developing nations for disposal.


Basel has an area, as of 2009, of 23.91 square kilometers (9.23 sq mi). Of this area, 0.95 km2 (0.37 sq mi) or 4.0% is used for agricultural purposes, while 0.88 km2 (0.34 sq mi) or 3.7% is forested. Of the rest of the land, 20.67 km2 (7.98 sq mi) or 86.4% is settled (buildings or roads), 1.45 km2 (0.56 sq mi) or 6.1% is either rivers or lakes.[24]

Of the built up area, industrial buildings made up 10.2% of the total area while housing and buildings made up 40.7% and transportation infrastructure made up 24.0%. Power and water infrastructure as well as other special developed areas made up 2.7% of the area while parks, green belts and sports fields made up 8.9%. Out of the forested land, all of the forested land area is covered with heavy forests. Of the agricultural land, 2.5% is used for growing crops and 1.3% is pastures. All the water in the municipality is flowing water.[24]

Coat of arms[]

The blazon of the municipal coat of arms is In Silber ein schwarzer Baselstab.[25]


Basel has an average of 120.4 days of rain or snow per year and on average receives 842 mm (33.1 in) of precipitation. The wettest month is May during which time Basel receives an average of 99 mm (3.9 in) of rain. The month with the most days of precipitation is also May, with an average of 12.4 days. The driest month of the year is February with an average of 45 mm (1.8 in) of precipitation over 8.4 days.[26]

Climate data for Basel/Binningen (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 4.5
Daily mean °C (°F) 1.6
Average low °C (°F) −1.1
Precipitation mm (inches) 47
Snowfall cm (inches) 8.9
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 9.3 8.4 9.8 10.2 12.4 10.9 10.2 9.9 8.8 10.1 10.0 10.4 120.4
Avg. snowy days (≥ 1.0 cm) 3.0 2.9 1.3 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 1.0 2.6 11.1
humidity 81 76 70 68 72 71 70 72 77 81 82 82 75
Mean monthly sunshine hours 71 86 125 153 176 196 224 210 159 113 71 54 1,637
Percent possible sunshine 28 31 35 39 39 42 48 50 44 35 27 22 38
Source: MeteoSwiss [26]


Basel's airport is set up for airfreight; heavy goods reach the city and the heart of continental Europe from the North Sea by ship along the Rhine. The main European routes for the highway and railway transport of freight cross in Basel. The outstanding location benefits logistics corporations, which operate globally from Basel. Trading firms are traditionally well represented in the Basel Region.


The Rhine in Basel

Basel has Switzerland's only cargo port, through which goods pass along the navigable stretches of the Rhine and connect to ocean-going ships at the port of Rotterdam.

Air transport[]

EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg is operated jointly by two countries, France and Switzerland, although the airport is located completely on French soil. The airport itself is split into two architecturally independent sectors, one half serving the French side and the other half serving the Swiss side; prior to Schengen there was a customs point at the middle of the airport so that people could "emigrate" to the other side of the airport.


Basel Bahnhof SBB, self-proclaimed "world's first international railway station."

Basel has long held an important place as a rail hub. Three railway stations — those of the German, French and Swiss networks — lie within the city (although the Swiss (Basel SBB) and French (Bâle SNCF) stations are actually in the same complex, separated by Customs and Immigration facilities). Basel Badischer Bahnhof is on the opposite side of the city. Basel's local rail services are supplied by the Basel Regional S-Bahn. The largest goods railway complex of the country is located just outside the city, spanning the municipalities of Muttenz and Pratteln. The new highspeed ICE railway line from Karlsruhe to Basel was completed in 2008 while phase I of the TGV Rhin-Rhône line, opened in December 2011, has reduced travel time from Basel to Paris to about 3 hours.[27]


Basel is located on the A3 motorway.

Within the city limits, five bridges connect greater and lesser Basel, from upstream to downstream:

  • Schwarzwaldbrücke (built 1972)
  • Wettsteinbrücke (current structure built 1998, original bridge built 1879)
  • Mittlere Brücke (current structure built 1905, original bridge built 1225 as the first bridge to cross the Rhine River)
  • Johanniterbrücke (built 1967)
  • Dreirosenbrücke (built 2004, original bridge built 1935)


A somewhat anachronistic yet still widely used system of ferry boats links the two shores. There are four ferries, each situated approximately midway between two bridges. Each is attached by a cable to a block that rides along another cable spanning the river at a height of 20 or 30 metres. To cross the river, the ferryman orients the boat around 45° from the current so that the current pushes the boat across the river. This form of transportation is therefore completely hydraulically driven, requiring no outside energy source. [1]

Public transport[]

Basel tram network

Basel tram

Basel has an extensive public transportation network serving the city and connecting to surrounding suburbs, including a large tram network. The green-colored local trams and buses are operated by the Basler Verkehrs-Betriebe (BVB). The yellow-colored buses and trams are operated by the Baselland Transport (BLT), and connect areas in the nearby half-canton of Baselland to central Basel. The BVB also shares commuter bus lines in cooperation with transit authorities in the neighboring Alsace region in France and Baden region in Germany. The Basel Regional S-Bahn, the commuter rail network connecting to suburbs surrounding the city, is jointly operated by SBB, SNCF and DB.

Border crossings[]

Basel is located at the meeting point of France, Germany and Switzerland; because it is so near other countries and is beyond the Jura Mountains, many within the Swiss military reportedly believe that the city is indefensible during wartime.[28] It has numerous road and rail crossings between Switzerland and the other two countries. With Switzerland joining the Schengen Area on December 12, 2008, immigration checks were no longer carried out at the crossings. However, Switzerland did not join the EU customs regime and customs checks are still conducted at or near the crossings.

France-Switzerland (from east to west)

  • Road crossings (with French road name continuation)
    • Kohlenstrasse (Avenue de Bâle, Huningue). This crossing replaces the former crossing Hüningerstrasse further east.
    • Elsässerstrasse (Avenue de Bâle, Saint-Louis)
    • Autobahn A3 (A35 autoroute, Saint-Louis)
    • EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg – pedestrian walkway between the French and Swiss sections on Level 3 (departures) of airport.
    • Burgfelderstrasse (Rue du 1er Mars, Saint Louis)
  • Railway crossing
    • Basel SBB railway station

Germany-Switzerland (clockwise, from north to south)

  • Road crossings (with German road name continuation)
    • Hiltalingerstrasse (Zollstraße, Weil am Rhein). A tram line extension to Weil am Rhein is currently under construction along this road. Due to open December 2012.[29]
    • Autobahn A2 (Autobahn A5, Weil am Rhein)
    • Freiburgerstrasse (Baslerstraße, Weil am Rhein)
    • Weilstrasse, Riehen (Haupstraße, Weil am Rhein)
    • Lörracherstrasse, Riehen (Baslerstraße, Stetten, Lörrach)
    • Inzlingerstrasse, Riehen (Riehenstraße, Inzlingen)
    • Grenzacherstrasse (Hörnle, Grenzach-Wyhlen)
  • Railway crossing
    • Between Basel SBB and Basel Badischer Bahnhof – Basel Badischer Bahnhof, and all other railway property and stations on the right bank of the Rhine belong to DB and are classed as German customs territory. Immigration and customs checks are conducted at the platform exit tunnel for passengers leaving trains here.

Additionally there are many footpaths and cycle tracks crossing the border between Basel and Germany.

A panoramic view of Basel, looking North from the Münster tower over Kleinbasel (smaller Basel). The blue tower in the centre, the Messeturm, was Switzerland's tallest building 2003-10; the bridge on the extreme right is the Wettsteinbrücke, Basel's second oldest bridge but recently replaced by a new structure. The first bridge on the left is the Mittlere Brücke (Middle or Central Bridge), the oldest bridge in Basel.


Largest groups of foreign residents 2013
Nationality Amount % total
 Germany 15,403 7.9 (22.8)
 Italy 8,112 4.2 (12.0)
 Turkey 6,594 3.4 (9.8)
(incl. Monten. and Kosovo)
4,554 2.3 (6.7)
 Spain 3,365 1.7 (5.0)
 Portugal 3,197 1.6 (4.7)
 Republic of Macedonia 2,252 1.2 (3.3)
 United Kingdom 2,153 1.1 (3.2)
 India 1,817 0.9 (2.7)
 France 1,649 0.8 (2.4)
 USA 1,443 0.7 (2.1)
 Austria 1,179 0.6 (1.7)

Basel has a population (as of March 2012) of 170,635.[1] As of 2008, 32.3% of the population are resident foreign nationals.[30] Over the last 10 years (1999–2009 ) the population has changed at a rate of -0.3%. It has changed at a rate of 3.2% due to migration and at a rate of -3% due to births and deaths.[31]

Most of the population (as of 2000) speaks German (129,592 or 77.8%), with Italian being second most common (9,049 or 5.4%) and French being third (4,280 or 2.6%). There are 202 people who speak Romansh.[32]

Of the population in the municipality 58,560 or about 35.2% were born in Basel and lived there in 2000. There were 1,396 or 0.8% who were born in the same canton, while 44,874 or 26.9% were born somewhere else in Switzerland, and 53,774 or 32.3% were born outside of Switzerland.[32]

In 2008 there were 898 live births to Swiss citizens and 621 births to non-Swiss citizens, and in same time span there were 1,732 deaths of Swiss citizens and 175 non-Swiss citizen deaths. Ignoring immigration and emigration, the population of Swiss citizens decreased by 834 while the foreign population increased by 446. There were 207 Swiss men and 271 Swiss women who emigrated from Switzerland. At the same time, there were 1756 non-Swiss men and 1655 non-Swiss women who immigrated from another country to Switzerland. The total Swiss population change in 2008 (from all sources, including moves across municipal borders) was an increase of 278 and the non-Swiss population increased by 1138 people. This represents a population growth rate of 0.9%.[30]

As of 2000, there were 70,502 people who were single and never married in the municipality. There were 70,517 married individuals, 12,435 widows or widowers and 13,104 individuals who are divorced.[32]

As of 2000 the average number of residents per living room was 0.59 which is about equal to the cantonal average of 0.58 per room.[31] In this case, a room is defined as space of a housing unit of at least 4 m2 (43 sq ft) as normal bedrooms, dining rooms, living rooms, kitchens and habitable cellars and attics.[33] About 10.5% of the total households were owner occupied, or in other words did not pay rent (though they may have a mortgage or a rent-to-own agreement).[34]

As of 2000, there were 86,371 private households in the municipality, and an average of 1.8 persons per household.[31] There were 44,469 households that consist of only one person and 2,842 households with five or more people. Out of a total of 88,646 households that answered this question, 50.2% were households made up of just one person and there were 451 adults who lived with their parents. Of the rest of the households, there are 20,472 married couples without children, 14,554 married couples with children There were 4,318 single parents with a child or children. There were 2,107 households that were made up of unrelated people and 2,275 households that were made up of some sort of institution or another collective housing.[32]

In 2000 there were 5,747 single family homes (or 30.8% of the total) out of a total of 18,631 inhabited buildings. There were 7,642 multi-family buildings (41.0%), along with 4,093 multi-purpose buildings that were mostly used for housing (22.0%) and 1,149 other use buildings (commercial or industrial) that also had some housing (6.2%). Of the single family homes 1090 were built before 1919, while 65 were built between 1990 and 2000. The greatest number of single family homes (3,474) were built between 1919 and 1945.[35]

In 2000 there were 96,640 apartments in the municipality. The most common apartment size was 3 rooms of which there were 35,958. There were 11,957 single room apartments and 9,702 apartments with five or more rooms. Of these apartments, a total of 84,675 apartments (87.6% of the total) were permanently occupied, while 7,916 apartments (8.2%) were seasonally occupied and 4,049 apartments (4.2%) were empty.[35] As of 2009, the construction rate of new housing units was 2.6 new units per 1000 residents.[31]

As of 2003 the average price to rent an average apartment in Basel was 1118.60 Swiss francs (CHF) per month (US$890, £500, €720 approx. exchange rate from 2003). The average rate for a one room apartment was 602.27 CHF (US$480, £270, €390), a two room apartment was about 846.52 CHF (US$680, £380, €540), a three room apartment was about 1054.14 CHF (US$840, £470, €670) and a six or more room apartment cost an average of 2185.24 CHF (US$1750, £980, €1400). The average apartment price in Basel was 100.2% of the national average of 1116 CHF.[36] The vacancy rate for the municipality, in 2010, was 0.74%.[31]

Historical population[]

The historical population is given in the following chart: [37]


Basler Messeturm

Children's hospital in Basel

As of 2010, Basel had an unemployment rate of 4.2%. As of 2008, there were 18 people employed in the primary economic sector and about 9 businesses involved in this sector. 34,645 people were employed in the secondary sector and there were 1,176 businesses in this sector. 120,130 people were employed in the tertiary sector, with 8,908 businesses in this sector.[31] There were 82,449 residents of the municipality who were employed in some capacity, of which females made up 46.2% of the workforce.

In 2008 the total number of full-time equivalent jobs was 130,988. The number of jobs in the primary sector was 13, of which 10 were in agriculture and 4 were in forestry or lumber production. The number of jobs in the secondary sector was 33,171 of which 24,848 or (74.9%) were in manufacturing, 10 were in mining and 7,313 (22.0%) were in construction. The number of jobs in the tertiary sector was 97,804. In the tertiary sector; 12,880 or 13.2% were in wholesale or retail sales or the repair of motor vehicles, 11,959 or 12.2% were in the movement and storage of goods, 6,120 or 6.3% were in a hotel or restaurant, 4,186 or 4.3% were in the information industry, 10,752 or 11.0% were the insurance or financial industry, 13,695 or 14.0% were technical professionals or scientists, 6,983 or 7.1% were in education and 16,060 or 16.4% were in health care.[38]

In 2000, there were 121,842 workers who commuted into the municipality and 19,263 workers who commuted away. The municipality is a net importer of workers, with about 6.3 workers entering the municipality for every one leaving. About 23.9% of the workforce coming into Basel are coming from outside Switzerland, while 1.0% of the locals commute out of Switzerland for work.[39] Of the working population, 49.2% used public transportation to get to work, and 18.7% used a private car.[31]

An annual Federal Swiss trade fair (Mustermesse) takes place in Kleinbasel on the right bank of the Rhine. Other important trade shows include "BaselWorld" (watches and jewelry), Art Basel, Orbit and Cultura.

The Swiss chemical industry operates largely from Basel, and Basel also has a large pharmaceutical industry. Novartis,[40] Syngenta, Ciba Specialty Chemicals,[41] Clariant,[42] Hoffmann-La Roche,[40] Basilea Pharmaceutica and Actelion are headquartered there. Pharmaceuticals and specialty chemicals have become the modern focus of the city's industrial production.

Banking is extremely important to Basel:

  • UBS AG maintains central offices in Basel,[43]
  • The Bank for International Settlements is located within the city and is the central banker's bank. The bank is controlled by a board of directors, which is composed of the elite central bankers of 11 different countries (US, UK, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden).
According to the BIS, "The choice of Switzerland for the seat of the BIS was a compromise by those countries that established the BIS: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. When consensus could not be reached on locating the Bank in London, Brussels or Amsterdam, the choice fell on Switzerland. An independent, neutral country, Switzerland offered the BIS less exposure to undue influence from any of the major powers. Within Switzerland, Basel was chosen largely because of its location, with excellent railway connections in all directions, especially important at a time when most international travel was by train."[44]
Created in May 1930, the BIS is owned by its member central banks, which are private entities. No agent of the Swiss public authorities may enter the premises without the express consent of the bank.[45] The bank exercises supervision and police power over its premises. The bank enjoys immunity from criminal and administrative jurisdiction, as well as setting recommendations which become standard for the world's commercial banking system.
  • Basel is also the location of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, which is distinct from the BIS. It usually meets at the BIS premises in Basel. Responsible for the Basel Accords (Basel I, Basel II and Basel III), this organization fundamentally changed Risk Management within its industry.

Basel has Switzerland's second tallest building (Basler Messeturm / 105m) and Switzerland's tallest tower (St. Chrischona TV tower / 250m). The Roche tower, designed by Herzog & de Meuron and currently under construction, will be 41 floors and 178 meters high, becoming the tallest skyscraper in Switzerland.

Swiss International Air Lines, the national airline of Switzerland, is headquartered on the grounds of EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg in Saint-Louis, Haut-Rhin, France, near Basel.[46][47][48] Prior to the formation of Swiss International Air Lines, the regional airline Crossair was headquartered near Basel.[49]


Basel is subdivided into 19 quarters (Quartiere). The municipalities of Riehen and Bettingen, outside the city limits of Basel, are included in the canton of Basel-City as rural quarters (Landquartiere).

Quartier Area Population
March 2012[1]
Population Density
Altstadt Grossbasel (central Grossbasel) 37.63 2,044 5,431.8
Vorstädte (Suburbs) 89.66 4,638 5,172.9
Am Ring 90.98 10,512 11,554.2
Breite 68.39 8,655 12,655.4
St. Alban 294.46 10,681 3,633
Gundeldingen 123.19 18,621 15,140
Bruderholz 259.61 9,006 3,477
Bachletten 151.39 13,330 8,830
Gotthelf 46.62 6,784 14,551.7
Iselin 109.82 16,181 14,840
St. Johann 223.90 18,560 8,323
Altstadt Kleinbasel (central Kleinbasel) 24.21 2,276 9,401
Clara 23.66 4,043 17,088
Wettstein 75.44 5,386 7,139.4
Hirzbrunnen 305.32 8,676 2,845
Rosental 64.33 5,180 8,052
Mattäus 59.14 16,056 27,149.1
Klybeck 91.19 7,234 7,932.9
Kleinhüningen 136.11 2,772 2,038
City of Basel 2275.05 170,635[1] 7,517
Bettingen 222.69 1,183[1] 538
Riehen 1086.10 20,763[1] 1,923
Canton of Basel-City 3583.84 192,581[1] 5,379


From the 2000 census, 41,916 or 25.2% were Roman Catholic, while 39,180 or 23.5% belonged to the Swiss Reformed Church. Of the rest of the population, there were 4,567 members of an Orthodox church (or about 2.74% of the population), there were 459 individuals (or about 0.28% of the population) who belonged to the Christian Catholic Church, and there were 3,464 individuals (or about 2.08% of the population) who belonged to another Christian church. There were 1,325 individuals (or about 0.80% of the population) who were Jewish, and 12,368 (or about 7.43% of the population) who were Islamic. There were 746 individuals who were Buddhist, 947 individuals who were Hindu and 485 individuals who belonged to another church. 52,321 (or about 31.41% of the population) belonged to no church, are agnostic or atheist, and 8,780 individuals (or about 5.27% of the population) did not answer the question.[32]

Main sights[]

The red sandstone Münster, one of the foremost late-Romanesque/early Gothic buildings in the Upper Rhine, was badly damaged in the great earthquake of 1356, rebuilt in the 14th and 15th century, extensively reconstructed in the mid-19th century and further restored in the late 20th century.[50] A memorial to Erasmus lies inside the Münster. The City Hall from the 16th century is located on the Market Square and is decorated with fine murals on the outer walls and on the walls of the inner court.

Basel is also host to an array of buildings by internationally renowned architects. These include the Beyeler Foundation by Renzo Piano, or the Vitra complex in nearby Weil am Rhein, composed of buildings by architects such as Zaha Hadid (fire station), Frank Gehry (Design Museum), Álvaro Siza Vieira (factory building) and Tadao Ando (conference centre). Basel also features buildings by Mario Botta (Jean Tinguely Museum and Bank of International settlements) and Herzog & de Meuron (whose architectural practice is in Basel, and who are best known as the architects of Tate Modern in London and the Bird's Nest in Beijing, the Olympia stadium, which was designed for use throughout the 2008 Summer Olympics and Paralympics). The city received the Wakker Prize in 1996.

Basler Münster


Rathaus, Basel's Town Hall


Heritage sites[]

Basel features a great number of heritage sites of national significance.[51]

These include the entire Old Town of Basel as well as the following buildings and collections:

Churches and monasteries
Old Catholic Prediger Kirche (church), Bischofshof with Collegiate church at Rittergasse 1, Domhof at Münsterplatz 10–12, former Carthusian House of St Margarethental, Catholic Church of St Antonius, Lohnhof (former Augustinians Collegiate Church), Mission 21, Archive of the Evangelisches Missionswerk Basel, Münster of Basle (cathedral), Reformed Elisabethenkirche (church), Reformed Johanneskirche (church), Reformed Leonhardskirche (church, former Augustinians Abbey), Reformed Martinskirche (church), Reformed Pauluskirche (church), Reformed Peterskirche (church), Reformed St. Albankirche (church) with cloister and cemetrery, Reformed Theodorskirche (church), Synagoge at Eulerstrasse 2
Secular buildings
Badischer Bahnhof (Geman Baden's railway station) with fountain, Bank for International Settlements, Blaues Haus (Reichensteinerhof) at Rheinsprung 16, Bruderholzschule (school house) at Fritz-Hauser-Strasse 20, Brunschwiler Haus at Hebelstrasse 15, Bahnhof Basel SBB (Swiss railway station), Bürgerspital (hospital), Café Spitz (Merianflügel), Coop Schweiz company's central archive, Depot of the Archäologischen Bodenforschung des Kanton Basel-Stadt, former Gallizian Paper Mill and Swiss Museum of Paper, former Klingental-Kaserne (casern) with Klingentaler Kirche (church), Fasnachtsbrunnen (fountain), Feuerschützenhaus (guild house of the riflemen) at Schützenmattstrasse 56, Fischmarktbrunnen (fountain), Geltenzunft at Marktplatz 13, Gymnasium am Kohlenberg (St Leonhard) (school), Hauptpost (main post office), Haus zum Raben at Aeschenvorstadt 15, Hohenfirstenhof at Rittergasse 19, Holsteinerhof at Hebelstrasse 30, Mittlere Rhein Brücke (Central Rhine Bridge), Stadtcasino (music hall) at Steinenberg 14, Ramsteinerhof at Rittergasse 7 and 9, Rathaus (town hall), Rundhof building of the Schweizerischen Mustermesse, Safranzunft at Gerbergasse 11, Sandgrube at Riehenstrasse 154, Schlösschen (Manor house) Gundeldingen, Schönes Haus and Schöner Hof at Nadelberg 6, Wasgenring school house, Seidenhof with painting of Rudolf von Habsburg, Spalenhof at Spalenberg 12, Spiesshof at Heuberg 7, city walls, Townhouse (former post office) at Stadthausgasse 13 / Totengässlein 6, Weisses Haus at Martinsgasse 3, Wildt'sches Haus at Petersplatz 13, Haus zum Neuen Singer at Speiserstrasse 98, Wolfgottesacker at Münchensteinerstrasse 99, Zerkindenhof at Nadelberg 10
Archaeological sites
the Celtic Settlement at Gasfabrik, Münsterhügel and Altstadt (historical city, late La Tène and medieval settlement)
Museums, archives and collections
Anatomical Museum of the University Basel, Berri-Villen and Museum of Ancient Art Basel and Ludwig Collection, Former Franciscan Barefoot Order Church and Basel Historical Museum, Company Archive of Novartis, Haus zum Kirschgarten which is part of the Basel Historical Museum, Historic Archive Roche and Industrial Complex Hoffmann-La Roche, Jewish Museum of Switzerland, Caricature & Cartoon Museum Basel, Karl Barth-Archive, Kleines Klingental (Lower Klingen Valley) with Museum Klingental, Art Museum of Basel with Copperplate Collection, Natural History Museum of Basel and the Museum of Cultures Basel, Museum of Modern Art Basel with the E. Hoffmann collection, St. Alban-Rheinweg 60, Museum Jean Tinguely Basel, Music Museum, Pharmacy Historical Museum of the University of Basel, Poster Collection of the School for Design (Schule für Gestaltung), Swiss Business Archives, Sculpture Hall, Sports Museum of Switzerland, Archives of the Canton of Basel-Stadt, UBS AG Corporate Archives, University Library with manuscripts and music collection, Zoological Garden (Zoologischer Garten)


The law and economy faculty of the University of Basel

Inauguration ceremony of the University of Basel, 1460

Basel hosts Switzerland's oldest university, the University of Basel, dating from 1460. Erasmus, Paracelsus, Daniel Bernoulli, Leonhard Euler, Jacob Burckhardt, Friedrich Nietzsche and Karl Barth worked here.

In 2007, the ETH Zürich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich) established the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE) in Basel. The creation of the D-BSSE was driven by a Swiss-wide research initiative SystemsX, and was jointly supported by funding from the ETH Zürich, the Swiss Government, the Swiss University Conference (SUC) and private industry.[52]

Basel also hosts several academies of the Fachhochschule NW (FHNW): the FHNW Academy of Art and Design, FHNW Academy of Music, and the FHNW School of Business..[53]

Basel is renowned for various scientific societies, as the Entomological Society of Basel (Entomologische Gesellschaft Basel, EGB), which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2005.[54]

In 2000 about 57,864 or (34.7%) of the population have completed non-mandatory upper secondary education, and 27,603 or (16.6%) have completed additional higher education (either university or a Fachhochschule). Of the 27,603 who completed tertiary schooling, 44.4% were Swiss men, 31.1% were Swiss women, 13.9% were non-Swiss men and 10.6% were non-Swiss women.[32]

In 2005 16,939 pupils and students visited the Volksschule (the obligatory school time, including Kindergarten (127), primary schools (Primarschule, 25), and lower secondary schools (Sekundarschule, 10),[55][56] of which 94% visited public schools and 39.5% were foreign nationals. In 2010 already 51.1% of all pupils spoke another language than German as their first language. In 2009 3.1% of the pupils visited special classes for pupils with particular needs. The average amount of study in primary school in Basel is 816 teaching hours per year.[57]

In 2010 65% of the youth finished their upper secondary education with a vocational training and education, 18% finished their upper secondary education with a Federal Matura at one of the five gymnasiums, 5% completed a Fachmaturität at the FMS, 5% completed a Berufsmaturität synchronosly to their vocational training, and 7% other kind of upper secondary maturity. 14.1% of all students at public gymnasiums were foreign nationals. The Maturity quota in 2010 was on a record high at 28.8% (32.8 female, 24.9% male).[57]

Basel has five public gymnasiums (Gymnasium Bäumlihof, Gymnasium Kirschgarten, Gymnasium am Münsterplatz, Gymnasium Leonhard, Wirtschaftsgymnasium), each with its own profiles (different focus on major subjects, such as visual design, biology and chemistry, Italian, Spanish, or Latin languages, music, physics and applied mathematics, philosophy/education/psychology, and economics and law) that entitles students with a successful Matura graduation to attend universities. And one Fachmaturitätsschule, the FMS, with six different major subjects (health/nutral sciences, education, social work, design/art, music/theatre/dance, and communication/media) that entitles students with a successful Fachmatura graduation to attend Fachhochschulen. Four different höhere Fachschulen (higher vocational schools such as Bildungszentrum Gesundheit Basel-Stadt (health), Allgemeine Gewerbeschule Basel (trade), Berufsfachschule Basel, Schule für Gestaltung Basel (design)) allows vocational students to improve their knowledge and know-how.[58]

In 2010 11,912 students attended the University of Basel (55% female). 25% were foreign nationals, 16% were from canton of Basel-Stadt. In 2006 6162 students studied at one of the nine academies of the FHNW (51% female).[57]

As of 2000, there were 5,820 students in Basel who came from another municipality, while 1,116 residents attended schools outside the municipality.[39]

Basel counts several International Schools including academia International School, École Française de Bâle, Freies Gymnasium Basel (private), Gymnasium am Münsterplatz (public), Schweizerisch-italienische Primarschule "Sandro Pertini", and Swiss International School (Basel).

Basel is home to at least 65 libraries. Some of the largest include; the Universitätsbibliothek Basel (main university library), the special libraries of the Universität Basel, the Allgemein Bibliotheken der GGG Basel, the Library of the Pädagogische Hochschule, the Library of the Hochschule für Soziale Arbeit and the Library of the Hochschule für Wirtschaft. There was a combined total (as of 2008) of 8,443,643 books or other media in the libraries, and in the same year a total of 1,722,802 items were loaned out.[59]


Geo-politically, the city of Basel functions as the capital of the Swiss half-canton of Basel-Stadt, though several of its suburbs are located in the half-canton of Basel-Landschaft or the canton of Aargau. A few outer suburbs are even located in France and Germany.

In the 2007 federal election the most popular party was the SP which received 37.1% of the vote. The next three most popular parties were the SVP (18.08%), the Green Party (12.97%) and the FDP (10.99%). In the federal election, a total of 51,012 votes were cast, and the voter turnout was 51.4%.[60]


Basel is at the forefront of a national vision to more than halve energy use in Switzerland by 2050. In order to research, develop and commercialise the technologies and techniques required for the country to become a '2000 Watt society', a number of projects have been set up since 2001 in the Basel metropolitan area. These including demonstration buildings constructed to MINERGIE or Passivhaus standards, electricity generation from renewable energy sources,[61] and vehicles using natural gas, hydrogen and biogas.[62]

A hot dry rock geothermal energy project was cancelled in 2009 since it caused induced seismicity in Basel.

Notable people born or resident in Basel[]

(Please add alphabetically by surname)

  • Chiara Banchini (born 1946), violinist and conductor.
  • Karl Barth (1886–1968), Reformed Protestant theologian.
  • Gustav Bertha (Gordon Bell) (born 1969), singer-songwriter.
  • Shemsi Beqiri (born 1986), kickboxer.
  • Bernoulli family
    • Daniel Bernoulli (1700–1782), mathematician.
    • James Bernoulli (1654–1705), mathematician.
    • Johann Bernoulli (1667–1748), mathematician.
  • Peter Birkhäuser (1911–1976), painter.
  • Arnold Böcklin (1827-1901), painter
  • Markus Brüderlin (1958–2014), art historian, curator, writer and director of the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg.
  • Gottlieb Burckhardt (1836–1907), psychiatrist, father of modern psychosurgery.
  • Jacob Burckhardt (1818–1897), historian, theologian, philosopher.
  • Florian Burkhardt (born 1974), composer, author.
  • John Calvin (born 1509), minister.
  • Arthur Cohn (born 1927), film producer.
  • Jean Daetwyler (1907–1994), alphorn composer.
  • Eren Derdiyok (born 1988), footballer.
  • Alice Eckenstein (1890–1984), Swiss child rescuer in occupied Belgium during WW I.
  • Erasmus (c.1466–1536), Biblical scholar, humanist, theologian.
  • Leonhard Euler (1707–1783), mathematician.
  • Roger Federer (born 1981), tennis player.
  • John Foxe (1517–1587), English Protestant and Marian exile.
  • Alexander Frei (born 1979), footballer.
  • Katy French (1983–2007), model and socialite.
  • Urs Graf (1485-possibly 1530), Renaissance print-maker and artist.
  • Georg Friedrich Haas (born 1953), Austrian composer.
  • Jakob Emanuel Handmann (1718–1781), painter.
  • Johann Peter Hebel (1760–1826), poet and author.
  • Albert Hofmann (1906–2008), chemist, discoverer of LSD.
  • Hans Holbein the Younger (c. 1497- 1543) German painter and printmaker of the Renaissance.
  • Agostino Imondi (1975), filmmaker
  • Ana Ivanović (born 1987), tennis player.
  • Niels Kai Jerne (1911–1994), immunologist
  • Carl Gustav Jung (1875–1961), psychiatrist.
  • Lojze Kovačič (1928-2004), Slovene writer
  • Lucius Munatius Plancus (c. 87 BC–c. 15 BC), Basel's founder.
  • Christian von Mechel (1737-1817), engraver, publisher, art dealer.
  • Merian family
    • Matthäus Merian 1593–1650, engraver and publisher.
    • Christoph Merian (1800–1858), banker and businessman.
  • Joachim Meyer (c. 1537?–1571), fencer and author.
  • Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900), German philosopher.
  • Žarko Dolinar (1920–2003), Croatian scientist and table tennis player
  • Paracelsus (1493–1541), scientist.
  • Ricco (1915–1972), painter.
  • Dieter Roth (1930-1998), artist.
  • Trudi Roth (born 1930), actress.
  • Paul Sacher (1906–1999), conductor, archivist and musical patron
  • Martin Schenkel (1968–2003), actor and musician
  • Frithjof Schuon (1907–1998), religious philosopher.
  • Adrian Sieber (born 1972), singer.
  • Hopkinson Smith (born 1946), American lutenist.
  • Andreas Vesalius (1446), pioneering anatomist.
  • Tilo Wolff (born 1972), industrial producer, vocalist and keyboards (Hall of Sermon, Lacrimosa, Snakeskin)
  • Hakan Yakin (born 1977), footballer.


Basel has a reputation in Switzerland as a successful sporting city. The football club FC Basel continues to be successful and in recognition of this the city was one of the Swiss venues for the 2008 European Championships, as well as Geneva, Zürich and Bern. The championships were jointly hosted by Switzerland and Austria. BSC Old Boys and Concordia Basel are the other football teams in Basel.

Among the most popular sports in Switzerland is Ice hockey.[63] Basel is home to the EHC Basel who play in the Swiss National League B. They play their home games at the St. Jakob Arena.

Basel features a large football stadium that has been awarded four stars by UEFA, a modern ice hockey hall, and an admitted sports hall.

A large indoor tennis event takes place in Basel every October. Some of the best ATP-Professionals play every year at the Swiss Indoors, including Switzerland's biggest sporting hero and frequent participant Roger Federer, a Basel native who describes the city as "one of the most beautiful cities in the world".


"Switzerland protecting Strasbourg" by Bartoldi

Basel has a thriving cultural life. (In 1997, it contended to become the "European Capital of Culture", though the honor went instead to Thessaloniki) Basel is the home of the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, founded in 1933, a worldwide centre for research on and performance of music from the Medieval through the Baroque eras. Theater Basel presents a busy schedule of plays in addition to being home to the city's opera and ballet companies. Basel is home to the largest orchestra in Switzerland, the Sinfonieorchester Basel. It is also the home of the Kammerorchester Basel, which is recording the complete symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven for the Sony label led by its music director Giovanni Antonini. The Schola Cantorum and the Basler Kammerorchester were both founded by the conductor Paul Sacher who went on to commission works by many leading composers. The Paul Sacher Foundation, opened in 1986, houses a major collection of manuscripts, including the entire Igor Stravinsky archive. The baroque orchestras La Cetra and Capriccio Basel are also based in Basel. In May 2004, the fifth European Festival of Youth Choirs (Europäisches Jugendchorfestival, or EJCF) choir festival opened: this Basel tradition started in 1992. Host of this festival is the local Basel Boys Choir.


The carnival of the city of Basel (Basler Fasnacht) is a major cultural event in the year. The carnival is the biggest in Switzerland and attracts large crowds every year, despite the fact that it starts at exactly four in the morning (Morgestraich) on a winter Monday. The Fasnacht asserts Basel's Protestant history by commencing the revelry five days after Ash Wednesday and continuing day and night for exactly 72 hours. Almost all study and work in the old city cease. Dozens of fife and drum clubs parade in medieval guild tradition with fantastical masks and illuminated lanterns, eventually yielding to other loud and irreverent festivity. Basel is also host to the Basel Tattoo and a number of fairs.


Basler Zeitung ("BaZ"), TagesWoche and bz Basel are the local newspapers. The local TV Station is called telebasel.


There are a number of culinary specialties originating in Basel, including Basler Läckerli cookies and Mässmogge candies.


the Antelope House at Zoo Basel

Zoo Basel is, with over 1.7 million visitors per year,[64] the most visited tourist attraction in Basel and the second most visited tourist attraction in Switzerland.[65]

Established in 1874, Zoo Basel is the oldest zoo in Switzerland and, by number of animals, the largest. Through its history, Zoo Basel has had several breeding successes, such as the first worldwide Indian rhinoceros birth[66] and Greater flamingo hatch[67] in a zoo. These and other achievements led Forbes Travel to rank Zoo Basel as one of the fifteen best zoos in the world in 2008.[68]

Despite its international fame, Basel's population remains attached to Zoo Basel, which is entirely surrounded by the city of Basel. Evidence of this is the millions of donations money each year, as well as Zoo Basel's unofficial name: locals lovingly call "their" zoo "Zolli" by which is it known throughout Basel and most of Switzerland.



Tinguely Museum

The Basel museums cover a broad and diverse spectrum of collections with a marked concentration in the fine arts. They house numerous holdings of international significance. The over three dozen institutions yield an extraordinarily high density of museums compared to other cities of similar size and draw over one million visitors annually.

Constituting an essential component of Basel culture and cultural policy, the museums are the result of closely interwoven private and public collecting activities and promotion of arts and culture going back to the 16th century. The public museum collection was first created back in 1661 and represents the oldest public collection in continuous existence. Since the late 1980s, various private collections have been made accessible to the public in new purpose-built structures that have been recognized as acclaimed examples of avant-garde museum architecture.

  • Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig Ancient cultures of the mediterranean museum[69]
  • Augusta Raurica Roman open-air museum[70]
  • Basel Paper Mill (German: Basler Papiermühle)[71]
  • Beyeler Foundation (Foundation Beyeler) Beyeler Museum (Fondation Beyeler)
  • Botanical Garden Basel One of the oldest botanical gardens in the world
  • Caricature & Cartoon Museum Basel (German: Karikatur & Cartoon Museum Basel)[72]
  • Dollhouse Museum (German: Puppenhausmuseum)[73]
  • Foundation Fernet Branca (French: Fondation Fernet Branca) in Saint-Louis, Haut-Rhin near Basel.[74] Modern art collection.
  • Historical Museum Basel (German: Historisches Museum Basel)[75]
  • Kunsthalle Basel Modern and contemporary art museum[76]
  • Kunstmuseum Basel Upper Rhenish and Flemish paintings, drawings from 1400 to 1600 and 19th- to 21st-century art[77]
  • Monteverdi Automuseum[78]
  • Museum of Cultures Basel (German: Museum der Kulturen Basel) Large collections on European and non-Europeancultural life[79]
  • Museum of Contemporary Art Art from the 1960s up to the present[80]
  • Music Museum (German: Musikmuseum) of the Basel Historic Museum
  • Natural History Museum of Basel (German: Naturhistorisches Museum Basel)[81]
  • Pharmazie-Historisches Museum der Universität Basel[82]
  • Puppenhausmuseum – a museum houring the largest teddy bear collection in Europe.
  • Schaulager Modern and contemporary art museum[83]
  • Swiss Architecture Museum (German: Schweizerisches Architekturmuseum)[84]
  • Tinguely Museum Life and work of the major Swiss iron sculptor Jean Tinguely[85]
  • Vitra Design Museum Museum in Weil am Rhein near Basel[86]



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This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Basel. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.