Geneva (pron.: /dʒɨˈniːvə/; French: Genève, IPA: [ʒə.nɛv]; Arpitan: Genèva, IPA: [dzəˈnɛva] and German: Genf; IPA: [gɛnf][note 1]) is the second most populous city in Switzerland (after Zurich) and is the most populous city of Romandy, the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Situated where the Rhone exits Lake Geneva, it is the capital of the Republic and Canton of Geneva. The municipality (ville de Genève) has a population (as of June 2012) of 192,385, and the canton (République et Canton de Genève, which includes the city) has 468,194 residents. In 2007, the urban area, or agglomération franco-valdo-genevoise (Great Geneva or Grand Genève in French) had 1,240,000 inhabitants in 189 municipalities in both Switzerland and France. The economic area «Great Geneva-Bern area» has 2.9 million inhabitants.
Geneva is a global city, a financial centre, and worldwide centre for diplomacy and the most important UN international co-operation centre with New York thanks to the presence of numerous international organizations, including the headquarters of many of the agencies of the United Nations and the Red Cross. It is also the place where the Geneva Conventions were signed, which chiefly concern the treatment of wartime non-combatants and prisoners of war.
Geneva was ranked as the world’s ninth most important financial centre for competitiveness by the Global Financial Centres Index, ahead of Frankfurt, and third in Europe after London and Zurich. and a 2009 survey by Mercer found Geneva to have the third-highest quality of life of any city in the world (behind Vienna and Zurich for expatriate people; it is narrowly outranked by Zurich). However, the quality of life has repeatedly caused complaints at the local level in the latest years, because of issues such as security (hold-ups, thefts, drug trafficking), health management, as well as an inefficient public transport system. Nevertheless, the city has been referred to as the world’s most compact metropolis and the «Peace Capital». In 2009 and 2011, Geneva was ranked as, respectively, the fourth and fifth most expensive city in the world.
For the Catholic ecclesiastical history, see Lausanne and Geneva bishopric(s).
Geneva was a border town, fortified against the Celtic tribe Helvetii, when the Romans took it in 121 BC. It became Christian under the Late Roman Empire, and acquired its first bishop at this time. In the Middle Ages, Geneva was ruled by a count under the Holy Roman Empire until the late 14th century, when it was granted a charter giving it a high degree of self-governance. Around this time the House of Savoy came to (at least nominally) dominate the city. In the 15th century, an oligarchic republican government emerged with the creation of the Grand Council. In the first half of the 16th century, the Protestant Reformation reached the city, causing religious strife during which Savoy rule was thrown off and Geneva flirted with joining the Swiss Federation. In 1536, with Protestantism in the ascendancy, John Calvin, the founder of Calvinism, became the spiritual leader of the city. By the 18th century, however, Geneva had come under the influence of Catholic France, which cultivated the city elite, who tended to be at odds with the ordinary townsfolk – to the point that an abortive revolution took place in 1782. In 1798, revolutionary France under the Directory annexed Geneva. At the end of the Napoleonic Wars, in 1815, Geneva was admitted to the Swiss Confederation. In 1907, the separation of Church and State was adopted. Geneva flourished in the 19th and 20th centuries, becoming the seat of many international organizations