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 states in the modern Latin name: "Regio TriRhena"). It has an old university.

Table of contents
1 Communications
2 Industry and Trade
3 History and science
4 Architecture
5 Education
6 Politics
7 Famous children of Basel
8 Sport
9 Culture


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 exclave in France: a national 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 Federal Swiss trade fair (Mustermesse) takes place in Kleinbasel on the right bank of the Rhine.

The Swiss chemical industry is 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". In 1356 the city was destroyed by an earthquake.

Basel became the focal point of western Christendom during the 15th-century Council of Basel.

See also: pharmacopoeia


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 1459. Erasmus, Paracelsus, Daniel Bernoulli, Leonhard Euler and Friedrich 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-Stadt, though several of its suburbs form part of the half-canton of Basel-Landschaft or of the canton of Aargau.

Famous children of Basel


Basel is the most successful sport city in Switzerland. The
soccer club FC Basel was and is very successful. The European Soccer Championships 2008 will be in Basel as soon as in Geneva, Zürich and Bern. The Championships will be in Switzerland and Austria. The greatest tennis indoor event in Europe is in Basel every october. The best ATP-Professionals are playing every year at the "Davidoff Swiss Indoors". In 2002, the World Judo Championships were in Basel. There is also a big soccer stadium, a modern ice hockey hall and an admitted sports hall.


Basel is one of the most important cultural cities in Europe. In
1997, it was a candidate for the "European Capital of Culture". In May 2004, the admitted EJCF is expected to be held. It will be the fourth (first time: 1995).