The Republic and Canton of Geneva is a Swiss canton located to the west of Lake Geneva, close to France and the departments of Ain and Haute-Savoie.

History of Geneva

A brief history of the canton and republic of Geneva in Switzerland.

Before the formation of the Republic of Geneva, the region was under the governance of the bishop. The influence of Protestantism in the 16th century, particularly with the arrival of Jean Calvin, marked a turning point in Geneva’s history.

The Republic of Geneva (1534-1798)

The Republic of Geneva was founded in 1534, marking its independence from episcopal power. During this period, Geneva experienced significant economic and intellectual growth.

Annexation by France (1798-1813)

In 1798, following the French Revolution, Geneva was annexed by France and became the capital of the département of Lake Geneva.

Independence and integration into the Swiss Confederation (1813-1815)

After the collapse of the First French Empire in 1813, Geneva regained its independence and joined the Swiss Confederation in 1815. It became the 22nd canton to be ratified by the Federal Pact.

Jet d'eau from Lake Geneva in Geneva

Geography of the canton of Geneva

Geographical location

Geneva lies in western Switzerland, between the Jura mountains and the Alps. The city is bordered by Lake Geneva and crossed by the River Rhône.

To the east, it borders the canton of Vaud, the only canton with which it has an administrative boundary on the Swiss side.

The canton of Geneva has a modest surface area of 282 km2 and a large population of around 507,000, with a density of 1,792 inhabitants per square kilometre.

Borders and relations with neighbouring countries

Surrounded on three sides by France, Geneva maintains close links with that country, notably via the Léman Express (LEX*) rail network. It works closely with the Swiss canton of Vaud and collaborates actively with the other members of the Swiss Confederation.

Communes and administrative regions

The canton of Geneva is made up of 45 communes, including the city of Geneva, which is the capital as well as the political and economic centre. The official language is French.

Republic and Canton of Geneva
Map of the communes of the Republic and Canton of Geneva

Geneva’s economy and tourism

The financial sector

Geneva is a major financial centre, home to international banks, insurance companies and investment firms.

International organisations

The presence of numerous international organisations such as the UN, WHO and CERN* contributes to Geneva’s worldwide reputation.

Tourism, attractions and festivals

Geneva is a popular tourist destination thanks to its lake, historic sites, cultural heritage and proximity to the Alps.

Numerous festivals and events are also held in Geneva every year, including the Fête de la Musique, the Film Festival, the International Forum on Human Rights and the Fêtes de Genève.

Local gastronomy

Geneva’s cuisine offers a mix of local and international flavours. Local specialities include Lake Geneva perch fillets, cheese fondue and Swiss chocolates.

Languages and dialects

French is the official language of Geneva, but English and other languages are also spoken due to the city’s international stature and its location within the Swiss confederation.

The river and Lake Geneva

Local and international politics

Environment and sustainability

Geneva is actively committed to protecting the environment, in particular through environmental policies aimed at reducing air pollution and promoting renewable energies.

The city supports innovative sustainable development projects, such as the Geneva 2030* programme, which aims to promote a circular and responsible economy.

Elections in the canton of Geneva

Cantonal elections are held every four years to elect the members of the Council of State, the canton’s executive body.

Major construction projects

Recent projects include the renovation of the Cornavin railway station and the expansion of Geneva International Airport.

International relations

Geneva plays a central role in world diplomacy thanks to its traditional neutrality and the Geneva headquarters of many international organisations.

The Republic and Canton of Geneva boasts a remarkable wealth of historical, cultural, economic and environmental treasures.

Republic and Canton of Geneva at night

Geneva on the web

From administrative procedures to political organisation, from job offers to residence applications, the official website of the Republic and Canton is the digital gateway to the territory:

Geneva Tourist Office

Whether you’re passing through or staying in Geneva, the tourism website has all the information you need to eat, sleep, go out, see, do and organise your conferences:


Hotel, rental
Activities, visits, tickets, leisure
Activities, visits, tickets, leisure