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City on the Rhine, in Switzerland

Top 10 Basel related articles

View from the Rhine
Location of Basel
Coordinates: 47°33′17″N 07°35′26″E / 47.55472°N 7.59056°E / 47.55472; 7.59056Coordinates: 47°33′17″N 07°35′26″E / 47.55472°N 7.59056°E / 47.55472; 7.59056
 • ExecutiveRegierungsrat
with 7 members
 • MayorRegierungspräsident/in (list)
Beat Jans SPS/PSS
(as of January 2021)
 • ParliamentGrosser Rat
with 100 members
 • Total23.85 km2 (9.21 sq mi)
261 m (856 ft)
Highest elevation
(Wasserturm Bruderholz)
366 m (1,201 ft)
Lowest elevation
(Rhine shore, national border at Kleinhüningen)
244.75 m (802.99 ft)
 • Total177,595
 • Density7,400/km2 (19,000/sq mi)
DemonymsGerman: Basler(in), French: Bâlois(e), Italian: Basilese
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (Central European Time)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (Central European Summer Time)
Postal code(s)
SFOS number2701
Surrounded byAllschwil (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)
Twin townsShanghai, Miami Beach
SFSO statistics

Basel (/ˈbɑːzəl/ BAH-zəl, German: [ˈbaːzl̩] ( listen)) or Basle (/bɑːl/ BAHL; French: Bâle [bɑl]; Italian: Basilea [baziˈlɛːa]; Romansh: Basilea [baziˈleːɐ] ( listen)) is a city in northwestern Switzerland on the river Rhine. Basel is Switzerland's third-most-populous city (after Zürich and Geneva) with about 180,000 inhabitants.[3] The official language of Basel is (the Swiss variety of Standard) German, but the main spoken language is the local Basel German dialect.

Basel is commonly considered to be the cultural capital of Switzerland.[4][5][6] Basel is famous for its many museums, ranging from the Kunstmuseum, the first collection of art accessible to the public in the world (1661) and the largest museum of art in Switzerland, to the Fondation Beyeler (located in Riehen) and the Museum of Contemporary Art (Basel), the first public museum of contemporary art in Europe.[7] Forty museums are spread throughout the city-canton, making Basel one of the largest cultural centres in relation to its size and population in Europe.

The University of Basel, Switzerland's oldest university (founded in 1460), and the city's centuries-long commitment to humanism, have made Basel a safe haven at times of political unrest in other parts of Europe for such notable people as Erasmus of Rotterdam, the Holbein family, Friedrich Nietzsche, and in the 20th century also Hermann Hesse and Karl Jaspers.

Basel has been the seat of a Prince-Bishopric since the 11th century, and joined the Swiss Confederacy in 1501. The city has been a commercial hub and an important cultural centre since the Renaissance, and has emerged as a centre for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries in the 20th century. In 1897, Basel was chosen by Theodor Herzl as the location for the first World Zionist Congress, and altogether the congress has been held there ten times over a time span of 50 years, more than in any other location. The city is also home to the world headquarters of the Bank for International Settlements. The name of the city is internationally known through institutions like the Basel Accords, Art Basel and FC Basel.

In 2019 Basel was ranked among the ten most liveable cities in the world by Mercer together with Zürich and Geneva.[8]

The Rhine river with the old town of Basel to the right

Basel Intro articles: 24


Early history

The Roman theatre in Augusta Raurica

There are traces of a settlement at the nearby Rhine knee from the early La Tène period (5th century BC). In the 2nd century BC, there was a village of the Raurici at the site of Basel-Gasfabrik(to the northwest of the Old City, and likely identical with the town of Arialbinnum that was mentioned on the Tabula Peutingeriana).[9] The unfortified settlement was abandoned in the 1st century BC in favour of an oppidum on the site of Basel Minster, probably in reaction to the Roman invasion of Gaul.

In Roman Gaul, Augusta Raurica was established some 20 km (12 mi) from Basel as the regional administrative centre, while a castrum (fortified camp) was built on the site of the Celtic oppidum. In AD 83, the area was incorporated into the Roman province of Germania Superior. Roman control over the area deteriorated in the 3rd century, and Basel became an outpost of the Provincia Maxima Sequanorum formed by Diocletian. Basilia is first named as part of the Roman military fortifications along the Rhine in the late 4th century.

The Germanic confederation of the Alemanni attempted to cross the Rhine several times in the 4th century, but were repelled; one such event was the Battle of Solicinium (368). However, in the great invasion of AD 406, the Alemanni appear to have crossed the Rhine river a final time, conquering and then settling what is today Alsace and a large part of the Swiss Plateau.

The Duchy of Alemannia fell under Frankish rule in the 6th century. The Alemannic and Frankish settlement of Basel gradually grew around the old Roman castle in the 6th and 7th century. It appears that Basel surpassed the ancient regional capital of Augusta Raurica by the 7th century, Based on the evidence of a gold tremissis (a small gold coin with the value of a third of a solidus) with the inscription Basilia fit, Basel seems to have minted its own coins in the 7th century.[10]

Basel at this time was part of the Archdiocese of Besançon. A separate bishopric of Basel, replacing the ancient bishopric of Augusta Raurica, was established in the 8th century. Under bishop Haito (r. 806–823), the first cathedral was built on the site of the Roman castle (replaced by a Romanesque structure consecrated in 1019).

At the partition of the Carolingian Empire, Basel was first given to West Francia, but it passed to East Francia with the treaty of Meerssen of 870. Basel was destroyed by the Magyars in 917. The rebuilt town became part of Upper Burgundy, and as such was incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire in 1032.

Prince-Bishopric of Basel

Basel Minster, built between 1019 and 1500

From the donation by Rudolph III of Burgundy[11] of the Moutier-Grandval Abbey and all its possessions to Bishop Adalbero II of Metz in 999 until the Reformation, Basel was ruled by Prince-Bishops.[12]

In 1019, the construction of the cathedral of Basel (known locally as the Münster) began under Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor.[13]

In the 11th to 12th century, Basel gradually acquired the characteristics of a medieval city. The main market place is first mentioned in 1091. The first city walls were constructed around 1100 (with improvements made in the mid-13th and in the late 14th century). A city council of nobles and burghers is recorded for 1185, and the first mayor, Heinrich Steinlin of Murbach, for 1253. The first bridge across the Rhine was built in 1225 under bishop Heinrich von Thun (at the location of the modern Middle Bridge), and from this time the settlement of Kleinbasel gradually formed around the bridgehead on the far river bank. The bridge was largely funded by Basel's Jewish community who 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 first city guild were the furriers, established in 1226. A total of about fifteen guilds were established in the course of the 13th century, reflecting the increasing economic prosperity of the city.[14] The Crusade of 1267 set out from Basel.

Political conflicts between the bishops and the burghers begin in the mid-13th century and continue throughout the 14th century. By the late 14th century, the city was for all practical purposes independent although it continued to nominally pledge fealty to the bishops. The House of Habsburg attempted to gain control over the city. This was not successful, but it caused a political split among the burghers of Basel into a pro-Habsburg faction, known as Sterner, and an anti-Habsburg faction, the Psitticher.

The Black Death reached Basel in 1348. The Jews were blamed, and an estimated 50 to 70 Jews were executed by burning on 16 January 1349 in what has become known as the Basel massacre.[14] The Basel earthquake of 1356 destroyed much of the city along with a number of castles in the vicinity.

A riot on 26 February 1376, known as Böse Fasnacht, led to the killing of a number of men of Leopold III, Duke of Austria. This was seen as a serious breach of the peace, and the city council blamed "foreign ruffians" for this and executed twelve alleged perpetrators. Leopold nevertheless had the city placed under imperial ban, and in a treaty of 9 July, Basel was given a heavy fine and was placed under Habsburg control. To free itself from Habsburg hegemony, Basel joined the Swabian League of Cities in 1385, and many knights of the pro-Habsburg faction, along with duke Leopold himself, were killed in the Battle of Sempach the following year. A formal treaty with Habsburg was made in 1393.

Basel had gained its de facto independence from both the bishop and from the Habsburgs and was free to pursue its own policy of territorial expansion, beginning around 1400.

The unique representation of a bishops' crozier as the heraldic charge in the coat of arms of Basel first appears in the form of a gilded wooden staff in the 12th century. It is of unknown origin or significance (beyond its obvious status of bishop's crozier), but it is assumed to have represented a relic, possibly attributed to Saint Germanus of Granfelden.[15] This staff (known as Baselstab) became a symbol representing the Basel diocese, depicted in bishops' seals of the late medieval period. It is represented in a heraldic context in the early 14th century, not yet as a heraldic charge but as a kind of heraldic achievement flanked by the heraldic shields of the bishop. The staff is also represented in the bishops's seals of the period. The use of the Baselstab in black as the coat of arms of the city was introduced in 1385. From this time, the Baselstab in red represented the bishop, and the same charge in black represented the city. The blazon of the municipal coat of arms is In Silber ein schwarzer Baselstab (Argent, a staff of Basel sable).[16]

1493 woodcut of Basle, from the Nuremberg Chronicle

In 1412 (or earlier), the well-known Gasthof 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.[17] In 1495, Basel was incorporated into the Upper Rhenish Imperial Circle; the Bishop of Basel was added to the Bench of the Ecclesiastical Princes of the Imperial Diet. 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.[18]

On 9 June 1501, Basel joined the Swiss Confederation as its eleventh canton.[19] It was the only canton that was 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. 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.[20][21]

In 1503, the new bishop Christoph von Utenheim refused to give Basel a new constitution; whereupon, to show its power, the city began to build 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 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.[22]

In 1544, Johann von Brugge, a rich Dutch Protestant refugee, was given citizenship and lived respectably 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).[23]

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 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.[24] 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.[25]

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

First World Zionist Congress in Basel, 1897 (Stadtcasino)

In 1897 the first World Zionist Congress was held in Basel. Altogether the World Zionist Congress was held in Basel ten times, more than in any other city in the world.[26]

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

In 1967, the population of Basel voted in favor of buying three works of art by painter Pablo Picasso which were at risk of being be sold and taken out of the local museum of art, due to a financial crisis on the part of the owner's family. Therefore, Basel became the first city in the world where the population of a political community democratically decided to acquire works of art for a public institution. Pablo Picasso was so moved by the gesture that he subsequently gifted the city with an additional three paintings.[27]

Basel as a historical, 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 from 29 August through 31 August 1897. Because of the Balkan Wars, the (Socialist) 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 History articles: 117


The name of Basel is first recorded as Basilia in the 3rd century (237/8), at the time referring to the Roman castle. This name is mostly interpreted as deriving from the personal name Basilius, from a toponym villa Basilia ("estate of Basilius") or similar.

Another suggestion derives it from a name Basilia attested in northern France as a development of basilica, the term for a public or church building (as in Bazeilles), but all of these names reference early church buildings of the 4th or 5th century and cannot be adduced for the 3rd-century attestation of Basilia.[28][29]

By popular etymology, or simple assonance, the basilisk becomes closely associated with the city, used as heraldic supporter from 1448, represented on coins minted by the city, and frequently found in ornaments.

The Middle French form Basle was adopted into English. French Basle was still in use in the 18th century, but was gradually replaced by the modern French spelling Bâle. In English usage, the French spelling Basle continues to be used alongside the German spelling Basel. In Icelandic, the city is recorded as Buslaraborg in the 12th-century itinerary Leiðarvísir og borgarskipan.

Basel Name articles: 5

Geography and climate


Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany. As of 2016, the Swiss Basel agglomeration was the third-largest in Switzerland, with a population of 541,000[30] in 74 municipalities in Switzerland (municipal count as of 2018).[31] The initiative Trinational Eurodistrict Basel (TEB) of 62 suburban communes including municipalities in neighboring countries, counted 829,000 inhabitants in 2007.[32] Basel is the most densely populated city in Switzerland.


Basel (in the upper left corner) as seen from Bettingen (television tower St. Chrischona) facing France

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.[33]

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.[33]


Under the Köppen system, Basel features a continental-influenced oceanic climate (Köppen: Cfb),[34] due to its relatively far inland position. The city averages 120.4 days of rain or snow annually 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.[35]

Climate data for Basel (Binningen), elevation: 316 m (1,037 ft), 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1901–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 19.0
Average high °C (°F) 4.5
Daily mean °C (°F) 1.6
Average low °C (°F) −1.1
Record low °C (°F) −24.2
Average precipitation mm (inches) 47
Average snowfall cm (inches) 8.9
Average 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
Average 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
Average relative humidity (%) 81 76 70 68 72 71 70 72 77 81 82 82 75
Mean monthly sunshine hours 67 80 119 149 175 196 223 206 150 104 68 52 1,590
Percent possible sunshine 29 32 36 40 41 45 51 53 45 36 29 25 40
Source 1: MeteoSwiss[36]
Source 2: KNMI[37]

Basel Geography and climate articles: 8


The city of Basel functions as the capital of the Swiss half-canton of Basel-Stadt.


The canton Basel-Stadt consists of three municipalities: Riehen, Bettingen, and the city Basel itself. The political structure and agencies of the city and the canton are identical.



The city itself has 19 quarters:

  • Grossbasel (Greater Basel):
1 Altstadt Grossbasel
2 Vorstädte
3 Am Ring
4 Breite
5 St. Alban
6 Gundeldingen
7 Bruderholz
8 Bachletten
9 Gotthelf
10 Iselin
11 St. Johann
  • Kleinbasel (Lesser Basel):
12 Altstadt Kleinbasel
13 Clara
14 Wettstein
15 Hirzbrunnen
16 Rosental
17 Matthäus
18 Klybeck
19 Kleinhüningen


The canton's executive, the Executive Council (Regierungsrat), consists of seven members for a mandate period of 4 years. They are elected by any inhabitant valid to vote on the same day as the parliament, but by means of a system of Majorz, and operates as a collegiate authority. The president (German: Regierungspräsident(in)) is elected as such by a public election, while the heads of the other departments are appointed by the collegiate. The current president is Dr Guy Morin. The executive body holds its meetings in the red Town Hall (German: Rathaus) on the central Marktplatz. The building was built in 1504–14.

As of 2016, Basel's Executive Council is made up of three representatives of the SP (Social Democratic Party), and one member each of Green Alliance of Basel (GB) (who is the president), FDP (Free Democratic Party), LDP (Liberal-Demokratische Partei of Basel), and CVP (Christian Democratic Party), giving the left parties a combined four out of seven seats.[38] The last election was held on 23 October and 27 November 2016.[39]

The Regierungsrat of Basel[38] for the mandate period 2017–21
Councillor (Regierungsrat/ -rätin) Party Head of Office (Departement, since) of

elected since

Elisabeth Ackermann[RR 1]   GB President's Office (Präsidialdepartement (PD), 2017) 2016
Tanja Soland   SP Finance (Finanzdepartement (FD)) 2019
Baschi Dürr   FDP Justice and Security (Justiz- und Sicherheitsdepartement (JSD), 2013) 2012
Christoph Brutschin   SP Economics, Social Services, and Environment (Departement für Wirtschaft, Soziales und Umwelt (WSU), 2009) 2008
Dr. Conradin Cramer   LDP Education (Erziehungsdepartement (ED), 2017) 2016
Dr. Hans-Peter Wessels   SP Construction and Transportation (Bau- und Verkehrsdepartement (BVD), 2009) 2008
Dr. Lukas Engelberger   CVP Health (Gesundheitsdepartement (GD), June 2014) June 2014
  1. ^ President (Regierungspräsidentin)

Barbara Schüpbach-Guggenbühlis is State Chronicler (Staatsschreiberin) since 2009, and Marco Greiner is Head of Communication (Regierungssprecher) and Vice State Chronicler (Vizestaatsschreiber) since 2007 for the Executive Council.


Grosser Rat of Basel for the mandate period of 2017–2021

  SP (35%)
  GB (13%)
  GLP (3%)
  EVP (1%)
  CVP (7%)
  LDP (15%)
  FDP (10%)
  AB (1%)
  SVP (15%)

The parliament, the Grand Council of Basel-Stadt (Grosser Rat), consists of 100 seats, with members (called in German: Grossrat/Grossrätin) elected every 4 years. The sessions of the Grand Council are public. Unlike the members of the Executive Council, the members of the Grand Council are not politicians by profession, but they are paid a fee based on their attendance. Any resident of Basel allowed to vote can be elected as a member of the parliament. The delegates are elected by means of a system of Proporz, and political parties must have surpassed an election quorum of 4% per election district to enter the council, but this will end with the next election in 2020.[40] The legislative body holds its meetings in the red Town Hall (Rathaus).

The last election was held on 23 October 2016 for the mandate period (Legislatur) of 2017–2021.[39] As of 1 February 2017, the Grand Council consist of 35 members of the Social Democratic Party (SP), 15 members of the Swiss People's Party (SVP), 13 Grünes Bündnis (GB) (a collaboration of the Green Party (GPS), its junior party, and Basels starke Alternative (BastA!)), 15 Liberal-Demokratische Partei (LDP) and its junior party, 10 The Liberals (FDP) and its junior party, the representative of the Aktive Bettingen (AB) is associated to the parliamentary group (Fraktion) of the FDP, 8 (7/1) Christian Democratic People's Party (CVP)/Evangelical People's Party (EVP), and 3 Green Liberal Party (GLP).[41]

The left parties missed an absolute majority by two seats.

Federal elections

National Council

In the 2019 federal election the most popular party was the Social Democratic Party (SP) which received two seats with 34% (−1) of the votes. The next five most popular parties were the Green Party (GPS) (19.4%, +7.3), the LPS (14.5%, +3.6) and the FDP (5.8, −3.5), which are chained together at 20.3%, (+0.1), the SVP (11.3%, ), and the Green Liberal Party (GLP) (5%, +0.6), CVP (4.1%, -1.9).[42] In the federal election, a total of 44,628 votes were cast, and the voter turnout was 49.4%.[43]

On 18 October 2015, in the federal election the most popular party was the Social Democratic Party (SP) which received two seats with 35% of the votes. The next three most popular parties were the FDP (20.2%), the SVP (16.8%), and the Green Party (GPS) (12.2%), each with one seat. In the federal election, a total of 57,304 votes were cast, and the voter turnout was 50.4%.[44]

National Councillors (Nationalrat/ -rätin) of Basle-Town 2019–2023[45]
Councillor Party part of the National Council since no. of votes
Beat Jans   SP 2010 21,869
Mustafa Atici   SP 2019 18,210[note 1]
Sibel Arslan   GPS 2015 13,582
Christoph Eymann   LDP 2015 (1991–2001) 13,220
Katja Christ   GLP 2019 13'816

Council of States

On 20 October 2019, in the federal election Eva Herzog, member of the Social Democratic Party   (SP), was elected for the first time as a State Councillor (Ständerätin) in the first round as single representative of the canton of Basel-Town and successor of Anita Fetz in the national Council of States (Ständerat) with an absolute majority of 37'210 votes.[46]

On 18 October 2015, in the federal election State Councillor (German: Ständerätin) Anita Fetz, member of the Social Democratic Party   (SP), was re-elected in the first round as single representative of the canton of Basel-Town in the national Council of States (Ständerat) with an absolute majority of 35'842 votes. She has been a member of it since 2003.[47]

International relations

Twin towns and sister cities

Basel has two sister cities and a twinning among two states:[48]

Partner cities

Basel Politics articles: 32



Largest groups of foreign residents 2013
Nationality Number % 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)
 North 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 August 2020) of 178,722.[50] As of 2015, 35.5% of the population are resident foreign nationals.[51] 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.[52]

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.[53]

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%.[54]

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.[53]

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.[52] 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.[55]:18v 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).[55]:17 As of 2000, there were 86,371 private households in the municipality, and an average of 1.8 persons per household.[52] 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.[53]

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.[56]

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.[56] As of 2009, the construction rate of new housing units was 2.6 new units per 1000 residents.[52]

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.[57] The vacancy rate for the municipality, in 2010, was 0.74%.[52]

Historical population

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
YearPop.±% p.a.
YearPop.±% p.a.
Source: [58]


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 persons who speak Romansh.[53]


The main synagogue of Basel

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 12,368 individuals (or about 7.43% of the population) who were Muslim. There were 1,325 individuals (or about 0.80% of the population) who were Jewish, however only members of religious institutions are counted as such by the municipality, which makes the actual number of people of Jewish descent living in Basel considerably higher. 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.[53]

Basel Demographics articles: 11