The city of Basel is located in Northern Switzerland, along the banks of the River Rhine. Basel spans over a small area of 22.75 km2 and is inhabited by 177,595 people (2018), making it the third-most populous region in Switzerland, after Zurich and Geneva. The greater metropolitan area has a population of 567,000 (source: macrotrends.net) and is divided into 19 ‘quartieres’ and districts, each of which is delegated legislative powers and oversees the administration of local services. It is a picturesque city of great cultural and historical importance.
Basel has excellent access to the central European markets, as it is located on the cornering borders of France and Germany. Switzerland declined membership into the European Union and uses the Swiss Franc (CHF) as its currency.
Basel is among the top vibrant economy in Switzerland and is among the most innovative and productive cities in the world. Basel-Stadt employs more than 199,000 people from Switzerland as well as other nations.
Banking is central to the development of Basel’s economy. Many large banking institutions are located in the financial district, such as the UBS, Baumann & Cie, and E.Gutzwiller. Four large Swiss-owned insurance companies are also located in the city center and combined, and they employ a total of 10,000 people. Basel has the largest nominal GDP capita out of any city in Switzerland.
Switzerland’s pharmaceutical industry is based in and around the city of Basel, with over 45 research facilities and laboratories operating in the area. Many large pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies have chosen to have their headquarters in the city, such as Basilea Pharmaceutica, Novartis, Syngenta, Clariant, and Hoffmann-La Rouch. As a result, several critical chemical creations have been discovered in Basel, such as Valium, DDT, and LSD.
The tourism industry may not be as prominent as in cities such as Geneva; however, the picturesque scenery and architecture pull a steady stream of visitors to the city, most of whom originate from neighboring European countries. Like the rest of Switzerland, Basel has a low unemployment rate of around 4% (2018).
Basel is served by the EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg (BSL), located 6km northwest of the city center on French soil. It is unique because two airports jointly own it, and although it is located in France, an agreement allows people entering from Switzerland to have access to the border without any customs restrictions. The airport operates flights to around 50 European destinations, mainly Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom. It handles 4.7 million passengers annually. A separate cargo terminal is a base for six cargo airlines transporting freight to the United Kingdom, Germany, and Kuala Lumpur.
Basel is a rail transportation hub, with three train lines crossing through the city: Basel SBB, Bale SNCF, and Basel Badischer Bahnhof. Local rail transport services are operated by Basel-Regional S-Bahn, which provides comfortable travel options in and around the city and the bordering countries of France and Germany.
Transport across the River Rhine is made possible by road travel over one of the five bridges. Frequent ferry services also run to and from both river banks and only use hydraulic power as an energy source. The public transportation system in Basel is also well maintained and operated, with an extensive network of trams and buses, which are mostly environmentally friendly and run on overhead power lines or natural gasses.
Basel has a strong, motivated, and highly skilled workforce, many foreign nationals based in the city. A small percentage of the labor force commute from France, Germany, and outer Swiss towns to work within the city of Basel. It is estimated that 150 different nationalities reside within Basel’s metropolitan area. A dialect of Swiss-German is the official language; however, English is widely spoken, and many Swiss nationals are multi-lingual.
The University of Basel is the oldest in the country. It was established in 1460 and has since grown into a modern and prestigious university considered one of the leading institutes in Switzerland. The university has seven faculties and specializes in Law, Business, Economics, and Medicine; it offers numerous undergraduate and post-graduate internationally accredited degree programs. More than 11,000 students currently study in the university. The international school of Basel (ISB) educates students up to the 12th grade and has over 1000 students (2021). Attending primary and secondary school is compulsory up to the age of 16; it is also accessible for Swiss nationals or the offspring of people who work in the country.
The high-quality educational institutes located in Basel, and the rest of the country, produce a proficient, highly trained workforce and a high national literacy rate of 99%. People in Switzerland are also highly self-motivated and work an average of 42.3 hours per week, which is some of the most extended working hours in Europe.
Basel has one of the most stable office rental and housing markets in Europe, which maintained strength throughout the global economic difficulties experienced in 2016. Rental costs for the Basel region are also lower than the larger cities of Zurich and Geneva, where costs are an average of $84.20 and $78.97 per square foot per annum, respectively.
Switzerland’s tax levels are dependent on what canton and municipality the business is located in; however, a flat federal tax rate applies to all areas in Switzerland. In 2019 there were several tax cuts across many communes to attract more foreign investment and wealthy ex-pats to the area. The corporate tax rates range from 10 – 25%, and charitable companies are exempt from paying any tax. The same applies to personal tax rates, whereby each municipality levies its tax rates; however, the rate will never exceed 40% of the total income earned.
There are no minimum wage rates set for Switzerland, but the average salary is higher than the average salary rates of most Western European countries.
Basel has a beneficial central European location, a well-developed infrastructure, and a skilled workforce, making it a stable base for international and foreign business.