The Canton (state) of Geneva is located in the west of Switzerland and is home to more than 500, 000 people, over 37 percent of whom are foreigners. The official language of the Canton is French, but English is also widely spoken. The city of Geneva itself is situated astride the river Rhône, on the southwest side of Lake Geneva/Léman, and is the third-largest city in Switzerland with a population of 201,818 people, and a density of population of 13,000/km2 (33,000/sq mi) (est. 2019).
It is a truly cosmopolitan city that plays host to hundreds of international organizations, including the European Office of the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Labour Organisation, and the World Health Organisation. There are more than 100 consulates, diplomatic missions, and international chambers of commerce in the city and numerous multinational companies such as AT&T, Compaq, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Levi Strauss, Motorola, Reuters, and Shiseido. Geneva is also one of the world’s top locations for annual congresses, meetings, and trade fairs.
Economy of Geneva
According to a Department of the Economic, Labour, and Foreign Affairs report, the tertiary sector employs 84 percent of Geneva’s working population, while the primary and secondary sectors employ 1 percent and 15 percent, respectively.
Public administration, healthcare, and business services within the tertiary sector are all critical, but the city is most noted for its banking and financial services. The concentration of banking and financial institutions in Geneva is much higher than the national average and, according to the Geneva Financial Centre, approximately 40 percent of the total volume of assets under management in Switzerland and 14 percent of worldwide cross-border assets under management are directly or indirectly controlled from the city.
Geneva’s industrial sector is primarily focused on value-added activities aimed at international markets, and these make up the majority of the city’s exports. Notable industries include chemicals and pharmaceuticals, clock and watch manufacturing, and fine jewelry production.
Standard of Living in Geneva
Geneva achieved a joint fourth position with Sidney, based on 39 political, social, economic, and environmental factors.
The city is clean, benefiting from strict laws governing air pollution that have applied throughout Switzerland since 1986, and has an efficient public transport system, first-class healthcare facilities, and one of the best education systems in the world. There is a wealth of art galleries, museums, operas, and theatres, and the cinemas screen the latest films at the same time as they are screened in New York. There are also numerous sporting facilities within the city, and the Alps are less than one hour away.
Geneva is ranked as the 28th most expensive city, below London but above Zurich, Copenhagen, Milan, Paris, Rome, and Dusseldorf.
Infrastructure of Geneva
Geneva’s airport is located just 5 kilometers outside the city. It offers flights worldwide, and most major cities within Europe, such as London, Munich, Paris, Rome, and Vienna, can be reached in just over an hour. In 2019, the airport catered for over 17,677,045 passengers.
The city’s free port has La Praille and Geneva International Airport facilities, covering some 150,000 square meters in total. Both sites are easily accessed by road and rail and offer warehouse and office space for rent. The port also offers an extensive range of services such as packing, cleaning, sorting, maintaining, and labeling goods, stock management, and shipping and customs formalities.
Excellent road and rail networks connect Geneva with the rest of Switzerland and Europe. The city is at the center of the major highway systems linking France, Italy, Germany, and Spain, and there are hundreds of trains a day between Geneva, Switzerland’s principal towns and cities, and the major cities in France, Italy, Spain, and Germany. These include the high-speed TGV to Paris, which takes just 3½ hours, and the Pendolino to Milan.
Although this comes at a price, the city benefits from a well-educated and multilingual workforce, with salaries in Geneva being relatively high. However, returns on this investment are good, as Geneva benefits from the high productivity and good industrial relations that are enjoyed throughout the country. The overall productivity in Switzerland, in terms of GDP per person employed, above that of Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, and the UK.
The unemployment rate in Switzerland in 2022 is one of the lowest in Europe, around 2.6%.