Commercial and industrial city, capital of Basel-Stadt demi-canton, Switzerland, situated on the Rhine at the point where the French, German, and Swiss borders meet; population (2003 est) 162,800, urban agglomeration 553,800. Manufactured goods include machinery, dyes, silk textiles, vitamins, agrochemicals, dietary products, and genetic products. Basel was a strong military station under the Romans. In 1501 it joined the Swiss confederation and later developed as a centre for the Reformation.
History Basel is mentioned as a fort, Basilia, in AD 374. It became an Episcopal see in the 7th century, then passed successively to the Alemanni, the Franks, and to Burgundy. In the 11th century it became a free imperial city and the residence of prince-bishops. It was one of the literary centres of the Reformation period and many books were printed on its presses between 1468 and 1500, of which 324 are in the British Library. The university was founded in 1460 and became famous under the Dutch scholar Erasmus.
Features There is an 11th-century cathedral (rebuilt after an earthquake in 1356), in which Erasmus is buried, a 16th-century town hall, medieval gates, and a university dating from the 15th century. The public art gallery contains paintings by German painter Hans Holbein the Younger, who lived in Basel 1515–26. Divided by the Rhine, the city consists of Greater Basel (south bank), which is the commercial and intellectual centre, and Lesser Basel, where industry is concentraeted.
Basel is the seat of the Swiss chemical and pharmaceutical industry, including the firms of Hoffman–La Roche, Sandoz, and Ciba-Geigy. The city hosts trade fairs (most notably the Swiss Industries Fair), and it is the headquarters of the Bank for International Settlements (1929).
Economy Basel is one of the chief industrial and commercial centres in Switzerland, and is the only Swiss city with an important inland port; it is at the head of navigation on the Rhine, and it is a major transportation centre with European road, rail, and waterway links.
47 33N 7 36E The second largest city in Switzerland, on the River Rhine where the French, German, and Swiss borders meet. A Roman...