Basel is a European cultural center: Almost 40 museums, some of world renown, such as the ‘Fondation Beyeler’ and the ‘Kunstmuseum’, the Basel Theatre staging plays, operas and ballet, as well as 25 further small theatres, a musical stage, countless galleries, music stages of all sizes and over 40 cinema screens all contribute to a rich cultural life. The city ranks with the European élite in the fine arts, as is demonstrated by its hosting ‘Art Basel’, the world’s leading contemporary art fair.
A small big city
Basel is a good place to live. The city is compact. You can go anywhere really quickly – by bicycle, by tram, bus, train, or car. The city of Basel has a population of about 170,000, with a metropolitan area of about 800,000 inhabitants. And yet there is everything you would expect of a big city: arts and theatres, restaurants and an exciting night life, an interesting mix of people from all over the world, international corporations and innovative small enterprises. Furthermore, the Basel area comprises many suburbs in Switzerland, Germany, and France, which naturally adds a cosmopolitan flair to the city.
Several annual events draw visitors to Basel. In February, there is Fasnacht, the Carnival of Basel. It is on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage and a truly unique experience. In March, there is Baselworld, the premiere watch and jewelry trade show in the world. In June, Art Basel, one of the largest art sales and exhibition fair in the world, takes place in the city. Spread across multiple exhibition halls as well as outdoor venues, the event draws almost 100,000 visitors to the city. In Autumn, there is the Herbstmesse, the Autumn fair. The event transforms the skyline of Basel with a giant Ferris Wheel and other spinning or free-fall thrill rides. In December, the Christmas market pops up around town where you can shop for traditional gifts and enjoy a glühwein, a mulled wine, with friends and family.
The choice of leisure activities and cultural attractions in the Basel region is simply endless, regardless of whether you are interested in museums, art, music, theatre, movies, architecture, hiking, or sports, just to name a few. The Basel region has a broad offering for every taste – for those who appreciate the beautiful countryside and those who prefer the bustle of urban life.
On weekends, families head to the mountains to hike (in summer) or ski (in winter). During the peak of summer, you will find people across Switzerland swimming in lakes, rivers, and even fountains to stay cool. Every year, the city organizes a Rheinschwimmen where the river is closed to boats and thousands of people float leisurely, trailed by their colorful Rheinschwimmen bags, down the river.
Thriving business location - Innovative research
The Basel area is Switzerland’s second important business center, and enjoys the country’s fastest rate of economic growth. This success story has been built upon the global achievements of its pharmaceutical and chemical companies, among them two of the world’s top five. Thriving in such an atmosphere Idorsia has found an excellent environment to base its headquarters. A number of leading international logistics service providers reside in this city. Basel is also a successful exhibition and congress city. Architecture and design also play an important part in the city’s booming economy. And finally, Basel has developed into Switzerland’s second-most-important financial and insurance center, after Zurich. All these factors help underpin Basel’s high standard of living.
Family & Business
Families are welcome in Basel: there are many parks and playgrounds, nurseries and community centers, kindergartens and primary schools distributed evenly across all the residential areas. In most areas, children enjoy the freedom to move around on their own. The city is a safe place, and in many residential areas car traffic is limited. What is more, Basel has excellent public schools as well as international schools. The strong economy and the excellent university create many interesting jobs that make Basel attractive for highly skilled people from around the world. Basel is also home to Switzerland's oldest and largest (by number of animals) zoo.
There are residential areas for everybody: In Kleinbasel, the old industrial areas are now home to a wide range of families and young people from around the world. You will find a bar or a cafe on every corner. In other areas the atmosphere is more residential and quiet, with tasteful old buildings and beautiful gardens. There are public parks and playgrounds everywhere.
Environment and Transportation
The borders of Switzerland, France and Germany come together at Three Countries Corner in Basel. For this reason, an international and cosmopolitan attitude characterizes the city. Basel works closely together with its European Union neighbors Germany and France in the fields of education, culture, transportation and environment. Placed in the heart of Europe, Basel is an international transport hub: Rhine ports, railways and roads all link the region with Europe and the World. The airport is very close, no matter where you are in Basel. From there, a plane will take you to all European cities in no more than two hours.
Authorities and policy
The Swiss Federal Constitution declares their member states (cantons) to be sovereign to the extent their sovereignty is not limited by federal law. Most significantly, the cantons are responsible for healthcare, welfare, law enforcement and public education and they also retain the power of taxation.
Within these boundaries Basel is a city state, a democratic system that works very well. Government, parliament and public administration all play their part in maintaining Basel’s good standard of living and wealth.
Basel thinks long-term: The city wants to become even more attractive for companies, qualified employees and families by redeveloping old industry areas or improving the standard of the parks. At the same time, the government supports development that will sustain long-term wealth for the population.
Research and education play an important role in Basel’s wealth: the city runs excellent schools, one of Europe’s oldest universities and an innovative University of Applied Sciences.
Public School System
In Switzerland, there is no national school system, as the schools are run by the member states (cantons) individually. In Basel-Stadt, the primary goal for schools is to give the children a good basis for a professional career. Parents are considered partners of the school. Employers and training companies are also in close contact with the intermediate schools. After school there are two major pathways for children. About 50% of all teenagers start an apprenticeship after leaving school, which is a little different than in most other countries. The person is employed by a company but still attends school school for a couple of days each week. After 3–4 years you receive a state-certified diploma. The other 50% head off to universities all across Switzerland, as you are accepted automatically to every Swiss university.
The mission of the International School Basel is to provide an international education to the highest recognized academic standards.
The School is committed to promoting learning, cultural awareness and international understanding and to developing respect and appreciation for people of all nationalities, religions, and cultural backgrounds.
Five of the best universities in the world are located in Basel and the surrounding area. In addition to the University of Basel, the Shanghai index also cites the ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) in Zurich, the University of Zurich, the University of Freiburg im Breisgau (Germany), and the University of Strasbourg (France).
Basel University, founded in 1460, is the oldest in Switzerland. Today it has about 13,000 students in seven faculties: science, humanities, medicine, economics, law, psychology, and theology.
The "Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz", FHNW (University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland) has departments in Basel, Muttenz, Olten, Aarau, Solothurn, and Brugg (all smaller towns around Basel). The FHNW is less academic than the university and sees itself as a research partner for private industry in a wide variety of fields. Often student already work part-time with companies while doing their studies.