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Canton of Basel-Stadt

Flag of the canton
Area:37 km²

Basel-Stadt (in German: Basel-Stadt) is one of the 26 cantons of Switzerland. The city of Basel and the municipalities of Bettingen and Riehen form its territory. It is sometimes referred to as Basel-City.


The canton of Basel-Stadt was created when the canton of Basel was divided in 1833. The result of this division was two half cantons: Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft. The division itself was caused by the canton of Basel-Landschaft, and ironically the constitution of Basel-Stadt does not recognize the other half canton. A new constitution is currently (2003) worked at.

The canton of Basel joined the Swiss Confederation in 1501.


Location of the canton

The canton of Basel-Stadt is located in the north of Switzerland. It borders Germany and France to the north, the canton of Basel-Landschaft to the south. The river Rhine crosses the area of the canton of Basel-Stadt.

The area of the canton is 37 km². This makes Basel-Stadt the smallest canton in Switzerland.


Basel-Stadt is a half canton. This means that the canton only sends one representative to the Council of States. The capital of the canton Basel-Stadt is the city of Basel. The present constitution of the canton dates from 1889.

The parliament of the canton is called Grosser Rat and has 130 members who are elected for four years at a time. There are currently (2003) nine different political parties represented in the parliamnet. With 38 mandates members of parliament with no political affiliation make up a large part.

The executive of the canton (Regierungsrat) is made up of seven members. Currently (2003) there are five different political parties represented in the executive.


The chemical industry and the pharmaceutical industry are of greatest significance in the canton. There are a number of multinationals in the city of Basel, attracting workers from both cantons of Basel and the areas across the border in France and Germany. Banking and finance are important as is the service sector in general. Small and middle-sized businesses employ a significant number of people, both in the city as the two municipalities.

Economically the neighbouring lands in Germany and France are not separated from the area of the canton of Basel-Stadt. Good transport links across the border as well as supportive local governments facilitate this link.


The carnival of the city of Basel (Baasler Fasnacht) is a major cultural event in the year. The carnival is one of the biggest in Switzerland and attracts large crowds every year, despite the fact that it starts as early as four in the morning (Morgenstreich).

The canton of Basel is renowed for two of its biscuits. The Basler Läckerli is made of honey and flour and is enjoyed as a speciality all year round. The Basler Brunsli is made of almonds and generally enjoyed at Christmas all around Switzerland.


The fact that three nation- states come together in one spot near Basel (Dreiländereck) attracts some tourists. The site is clearly identified and a popular destination for primary school classes. The carnival attracts large number of people from across Switzerland and the neighbouring countries.


The population of the canton is mainly German speaking and Protestant Christian. The official language is German.


There is an international airport at Basel-Mulhouse. The canton is well connected by both trains and motorways to the rest of Switzerland and the neighbouring areas in France and Germany.

Basel is a major train station of Switzerland, connected to Paris, Brussels and Berlin with direct fast trains.

There is a port at Basel for ships on the river Rhine. This port is of great significance to landlocked Switzerland, as it offers the country's only direct connection to the sea. The port benefits from good connections to both rail and road.

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