June 1 – Arrival of the Swiss in Geneva

Posted on June 1, 2017

If you look at a map of Switzerland, there are little bits that stick out into neighboring nations of Italy, Austria, Germany, and France. These bits are cantons (a canton is a subdivision of a country, like a U.S. state) that are surrounded on three sides by another nation.

In the case of the Canton of Geneva (the red bit on the left, above), it's like a Swiss peninsula in an "ocean" of France (see below).

Today is the anniversary of the 1814 arrival of about 300 Swiss troops at Geneva's port. They came by boat, on a lake, so that they would not have to cross French territory to get there. 

The people of Geneva wanted them there! Although the Genevans spoke French and had been a part of France, this was no invasion - it was a welcome intervention against the French.

People shouted, "Vive Genève, Vive la République, Vive le nouveau Canton!"

Earlier, in 1798, Revolutionary French forces had conquered Switzerland, had renamed it the Helvetic Republic, and had definitely NOT won the "hearts and minds" of the people. When Napoleon took over France, and war broke out all over Europe, the Swiss refused to fight on behalf of the Helvetic Republic. In 1803, Napoleon restored some of the Swiss cantons' sovereignty (self-rule), but it took until 1815 before Switzerland fully regained its independence and achieved a status of permanent neutrality.

That is the background of the general region; during that time the independent Republic of Geneva had fought against the French revolutionaries in what could be called a counter-revolution. But they were invaded and annexed by France. That is why Genevans welcomed soldiers from the Swiss Confederation, in 1814, and gladly became a Swiss canton the next year.

Geneva is...

...known for watchmaking.

Not only is Geneva the center of Swiss watchmaking,
you can visit a watch museum and see a large floral
clock there.


Apparently, Switzerland is the most expensive European country
for tourists, these days.

And Geneva isn't any exception to that...

...a place where people talk about and study peace.

This is the Palace of Nations, built to be the head-
quarters of the League of Nations and now used for the
United Nations Office at Geneva.

This extremely large "Broken Chair" is a piece
created to convince officials from around the world
to outlaw land mines.

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