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Geneva - Overview

Ranked as one of the world's top most desirable cities to live in, Geneva (Genève, Genf) remains the top destination choice for many expatriates.

Geneva is located in the southwestern corner of Switzerland bordering France – and hence shares more things in common with its French neighbors rather than the other Swiss cities like Zurich (more German influences). The most distinguishable geographic feature that makes this city so picturesque is Lake Geneva (or Lac Leman as it is known in French or Genfersee in German), and the surrounding mountains, the Alps and Jura. Lake Geneva is a freshwater lake, and it is so large that the annual boating event, Bol d'Or Mirabaud, that begins at Geneva right down to the other tip of the Lake at Le Bouveret and back, measures some 123 km (or 66.5 nautical miles). Lausanne, another Swiss city, located some 50km (31 miles) away from Geneva, is also situated on the shores of Lake Geneva, northeast of Geneva.

Out of a total population of some 7.5 million (as of 2007), Geneva is Switzerland's second largest city after Zurich with some 454,000 residents (as of 2009) who are registered with the canton of Geneva. Of the 454,000 residents, about 61% of them are of Swiss nationality. The largest foreign population in Geneva is the Portuguese (7%), followed by the French (5%), the Italians (4%), Spanish (3%) and the British (1.4%). For more statistics on Geneva, refer to Statisques Genève, the official department of statistics for the Geneva canton.

Unanimously, all locals and expatriates agree that part of Geneva's attraction lies in its natural beauty - the post-card perfect lake and its surrounding alpine mountains are the envy of many. In addition, there are many other factors that make Geneva an extremely pleasant and attractive city to live in: availability of fresh drinking water straight from your tap, stable society, clean streets, low crime rates and its reputation for being an international center for diplomacy and peace capital.

All this comes at a steep price, though, the cost of living in Geneva is extremely high. Geneva is ranked the eight most expensive city in the world, after cities like Moscow, Tokyo and London (Mercer Cost of Living, 2008). Hence, the main grouse expatriates living and working in Geneva have is that it becomes extremely difficult to save substantial amounts while living and working in Geneva.

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