Tell us a bit about the geography and history of Basel?
Basel is an exception in Switzerland. Look at the geography. We have the Alps. We have the Mittelland – the Midlands, where all the big cities are. Geneva, Lausanne, Bern, Fribourg, Olten, Zürich, Winterthur, St Gallen. And then you have the Jura Mountains, of Jurassic Park fame. Jurassic Park refers to the geology, where you find the dinosaurs, and the mountain range, which is that geology, is the Jura. So, the Jura gave its name to that geological period. They have lots of dinosaur parks, and they just recently found the biggest dinosaur ever! And where’s Basel? Outside! Basel really rather belongs to the Upper Rhine, what is now Baden and the Alsace! About 500 years ago, Basel was surrounded by “baddies”, by enemies; and at the same time the Swiss, in central Switzerland, were very war-like, successful warriors. So, in 1501, Basel joined the Confederation of little states, to be protected. They liked Basel, because it was a city and it was rich. History is still very present in modern Switzerland. For example our official country name is Confederatio Helvetica. Why a Latin name? If you have a country like ours, which has German, French Italian and even Romantsch, as the official languages, which one do you pick? The Helvetians were the Celtic tribe that lived in the central region, when the Romans came.
Even now, Basel is a bit apart, because we are geographically apart. If you talk to people from Zürich, or Luzern, they have a strange feeling about Basel. We have this funny dialect, and funny customs like Carnival (Fasnacht). We have the best carnival, but don’t tell Luzern, because they think they have it!