Basel (also Basle /ˈbɑːzəl/; German: Basel [ˈbaːzəl]; French: Bâle [bɑːl]; Italian: Basilea [baziˈlɛːa]) is a city in northwestern Switzerland on the river Rhine. Situated at the Swiss-German-French tripoint, the Basel region culturally extends into German Baden-Württemberg and French Alsace. Basel was the seat of a Prince-Bishopric since the 11th century, and joined the Swiss Confederacy in 1501. Basel had been a commercial hub since the Renaissance, and it emerged as a centre for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry in the 20th century.
Basel is Switzerland's third-most-populous city (behind Zürich and Geneva) with about 195,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany. In 2014, the Basel agglomeration was the third largest in Switzerland with a population of 537,100 in 74 municipalities in Switzerland and an additional 53 in neighboring countries (municipal count as of 2000). The tri-national Basel metropolitan area has around 830,000 inhabitants in 226 municipalities.
The official language of Basel is (the Swiss variety of Standard) German, but the main spoken language is the local variant of the Alemannic Swiss German dialect.
Basel German belongs to the Low Alemannic group, linking it with Alsatian and Swabian dialects more closely than with the other varieties of Swiss German. Basel has been an important cultural centre since the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment. It has the oldest university of the Swiss Confederation (1460).
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