The City of Basel serves as the capital of the Canton Basel-Stadt – the smallest state in Switzerland. With a population of 190,000, Basel straddles the Rhine river, and is known for its bridges and boats (both mechanical and water powered) that traverse the river.
The city of Basel dates back to at least 324 AD, when the name was first given to the community living here. The Basel emblem, symbolizing a bishop's crozier, dates back to 999 when Basel began being ruled by prince-bishops. The emblem also represents a support or guide (the shepherd's crook that saves straying sheep) and an emblem of authority and administration.
Historically Basel has been the site of some conflicts, including between the Magays and Germans in 917 and 955, and more recently between Basel city-based and land-based forces in the 1830s over equal representation in parliament.
However, Basel is better known for its contribution to peace including the Basel Peace Congress of Socialists of 24 November 1912 which launched an international declaration opposing war, the 1499 Treaty of Basel which ended the Swabian War, and the 1795 peace agreement between France, Prussia and Spain which was negotiated in Basel.
Since July 2005, Basel Stadt has been a member of Mayors for Peace, a network of over 5000 cities calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons by 2020. Basel is also a member of the C40 group of Climate Leadership Cities.
Basel Canton President Guy Morin officially opened the Basel Peace Office on 16 November (see Basel President Guy Morin opens the Basel Peace Office) and serves on the board of IPPNW Switzerland, one of the other partner organisations.
Markus Ritter, Deputy-Secretary-General of the President's Department serves on the Board of the Basel Peace Office.