Zürich or Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zürich. It is located in north-central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zürich. The municipality has approximately 400,028 inhabitants, the urban agglomeration 1.315 million, and the Zürich metropolitan area 1.83 million. Zürich is a hub for railways, roads, and air traffic. Both Zürich Airport and railway station are the largest and busiest in the country.
Permanently settled for about 2000 years, Zürich was founded by the Romans, who, in 15 BC, called it Turicum. However, early settlements have been found dating back more than 6400 years ago. During the Middle Ages, Zürich gained the independent and privileged status of imperial immediacy and, in 1519, became a primary centre of the Protestant Reformation in Europe under the leadership of Huldrych Zwingli.
The official language of Zürich is (the Swiss variety of Standard) German, but the main spoken language is the local variant of the Alemannic Swiss German dialect.
Zürich is a leading global city and among the world's largest financial centres despite having a relatively small population. The city is home to a large number of financial institutions and banking giants. Most of Switzerland's research and development centres are concentrated in Zürich and the low tax rates attract overseas companies to set up their headquarters there.
Monocle's 2012 "Quality of Life Survey" ranked Zürich first on a list of the top 25 cities in the world "to make a base within".
According to several surveys from 2006 to 2008, Zürich was named the city with the best quality of life in the world as well as the wealthiest city in Europe. The Economist Intelligence Unit's Global Liveability Ranking sees Zürich rank among the top ten most liveable cities in the world.
Many museums and art galleries can be found in the city, including the Swiss National Museum and the Kunsthaus. Schauspielhaus Zürich is one of the most important theatres in the German-speaking world.
The city of Zürich is among the world-leaders in protecting the climate by following a manifold approach. In November 2008 the people of Zürich voted in a public referendum to write into law the quantifiable and fixed deadline of one tonne of CO2 per person per annum by 2050. This forces any decision of the executive to support this goal, even if the costs are higher in all dimensions. Some examples are the new disinfection section of the public city hospital in Triemli (Minergie-P quality – passive house), the continued optimisation and creation of public transportation, enlargement of the bicycle-only network, research and projects for renewable energy and enclosure of speed-ways.
The areas surrounding the Limmat are almost completely developed with residential, industrial, and commercial zones. The sunny and desirable residential areas in the hills overlooking Zürich, Waidberg and Zürichberg, and the bottom part of the slope on the western side of the valley on the Üetliberg, are also densely built.
The "green lungs" of the city include the vast forest areas of Adlisberg, Zürichberg, Käferberg, Hönggerberg and Üetliberg. Major parks are also located along the lakeshore (Zürichhorn and Enge), while smaller parks dot the city. Larger contiguous agricultural lands are located near Affoltern and Seebach. Of the total area of the municipality of Zürich (in 1996, without the lake), 45.4% is residential, industrial and commercial, 15.5% is transportation infrastructure, 26.5% is forest, 11%: is agriculture and 1.2% is water.
Zürich is a leading financial center and global city. The Greater Zürich Area is Switzerland's economic centre and home to a vast number of international companies. By far the most important sector in the economy of Zürich is the service industry, which employs nearly four-fifths of workers. Other important industries include light industry, machine and textile industries and tourism. Most Swiss banks have their headquarters in Zürich and there are numerous foreign banks in the Greater Zürich Area. Located in Zürich, the Swiss Stock Exchange was established in 1877 and is nowadays the fourth most prominent stock exchange in the world. In addition Zürich is the world's largest gold trading centre. Ten of the country's 50 largest companies have their head offices in Zürich, among them ABB, UBS, Credit Suisse, Swiss Re and Zürich Financial Services.