The municipality (ville de Genve) has a population (as of December 2015) of 198,072, and the canton (which is essentially the city and its inner-ring suburbs) has 484,736 residents. In 2014, the compact agglomration du Grand Genve had 946,000 inhabitants in 212 communities in both Switzerland and France. Within Swiss territory, the commuter area named "Mtropole lmanique" contains a population of 1.25 million. This area is essentially spread east from Geneva towards the Riviera area (Vevey, Montreux) and north-east towards Yverdon-les-Bains, in the neighbouring canton of Vaud.
Geneva is a global city, a financial center, and worldwide center for diplomacy due to the presence of numerous international organizations, including the headquarters of many of the agencies of the United Nations and the Red Cross. Geneva is the city that hosts the highest number of international organizations in the world. It is also the place where the Geneva Conventions were signed, which chiefly concern the treatment of wartime non-combatants and prisoners of war.
Geneva was previously ranked as the world's ninth most important financial centre for competitiveness by the Global Financial Centres Index, third in Europe behind London and Zrich, but has since dropped out of the top ten global centres. A 2009 survey by Mercer found that Geneva has the third-highest quality of life of any city in the world (behind Vienna and Zrich for expatriates; it is narrowly outranked by Zrich). The city has been referred to as the world's most compact metropolis and the "Peace Capital". In 2009 and 2011, Geneva was ranked as, respectively, the fourth and fifth most expensive city in the world.
The city was mentioned in Latin texts, by Caesar, with the spelling Genava, probably from a Celtic toponym *genawa- from the stem *genu- ("bend, knee"), in the sense of a bending river or estuary.
The medieval county of Geneva in Middle Latin was known as pagus major Genevensis or Comitatus Genevensis (also Gebennensis), after 1400 becoming the Genevois province of Savoy (albeit not extending to the city proper, until the Reformation the seat of the bishop of Geneva).
The name takes various forms in modern languages, Geneva in English, French: Genve [()nv], German: Genf [nf], Italian: Ginevra [dinevra], and Romansh: Genevra.
The city in origin shares its name, *genawa "estuary", with the Italian port city of Genoa (in Italian Genova).
Geneva was an Allobrogian border town, fortified against the Helvetii tribe, when the Romans took it in 121 BC. It became Christian under the Late Roman Empire, and acquired its first bishop in the 5th century, having been connected to the bishopric of Vienne in the 4th.
In the Middle Ages, Geneva was ruled by a count under the Holy Roman Empire until the late 14th century, when it was granted a charter giving it a high degree of self-governance. Around this time the House of Savoy came to (at least nominally) dominate the city. In the 15th century, an oligarchic republican government emerged with the creation of the Grand Council. In the first half of the 16th century, the Protestant Reformation reached the city, causing religious strife during which Savoy rule was thrown off and Geneva allied itself with the Swiss Confederacy. In 1541, with Protestantism in the ascendancy, John Calvin, the founder of Calvinism, became the spiritual leader of the city. By the 18th century, however, Geneva had come under the influence of Catholic France, which cultivated the city as its own. France also tended to be at odds with the ordinary townsfolk, which inspired the failed Geneva Revolution of 1782 in an attempt to win representation in the government for men of modest means. In 1798, revolutionary France under the Directory annexed Geneva. At the end of the Napoleonic Wars, on 1 June 1814, Geneva was admitted to the Swiss Confederation. In 1907, the separation of Church and State was adopted. Geneva flourished in the 19th and 20th centuries, becoming the seat of many international organizations.