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 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.
The city is known for its many internationally renowned museums, ranging from the Kunstmuseum, the first collection of art accessible to the public in Europe (1661) and the largest museum of art in the whole of Switzerland, to the Fondation Beyeler (located in Riehen). The University of Basel, founded in 1460, Switzerland's oldest university and the city's centuries long commitment to humanism, have made Basel a safe haven during times of political unrest in other parts of Europe to the likes of Erasmus of Rotterdam, the Holbein family, and more recently also to Hermann Hesse and Karl Jaspers.
Basel has been the seat of a Prince-Bishopric since the 11th century, and joined the Swiss Confederacy in 1501. The city has been a commercial hub and important cultural centre since the Renaissance, and has emerged as a centre for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry in the 20th century. In 1897 the city was chosen as the location for the first World Zionist Congress by Theodor Herzl, and all together the congress has taken place in Basel for ten times over a time span of fifty years, more than in any other city in the world. The city is also home to the worldwide seat of the Bank for International Settlements.