Zurich, pronounced ZUR ihk (pop. 365,043; met. area pop. 940,180), is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton (state) of Zurich. It is a major manufacturing and commercial center. Zurich lies on Lake Zurich, along the Limmat River.
Zurich has many architectural treasures. These include two medieval churches, the Grossmunster and the Fraumunster; beautifully restored houses used by associations of craftworkers called guilds; and the Baroque Rathaus (town hall). Bahnhofstrasse, a famous avenue, is flanked by stone palaces built in the 1800's that house Swiss banks, insurance companies, luxury stores, and fancy hotels. Zurich's schools include the Swiss Institute of Technology and the University of Zurich, the largest university in Switzerland.
Products made in Zurich include machine tools, paper, radios, and textiles. The city is one of the world's financial centers and a hub of the international gold trade. People from many countries deposit money in Zurich's banks (see SWITZERLAND [Banking]).
According to archaeological evidence, a prehistoric settlement existed near Zurich, on the lake. The Romans built a fort at Zurich, possibly in the late A.D. 100's. In 1351, Zurich united with other Swiss areas in a political alliance called the Swiss Confederation, which became modern Switzerland. New textile manufacturing and machine industries contributed to Zurich's growth in the 1800's. As the city grew, it expanded from the area around Lake Zurich and the Limmat River to neighboring valleys.