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Annemasse (Municipality, Haute-Savoie, France)

Last modified: 2003-12-27 by
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[Flag of Annemasse]by Ivan Sache

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Presentation of Annemasse

Annemasse is a city of c. 30,000 inhabitants, located close to Geneva (Switzerland)

In the Gallo-Roman times, Annemasse was a small city known as Namasce. Its population probably never exceded 1,000. The geographical location of Annemasse explains its very slow development in ancient history. Annemasse is located in an open area, without any natural defense. Moreover, it lies on the border of the former possessions of the Republic of Geneva and the Duchy of Savoy, which were in constant struggle until the disaster of l'Escalade (1601).

In 1801, the official census yielded only 800 inhabitants and Annemasse was mostly providing agricultural products to the neighbouring city of Geneva.
The modern development of Annemasse started in 1880 with the building of the railway line between Bellegarde-sur-Valserine and Evian-les-Bains and its branch towards Annecy and Saint-Gervais. Industrialization of the area started, although it was not favoured by the specific system of the Greater Tax-free Zone (Grande Zone Franche) set up in 1860 after the incorporation of Savoy to France. This system made of Geneva the economical capital city of the north of Savoy, and was imposed because of the pro-Swiss feelings of the inhabitants of that area.

In 1911, Annemasse had only 3,000 inhabitants but the urban area was increased and structured. The Greater Tax-free Zone was suppressed at the end of the Second World War. Annemasse attracted then a lot of people of various origins. The Genevans set up shops and factories in Annemasse in order to keep their French customers. Cutting and mechanical engineering industries flourished.

During the Second World War, the Italian and then German occupation caused the definitive separation with Geneva and Genevans withdrew from the city. War refugees came to Annemasse, as well as clockmakers from the French Jura.

From 1950, the development of Annemasse was completely linked with Geneva. There were 8,800 inhabitants in 1946 and 29,000 in 1990. The neigbouring cities followed the same pattern of increase. Until 1962-1965, Geneva massively attracted French workers, who were replaced in Annemasse by immigrant workers. Economical crisis in Switzerland caused a massive come-back of people to Annemasse in 1974-1978. In 1982, economical activity resumed in Geneva and the flow was inverted, with a pause in the 1990s. However, real-estate speculation and attraction by Geneva made it difficult to maintain industrial activity in Annemasse. This loss is more than compensated by an increased activity in commerce and service industries.

Annemasse and the neighbouring municipalities (including Etrembières) have now more than 60,000 inhabitants and consitutes the second largest urban area in the department of Haute-Savoie.

Ivan Sache, 30 August 2003

Description of the flag

The flag of Annemasse, as it can be seen on the bridge of Etrembières, is vertically divided blue-yellow.

The colours of the flag are those of the municipal coat of arms, which is:

D'azur à la bande d'or accostée de deux cotices du même, au chef de Savoie

In English:

Azure a bend cotised or a chief gules a cross argent

These arms were officially adopted by the Municipal Council on 5 July 1933, upon proposal by Mayor Montessuy. They can be seen on the facade of the main entrance of the city hall.

Source (for this whole page): Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 30 August 2003

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