Zurich is the biggest city in Switzerland with some 385,000 people and is capital of the canton of the same name. It is also the country’s main economic, scientific and social hub. The city, nestled between wooded hills on its east and west sides, is located in the east of the Swiss Plateau by the Limmat river, which flows out of Lake Zurich. The metropolis was founded as a free imperial city in 1262 and joined the Confederation in 1351.
Due to its concentration of banks and insurers, Zurich is known as a major international financial centre and, despite having a relatively small population, is classified as a World City (a conurbation deemed important to the global economic system). Its location on the shores of Lake Zurich, well-kept old town dating from the Middle Ages and broad cultural offering make the city a mainstay of the Swiss tourist industry. FIFA, world football’s governing body, is also based there.
The city’s two big football clubs are Grasshoppers, who hold the record number of national league titles (27), and 13-time champions FC Zurich. Both teams play their home games in the new Letzigrund Stadium, which was opened in August 2007 for the UEFA EURO 2008 championships. The Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup is held at the city’s Buchlern sports complex.