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Annemasse (Municipality, Haute-Savoie, France)

Last modified: 2012-05-12 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Annemasse]

Flag of Annemasse - Image by Ivan Sache, 30 August 2003

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Presentation of Annemasse

The municipality of Annemasse (31,293 inhabitants in 2009; 498 ha) is located close to Geneva (Switzerland)

Annemasse was in the Gallo-Roman times a small town known as Namasce, whose population probably never exceded 1,000. The geographical location of Annemasse explains its very slow development in ancient history. The town is located in an open area, without any natural defence. Moreover, it lies on the border of the former possessions of the Republic of Geneva and of the Duchy of Savoy, which were in constant struggle until the disaster of L'Escalade (1601).
In 1801, the official census counted only 800 inhabitants; Annemasse was mostly supplying fresh agricultural products to the neighbouring town of Geneva.

The modern development of Annemasse started in 1880 with the building of the railway line between Bellegarde-sur-Valserine and Évian-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, imposed because of the pro-Swiss feelings of the inhabitants of the area, made of Geneva the economical capital of the north of Savoy.
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 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 from Geneva and Genevans left the town. War refugees came to Annemasse, as well as clockmakers from the French Jura.
From 1950 onwards, the development of Annemasse was, again, completely linked with Geneva. There were 8,800 inhabitants in 1946 and 29,000 in 1990. The neigbouring towns 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 was more than compensated by an increased activity in commerce and service industries.
Annemasse and the neighbouring municipalities (including Étrembières) have now more than 60,000 inhabitants, consituting the second largest urban area in the Department of Haute-Savoie.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 30 August 2003

Flag of Annemasse

The flag of Annemasse, as hoisted on the bridge of Étrembières, is vertically divided blue-yellow.
The colours of the flag are those of the municipal coat of arms, "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 Town Hall.

Ivan Sache, 30 August 2003