To figure out the Nations neighborhood is like trying to read words in a bowl of alphabet soup. This is the land of acronyms – and because this is Geneva, the acronyms come in both French and English, for double your word score. (For instance, the World Trade Organization, the WTO, is also the Organisation Mondiale du Commerce, or OMC.) Centered around the giant three-legged chair in the Place des Nations, this is the hub of the international organizations in Geneva. With the European headquarters of the United Nations
directly across the street from the global headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross
, as well as global headquarters for numerous other international organizations and UN agencies all down the block, such as the World Meteorological Organization, the UN High Commission for Refugees and the International Labour Organization, you can imagine the number of bureaucrats on the ground here is pretty dense. Due to this proximity of agencies and organizations, however, there is a second wave of non-governmental organizations that are based in Geneva precisely because of all those bureaucrats. The population of Geneva is over 40 percent international and here in Nations that percentage is much higher than average (around 60%). Here you will be much more likely to hear American-accented English than French. Some people live in the Nations neighborhood, near Montbrillant, but many more do in the old village, now neighborhood, of Petit-Saconnex, a ten-minute walk from the Place des Nations. Seemingly dropped from above into the middle of attractive modern apartment blocks, Petit-Saconnex is one short street of traditional Swiss-architecture buildings, housing a handful of restaurants
, a pharmacy and a few shops. (Down the street is the Intercontinental Hotel
, and up the street a bit farther are the Canadian and Russian consulates.) Also associated with Nations are the posh suburbs on the other side of the UN complex, along the lake, such as Bellevue (approximate location of the US' compound) and the International School of Geneva (school for some diplomats' children as well as for the local well-to-do).