Zurich is surrounded by mountains, situated by river Limmat and Lake Zurich, and was already in 200 B.C. a Roman customs station. In 1218 Zürich became a state free city and 100 years later it joined the Swiss confederation. The city was the stronghold of reformed Protestantism and in the 17th century it became a haven for those professing to Protestantism. Today the city is mixed, both in regard to religion and culture. German dominates as mother tongue for 77% of the population, followed by Albanian and then Italian. Gay life is centred in the old town and the city is considered the gay capital of Switzerland.