Ariège (department)

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Its capital is the city of Foix but the city with the largest population is Pamiers.

History

The department was inhabited in prehistoric times, as evidenced by the presence of caves with cave paintings and dolmens. In historical times it was inhabited by Basque people; they settled on the northern side of the Pyrenees and in the valleys below. In 415 it became part of the kingdom of the Visigoths, until their defeat at the hands of the king of the Franks in 507.

Ariège was created in 1790 during the French Revolution, when the whole of France was divided into departments, replacing the old provinces. Ariège was created combining the counties[N 1] of Foix (Languedoc) and Couserans (Gascogne).[4]

Geography

Ariège is part of the Occitanie region and has an area of Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "24"..[2]

The department is surrounded by the French departments of Haute-Garonne to the west and north, Aude to the east, and Pyrénées-Orientales in the southeast, as well as Spain (Lleida) and Andorra in the south.

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Natural regions

There are three main natural regions in the department:

  1. The Ariège plain. The north of the department consists of plains, small hills and low valleys where agriculture is an important activity. Two major rivers, the Ariège and the Lèze, flow through the plain from south to north.
  2. The Pyrenean foothills. This area includes the small mountains and hills below Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "24"..
  3. The Ariége high country. The geography is dominated by the Pyrenees mountains exceeding Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "24". above sea level which form the border between France and Spain.

The highest mountain in the department is the Pica d'Estats (Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "24".) that is Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "24". high and is on the Spain-France border.[5] Other high mountains are the peak of Montcalm (3,077 m) and the Pic de Sotllo (3,072 m).

The main river is the Ariège river, a tributary of the Garonne river. Another important river is the Lèze, a tributary of the Ariège.

Climate

Two main types of climate are found in Ariège:

  • Mediterranean – particularly visible in the vegetation of the foothills and of the valley of the Ariège river towards Tarascon, and in the Sault country
  • Continental – in the Pyrenean valleys, with many storms and big differences of temperature between day and night

Temperatures are mild in the foothills, e.g. at the city of Foix (400 metres) the average is 5 °C in January and 19 °C in July. However, they decline rapidly with elevation, e.g. at l'Hospitalet-près-l'Andorre (1,430 m) it is 0 °C in January and 14 °C in July.

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Climate data for Saint-Girons
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year

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Source: Metereological data for Saint-Girons - Antichan from 1961 to 1990 July 2013
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Administration

The department is managed by the Departamental Council of the Ariège in Foix. Ariège is part of the region of Occitanie.

Administrative divisions

There are 3 arrondissements (districts), 13 cantons and 332 communes (municipalities) in Ariège.[6]

INSEE
code
Arrondissement Capital Population[7]
(2014)
Area[8]
(km²)
Density
(Inh./km²)
Communes
091 Foix Foix 51,473 2,077.8 Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "24". 135
092 Pamiers Pamiers 73,702 1,315.0 Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "24". 115
093 Saint-Girons Saint-Girons 27,399 1,497.2 Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "24". 82

The following is a list of the 13 cantons of the Ariège department (with their INSEE codes), following the French canton reorganisation which came into effect in March 2015:[9]

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  1. Haute-Ariège (0901)
  2. Arize-Lèze (0902)
  3. Couserans Est (0903)
  4. Couserans Ouest (0904)
  5. Foix (0905)
  6. Mirepoix (0906)
  7. Pamiers-1 (0907)
  8. Pamiers-2 (0908)
  9. Pays d'Olmes (0909)
  10. Portes d'Ariège (0910)
  11. Portes du Couserans (0911)
  12. Sabarthès (0912)
  13. Val d'Ariège (0913)

Demographics

The inhabitants of Ariège are known, in French, as ariègeois (women: ariègeoises).[10]

Ariège has a population, in 2014, of 152,574,[3] for a population density of Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "24". inhabitants/km2. The arrondissement of Pamiers, with 73,702 inhabitants, is by far the one with more inhabitants. The other two, Foix and Saint-Girons, have respectively 51,473 and 27,399 inhabitants.[7]

Evolution of the population in Ariège <timeline> Colors=

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</timeline>

About 25% of the population lives in the four communes with 6,000 or more inhabitants.[11]

The 10 most important cities in the department are:

City Population[7]
(2014)
Arrondissement
Pamiers 15,518 Pamiers
Foix 9,721 Foix
Saint-Girons 6,284 Saint-Girons
Lavelanet 6,245 Foix
Saverdun 4,658 Pamiers
Mazères 3,810 Pamiers
Varilhes 3,328 Pamiers
Tarascon-sur-Ariège 3,322 Foix
Mirepoix 3,148 Pamiers
La Tour-du-Crieu 3,071 Pamiers

Economy

Agriculture is an important activity in Ariege. Only a small part of its territory is used by farmers; only Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "24"., 27% of its total area, are used for agriculture in the Ariege.[12]

The Ariège plain is the most fertile area of the department; here farmers grow maize, wheat, sunflower and other crops. The other natural regions are not good for agriculture and are covered with forests or are used for pastures for sheep, cattle and horses.[12]

In the Ax valleys, the mining of talc is the most typical activity. This industry is supplemented by tourism for winter sports.

Hydroelectric production is about one-fifth of the production in the Pyrenees. The hydroelectric plant at Aston has the largest annual production capacity in the Pyrenees.

Gallery

Related pages

Notes

  1. In this case, "county" (Lua error: Internal error: The interpreter has terminated with signal "24".) means "land under a count (the British earl)".

References

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Other websites

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